Horse Brass Pub

Not Rated.
Horse Brass PubHorse Brass Pub
BA SCORE
96
world-class

128 Ratings
Ratings: 128
Reviews: 98
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: n/a
Taps: 74
Bottles: 26
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

4534 SE Belmont St
Portland, Oregon, 97215-1636
United States
phone: (503) 232-2202

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @horsebrasspub

Notes:
Weekdays: 11:00am -2:30am
Weekends: 9:00am - 2:30am

(Place added by: sinistersteve)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 128 | Reviews: 98 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Dcbelkot
5/5  rDev +15.7%

Photo of Duggie
5/5  rDev +15.7%

Photo of Kkbeep
5/5  rDev +15.7%

Photo of jackmax
5/5  rDev +15.7%

Photo of gkunkle
4.95/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

Photo of PopeJonPaul
4.94/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

Photo of Elemental
4.9/5  rDev +13.4%
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

Photo of unklesyd
4.88/5  rDev +13%
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!

Photo of GJ40
4.86/5  rDev +12.5%
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!

Photo of Thrasher
4.85/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of RedDiamond
4.85/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of udubdawg
4.78/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Wish some of the reviewers who had negative experiences had been there when I was there - it was truly a treat.

1. Halibut makes the best fish and chips...and the malt vinegar is perfect with it. Delicious.

2. There were 5 beers on cask - Mirror Pond, Rogue YSB, Mount Hood Hogsback, and if I remember correctly two IPAs. I had or tried four of them and all were excellent.

3. I'd say at least 30 brews on tap, with some truly fine selections. I have NEVER had a better HOTD Blue Dot than I had that day (I understand it was a new batch just brought in the previous day). I wish I'd have had enough time/liver for a Rasputin too.

4. Service - I sat at the bar at lunchtime during the week and got superb service. Waitstaff hung out and talked with me about beer while they waited for their beverage orders to be filled, and the bartender couldn't have been better at recommending things and was quick to provide more samples "You've got to try this!" Very knowledgeable too.

I understand how it could get smoky some nights, but this was not at all a problem on this visit. I try to visit places like this during slow times to talk beer anyway.

I'll be back.

Photo of BillRoth
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of Braz
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of IBUQT
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of SurlyDuff
4.75/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Finally!
I've been to Portland so many times, but have never gotten a chance to stop at this most excellent pub. I think the difference this time is that the missus' is always with me and we always just end up going other places. She likes beer, but we often end up at brewpubs, just never here!

So alas. We're intown for a wedding and she's in the bridal party. I visited the Horse Brass twice in two days (to no surprise coinciding with the wedding rehersal and the pre-wedding setup, ha!). Oh glorius Horse Brass! Savior from many hours of horrible wedding boredom! I spend about 3 hours each day at the bar chatting it up, killing time, and savoring the brews.

And what a superb selection they have! My favorites of the trip were Dogzilla Black IPA and a DryHopped Red from Caldera. Simply phenomenal!

Food was great too. Wasn't starving, so i got a cheese plate and was greatly impressed. All three cheeses were delicious and in larger-than-i-expected portions.

The staff (a different bartended both days) was very knowledgable and offered samples freely.

Downsides: This is a smoking establishment. Now I don't smoke, save for a random cigar or joint, perhaps as often as once a year.
But this place is smokey by any standards, which actually takes away from enjoying and tasting a pint. So much for aroma...and taste for that matter :(

There was however a cool old guy at the end of the bar smoking a pipe, and i didnt mind it. If I could recommend any changes be made to this bar, I would suggest they ban cigarettes....but keep the pipes and cigars, it really adds a neat atmosphere and culture. The atmosphere is really pub-ish and laid back. A great time, save for the cigarette reak that overpowers my beer.

Photo of bryc9194
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of TheBungyo
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of jdense
4.75/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Stopped by 7/5/08 taking a break from Waterfront Blues Festival. Great greasy food (if you don't like deep frying I suggest the Chef's Salad), friendly and attentive service from world class barkeeps, full pours of Imperial Pints and Hair of the Dog Fred (!) on tap The smoky interior just lends to the overall ambience of the Rose City's most important beer bar. No tour of Portland bars is complete without a stop on Belmont. Parking can sometimes be a hassle, but hey, after two pints of Fred I shouldn't be driving anyway :) I cheer you Don Younger!

Photo of Hobbit
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of RedDon
4.75/5  rDev +10%

Photo of blitheringidiot
4.75/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

For beer geeks there are only four kinds of bars: Just bars, beer bars, great beer bars and finally, LEGENDARY World Class beer bars. Horse Brass Pub is one of the few elite upper echelon legendary world class beer bars. Owned by the beer mythological man Don Younger who is only THEE man after whom Rogue's Younger bitter is named. What creates such an amazing exceptional ambiance is not just the inside of this beer heaven, but even the street that that the Horse Brass is situated is surrounded by other beer bars and brew pubs within a quick drive or a leisurely walk.

You can't help but be pulled in through the doors by the gravity of good beer. Inside the place oozes with old dark worn wood, and not just the kind that appears worn and withered but really is with a historic granduer. Walls, ceilings and trim are adorned over every square inch with classic coasters, flags, breweriana odds 'n ends nearly to being a ber museaum in and unto itself. No doubt, decades of beerdom have cast a patina about the place to give it an air of antique mystique.

The bar wraps around on the inside and tables are to the left an right. Countless tap stations hold 10 - 12 handles each. A beer menu struggles to kep updated, but with so much turnover, it is imposible to be recent. Kegs kicked the bucket, even as I was there for a few quick beers. There are three cask conditioned handles AND a DFH Randall with local cascade hops. Unreal! The narrow halls that wrap around the entire interior in a square are just littered with beer boxes, empty bottles and kegs like a frat house gone mad but with good beer.

All the staff were friendly, accomodating and attentive. If you go that far, you have don your ber clientele a great service.

What really cackled my frackus was that they have such a tight line of local beers, that the ber menu refers to beers from Seattle and California as "guest tap beer." That is classy. If this place were near me in Yuengling-ville, I'd be a regular until my bank acount was empty and my tummy was full.

Hopefully, I'm doing justice with the food aspect...just had steak fries and they were good.

Last call: Horse Brass Pub ranks with the best of beer bars that I've ever seen. My first place to hit, next time in town. Overall, this place has hardly any room to improve. It is damn near perfect. The only bar that comes close is Mugs in Brooklyn, NYC.

Thanks to Freed for the meeting of the BAs, thanks to ReidRover for wearing his BA T-shirt so I could recognize them, thanks to RedDiamond for hanging with me, reccomending my beer choices and ordering the steak fries.

Photo of kraven
4.72/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

We visited here on our way down the coast on our vacation/brewery tour :)

I am from England originally so i miss the pubs a lot. Wish this place was closer (live in Boise ID) as it is actually more English than most English pubs are !

The beer selection was amazing, they had four cask ales on and they change two of them on our return trip. They even had a beer local to where I used to live in England which was a great treat.

Food was good, some classic English stuff, its not great but no English food is that great.

Cannot recommend this place enough.

Photo of mnstorm99
4.72/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

We went into this place, as everyone on BA had mentioned great things about it. We were there for lunch and at $5 for maybe the best Fish & chips around was a hell of a deal (lunch pricing). The Reuben was also exceptional wife and I split the two meals). Had YSB cask and Homo Erectus both great beers. But the fun started right away when Dennis (the bartender) started pouring tasting samples for us since he knew we were from out of town and loved great beer (homebrewer also). We probably tried 10 other beers that afternoon and had a great time, loved this bar, the selection, the service and the food.

Smoke didn't bother me, and I didn't check the bathroom.

Photo of mugglesandhops
4.7/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I have read about this place and the (in)famous Don Younger for quite sometime now and FINALLY got a chance to stop in on a recent trip to Portland. It was all I was expecting and more. The first night I got into town we stopped here and they had The Abyss on guest tap so that was awesome in it self. They have 5 cask's and all but 2 I think are rotating. I had the Oatis, Racer 5, and Rogue YSB (which is there house beer since it is named after the owners brother) on cask so that was a treat. Amazing beer selection. Very nice bartenders. Nice rustic decor. This is the perfect pub.

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Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR
96 out of 100 based on 128 ratings.