Horse Brass Pub
Taps: 74 / Bottles: 26
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 119 | Reviews: 98 | Display Reviews Only:
4.95/5 rDev +15.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
This is by far my favorite place to enjoy a pint in portland. This bar feels comfortable. Classic old school far furniture and wood accents give it a welcoming feeling. I like to play a little game with myself where I try to spot Winston Curchill from wherever I am sitting in the bar. There aren't any TVs, so this isn't a place to watch sports. The only entertainment is the four dartboards, labled 1,2,4 and 5. The staff is nice, and they generally know their beer. My guess is that if any of them aren't beer nerds, they do their homework on the beers they have on tap. Beer selection is always great, I have never walked in and been able to easily pick which beer I want, there is always a lot of great options. The food at the brass is decent, it's generic pub food. I can say I've never been dissapointed, but I always get the same burger, so saying that doesn't hold much weight. The fries are always good too, if you are going to be around for a while drinking, get yourself some French fries, they are cheap and delicious and prevent you from drinking on an empty stomach.
01-03-2012 07:09:18 | More by gkunkle
4.94/5 rDev +14.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
Every time I go to Portland I have to visit this place.
The HB looks more like an old English pub than most of the places I've been to in the U.S. The only thing that keeps this place from having an exceptional atmosphere is the eye-burning cigarette smoke (in their defense though, they'll let you smoke anything legal in there, even pipes and cigars.) 5 casks, 36 taps, always high-quality stuff. I had the Homo Erectus and a Rogue William Younger on cask this visit. Service has always been exceptional, bartender even bought my brother and I a shot of McTarnahan's (scotch) just because we hadn't tried it yet. I've probably been here 10 times and have never had the food, one of these days...
One of my favorite places anywhere, don't miss it if you're in Portland.
11-28-2004 23:37:41 | More by PopeJonPaul
4.9/5 rDev +14%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5
A really nice Old English style pub.
Atmosphere and quality: Great, old wood work, a couple dart boards, triva games the second Wednesday of the month, and of course Soccer
Service: The service was wonderful, the wait staff was always there to get you a new drink when you were about finish with your previous beer.
Selection: A nice large selection of local micros, imports (mainly Enlgand, Ireland, and Belgium). There are various varieties in the bottle, on tap, good selection of nitros, and my fav multiple cask conditioned ales.
Food: The food was really good, typical pub fair variety
08-19-2003 18:29:57 | More by Elemental
4.88/5 rDev +13.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5
This is the quintesential British Pub! You can, of course, stay here from afternoon (or morning) to late evening and not have the same beer, or same style, twice!
Fantastic traditional English eats like Bangers & Mash added 10 pounds to my waistline last summer. I should dock the food a point for spite, but damn! those bangers have a spell over me.
Some people complain that the service can be slow, but I've never noticed/encountered this (must be my winning smile). A MUST if you are anywhere near Portland!
03-19-2005 03:27:54 | More by unklesyd
4.86/5 rDev +13%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
I stop in every time I visit Portland on business. I absolutely love this place. The atmosphere is outstanding. Having done many trips to England and visited as many pubs as possible, I find the Horse Brass very authentic and enjoyable. There's a lot of character to the place along with a few dart boards to fill in the time between beer and conversation.
They always have a great selection of beer. It includes both regular offerings and guest taps. I've discovered several favorites here including Walking Man's Homo Erectus Imperial IPA, Mt Hood Hogsback Stout and HUB IPA. I love the fact that they always have some casks on tap.
This is a great neighborhood pub. Nice work Mr Younger!
04-14-2008 00:19:41 | More by GJ40
4.85/5 rDev +12.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
When the list of best beer bars came out recently, I was disappointed by its bias towards the northeast. I believe the list is inaccurate in its misrepresentation of the country as a whole, and the northwest in particular. But I haven't exactly been prolific in beerfly reviews lately and I was especially surprised to realize I'd never gotten around to reviewing the Horse Brass, my local. So here it is, overdue!
First of all, the atmosphere: it's a British style pub with wood beams, rustic furniture, and a compartmentalized bar that is inviting and homey. The west wall has floor-to-ceiling windows which look out on the small alleyway that separates the Brass from Belmont Station. Dart boards are in 3 out of 4 corners and sections are separated by a couple of stairs. The place is decorated with lots of small brass medallions from which the bar gets its name. Horse brasses were put on the horse's forehead to ward off evil spirits during nighttime journeys. There's a considerable amount of smoke and the walls are yellowed, but I've had smokier experiences in countless other bars. It is a drawback to some. There can also be some old hounds hanging around, the most notable of which is Don Younger, the owner of the bar. To some, he is a local craft brew hero, having started this pub in the dark days before the renaissance and always supporting local brewers. To others, he is an unintelligible souse.
Quality: the beers are kept in excellent condition. The casks are always right on, hardly any suspended yeast and served at the proper temperature. Pints are imperial sized. The regular taps, I believe, have a very small infusion of nitro which improves mouthfeel.
Service: I've always had excellent service here. Honestly, the best. The bartenders are always friendly, quick to recommend something good or give me an honest opinion of an average beer. Lots of free tastings. They are usually busy so maybe they can be abrupt, but they are never rude. What do you want, anyway, someone to hold your hand while you drink your beer? I'm not sure why others haven't had as good service as I have. Just remember to not be an asshole, and if things go well, tip well.
Selection: Over 40 choices, probably 2/3 from the Northwest. Imports are mostly British. 5 casks (1 rotating). Usually around 10 rotating taps with a new one appearing almost every day. A different beer on Randall every Friday. Their cheap lager is a fantastic one from Walking Man and it's 2.25 for 20oz. The website will give you a good idea of what's available although it's not always updated.
Food is hearty and English. Scotch eggs, bangers, and fish & chips are all fantastic. Ploughman's lunch makes a good snack. But this is pub food, make no mistake. Weekday daily specials are varied and cheap, but they're usually so-so tastewise, and they run out early.
04-16-2005 00:45:53 | More by Thrasher
4.85/5 rDev +12.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
After 14 months of being a BA, I'm finally getting around to submitting a writeup for my local neighborhood beer bar. I've been coming to the Horse Brass for years. I brought in New Years 2004 here. I've driven the serving staff home in my taxi after closing. I've gotten pretty hammered here on beer and single malt Scotch, but I've always managed to walk the half mile or so back home. It's a great bar and an institution in a town that knows the value of good beer.
The Horse Brass is a neighborhood beer bar whose resistance to change has earned it something of an enduring legacy. The wooden floors are so worn out, you can see the years of spilt beer, muddy boots, and broken glass that have given them such character. Everything else is equally tempered by years of glass upon wood, smoke, an errant dart or two. I've seen plenty of bars aspire to be what the Horse Brass already is. You could build a new bar tomorrow with an equal number of taps, put some reissued "classic" Guinness ads on the wall, and make overtures to jolly old England all you want, and it wouldn't be the same. The Horse Brass already embodies the genuine character such wannabes can't hope to emulate with mere ornamentation.
There oughta be a law that prohibits a truly great beer bar from having television or video games. These flashy noise makers only detract from a great bar. The Horse Brass has darts, beer, authentic English pub fare, and conversation. Their one large screen TV is kept unplugged, shoved against the wall except when Sunday soccer matches are shown.
This was the first place I ever heard a bartender use the phrase "malt profile." The staff seems to arrive because they genuinely belong here, not because they look good in a T-shirt. Last time I visited, I ordered a beer and the waitress advised me that I might want to reconsider my choice because the tap wasn't especially fresh. How many servers know the product and look out for the customer like that? Not many.
The selection of beers is perfect. 25 American beers, every one fresh from the west coast. 15 thoughtful choices from Europe, one cider, and four cask-conditioned ales. The numbers are just right to provide good rotation and choice. You could drink twice a week here and not grow bored all year long.
As if that wasn't enough, next door is Belmont Station where you can choose from hundreds of bottles of beer from around the world to go. A great place to have a great beer if ever there was.
04-17-2005 01:08:37 | More by RedDiamond
Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR
95 out of 100 based on 119 ratings.