Portland is beer Mecca, it’s really that good. No other city has such a huge selection of high quality beer available. It should come as no surprise that Portland is one of my favourite places to visit. For such a small city, Portland is overwhelming. There is too much good food, at too low prices and too much great beer, pretty much everywhere. And unfortunately there is never enough time to take it all in, literally.
I am a die hard eater and beer drinker to the end. When travelling the majority of my time is spent eating, drinking, or searching for places to eat and drink, with a small amount of time spent walking. In Portland I walked mostly from food cart to pub to restaurant to pub and so on; the caloric burn associated with the walking is a side benefit. If eating five meals a day was a viable lifestyle choice, I would make it happen. But I’ve tried, and it does not feel good. I had the opportunity to go to Portland over the Christmas holiday. The city did not let me down. I am by no means a Portland expert, but here are my thoughts on the places I’ve visited. Hope you enjoy.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House – Creators of the best sour beers this world has ever known. That is about all I can say. The beer at Cascade is phenomenal. Their world class rating on beer advocate is well deserved. Try as much of everything as you can, and go immediately.
Pok Pok – is Thai food heaven. Although not really a beer hotspot, they do list a few good local options, in true Portland fashion. It seems the entire city of Portland is in love with Pok Pok, and fair enough, it’s damn good. After 90 minutes of waiting at Pok Pok’s Thai inspired back alley whisky soda lounge, we were in. The food here is unlike any Thai food I’ve had – Ordering #72, mild, with coconut rice is not an option. Crazy good Thai wings, salt crusted fish served in a lettuce wrap, papaya pok pok salad are a few of the dishes that can be found here. I will return to Pok Pok on my next visit.
Deschutes Brewery – The quintessential brewpub. Located in downtown Portland, Deschutes is stumbling distance to a number of other worthy food and beer establishments. The beer is consistently good, as is the food. The large list of constantly changing seasonals is probably the best place to start. I have visited Deschutes three times and have never left disappointed. Side note – Deschutes’ men’s room has the craziest urinals I’ve ever seen.
Voodoo Doughnuts – Because sometime all I want to eat is doughnuts, even more so after a night of beer drinking. The fact that they are fresh and sometimes covered in bacon is a bonus. I can’t tell if the doughnuts at Voodoo are that great, or if I am just a diabetic-to-be, madly in love with freshly fried dough, glazed, coated and dusted in sugar. But it really doesn’t matter, they are good.
Tug Boat Brewing Co – The beer isn’t that great, it might even be bad at times, and the food comes from a microwave, but I still love it here. Board games with missing pieces and an old toppley game of Jenga are available for play. It’s a great place to end an evening. This is Portland’s oldest brewpub and for some reason I love it. Yes, Bailey tap room located next door will have a better selection on tap, but they don’t have Jenga.
If You Have Time
Hair of the Dog – Great beer as expected. The food was less than stellar, this is more of a tasting room than a pub so no surprise on the food.
BridgePort Brewing – The beer is mostly okay but some quite good. The food is just okay – typical brewpub menu.
The Commons Brewery– The tap room is the brewery, and the beer is very good. Their beer is far more Belgian than Westcoast, which is a nice change when in Portland.
Laurelwood – The food and beer are very good, but not exceptional. As with many Portland brewpubs, Laurelwood has multiple locations throughout Portland.
Horse Brass Pub – As a beer geek I am supposed to love this place, but I did not love it, I just liked it. The beer selection is top notch (I enjoyed Pliny the Elder here just last week) and the ambiance is warm and cozy – although it did remind me a bit of a number of older run down pubs found in the suburbs of Vancouver. I will probably return to the Horse Brass on my next visit as I feel I may be missing the magic.
Not Really Worth it, but its still not bad beer
Rogue Public House – Feels like a family restaurant gone all wrong. I did not like it here. The food is sub-par and the beer is good, but not good enough to make me want to come back. Other’s may have a different opinion than me on this one, but I did not enjoy the Rogue experience at all.
Lucky Labrador – If you have a dog or like hanging out with dogs while drinking beer, you will like it here. But the beer just isn’t that great.
Rock Bottom - Really not a very good brewpub. If your guidebook tells you to go, as many do, don’t. In a city like Portland there is no need to visit Rock Bottom.
If I’m missing anything amazing in Portland please let me know. Portland is full of great beer and I am sure I am still missing many.