Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ranking the Portland (OR) Brew Pubs

KJ and I just booked our flight for a summer trip to Portland, Oregon. It will be my third trip to the "City of Roses," otherwise known to me as the wife's hometown.

Of course, if you're reading this you know my favorite aspect of Portland is that it's indisputably the #1 beer city in the country. In our two previous trips, I've spent a fair amount of time exploring the local beer scene. Admittedly, though, I've only been able to scratch the surface and, short of moving out there, I'll probably never be able to produce a worthy list of the city's best brew pubs.

Regardless, I thought I'd post a short list of my favorites so far. There are so many more I need to check out. Hopworks Urban Brewery and Lucky Labrador are among those currently on my radar. But, for now, here are my top five:

  1. New Old Lompoc Brewery - On my first visit to Portland, in the summer of 2009, I was pretty much blown away by both their LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft) and C-Note Imperial Pale Ale. The former was my pick for that year's best new (to me) beer, while the latter is named for the fact it's brewed with seven different varieties of hops beginning with the letter C.

  2. Admittedly, not my most
    flattering photo
    Amnesia Brewing Company - Also during that first visit, I was quite impressed with Amnesia's Copacetic IPA and Desolation IPA—as well as a couple others—and by the fact this particular establishment had two IPAs on tap simultaneously. I also loved the atmosphere here. It's an old converted garage with lots of outdoor seating. In fact, I was so enamored with this place that I bought a T-shirt.

  3. Alameda Brewhouse - This past Christmas, on my second trip to Portland, I discovered this spot and it quickly became one of my new favorites. I enjoyed their Papa Noels Olde Ale and Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA, the latter so much that I risked making a mess in my suitcase to bring home a 22-oz. bomber.

  4. BridgePort Brewing Company - When I first met KJ, she considered BridgePort IPA to be the one beer that fondly reminded her of home, so this was one of our first stops my first time out there. Their beers were very good, particularly the ESB and IPA, but they were lacking that one brew that really blew me away. It's a special place nevertheless.

  5. Laurelwood Public House & Brewery - My latest trip included a stop-off at Laurelwood. Their Workhorse IPA and Vinter Varmer were more than solid, earning them the final spot on this short list, although it may be tenous, considering I have every expectation my next trip will result in a couple more great discoveries.


  1. I went to Portland a few times back in the 90s. Loved the city and the drive out to the Cascades. Great place.

    At that time, there was a restaurant by the water that was also a micro-brewery. One of their things was to bring out a tray of all their different brews. Didn't like any of them, but had the best Pacific halibut of my life!

    Thanks for bringing back the memory.

  2. Always nice to stir up some old memories, William. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'd like to put in a plug for the other Portland as the #1 beer city in the country. I'm a stranger to all five breweries you listed in Oregon, but Maine's Portland has Allagash, Geary's, and Shipyard, all of which are hard to beat.

  4. Bryan: Portland, Maine is definitely the best beer city in New England, but if you ever get the chance you should really check out Portland, Oregon.

    There are close to 40 breweries and brewpubs (compared to about 10 in Maine's Portland) and most of them are just as good, if not better than, Allagash and Geary's (not a big fan of Shipyard, sorry).

    Check it out:

    Portland, Oregon