Roots Organic Brewery
Ratings: 17 | Reviews: 17 | Display Reviews Only:
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.
10-22-2007 22:14:29 | More by slander
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
06-09-2009 02:11:38 | More by Floydster
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...
08-10-2006 19:38:27 | More by msubulldog25
3.6/5 rDev -1.4%
Roots opened in early 2005 as Portlands 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 dont 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 Portlands other new eastside brewery, Amnesia. Perhaps its not surprising then that Roots one guest tap is frequently occupied by an Amnesia beer. Tucks beers have also made appearances here along with other equally thoughtful choices. Beer quality can be hampered by harsh, unrefined recipes and techniques though Im 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.
08-19-2005 04:39:19 | More by RedDiamond
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.
12-22-2008 02:22:00 | More by benito
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.
02-22-2009 19:18:04 | More by indiapaleale
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.
03-12-2010 06:10:35 | More by djbreezy
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.
04-02-2005 17:54:25 | More by freed
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).
05-09-2009 00:15:06 | More by GreenCard
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.
03-24-2008 01:12:07 | More by BeerZack
Roots Organic Brewery in Portland, OR
86 out of 100 based on 17 ratings.