The Northwest of Portland is undoubtedly the richest part of town in terms of brewing history. The Widmer brothers started out here trying to sell Altbier before creating a Hefeweizen that became an American standard. And then there’s Henry Weinhard’s, the famous Portland brewery that shut in 1999 after 135 years of beer production. The brewery may be gone, but the name lives on in the form of Henry’s 12th Street Tavern. This resides on the site of the former brewery’s power house.
Henry’s is a huge, two-storey, rambling pub and restaurant. They boast 100 beers and ciders on tap, but be warned: they haven’t got time for you to idly wile away the hours with samplers. Whatever you want, you’ll be expected to have a pint of it. Portlanders love their sport and this place can get busy when big games are on. Which, in Portland, seems most evenings, to be honest. Best time to visit: Sunday, when it’s happy hour all day.
If you’re Downtown, you simply have to visit Bailey’s Taproom. Being British, I needed to have a local that I could fall into at the end of the evening. Bailey’s filled that role as, fortunately, it was just round the corner. Ok, not fortunately, I actually picked my hotel with it in mind. It’s a small, modern pub with a chilled vibe reminiscent of our very own Port Street Beer House. There’s no food-you can order from across the street-but has some great beers at very reasonable prices. And the beer board that actually tells you how much is left of each beer is a revelation.
Another famous Portland landmark is Bridgeport Brewery. One of the originators of the local brewing scene, they have a large presence in the city and very nice premises in a former rope factory. However, I was a little disappointed with some of their beers. No such problem with the mighty Rogue who produce a dazzling range of very good beers. Their sample tray of 14 (12+2 extras)s the largest in town and their wet hop IPA was stunning.
Yet another landmark is Deschutes Brewery & Public House on NW 11th Avenue. This has 18 taps featuring the brewery’s regular beers and special seasonal brews. You can try a six (4oz) sample glass selection for $8 or steam straight in with half a litre for $5.
Chainbreaker White IPA
Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Four different hops but Crystal malt lurks beneath the surface.
This 6.8% West Coast IPA has 80 IBUs and with Cascade and Centennial onboard, you’d think it would be a safe bet. However, the clue is in the name. They’ve added a ton of Crystal and Carastan malt to give it gut-retching malt overboard finish. Horrible and one of the worst IPAs I’ve had.
Golden, fruity beer made with 16 pounds of Sterling hops in each barrel.
Fresh Hop King Cone (Cask)
Lovely copious amounts of fresh Centennial hops but why put two types of Crystal malt in there?
The New Old Lompoc is also a Portland mainstay and has a huge heated patio area. It boasts half a dozen regular beers on tap along with some seasonal brews. Happy hours (pints $3.50) are 4-6 and after 10pm and I can recommend the chips with salsa for $2. If you can; visit on “Tightwad Tuesday” where you can fill your boots for only $2.50 per pint.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the name comes from a film (The Bank Dick) starring W.C. Fields in which most of the action takes place in a hotel called the New Old Lompoc.
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