Saying you are going to take a beer tour of Portland is akin to setting out on a day hike of Everest. Basically, we mean there is a ton of beer in this town. In fact, there are more breweries in Portland than any other city, in the world. Wrap your mind around that trivia gold. A non-descript, typical neighborhood bar in the Rose City probably boasts enough handles of craft beer to qualify as the top beer bar in less brew-savvy areas. We swim through the rivers of malted beverages to bring you some of our favorite places serving and making delicious brews in Beer Mecca.
Rogue Distillery and Public House
The Rogue Brewing Company epitomizes the northwestern beer maker/drinker persona. They call themselves a revolution and ask patrons to join them. Their platform – wildly, delicious beer. Many know Rogue for its flagship, Dead Guy Ale, but the company is so much more. For proof, check out the public house in Portland’s historic Brewing District (inside the well known Pearl District, downtown). Here you will find 36 taps of Rogue beer. Holy-!#$%, 36 different beers all brewed by Rogue, including Chipotle Ale (yeah, it’s spicy), dry-hopped and imperial selections, and the Morimoto line, a signature series of beers developed in conjunction with Masaharu Morimoto (the Iron Chef). Pair these with a Kobe beef burger and you ain’t got much to complain about.
Deschutes Brewery and Public
Also downtown is a more classic brewpub experience offered by the Deschutes Brewing Company. Housed in a brick building on 11th NW, the massive pub has an inviting décor, with large wood logs and carvings spread about. Of course, there is the beer. 18 taps feature Deschute’s regular lineup, plus seasonals and beers you will only find on tap in the pub, like the Bachelor Bitter, a beautifully colored, wonderfully hopped ale. The food is also a notch above your standard pub grub. Try the Elk Meatballs appetizer and Beef Stroganoff entree with a Black Butte Porter or kick up the heat with the Cuban sandwich washed down with a Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Drool.
McMenamin’s Kennedy School
McMenamin’s properties are best experienced in person, but you’ll have to settle for reading about them, at least for now (similar to your relationship to Marissa Miller). The Kennedy School is one of many buildings across Oregon and Washington that McMenamin’s has purchased, renovated and put to better use, namely, drinking. Once an actual den of education, Kennedy School now treats its students movies in the auditorium, aged whiskey in detention and 35 guest rooms if school is you want to extend recess another day. With four bars spread about the campus, you’ll never have to travel far for a refill. Though walking around with your beer in hand through the school hallways is at least half of the fun. Cheers to drinking (legally) in class.
If you can’t decide whether you want to get up or down, head to Stumptown Coffee. Obviously they can provide a cup of joe to get you going in the morning, but they also serve up a different kind of brew. It is tough to get more Portland than a coffee shop with draft handles. Though their beer list has dwindled over recent years, this still remains a terrific, low-key gathering spot where one can take care of 2 addictions at the same time. The location with the beers is SW 3rd (honestly, why don’t they all do this?) and offers 4 taps and a selection of 20+ bottles. They usually carry a good selection of local brews and imports, especially Belgium beers. Not bad for a bunch of caffeine pushers.
There are a lot of bars in Portland with a decent selection of beer, but a few stand out due to their dedication to the drink, and Bailey’s is one of the best. Not only do they offer 20 draft choices and 99 bottles, they are focused on having a variety of styles from different regions. Walking in, you know they are going to have something you like and something new to try. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, and good at recommending a beer to try, based on your preferences. You may need their help as well, because Bailey’s does not put fancy tap handles on display, so you cannot just choose the beer that looks the best. It is a very democratic drinking system; even small breweries without a veteran marketing staff are well represented.
A lot of bottle shops have been popping open (PUN intended) around Portland lately, though they are all looking up to John’s Marketplace. Located in Southwest Portland, John’s may be out of the way for many, but it is certainly worth the trip. They sell more than beer, but skip that junk and head straight to the back of building, where you will find likely the largest bottle collection you have ever seen in a single location. There are beers from all over the world, and not just the popular imports. Last trip we found a Perch (like the fish) beer from Russia. The selection is just ridiculous and they claim to have ever brewery in Portland represented. We believe them. Pick up your local favorites and try a brew you didn’t know existed. Beer-vana.