Portland is one of the best beer cities in America. There are over 80 breweries in the metro Portland area, and that doesn’t include the breweries in outlying areas like Tillamook and Bend.
While tastes vary, there are some breweries that can be considered “must try” either because they helped build the foundation of what Portland’s beer scene is today, or because they are spearheading the innovation of the next phase of craft beer.
With all that being said, here are the ten breweries you simply must visit in Portland.
Baerlic Brewing is the 2017 & 2018 Oregon Beer Awards brewery of the year winner. This is a passion project between two home brewers who after winning numerous amateur brewing awards finally decided it was time to get into the game. This small space pumps out some real classics like their “Dad Beer” lager, but also experiments with sours and farmhouse styles.
Breakside Brewing is the kind of brewery that works for everyone. Take for example their Slabtown location (they have three): a tap list that a beer connoisseur can enjoy, a food menu that pretty much anyone can enjoy, and a decor and patio that just oozes cool; pretty much everyone is happy here.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House
Cascade Brewing can arguably be attributed as the brewery that brought sour and wild beer to Oregon. Their distinctive sour beer blends feature fruit forward, barrel-aged ales with an emphasis on project year-to-year variation. These beers offer a complex array of flavours derived from the acid, the fruit and the residual flavours present in the barrels in which they age.
Deschutes is the grandfather of craft beer in Oregon, and frankly a success model that most craft breweries could only dream of. Founded in 1988, the craft brewery has played a pivotal role in guiding the industry to where it is today. While technically started in Bend, it has such a strong presence in Portland that it can’t be denied a spot on this list. The amazing thing is even after 30 years, the brewery is 100% family owned and even provides employees with stock options. They’re also sustainable.
Ecliptic Brewing is a venture from John Harris, an Oregon craft brewing icon. Craft beer lovers have been enjoying John’s beers for over thirty years from breweries such as McMenamins, Deschutes, and Full Sail. With Ecliptic, John has taken his passions and created a brewery that isn’t afraid to push the boundaries on styles and flavours. Expect to try something entirely different every time.
If you love IPA, then Gigantic Brewing is the one stop shop for everything hoppy. They are unapologetic about the fact that IPA is their true focus; sure there are other styles available, but IPA is their true love. Better to be an expert in one thing, than a mediocre jack-of-all-trades.
Great Notion Brewing is a brewery started by three friends and neighbours in Portland. They focus on hazy, fruit-forward IPAs and “culinary-inspired” sours & stouts. Along the way, they’ve won numerous Gold and Silver medals over the years, including accolades at World Beer Cup, GABF, Best of Craft Beer Awards, and Oregon Beer Awards, as well as the 2018 #1 IPA in America from Paste Magazine.
Hair of the Dog
Hair of the Dog might be the most expensive brewery you’ll every visit. Why? Because they focus on aging and barreling. The brewery has 180 oak barrels used to age Beer from 6 months to 8 years. They also have a storeroom filled with vintage bottles, which is where the heafty price comes in. A 12oz bottle of “Adam from the Wood” can range anywhere from $20 to upwards of $35 depending on the year. Consider Hair of the Dog the fine wine of brewing.
Ask a native Portlander which brewery is the best in the city and it’s very likely that Upright will be mentioned. Upright Brewing specializes in farmhouse inspired beers rooted in France and Belgium but made with a Pacific Northwest twist. It’s an unassuming brewery in the basement of an office building, but boy does it sure leave a lasting impression.
Wayfinder Beer is fairly new (2018) but the pedigree behind it is stellar. This is the brainchild of Charlie Devereux (co-founder of Double Mountain Brewery), Matthew Jacobson (co-founder/owner of Sizzle Pie, Quality Bar, and Relapse Records) and Rodney Muirhead (co-founder/owner of Podnah’s Pit and La Taq). This is a tryst of Portland’s finest, and the results speak for themselves.