Toward the end of my pregnancy a few years ago, I remember earnestly saying that I didn’t miss beer, and that I might not even pick up drinking again. Weeks later, of course, I was already timing early dinners at nearby breweries around my breastfeeding schedule. But who can blame me? I’ve got some of the best breweries in the world right at my doorstep, and I can’t go anywhere in this town without running into a hot new brewpub or an old favorite ready with the perfect pour. The search for self-improvement continues in other areas of my life, but good beer is something I don’t have to look for.
When I wrote about Portland’s best new breweries for Serious Eats in 2015, the city had more breweries than any other in the country. While that’s no longer the case (congrats, Chicago!), there's still a large and ever-growing number here, regularly winning national and international awards and attracting throngs of tourists and regulars, who happily line up to try coveted beers.
Sure, you could pick up a four-pack and sample some local favorites at home while watching Netflix, but true beer fans know that hitting the breweries in person is a must. It means access to beers you’ll never find on grocery store shelves, whether that’s a sour beer or nitro, a fresh-hop IPA (the all-too-brief season starts and ends in autumn), a small-batch one-off, or a special vintage bottle.
Portland has long been at the forefront of brewing trends, and there's plenty of interesting stuff happening beyond the expected wide range of IPAs offered at most breweries. Read on to find out what breweries should be at the top of your Portland agenda.
Why Is the Beer Scene So Great in Portland, Anyway?
Many craft-beer trends can be traced to the availability of a new ingredient. It’s fair to say that the modern US craft-beer industry began here in 1972, when Oregon State University in Corvallis released the assertive, disease-resistant Cascade hop. That hop would soon become the backbone of two beers that kicked off the boom: Anchor Brewing Company’s Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Later, between 1984 and 1986, during a time when there were only about 50 breweries in the entire United States, Portland saw the openings of the now-shuttered BridgePort Brewing, Portland Brewing Co., Widmer Brothers, and Oregon’s first brewpub, McMenamins. Back then, Horse Brass Pub, which opened in 1976 and is still around today, was already favoring local beers and microbreweries over major producers.
Today, the region’s seasonal bounties—the city is surrounded by local farmland that's verdant with hop vines, fruit trees, and wine grapes—provide a ton of inspiration and fresh ingredients. Oregon is well known for its beer and its role as a leader of the cannabis revolution, but the Willamette Valley is also home to some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the country, and local breweries are happy to take cues from them, experimenting with grapes and knowing when to put a good wine barrel to use.
Lucky for you (and me!), Portland’s breweries don’t just offer some of the best beer in the country: The city’s creative farm-to-table movement means that even brewpubs can’t get away with lazy food. Because these breweries already use or draw inspiration from seasonal ingredients for their beers, most also serve great food that's made from scratch with locally sourced produce, meat, dairy, and more.
With so many great options within striking distance, choosing just a handful of favorites was no easy feat. I spent a whole mountainous road trip thinking and talking about the favorite breweries of every beer geek and casual drinker I know...and then winced as I crossed off enough names to narrow my list down to 11 spots.
This was a purely qualitative process. But the breweries that made the cut did have a few things in common:
- Consistent high quality. Many of these breweries win accolades year after year, and most release new beers on a regular basis. Some have been around forever and focus on the same recipes Portlanders have loved for years. Whether their beers are mainstays or more gimmicky, they reliably knock our socks off.
- They’ve pushed the craft-beer industry forward in some way. These are the breweries that others in the field look up to, which doesn't necessarily mean they've been around for decades—some of the new kids are impressing the old guard, a fact made evident by collaborations and the goodwill of those helping new arrivals get off the ground. All of these are early adopters of new methods and styles; some are bona fide pioneers.
- They’re widely adored, and the beer keeps us coming back. This was tricky. Like many Portlanders, I frequent and love a lot of breweries that aren’t on this list; as my winnowing-down process demonstrates, any "best of" list can only scratch the surface. Most of the breweries I've selected here offer a combination of great beer, food, and ambience, yet the actual beer is the star of the show. These are the breweries we’re all excited to introduce to visitors. We go back to see what’s new, get our hands on something we've just heard about, pay respect, visit an old love, or simply drink a beer that's better than the rest.
Of course, to refresh my memory of these breweries' offerings, I’ve also been doing more solo day-drinking lately, as well as taking my toddler straight from day care to visit possible candidates, where she samples the kids' menu while pointing to my glass and ordering me to drink "mama milk."
And I’ve been reading and listening. Brewery staff, beer-nerd friends, and the baristas who support my writing habit all perked up upon learning what I was doing. They asked (with excitement and visible deep concern), "Oohhh, are you including [brewery name]?" I knew I was on the right track, because I never had to say no. It was sweet to hear, in all those sighs of relief, how tied we Portlanders are to our community, and how personally we take our beer.
Almost-10-year-old Breakside Brewery is a major Portland institution, and its impressive range of beers still rakes in awards every year. In 2019 alone, Breakside dominated at the North American Beer Awards, with wins in 10 different categories, and the Oregon Beer Awards crowned it Brewery of the Year within its size division.
Breakside's third location opened in the rapidly expanding Slabtown neighborhood in 2017, providing NW Portland fans with a huge, high-ceilinged, two-floor brewpub and a big patio. While I love to soak in the vibes at the NE Dekum location, enjoying my beer among the cute hipsters, dogs, and children occupying the sidewalk patio, I think the larger beer selection at Slabtown gives visitors more of a treat. And, though the Dekum spot may offer a more authentically Portland experience, Slabtown is where the brewery workshops more of its hoppy new recipes—always among the most exciting things to taste here, since Breakside makes some of the best IPAs around.
Do yourself a favor and order a flight, so you can taste a few different special releases. Personally, I also like the food better at the Slabtown brewpub, and I often get a hearty vegetarian bowl or fish entrée to offset the impossible-to-resist wings and giant, house-baked soft pretzel with cheese sauce.
The transition into fall is officially fresh-hop time, and right now Slabtown is celebrating the season with four fresh-hop IPAs on tap, as well as the option to add a French-pressed fresh-hop infusion to a beer of your choosing. The brewery innovated a fresh-hop method (in the vein of Cryo Hops, developed by Yakima Chief Hops) that it's been using exclusively since 2013. The fresh hops are first frozen on liquid nitrogen, then crushed to extract the lupulin—a fine powder that contains the hop’s essential oils, i.e., its flavor—from the flower, making a homemade cryo powder that avoids the dirt-like taste that can come with using the whole flower. "The process for making fresh-hop beers this way has definitely caught on with a handful of brewers in the Northwest, but it hasn’t become a major national trend," says Breakside brewmaster Ben Edmunds.
Also of note: The team behind the beers includes three women, among them R&D brewer Natalie Baldwin (known locally as the former lead brewer at now-closed Burnside Brewing Co.), who oversees operations and beer development for the Dekum pub. Sadly, this is still unusual in 2019, so let's give credit where it’s due.
When Art Larrance and Ron Gansberg left Portland Brewing and started Cascade Brewing in 1998, they had no idea it would be leading the way in sour brewing over 20 years later. While they were Initially specialists in traditional ales, Larrance and Gansberg quickly grew tired of the dominance of big IPAs. Capitalizing on the region’s abundance of local wine barrels and fresh fruit, Cascade took a gamble and began making sours long before they were trendy, stealing hearts and Great American Beer Festival medals.
Bright, tart kettle sours, so named because they're quickly soured in stainless steel tanks during the brewing process, have become all the rage, but Cascade’s beers take their time, engaging with bacteria and developing complexity as they sour in the barrel. With at least 20 funky, oaky, fruited sour beers on tap, Cascade's Barrel House on SE Belmont Street, nicknamed the "House of Sour," is one of the best places in the world to sample different iterations of the style, and to taste how their components interact.
Instead of picking your favorite fruit or brew style off the menu, I’d recommend springing for a pretty rainbow of tasters. It’s fun to experience how dynamic sours can be, and the beers’ differences are best savored side by side. On a recent visit, options ranged from the Pêche Fumé (a smoked wheat ale barrel-aged with peaches) to the Sang Noir (a bourbon-barrel-aged red ale with cherries) to the Bourbonic Plague (a blend of sour and imperial porters with dates, vanilla, and orange peel), and there’s often a sour beer on nitro. If you’ve never sampled the latter, put that one at the top of your list: Due to the lack of carbonic acid from carbonation, and the thicker mouthfeel imparted by nitrogen, nitro sours are rounder and allow drinkers to distinguish more of the complexity in their flavor.
The Lodge is the original location, and where Cascade brews its beer; around six of its 18 taps are also reserved for non-sours, which are resurfacing in importance for the brand. But the Barrel House is easily accessible in the city. It serves a full menu, although I like to keep it simple with a cheese-and-charcuterie plate, which pairs well with all that fruited beer. While you’re there, keep an eye out for exciting additions—right now, Cascade is tapping funky fresh-hop sours, something you don’t see every day. The brewery also just began releasing its first cans, including Casual Friday, a sour hazy IPA made in collaboration with Trap Door Brewing.
This advice applies to Portlanders as much as to visitors: If you think you know anything about Culmination Brewing’s beer based only on the cans you've picked up from supermarkets or bottle shops, you’re missing everything. The brewery does distribute a few of its cans, but more important, you’ll find 20 varied beers on tap there, tucked away in the growing industrial corner of NE Portland’s Kerns neighborhood. Culmination’s long beer list is possible thanks to an innovative brewing system that sequentially moves the process through different tanks (multiple steps, like mashing and lautering, usually take place in the same tank). This means that, unlike with a traditional system, multiple batches can brew at once.
Since the brewery opened in 2015, Culmination has largely been known for its substantial, rotating list of small-batch IPAs and sours. But it's always brewed a variety of traditional and experimental styles, including lagers with great character. It’s no surprise that Culmination’s lager program is growing now, at a time when many brewers here are reviving tradition and showing off their skills with beers that leave no room for imperfections.
Like many other breweries on this list, Culmination is in the swing of fresh-hop season, and the brewers use Breakside’s method to make ephemeral IPAs, freezing fresh hops on liquid nitrogen and shattering them to extract the lupulin as a concentrated powder. Hop Shove It, which was on tap as I wrote this, tastes exactly like the scent of a fresh-plucked hop as you pinch it in your fingers.
This is also one of the few breweries, along with Cascade, that's tapping sour beer on nitro, so make sure to try it while you’re there. Neon Valley, a sour with pineapple, guava, and cherry, is currently on that tap, and a new version featuring different fruit will rotate in quarterly. Is nitro sour the next big trend? "Maybe it’s something that’s going to catch on," says manager Paul Francis. "We’re happy to be at the early stages of it."
Stop in Monday through Saturday to enjoy your beer with sandwiches and small bites (like the popular candy bacon) made from locally sourced meat and produce. Or clear your Sunday, when the menu is set exclusively by vegan pop-up Jackfruit Kitchen, with rotating offerings including a PB&J banh mi, a jackfruit barbacoa torta, and frozen s’mores pie.
Great Notion Brewing revels in experimentation, and its unique beers—which might be made with local peaches, or quirky ingredients like pandan leaves or even cereal—make a case for the maxim that fortune favors the bold. The brewery is famous for its sours, stouts, fruited beers, and, most important, hazy IPAs—these guys were among the earliest Pacific Northwesterners brewing the New England IPA style launched by Vermont breweries like The Alchemist (of Heady Topper fame) and Hill Farmstead Brewery. People still get excited about tasty staples like Double Stack (a maple stout aged on coffee beans) and Blueberry Muffin (a sour brewed with local blueberries), but I’m a sucker for JB DIPA (the NE IIPA formerly known as Juice Box) and whatever fruited mochi milkshake IPA (fermented with toasted rice and sometimes lactose) might be on the menu.
Great Notion’s origin story is as fun and enchanting as its beer. Owners James Dugan, Andy Miller, and Paul Reiter initially met as neighbors and home-brewing enthusiasts. Dugan and Miller were stay-at-home dads who experimented with making beer together, and when Reiter tasted the results, he knew they had a successful business awaiting them. Together, they secured funding and found a unicorn: Another brewery wanted out of a dream location on Alberta Street, meaning Great Notion could be up and running on existing equipment shortly after taking over the space.
This March, the brewery opened a new location in NW Portland, where fans line up every Saturday morning for limited new canned-beer releases. Still, the original NE Alberta brewpub is as busy as ever. Both locations serve great food—I often get either the crispy, well-spiced fried chicken sandwich or the gooey, garlicky, sharp mac and cheese—but they have different beer menus, so if you want to experience the full suite, you’ll have to check out each spot individually. Alberta’s taps feature more brand-new, innovative beers, while those at the NW location pour more classic and barrel-aged ones. I prefer the neighborhood-pub feel of Alberta to the bright, clean NW spot—especially when you can sit on the secret garden–like patio, surrounded by greenery. Great Notion’s beers are inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s lush landscape, so this feels like the best spot to drink them.
Hair of the Dog
If you love to geek out on brewing history, and appreciate big beers, like barley wines and strong ales, then Hair of the Dog Brewing Company will be one of your favorites. In 1993, at the early stages of the burgeoning craft-brewing scene, this brewery was among the first in the country to bottle-condition and barrel-age high-alcohol beer. And, in the spirit of reverence to the community, founder and brewer Alan Sprints names his beers in honor of beer historians, friends, and family members.
Sprints started the brewery to offer unique, slow-sipping beers, and he does just that with his two featured rotating series, "From the Wood" (beers aged in new American oak) and "From the Stone" (beers fermented in an egg-shaped concrete tank, as opposed to the typical stainless steel tank that tapers into a cone). Beers fermented in the egg have more floral esters and a softer hop flavor, due to the yeast’s longer suspension and greater surface area along the bottom. I recently did a side-by-side tasting of all three versions of Fred, a golden strong ale named after local beer historian Fred Eckhardt. The conventional Fred was super fresh, with vivid hop character and a full body from the rye and Belgian candi sugar, while Fred From The Wood tasted very big and oaky. The aged Fred From The Stone had big, round flavors and less hoppiness, with notable petrichor character up front, tasting like spring rain hitting the soil. I’ve liked all of them on various occasions, but this time I noticed how much I really prefer plain old Fred.
Stepping into this industrial SE Portland brewery is like stepping back in time—it sits along the freight-train tracks and feels like an old pub. Apart from different versions of the base beers (like Cherry Adam or Bourbon Fred From The Stone), its beer menu includes an aged-bottle library, which currently lists vintages dating as far back as 2005. Food is necessary to balance out all this alcohol, and the brewpub serves a full menu, with items like duck confit, brisket, sandwiches, and daily deviled-egg specials.
Little Beast Brewing
If "Loveliest Brewery in Portland" were an award category, Little Beast Brewing would win Gold. This spot has big charm and rich history: Brewmaster and cofounder Charles Porter is a craft-beer rock star, with over two decades of experience at spots like Deschutes Brewery and Full Sail Brewing; he was also the cofounder and head brewer of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, known for its Seizoen Bretta. Brenda Crow, Little Beast’s cofounder and Porter’s wife, explains that, after spending time foraging in the 1980s, Porter studied field biology in college, which "had a huge influence on his brewing career and his interest in fermentation science." He became famous for brewing beers with seasonal fruit and complex blends of yeast and bacteria, and the news that he was starting up his own brewery in Portland, after leaving Logsdon in 2015, was greeted with much excitement by locals.
The city's beer lovers felt an immediate nostalgic attachment when Little Beast opened its SE Portland taphouse in 2018, and the brewery really delivers. Its mixed-culture-fermentation beers (which can use a blend of added and naturally occurring microbes, like Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, et cetera), ales aged in oak and foeders (large wooden barrels), dark and dry hopped sours, "Brett" (short for Brettanomyces) and hoppy saisons, and Belgian triples and quads embody a variety of flavors and moods—some are bright and crisp, some punchy and jammy, some brooding and earthy. All are complex and delicious. And I can’t wait to try the upcoming sour fresh-hop IPA, Green-Eyed Monster!
The taphouse’s ambience and food complement the beer to create an impressively cohesive brand. Lounging on the grassy front lawn of Little Beast’s 1912 Craftsman house (which used to be a Lompoc Brewing location) and beer garden on Division Street is a sweet way to relax on a summer afternoon or evening. For the rest of the year, the café-like parlor is cozy.
The whole experience is thoughtfully comprehensive—farmhouse beers and simple, delicious food served out of a space that truly feels like a farmhouse. Crow, who manages the restaurant and business and has a culinary background focusing on cheese and charcuterie, has worked at Tartine in San Francisco and Portland’s Olympia Provisions. "I have worked hard to make sure that our pub is an inviting space where you want to spend time," she says. "From the lighting to the seating, from the year-round patio to providing picnic blankets on our front lawn when it’s sunny, the experience is curated to keep people in a warm mood."
Modern Times Beer may be an outlier in that it started in San Diego, but after a SE Portland outpost was opened in January 2018, the brewery—which does brew on location—quickly earned official Portlander status as well. Its colorful wording; send-ups to real and mythological utopias (Google all the beer names, including Modern Times!); crafty spaces; and ‘80s nostalgia all answer the city’s rallying cry to "keep Portland weird."
Talent abounds in all areas of the brand's operations—apart from brewing, Modern Times also roasts its own coffee, and even the colorful interior and can designs are done by its in-house team. But the beer is always the winner. The tasting room’s draft list is thrillingly long, with hoppy, flavor-bomb IPAs; session ales; saisons; barrel-aged stouts and sours; goses; berliners; pilsners; strong ales; barley wines; and more. The brewers are always exploring new styles, making this another spot where flights are too much fun to pass up. "We're not constantly innovating because we feel obligated to; we do it because it's what we love about the job," says founder Jacob McKean.
Where does the inspiration come from? "Some of our best beers have been the direct result of feedback or ideas from the people who drink our beer," McKean says. Power to the people doesn’t stop there: In May, Modern Times became the first fan- and employee-owned brewery in the world.
Which is awesome, because the beer sells. Modern Times’ success earned it the #45 spot on the Brewers Association’s 2018 list of top 50 craft breweries by sales volume. The Portland location, known as the Belmont Fermentorium, is already growing: The brand is moving into the larger space next door, while retaining its original corner spot for private events and an expansion of its brewing system. The new-and-improved brewpub will have a rooftop patio, more room for guests, and a full kitchen for a more extensive, all-plant-based menu. After the year and a half Modern Times has spent chilling in a bright landscape of floppy-disk tiles, string art, and a giant, shimmering Macho Man piñata, it’s fun to imagine what the designers have dreamed up for its new home. If all goes as planned, it’ll be opening in October 2019.
Ruse Brewing is doing it all, and doing it all very, very well. Owners Shaun Kalis and Devin Benware produce the full spectrum of IPAs (West Coast, hazy, IIIPAs, et cetera) as well as lagers, mixed-fermentation farmhouse ales, sours, and stouts. The duo uses the solera method on their foeder-fermented beers, which means they partially empty the foeder and build on the preexisting blends with the next batch, always keeping the culture going. "We use our foeder for blending," Kalis says, "which is fun once you have built a house flavor profile you really enjoy."
Kalis and Benware met while working at Culmination, where they began Ruse in 2015. They were able to brew their own beer there until last year, when they finally opened the new brewery’s 10-tap, sunlit SE Portland space in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Housed in a recently renovated manufacturing building (dubbed the Iron Fireman Collective) along the new MAX Orange train line, the taproom warms up the industrial space with wood-paneled walls, and the small seating area and large-paned windows create an intimate, young neighborhood vibe that mixes old and new. It feels like a cool, secret spot.
This is one of the few tasting rooms that doesn’t have its own kitchen, but there are pop-ups on Fridays and Saturdays. Fast-casual Indian restaurant Bhuna often makes an appearance on Saturdays with a few spiced, hearty meat and vegetarian dishes; recent Fridays have had Gracie’s Apizza and sandwiches from Stanwich. (And there’s always the option to bring in your own food, such as my personal neighborhood fave: macaroni and cheese from Mac’d down the block.)
While you're there, catch some collaborations with other talented breweries. This year, Ruse has been one-third of Fort George’s celebrated annual 3-Way IPA, sharing the bill with Seattle’s Cloudburst Brewing. A Sunlit Room, Ruse's anniversary West Coast lager made with Cellarmaker Brewing Company of San Francisco, is dry-hopped with Strata, Citra, and Amarillo hops, blending flavors you’d recognize from IPAs in unfamiliar territory with lager yeast. For Even Fade, a new-release fresh-hop collaboration with Indie Hops (developer of Strata and Meridian hops) and local beer bar The BeerMongers, Ruse fermented the IPA at a cooler temperature with kölsch yeast, giving the beer a fruity kick. New lagers are on the horizon, and beers from the barrel program should be maturing in a few months, so even when these cycle out, there will be special new beers to drink.
A decade ago, Alex Ganum moved his brewing system into a little basement space of the Leftbank coworking building to become the first of Oregon’s beloved farmhouse breweries, and to this day, Upright has a special place in many a Portlander’s heart. (When I revealed I was writing about the best breweries in Portland, this is the one people asked about the most.) Upright has long been ahead of the curve nationally—when it began in 2009, there were only a handful of other breweries producing farmhouse beers in the United States, like Boulevard Brewing Company (established 1989), Allagash Brewing Company (established 1995), and Brewery Ommegang (established 1996).
It’s also one of the rare breweries to use open fermentation, which exposes fermenting beer to the elements. The process allows brewers to harvest yeast at its peak from the tops of lidless tanks for future batches, rather than doing the more typical post-fermentation harvest from the bottoms of conical vessels. This can yield a more nuanced beer with a wider variety of fruity and floral ester notes, perfect for Upright’s rustic, French- and Belgian-inspired beers, which favor balance over common ester-forward Belgian profiles or flavor-intense trends. A visit to the brewery offers a peek into one of the tanks through the windows of a pressurized room, via a mirror angled above.
Despite the lab-like feel of the basement brewery, its informal intimacy is as rustic and endearing as the beers. You can sit among the tanks or in the bar area (which finally has an actual bar), and chat and listen to records as you drink mainstays and seasonals on draft, or grab a special-release bottle.
Upright doesn’t serve food, but Ganum is also a co-owner of Grain & Gristle, a comfortable NE-neighborhood gastropub where you can enjoy a number of Upright beers alongside house-butchered local meat. Its daily two-fer special is a meal for two that comes with a round of beer, and the burger is truly one of the best in the city. The brewery has a more extensive beer selection, but if you’re hungry, this is a really good restaurant on the slightly higher-end side of casual.
The young Von Ebert Brewing is quickly making good on its mission to become a world-class brewery. Upon opening in March of 2018, it immediately won over Portland beer lovers by pulling in head brewers Sean Burke and Sam Pecoraro of now-defunct farmhouse favorite The Commons. Co-owner Tom Cook always planned to have multiple locations, and just a few months after launching its first spacious and busy brewpub in the Pearl (with a capacity of around 300 people), Von Ebert opened its second spot on far NE Portland’s Glendoveer Golf Course. The picturesque, string bulb–lit, hydrangea-lined patio is perfect at dusk, and, unlike the Pearl’s brewery, the brewing system at Glendoveer is set up with giant foeders to ferment complex farmhouse beers.
The teams are collaborative and often work together, but each location has a different brewing focus. Pecoraro, whose experience also includes time at Breakside and Burnside, puts out beers like lagers and IPAs in the Pearl; Glendoveer, meanwhile, focuses on mixed-culture, spontaneous-fermentation, and Brett beers, such as Accidental Universe, a round, foeder-aged saison with notes of apricot and coconut. These are Burke’s passions, and Jason Hansen, formerly of Sante Adairius Rustic Ales and Garden Path Fermentation, is now out there brewing with him. The two share similar tastes and approaches. "I feel pretty blessed that I get to focus on the beers I want to make, and not have to spend time and energy making beers or learning to make beers that I have no passion for," says Burke. "Not that I had to in the past or anything; it's just that if you wanted an IPA made at your brewery, there are more qualified people out there than myself and/or Jason."
That's not to say Von Ebert doesn't make spectacular IPAs—Volatile Substance, which won Gold in the 2019 North American Beer Awards’ American-Style IPA category, is one of at least 10 IPAs currently on draft between the two breweries. With Pecoraro and the recent addition of Laurelwood Brewing Company’s Cameron Murphy and Eric Ebel to the Pearl location, the well-rounded team at Von Ebert is responsible for a number of the city's best beers.
Each location offers 20 different beers to try, mostly on tap, with crossovers and unique brews on both menus. Both locations are big and family-friendly, featuring large food menus with crowd-pleasing items like pizzas and sandwiches. I love going to Glendoveer, but the Pearl is centrally located, so I recommend it if you must pick just one to visit.
Last year, Ezra Johnson-Greenough of The New School (Oregon’s guide to all things beer) gathered a group of 40 esteemed members of the beer community to vote on the Best of the Year Beer Awards. Wayfinder Beer earned Oregon Brewery of the Year, Oregon Brewer of the Year, and Best Oregon Brewpub. These are just a few of the accolades awarded to this brewery, which cofounders Charlie Devereux (formerly of Double Mountain Brewery), Matthew Jacobson (co-owner of the mostly-Portland pizza chain Sizzle Pie and founder of metal label Relapse Records), and Rodney Muirhead (owner of restaurants Podnah’s Pit BBQ and La Taq) opened in 2016.
Wayfinder brews plenty of outstanding IPAs, but the brewery was inspired by Devereux’s travels to Germany and the Czech Republic. GABF Gold–decorated head brewer Kevin Davey (formerly of Firestone Walker, Chuckanut Brewery, and Gordon Biersch) pays special attention to classic styles, like helles, oktoberfests, hefeweizens, kölsches, and pilsners, and his beers are among the best contributions to the growing lager trend. If you need another reason to try Wayfinder’s balanced and refreshing beers, its assistant brewer, Kelsey Cable, is one of the few women brewing in the city; the smoked porter she made for the SheBrew Festival, called Full of Fire, has been on tap in the pub.
Visiting this bustling, 8,900-square-foot, century-old brick-warehouse pub often feels celebratory. Besides the amazing beer it serves (along with cocktails and wine), it also has one of the best patios in Portland, and a house butcher and baker who make great use of the space’s wood-fired grill. The mix of German dishes, barbecue, and pub food deserves to be in your regular rotation for lunch and dinner, rain or shine.