An easy one to find, Burnside Brewing sits just east of the Burnside Bridge. The tasting gallery is comfortable and open with banquette seating and a wrap-around kitchen. Local art covers the walls and at the back a giant chalkboard menu, framed in driftwood, lists the many beers on offer. The atmosphere is casual and the brews creative.
Recommendations: The Sweet Heat wheat beer or the rich and spicy Hot Chocolate Stout, brewed with real habanero and melted chocolate.
This laid-back brewery is located at the Northeast end of town and boasts a big patio and bike parking. Choose from seven house beers and a handful of rotating specials before joining the crowd at one of the communal picnic tables. When the weather is warm, the garage-style doors are raised to merge the indoor pub with the outdoor patio.
Recommendations: The balance of bold citrus and fragrant hops in the Luscious Lupulin IPA make it one worth remembering.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House
Although IPAs reign supreme in Portland, Cascade Brewing has set themselves apart with their speciality sour beers. Tart and refreshing, this style is a bold alternative to the brews offered at neighbouring pubs. Using fruits and spices, beers are aged to perfection in French Oak, Kentucky Bourbon and Northwest wine barrels. The aging process ups the alcohol and gives each batch that distinct sour flavour. Cascade pours 18 sours, which includes two rotating casks to showcase the brewers’ latest innovations.
Recommendations: The Blackberry sour, a blend of wheat ales aged with blackberries, and the Kriek, a strong Northwest style sour with distinct notes of cherry and oak.
Coalition Brewing Co.
One of Portland’s newest arrivals, Coalition is a bare-bones brewery with a neighbourly feel. The tiny tasting room is a modest extension of their 10-barrel brewing facility and features a rotating tap list. Inside is standing room only, while a couple of chairs and converted keg tables make up the parking lot patio. Unpretentious and affable, what this small-scale operation lacks in glitz it makes up for quality and character—the brewers here really know their stuff and are more than happy to share their passion.
Recommendations: The wild and wonderful Dill Dose is a worth a taste and you can’t go wrong with their Space Fruit, a citrus-infused IPA.
Rogue Ales & Spirits
Rogue also got their start outside Portland—in Ashland, Oregon—but brought their business into the city in the early '90s. Since then they’ve become one of the most well-known watering holes around. And, like their name suggests, they’ve never been shy to break from the norm. Rogue has crafted some of the wildest beers in town like the Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale or the Sriracha Hot Stout. This creative flare has livened up more traditional tastes as well.
Recommendations: The award-winning American Amber Ale and the warm and malty Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale.
Originally from Bend, Oregon, Deschutes opened its Portland location in 2008 and has since become one of the city’s liveliest locations. Their lodge-style brew pub features heavy wooden tables, plaid carpeting and a 26-tap lineup of old favourites and seasonal specialities. To taste a few, try selecting your own six-glass flight or let the brewmaster decide for you.
Recommendations: The zesty Fresh Squeezed IPA, sumptuous Black Butte Porter and crisp Pine Mountain Pilsner.
Base Camp Brewing Company
The guys behind Base Camp Brewing have two clear passions: craft beer and the great outdoors. From the weathered canoe hanging above the bar to the spacious outdoor patio complete with fireside seating and colourful Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the wind, Base Camp looks and feels like a adventurer’s outpost. And with a stellar 10-tap lineup it’s an easy place to hang out for the afternoon.
Recommendations: The rich and malty S’mores Stout, garnished with a roasted marshmallow, and the perfectly balanced Rye Pilsner, light in colour but deep in flavour.
Hopworks Urban Brewery
Hopworks opened in 2007 with the debut of their signature Organic IPA. Today, the two locations pour more than a dozen different beers, a cider and a couple casks specialities. A favourite among cyclists, Hopworks’ second location, the Bike Bar, is located along one of Portland’s most popular pedal routes. Both brewpubs celebrate this choice mode of transportation in their decor and feature colourful bike frames dangling from the ceiling.
Recommendations: The Pig War White IPA, bold and bitter citrus notes with a smooth finish, and the B-Side EP, a dry hopped Belgian-style sour.
For lovers of finely crafted and fearlessly flavoured beer, Portland is the promise land
Portland's brewmasters have been making a business out of local, small-batch beer production since the '80s—and it shows. Experts in all things hops, they champion bold new flavours, while also paying homage to the classics. You’ll find traditional German-style pilsners, iconic Northwestern IPA’s and some tastes unique to this city alone. With over 60 different breweries (and counting), there’s a pint for every palate in Portland.
Former intern turned contributing writer, Natalie Walters covers a range of topics for BC Living, with a special interest in travel, style and all things edible. She loves exploring food and far off places, preferably at the same time, and hopes to continue adventuring her way around the world as an international journalist.