Friday, June 13, 2014

Portland, Oregon - My Must Do List

If you’re visiting Portland, whether it’s for the first or 10th time, you will find amazing craft beer everywhere you turn. I often get asked what people should check out on their trip so here’s my list of favourite places. I love lots of them equally but since your time may be limited, I’ve broken it down into number of days.

First rule of Portland, well my rule, put your big boy/girl pants on and be prepared to sample a lot of beers. This doesn’t mean get drunk, but if you’re anything like me, drinking small amounts all day make me zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. If the establishments have flights/paddles, I always choose those to try more beers without over indulging.

If you want to plot your day(s) by location, check out my handy, dandy map. There are even a few restaurants on it (a girl’s gotta eat).

There are lots to choose from in every price range. If you're travelling there in the summer months, be prepared for higher prices. We’ve stayed at a couple of the Marriott Hotels and both were in good locations on the north side of the Willamette. Jupiter Hotel is on the south side and a better location to be near the breweries. Airbnb is another option. Friends have used it and say it’s great if you want to rent a condo (or room).

Amtrak takes you right downtown if you want a leisurely journey. WiFi on board but shitty food – bring your own. They do have a few craft beers to start your journey off right, though. We took it from Bellingham since it would have been more of a hassle to start our trip downtown Vancouver when we’re only a half hour drive to the border.

Public transit in Portland consists of light rail and buses from TriMet.

You can reserve your taxi online with Portland Taxi – and get a free estimate online to make sure you don’t get taken the long way…

Lastly, car2go and zipcar are available and good options for making the beer store run or a one-way trip to the brewery.

Enough of the responsible planning, let’s get into the beer!

If you’re coming with kids, most places are kid (and dog) friendly, just don’t sit at the bar.

Day One

You should never, ever just plan one day in Portland but if that’s really all you have (you quitter), fine. Pull up those pants and let’s go.

First, skip Rogue. Yeah yeah, we all know it’s well known and is a pioneer but there are so many other breweries and places to check out that are far superior. No offence to Rogue, they make some decent stuff, but they don’t make the cut for day one (see Day Three).

Hair of the Dog – 61 SE Yamhill Street (Plan 1.5 – 2 hours here)
Tues – Thurs, Sun: 11:30am – 8:00pm
Fri – Sat: 11:30am – 10:00pm

Eight of their beers on tap, bottles to consume there or to take home. Tasters are sold in adorable mini tulip glasses. Vintage bottles are only consumable on site – pick a From the Wood and enjoy. If you like hot food, try the Chuck Norris Duck Wings and you’d better pair it with the Blue Dot Double IPA. Devine. Pick up a couple tulip glasses and check out their cool growlers (don’t forget to fill it). Indoor and outdoor seating.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House – 939 SE Belmont Street (Plan 1.5 - 2 hours or 4 if you're like me and love your sours)
Sun, Mon: 12:00pm – 10:00pm
Tues – Thurs: 12:00pm – 11:00pm
Fri, Sat: 12:00pm – 12:00am

Cascade is walking distance from Hair of the Dog. If you like or love sour beers, this is a must. Sixteen taps, two Live from the Barrel beers and Blender Reserve Taps. Tasters are sold two at a time and the food menu is very limited. Don’t forget about the bottle sales. Pick me up a few, will ya? Growler sales/fills too. Indoor and outdoor seating.

Green Dragon – 928 SE 9th Avenue (Plan 1 hour)
Sun – Wed: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Thurs – Sat: 11:00am – 1:00am

While you’re in the hood (they’re a block away from Cascade), check them out for a quick pint if you have an hour to kill. They’re owned by Rogue and have 62 taps in their picnic table setting inside and out. Their mac and cheese is pretty tasty and they have games like Chutes and Ladders! A small fridge of bottles to go and growler fills.

Apex Bar – 1216 SE Division Street (Plan 2 hours)
Sun – Sat: 11:30am – 2:30am

My favourite bar in Portland. Fifty taps and a great selection of bottled beers for consumption or to take home. Bar is cash only, no tabs and they don't have a kitchen - but you can bring in food from the Mexican place next door. Great food and cheap (caution: huge portions). Lots of outdoor seating here and a few pinball machines.

The Beer Mongers – 1125 SE Division Street (Plan 1 hour)
Sun – Thurs: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00am – 12:00am

Kitty-corner from Apex. Eight taps at the bar, taster paddles available, but what I suggest is picking up some bottles to go. Prices are cheaper than Apex and Belmont Station.

Belmont Station – 4500 Stark Street (Plan 1 – 2 hours)
Mon – Sat: 10:00am – 10:00pm (Biercafe open until 11:00pm)
Sun: 12:00pm – 9:00pm (Biercafe open until 10:00pm)

Do some shopping here and with 20 taps in their Biercafe, drink whilst you shop. Pliny has been on tap every time we’ve gone there, if you’re so inclined. They have over 1300 bottles in the store and if you walk out with less than 10 bottles, I’d be shocked. It’s usually a large bill for us.

The Commons – 1810 SE 10th Avenue, Unit E  (Plan 1 hour)
Tasting room entrance on SE Stephens between 10th and 11th (no minors)
Thurs, Fri: 5:00pm – 9:00pm ish
Sat: 2:00pm – 9:00pm ish
Sun: 2:00pm – 6:00pm

I’m finally taking you to a brewery where you drink amongst the tanks. There are many, many amazing breweries in Portland and this is one of my favourites. This brewery started in Mike Wright’s garage and they opened the brewery in December 2011. They’re about to move to a larger facility and I’ll update the address when that happens. Their focus is on Belgian style beers and their Urban Farmhouse Ale and Flemish Kiss have won multiple awards.

If you’re still thirsty, you may have noticed that corner and grocery stores sell beer. Not a fantastic selection in the corner stores, but for hotel room libations, it will suffice.

Alright, you’ve had a big day. Time to rest up for tomorrow’s adventure.

Day Two

Ok, I may have planned eleven hours of drinking plus travel for one day so if you need to carry some over to day two, I won’t judge you. Much. But if you only have one day, fit in as many of those in from Day One as you can. Regret is a horrible thing.

Day Two - giddyup

Upright Brewing – 240 North Broadway #2 (downstairs) (Plan 1 – 1.5 hours)
Fri: 4:30pm – 9:00pm
Sat & Sun: 1:00pm – 6:00pm

Drink your choice of five or twelve ounce glasses of beer of the ten taps (they usually have one guest tap) sitting in the basement of this building. Enter and head to the right, and you’ll be surrounded by barrels. Beautiful, beautiful barrels. Stage left, the small tasting room with games, a record player and beer geeks a plenty.

Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom – 3090 SE Division (Plan 1 – 1.5 hours)
Sun – Thurs: 12:00pm – 10:00pm
Fri – Sat: !2:00pm – 12:00am

Sixteen taps and a large selection of bottles to enjoy there or pack home. The owners are super nice and they’re only a few blocks away from Pok Pok. So if you’re going there to dine, you’re undoubtedly told there’s a wait, come here to enjoy some beer. Even better, get your Pok Pok to go and eat it at Imperial – they’re cool with this.

Cheese Bar – 6031 SE Belmont Street (Plan 1 hour)
Tues – Sat: 11:00am – 11:00pm

I've listed  Cheese Bar under food, bottle shop and here for their taps. It’s a great little place that you can have a pint and pair it with some of their fabulous cheeses. The bottles are for in-house consumption or to go and you may find a few here that aren’t available at the bigger beer stores.

Deschutes Brew Pub – 210 Northwest 11th Avenue (Go for a meal/beer – 1 – 1.5 hours)
Sun – Tues: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Wed – Thurs: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00am – 12:00am

Established in 1988 in Bend, this is a popular stop and worth a visit. Nineteen taps with a selection of seasonals or one-off beers only available on site. Growler fills and bottle sales available. Food wise, try the pretzel (with creamy white cheese and Black Butte Porter stone mustard) and the Obsidian Stout Mac & Cheese. The name says it all.

Bailey’s Taproom – 213 SW Broadway (Plan 1 – 1.5 hours)
Daily: 2:00pm – 12:00am

This gem has 24 rotating taps and a large bottle list, which can be consumed in house or taken to go.  

Henry’s Tavern – 10 Northwest 12th Avenue (Plan 2 hours)
Mon – Wed: 11:00am – 12:00am
Thurs – Sat: 11:00AM – 2:00am
Sun (dining room only): 10:00am – 11:00pm

The bar is famous for its frost-top drink rail and more importantly, 100 taps.

Day Three

How are those pants holding up? Ready for more delicious beer and food?

Roscoe's - 8105 SE Stark St (plan 2 hours)
Daily: 11:00am – 2:30am

A bit out of the way, but worth a visit if you’re in the hood. Sixteen taps, slot machines and an awesome happy hour menu (all the tater tots!) from 2-6pm daily.

Saraveza - 1004 N Killingsworth St (plan 2 hours)
Daily: 11:00am – 12:00am

Voted as one of America’s best beer bars 2001 – 2014 by Draft Magazine, this neighbourhood watering hole has 10 draught lines and a large selection of bottles for consumption or off-sales. The do lots of events so watch their twitter feed or website. Oh, and they have FREE BACON NIGHT. Second Monday of the month, buy a beer, get free bacon. Boom.

Horse Brass Pub - 4534 Southeast Belmont St (plan 1 – 2 hours)
Daily: 11:00am – 2:30am

Horse Brass is a few blocks from Belmont so you may want to visit after Belmont. This is a traditional English-style Pub complete with uncomfortable wooden chairs in a dark, windowless room. Ok, so the ambiance didn’t do it for me but their beer list makes up for it. Their draught, guest beers and bottle selection is extensive and you’re likely to find a few casks during your visit.

Rogue - 1339 Northwest Flanders St
Sun – Thurs: 11:00am – 12:00am
Fri – Sat: 11:00am – 1:00am
Sun: 11:00am – 11:00 pm

It's time to check out the original pioneer. I don’t need to explain to you who Rogue is, I’m sure. Four locations in Newport and Portland – pick one close to you. The Flanders Street location is downtown and has 38 taps including limited releases that can only be found at that pub. Washrooms are labeled Barley and Hops – figure out the boy/girl parts and choose wisely.

Alameda Brewhouse - 4765 NE Fremont St
Sun – Thurs: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00am – 11:00pm

Alameda is a neighbourhood brewhouse, a bit out of the way, that has good beer and food.

That’s it – those are my recommendations for a trip to Portland. I’ll continue to update this post as we visit more place.

There are a lot of breweries you can visit and will find an extensive list here:


Lots of food trucks and fantastic places to eat in Portland. I admit that we don’t spend much time seeking out the good food, but these four I can highly recommend. I could write about each of these but I’m too lazy and I’ve just spent hours putting together a description of all the beer places. Time for you to do some work ;)

Pok Pok - 3226 Southeast Division St
Cheese Bar - 6031 SE Belmont St
Pine State Biscuits - 3640 Southeast Belmont St (small place and expect to wait for a table)
Maya’s Tacqueria - 1000 SW Morrison

Haven’t been to yet, but were recommended to us:
Lardo – 1205 SW Washington St and 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Podnah's Pit BBQ - 1625 NE Killingsworth
Mac & Cheesery - 3936 N Mississippi Ave
Little Bird Bistro - 219 SW 6th Ave
Le Bistro Montage - 301 Southeast Morrison St
Screen Door - 2337 E Burnside Street (line-ups, have the fried chicken)

Beer Shopping!

Shopping is a must in Portland. Local beers, a large selection from California (including Russian River which is no longer available in WA State) and from all over the world.

John's Marketplace - 3535 Southwest Multnomah Blvd
Huge selection – most of which is not refrigerated so do check bottle dates. You need a vehicle to get out there (and a shopping cart for all the bottles you’ll buy) but it’s worth the trip. Decent prices.

Belmont Station - 4500 Southeast Stark St
I love this store. Good selection, their bar in the next room is fantastic, and it’s a short cab ride from downtown. Their prices aren’t the cheapest, but you’ll be happy you shopped here. They often bring out some rare/aged beers so be on the lookout for them. Large selection of glassware too.

Beer Mongers - 1125 SE Division St
All beers are refrigerated, prices are good (we found them cheaper than Belmont and Apex) and you can shop while you drink. Flights available here.

Cheese Bar - 6031 SE Belmont Street
Small selection but they often have beers that are sold out elsewhere. Delicious cheese and worth the stop.

Saraveza - 1004 N Killingsworth St
A few fridges to check out if you’re in the area.

Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom – 3090 SE Division
Good selection to choose from

Most of the bars have bottles to go - Apex, Bailey's etc. Just ask.

Bridgetown Beerhouse - 915 N. Shaver St
Beaumont Beer Market – 4130 NE Fremont St
Whole Foods – 1210 NW Couch St (Pearl District)

That’s it. My extensive list of favourites for Portland, Oregon. Tourism Portland, send me my royalty cheques (or checks for you) anytime. Happy travelling!

1 comment:

  1. Good write-up, especially on starting with Hair of the Dog! I also enjoyed HUB and 5Q, HUB for the beer sampler on the bike rim platter and 5Q has a lot of experimental and barrel samplers (plus they are just around the corner from each other and close to Forktown which is a thriving hippie food place including a Stumptown Roasters coffee bar and Little Big Burger. I always visit Lucky Labrador, more for the pizza than the beer, plus its an easy walk back to the hotel and is kid friendly before 9pm and the beer has improved over the years. Also good call on Henry's, an impressive tap list, a good scotch selection and fantastic food. I go at least once a year, often twice. There are some great bottle shops on the coast too with lots of great Oregon beers.