1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Roots Organic Brewery

Not Rated.
Roots Organic BreweryRoots Organic Brewery
BA SCORE
86
very good

17 Ratings
Ratings: 17
Reviews: 17
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 10.96%
Active Beers: 11
Beer Ratings: 83
Beer Avg: 3.71
Taps: 8
Bottles: 12
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

1520 SE 7th Ave
Portland, Oregon, 97214
United States
phone: (503) 235-7668
// CLOSED //



Notes:
CLOSED as of July 2010.

The owner retains all his trademarks and could conceivably get Roots beer back on shelves, but the brewpub is closed.

(Place added by: freed)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 17 | Reviews: 17 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Osiris9588:
Photo of Osiris9588
3.54/5  rDev -3%

The Reggae, Rasta, Caribbean vibe is cool, and certainly unique for a microbrewery. The service was friendly as they offered us samples. Though we were nearly the only people in the place and they didn't not have enough glasses for the actual sampler. The organic selection is adequate and the Burghead Heather offers an unique choice, as it is brewed sans hops. I thought the best of the lot was the Island Red.

The overall quality of the beers seemed rather underwhelming. Nothing really jumped out. I can't seem to find a reason to choose Roots out of the huge selection in PDX--unless you really dig the music.

Osiris9588, Nov 21, 2008
More User Reviews:
Photo of djbreezy
4/5  rDev +9.6%

I like the vibe of this place. It's a good spot to go and enjoy beers with friends. The last time I went, there was a great selection of music playing...probably the bartenders choice. It made the atmosphere very personal and enjoyable.

The nice, long bar, and tables to sit at add a nice flavor to the place. The location is good and there is a reasonable amount of room inside to enjoy some beer. However, it is a bit buried and hard to find if you don't look carefully. I drove by it twice the first time I was looking for it...maybe it was just me but I think the place could benefit from stronger signage...especially in the evening.

The beers here are good stuff. I don't go here as often as I should and this review is reminding me of that.

djbreezy, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of snaotheus
3.86/5  rDev +5.8%

First stop on a two-day beer tour of Portland.

We were in pretty early, right around noon, and we were the only ones there besides the girl behind the bar. She was a little aloof, but she answered questions about the brewery and the beers and the neighborhood, and we didn't sit with an empty glass at all.

The place is small and interesting, very into the Jamaica vibe. Sound system is good quality and of course they're playing Bob Marley.

I had Epic and Woody, my wife had their EXXXCalibur Imperial Stout and Heather. Heather was surprisingly good and EXXXCaliber was very good, my two didn't blow me away but they were tasty.

I think they only have about six taps and one was out while we were there, but the Epic is much cheaper on tap so I forgive them.

I enjoyed the place, but since it's a long way out of my way, I probably won't go back. I'm willing to try some of their other beers that I didn't try while I was there, though.

snaotheus, Feb 02, 2010
Photo of Floydster
3.86/5  rDev +5.8%

This was our last stop on our second day in Portland, we walked here from the hotel which was a little over a mile away, we had rode our bikes here earlier in the day but they did not open until 3 pm unfortunately, so be cautious of that, this place was pretty crowded around 9 pm, we found a table near the entrance and hung out for a little over an hour, when I got up to go the bathroom I saw some barrels off to the right, could not tell what was in them but definitely got curious, they brew right in the back of this place, you can walk up to all the equipment, there is a lot of room in here for growth too, on my walk back to the table I saw a fridge with a few bottled Belgian beers like St. Feuiliien and Saison Dupont, found this interesting, too bad they did not have any of their other bottled beers available other than Woody IPA or Island Red which were already on tap anyways, had six taps total and one of them was a guest tap of Alameda Black Bear Stout, real mellow vibe in here and certainly centered around being organic, you can expect that type of crowd too, bartenders were nice and talked to us about their beers for a few minutes, liked this place for sitting back and relaxing, more of an easy going brewpub unlike a lot of the others we visited in Portland, three ten ounce glasses were twelve dollars, not too bad but not good either, their Excalibur Stout was awesome, the other two we had were the Red and pale ale which could both be skipped next time, was hoping to find some of their seasonals on tap but they did not have any at the time, heard they make some cool chili beers along with a monsterous beer called Epic Ale that is supposed to be quite good too, would go back here especially if some of their more interesting stuff was on draft, recommended

Floydster, Jun 09, 2009
Photo of GreenCard
3.44/5  rDev -5.8%

I'd been meaning to check this place out for a while now and I finally made it on a rainy Monday afternoon.

The atmosphere is a bit dreary and dingy, though I understand they're going for that shabby-chic "cool" vibe. It just felt a bit contrived and disorganized. Though, as a homebrewer, it is kind of nifty to basically sit IN the brewery!

The tap-handles are pretty funky and their beers have "cute" names. I wasn't that impressed with what came out of the taps though. The Heather Ale was pretty good, but the hit of my session was a guest beer! It's hard to put a finger on it, but their beers just seemed a bit flat. Not in a carbonation sense, but in a flavor/zest sense.

HOWEVER, I will be back because: it's close to where I work; they have OK prices and a good happy hour; and I'd like to support "the little guy". I do like that they do a bit more experimenting with their beers (you don't usually see heather ales and Belgian sour reds in brewpubs, for example).

GreenCard, May 09, 2009
Photo of indiapaleale
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%

This place was right around the block from Lucky Lab so we stopped in to check it out and to see if they had food...which they did.

Not much going on inside, its pretty basic with the brewing stuff pretty much out in the open, which was cool.

We sat at the bar, which will make you feel very small, and had some pints (another place that pours imperial pints...love it). The beers were decent and I sampled some of their stronger stuff. Our bartender was very nice and she offered samples of anything we wanted.

Food at this place was awesome. I had their "Street Tacos" which were excellent.

They had some reggae playing which made the vibe cool while we ate and drank. Cool place, glad I got to check it out.

indiapaleale, Feb 22, 2009
Photo of benito
2.53/5  rDev -30.7%

Roots is a popular brewpub just off of Hawthorne Avenue in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood of SE Portland. That is, it's got a prime location as part of Portland beer crawl. It's about a two minute walk from Lucky Lab on Hawthorne, and it's only a few minutes more to the Green Dragon. House Spirits Distillery is just down the street, and Produce Row Cafe--Portland's original and now underrated beer bar--is nearby as well. On a nice day and an eye to walking, you could easily cross the river and be at Full Sail Riverplace in twenty minutes. Though a little further out, Clinton Street "Brewing" is within striking distance as well.

Perfect, you say? Well, the only problem with this is that, after numerous visits, I'm not sure that there is any reason whatsoever to visit Roots. The beer ranges from passable (NeverMined Pale Ale, Heather ale) to flavorless (amber ale). I should interrupt myself here and point out that their summer seasonal 'gruit kolsch' is a very noteworthy exception to this. It is worth seeking out. (So I qualify initial statement, I'm not sure that there is any reason to visit Roots between October and mid-June).

The problem with much of the beer seems to be some kind of 'woodiness' that both my friends and I have noticed. I've heard some people argue that this has to do with using organic malt, but HUB, Laurelwood, and Hair of the Dog don't have this issue. The body, especially on their 'bigger' beers, comes off as thin. And their seasonals--chocolate habanero stout, pumpkin ale, coconut porter--have huge potential, but the payoff is watery and underflavored.

Worse is the service. When it is not crowded, say on a regular weekday happy hour, the service is sluggish. When it is busy, say during last fall's VP debate, it is the most rude and inattentive service I have ever seen at a bar--and I didn't even bear the brunt of it. There seems to be a company policy that forbids employees from multi-tasking. No matter how busy they are, the bartenders will only handle one customer at a time--they will literally sit for 45 seconds to a minute chatting it up with other servers while waiting for the credit card machine to process while 30 plus people wait without any kind of service. I've also seen them ignore a line of people at one end of the bar for over 15 minutes. You might argue that they are understaffed or that my example focuses on a particularly difficult time, but there are plenty of busy bars that handle their customers efficiently and courteously. Whether you call it rude or inefficient, bad service is bad service.

I also take issue with some of the layout, but I've griped enough. Roots was a brewery that impressed me upon my first visit and has only disappointed since. There are many, many excellent beer sites in Portland where you're better off spending your scrillaz.

benito, Dec 22, 2008
Photo of BeerZack
3.76/5  rDev +3%

Atmosphere here is cool without being overdone. Small brewpub with one guy behind the bar; walk-up bar service only. Most of the seating is picnic tables. There was a live band on the small stage in this (small) place and while the music wasn't bad it prevented any conversation except between songs. The beer was okay, most were solid brews but just didn't find anything I really liked. The Pale Ale was nice and so was the IPA, but just didn't stand out in this town. The "Heather" was quite nice and drinkable despite having no hops. Festivus Winter ale was a great big malty winter warmer with a generous dose of hops, the best of the beers I tried here. There was an Imperial Stout on nitro that was pretty thin and really not good. Also a special Golden ale that had nice Belgian yeastiness with crisp carbonation and an odd tannic mouthfeel was noteworthy. Did not try the food. The bartender was friendly and knowledgeable.

BeerZack, Mar 24, 2008
Photo of cswhitehorse
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%

The inside of the Roots establishment is that of a local watering hole. There is good ambiance and you are not far away from the stills. There is a nice size tv and some board games to use you time and enjoy the food and beer.

I enjoyed the four styles I had while I was there. The quality of the brews was good. The service is the only thing that isn't great about this joint. There was only 1 guy pouring and taking orders and the other was making the food for over 40 people. So you had to go to the bar. Woe is me.

The selection of brews and food was varied and food was prepared well with fresh ingredients. I had the quesadilla and italian sandwich which were tasty. Overall it is a place I think you should visit if you are on the eastside.

cswhitehorse, Feb 03, 2008
Photo of slander
4.13/5  rDev +13.2%

Still bumming round and around Portland some. The easy pockets of brewpub on every corner have been exhausted; we have to work for them now. Roots is another in the "I think there's a brewpub tucked in this industrial strip here somewhere" kind of places. We're getting real good at findin' them though. Brewpub, you can no hide...

You enter down this funny kind of ramp that runs all the way down to the rear, and there's a lower bar area off to the left half way down. An "L" shaped bar seating 9 rests on the inside wall just below the ramp and holds an 8 tap tower up front with mini surfboard shaped tap handles. The tap selections are written on a blackboard behind the bar, and brewery shirts, pictures 7 photos on the bar back wall. There's a small kitchen area down the back end of the bar and a water cooler there for "Go get your own". The walls are painted green, yellow, brick & blue, and are adorned with crazy local artwork. There's a great mosaic Roots Brewing Co. tile piece on the side wall, a big bamboo Roots Brewing piece in the far corner next to mounted German mash rakes, and a big flatscreen on the rear wall. Spots & sunken lighting, colored drop lamps over the bar, and ceiling fans above. 5 picnic tables adjacent to the bar, a 3 seat bar counter along the forward end, and an elevated front nook with more bar counter space. To the back back, 3 picnic tables out front a small glass front brew room lined above with guest brewery bottles. And a half dozen small tables out front on the street.

7 beers, all organic, and I found the selection to be most Cambridgeish. 6 came on the sampler. The Island Red, East Kent Golding & Fuggle, had a little toffee about it; the Sharkbite Impy IPA was assertive, came in at 8.9%; the Rye had a nice rye flavor coming through; the Exxxcaliber Impy Stout, 8.6%, had a slight inkiness, oaty, smooth, nice flavor; the Burghead Heather Ale was hopless, and done up with heather tips; and the Gruit Kolsch was herby, pleasant, much like Baker's '03 gruit. Didn't get to try the Woody IPA. I thought the Exxxcaliber Impy Stout, Rye & Gruit Kolsch were the best of the lot. Good beers for the most part.

Caught a light bite here. The jerk rubbed smoked pork wrap was damn good, and came with some solid ruffled chips. Decent little place, kind of surfshackish, all tiki and surfer girl. Kinda cool, definitely worth a look.

slander, Oct 22, 2007
Photo of ccrida
4.06/5  rDev +11.2%

Being new to the city, I have only been to Roots twice, but have enjoyed both visits. I really enjoyed the laid back island vibe, very unpretentious with the picnic tables and all. Only 1 TV, but it is a nice, well placed flat-screen, and the 1 dart board is real, not one of those plastic ones I hate. Very warehouse feel with the brewing equipment that is visible. The servers seemed nice enough, but the second time I visited, for the release of their 5th winter ale, the Triple, I had both brewers/owners (?) come up and chat with me in my wife in a very genuine manner for quite some time, even buying us a beer. That immediately bumped this place up high on my list of Portland brewpubs I've enjoyed so far. They had really good jazz band playing that night too, and the volume levels were spot on for a bar of this size. I've had all of their winter ales and their Red...none were bad, but the Triple, Epic, and RIS all stood out as really being well done. The fact that they delayed the release of their Triple by a week or two from the originally scheduled date indicated to me that these guys cared more about the quality of their beer then other places who might just rush stuff out. Also, the fact that a lot of the beers weren't just standard British style ales appealed to me, as I appreciate a sense of adventure with brewing. I will say that the food menu was a bit to thin and granola looking to entice me thus far...

ccrida, Feb 02, 2007
Photo of Matthew
3.98/5  rDev +9%

Roots is a nice brewpub to stop into every once in a while. The atmosphere is unique, their mash tun and kettle are off to the right as you walk in with their tanks on display in as well. Mostly picnic tables set up along the door with a nice TV usually displaying a sports game. Most of the decor is themed in the vain of Jamaican type style, lots of red, yellow and green. Their tap handles are all surfboards.
The service is always very friendly, talkative and always ready to explain Craig's latest concoction. Roots always has some innovative beers to be had, from their coconut porter, chamomile beer, to their unhopped heather ale.
The food is nothing too great. Just some usual pub food for a decent price. Veggie burgers served on bagels, pizza, chips, etc.
Always reasonably priced. Pints are pretty standardly priced. Certainly worth checking out for the Portlander or the visitor.

Matthew, Jan 15, 2007
Photo of msubulldog25
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%

Roots Organic Brewery is located in a small storefront in a light-industrial part of SE Portland, a half block south of Hawthorne Blvd. Painted an adobe brown with a colorful sign above the door. A few picnic benches line the sidewalk; lots of afternoon sun - as the building faces west towards SE 7th, a fairly busy street.

Inside, there is a bar area to the left and the brewing operations behind a partial height wall to the right. The floor level of both is actually 2 or 3 feet below street level, so you choose between a long wide ramp which leads more or less to the brewery or a set of steps directly to the "pub". The decor is generally island themed, with walls painted in shades of yellow, olive green and amber. Some miscellaneous bits of artwork and paraphernalia hang from the walls and are tasteful, not too kitschy. There are about 10 barstools around the (tall!) bar area, 5 simple picnic tables and some various chairs and small tables. The one where I sat had an inlaid glass chessboard which was pretty cool looking. There's also a single flat screen TV on the far wall and a single dartboard around the corner near the brewery & restrooms. Nice relaxing music (a Jack Johnson CD) played in the background.

Service was easy enough; a friendly young woman in a yellow Roots t-shirt tended bar and offered me samples to try. Visited on a Tuesday, which offers $2.50 imperial pints all day...a good time to go it seems. There were 6 "regular" house beers on tap and two seasonals (Kolsch & Wit). I got a pint of the Burghead Heather and a bowl of peppery potato chips. The beer was good, interesting flavors since it was brewed without hops; also tried the Kolsch, which is brewed with lavender & chamomile instead of hops and found it to be an excellent summer refresher. At other occasions I've tried their Stout, Red and Wit beers; all are good, though the Wit seems to be overly hopped for its style. Browsed the menu, a small but decent assortment of sandwiches (organic ingredients), pizzas from Hot Lips (Portland), a couple salads, bar snacks and a few kid-friendly items too.

Overall, a likable place - very laid back. Bare concrete floors and simple decor give it sort of an "unfinished garage/basement" feel. Lighting in the bar half is mostly spot & indirect lighting or daylight from the windows. The brewery half has harsh fluorescent lighting; there's also a sort of industrial hum from cooling fans that was audible over the converstaions and music. For someone interested in the brewing operations, Roots' setup is so visible and approachable. Though I didn't ask, I'll bet the brewer(s) would give a quick tour or talk about what's in the tanks, coolers, etc. I'll ask more next time I'm back...

msubulldog25, Aug 10, 2006
Photo of mashmstr2
2.85/5  rDev -21.9%

Located in a warehouse/garage space, this brewpub has a bright feel. As you enter, you’re visually directed toward the brewery and brewing system, and guided down a ramp way which strangely goes right in front of the brewing equipment and behind the bar. This would have a nice showboating appeal if the brewing system was more posh, which it is not. The ramp dumps you right in front of a cooler, which is cold sterile feeling with the exception of huge dent in the cooler and cheesy misfit architecture. After you make a big left “U” turn you come upon the bar and pub area. A wooden bar, tall enough for the Jolly Green Giant, appears to be well made by a crafter who has no idea of what the regulation height of bar should be… Table and chairs surround the bar. The theme seems to be, an Island Palm trees meets artsy tendiness and then run over by haphazard low cost construction feel. Not horrible, but not very visual comfortable.

After being dwarfed by the Incredible Hulk bar, you’ll notice that the back bar is packed with stuff and looks disheveled.

There’s a chalkboard with beers listed and the bartender was attentive and dismissive at the same time. Not very knowledgeable about the beers… Always a bad sign. Noted, he hasn’t tried some of the beers, so tell him what I think. OK.

The food board is off to one side and is limited.

After going through the sampler, I realized there really wasn’t a beer I would want to drink in any volume. All beers were unstructured, poorly concepted and not up to Portland quality.

Update: I've returned now at least 3 more times.... I find beers STILL to be loosely formulated with oddball ingredients. The odd ingredients are fine, but they're not intagrated into the beers very well. Either heavy handed and choying or underhanded and unnoticed. Some of the BASE beer flavors are a little gritty, grainy and astringent.

I jacked up my rating a little, due to a better selection of beers and better service staff...

I wish I could report better news because I do like the pub abd the energy of the brewers....

mashmstr2, Nov 24, 2005
Photo of RedDiamond
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%

Roots opened in early 2005 as Portland’s first all-organic brewery. Located just two blocks from The Lucky Labrador, Roots enjoys easy accessibility, public transit, and parking. Their motif is island tropical with as many references to palm trees as to hop vines, plenty of surfing iconography, and reggae rhythms in the air. The house features four or five regular beers and numerous rotating seasonals. They trend towards casual potency, strong bittering and unfiltered rawness. All are brewed with organic malts and several are entirely hopless utilizing traditional brewing herbs such as heather, chamomile, and lavender.

The brewpub is split down the middle by a wheels-friendly ramp. To the right is the sizable brewing operation with a 10 bbl capacity and enough room for a rumored expansion into a bottling line. To the left is the bar and seating area with unfinished park benches, dim lighting, and strange angular lines painted in solid colors reminiscent of an Ethiopian flag. The food menu is not very extensive with only light offerings along the lines of sandwiches, salads, a hummus plate and snacks. Personal sized Hot Lips pizza is also available. As you might imagine, much of the fare is made of organic ingredients including an organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the kids.

Things I like: the very friendly folks behind the bar, the funky bohemian vibe, inventive beer recipes alive with organic ingredients, the very cool chessboard table.

Things I don’t like: the exceedingly tall bar that makes me feel like a small child, the harsh acoustics, Costco salsa. Also, the plastic disposable forks are highly inorganic.

Roots’ youthful, artistic sensibilities and color remind me of Portland’s other new eastside brewery, Amnesia. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that Roots’ one guest tap is frequently occupied by an Amnesia beer. Tuck’s beers have also made appearances here along with other equally thoughtful choices. Beer quality can be hampered by harsh, unrefined recipes and techniques though I’m hopeful for improvement as the brewers gain greater authority over their system. Roots sells growlers and insulated growler totes. Cheap beer pours on Tuesday at $2.50 an imperial pint.

RedDiamond, Aug 19, 2005
Photo of Thrasher
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%

With a couple months under their belt, things are shaping up nicely for Roots. As you may have surmised, all their brews are organic, and they show potential for creating unorthodox styles; their heather ale (no hops) is already on tap. This progressive attitude is mixed in with a vacation-y, spring break-y beach ambience (the tap handles are mini surfboards) to provide a stilted but inviting atmosphere. The space is bisected by an overly dramatic ramp which suggests they are hoping to move a lot of product out the front door. To the right is the spacious brewing area and some large holding tanks. On the other side is the small pub, with a very tall bar made of recycled floorboards, a few picnic tables and some smaller cafe-style tables.

On last visit, they had 5 beers (pale, red, IPA, nitro stout, heather) and 3 guests (Amnesia, Lucky Lab, Hair of the Dog). The red and heather ales were the most interesting. The music was Caribbean in flavor but not really reggae; it was pretty lousy but fortunately it wasn't obtrusive. The acoustics were also not too great but this is only a problem if a table gets really rowdy. All their brews were solid with the sole detriment of being a bit too yeasty. In some cases, like the full-bodied red ale, it suits the beer but I would have liked a lighter, filtered pale ale for instance. Food was unambitious but fine, with Hot Lips personal pizzas and sandwiches like what you would make for yourself at home. The bartender was outgoing; she let those sitting at the tables know they should come up to the bar to order, and she was graciously apologetic when a keg blew on someone's growler fill. On the way home I realized she overcharged me but it's my fault for not saying anything. Pints are imperial, $4.25 except on Tuesdays and happy hour when they are $2.50. They are also open for lunch, despite what their website says.

With two creative, skilled brewers, a devotion to organic and herbal beers, and a murmur about bottling in the future, I'd say at this point the most exciting thing about Roots is its potential. Let's hope we can look forward to Nicholls' kolsch, McAdam's pilsner, and a bunch of unusual beers that haven't been imagined yet.

Thrasher, Jun 10, 2005
Photo of freed
3.54/5  rDev -3%

Its probably not completely fair to review Roots yet since they're just getting a foot under them, but I figure a preliminary may help someone.

The place is just off Hawthorne and has a great presence on the street. The brewing equipment takes up roughly half of the floor space, including some lagering tanks in a cold room.

The place has a very Caribbean feel to it with red, green and yellow favored heavily (though tastefully) in the decoration. The bar and woodwork are excellent recreations from salvaged building materials and do wonders for the place's karma. A good set of speakers delivers a great variety of reggae. Overall there is still a feeling that there is more coming.

Service was great even despite the bartender's marathon pouring. He was out of quarters so he charged us $4 per imperial pint instead of $4.25. That's really kind of him, but since there were 4 of us, he could have just lumped that dollar. Oh well, thanks for the quarter.

There were eight taps, each pull was unique and interesting. A few didn't match what was underneath, but that's fair because two of the kegs died while we were there. More than half the taps are guests from around town at this point with three brewed in house. The beers were alright, the red on nitro was quite good, but like many of the details of the building, it seemed like there was still some work to do.

The neighborhood seems to be responding well to the new addition and plenty of folks were enjoying the spot. I'll certainly stop back in, both of the brewers are skilled and have some great beers under their belts. Naturally, I'll update my review a little later.

freed, Apr 02, 2005
Roots Organic Brewery in Portland, OR
86 out of 100 based on 17 ratings.