There are 70 breweries in Portland, Oregon, plus over 30 more in the surrounding metro area. The quality of beer there is almost a moot point; in Portland, bad beer can’t succeed because the drinkers are too smart, too beer-aware, and too surrounded by great brews to accept anything other than very good.
To go with that high quality you’ve got the great combination of quantity and accessibility, where you’re always essentially in the middle of a potential beer crawl. To add to the quality and quantity of breweries, you’ve also got the variety: if you want the all-star American brewpub and its list of IPAs, then you’ve got it. If you want Belgian
Visit to Portland, Oregon Go To Beervana Photo Gallery
Saisons, then there’s a brewery specializing in those. A gluten-free brewpub, breweries focusing on lagers, English ales, sour beers; there’s tradition and innovation side by side. There are great locations and locations with great variety: old music halls, big beer gardens, and industrial estates. And there’s good beer everywhere. Growler fills in gas stations and pharmacies; if there’s not a bar or brewery on the corner of the block, then there’s probably a liquor store, bowling alley, or restaurant with a huge beer selection. It’s arguably the city with the greatest beer range and greatest density of beer.
If I have to suggest a few names, then Breakside Brewing (www.breakside.com) is essential for the best of everything, especially their much-loved IPA. They have three venues in town, so figure out which is best for you. Go to Cascade Barrel House for super sours (939 SE Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon 97214); Hair of the Dog for strong and aged ales (61 SE Yamhill Street, Portland, Oregon 97214); and Widmer Brothers for the original Portland brewer (959 North Russell Street, Portland, Oregon 97227). Then try and go everywhere else—and there are a lot of places to go.
That’s the obvious attractions for the beer tourist. For the locals, beer runs deeper. Walk around the city and you’ll see brewery T-shirts worn like sports shirts. Everyone has their local, everyone knows about beer, everyone has their favorites. Craft beer is the casual and much-loved fabric of life in Portland and Oregon. The weather helps, too: it rains a lot, it’s a bit miserable for a lot of the time, so people look for indoor activities and that leads many straight to a taproom or pub. Then, when the sun does shine, everyone rushes to the beer gardens. The weather (wet winters and springs, sunny late summers) also helps in another way because Oregon is the second-largest hop grower in the country.
There are many great American beer destinations, many places calling themselves “Beer City USA” or marketing themselves on their beers. I’ve already suggested that the other Portland, the one in Maine, could also be a Beervana (see post 10) and I’ve put Asheville, North Carolina (see post 22) as my top USA beer destination, but few others can challenge the overall prominence of Portland, Oregon. It is Beervana.
Wall decorations at Hopworks Urban Brewery Bikebar, just one of the many beer-focused places in Portland worthy of a visit.
Bend Beer City
If you’re going to Portland, Oregon, then add an extra day or two to your trip and go to Bend, another great American Beer City. There you’ll want to go to Boneyard for their insane IPAs and DIPAs, then get down to Crux Fermentation Project, ideally to see sundown over the Cascade Mountains, while you drink lagers, hoppy USA brews, and Belgian-inspired Saisons. Another great-view brewery is Craft Kitchen & Brewery overlooking the Deschutes River. The food is barbecued, the beers are freshly brewed, and it’s all designed to be shared and enjoyed in a cool, communal space. Deschutes Brewery & Public House is downtown and huge. A classic drinking space where you should start with now-classic beers such as Black Butte Porter or Fresh Squeezed IPA. From here, there are more than a dozen other places to drink great beer. And plan on going to (or from) Bend via Hood River so you can stop at pFriem Family Brewers to drink their eclectic range of elegant, excellent brews (707 Port way Avenue, Hood River, Oregon 97031).
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