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Horse Brass Pub

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

127 Ratings
Ratings: 127
Reviews: 98
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 10.9%
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: 127 | Reviews: 98 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mahanson
1.5/5  rDev -65.2%

mahanson, Jun 17, 2014
Photo of mashmstr2
2.33/5  rDev -45.9%

The Horse Brass is legendary in Portland, but I think its time has come and gone. With new pubs increasing the ‘BAR’ of pubs, food, beer and service quality; Horse Brass is being left in the dust…

On my last visit, I found the place a 1/8 full with dirty tables full of left over plates and glasses. Our server was rude and dismissive. We were told she was busy and we needed to hurry with our order. There was no one there! After spilling beer on the table, the floor and a friends coat with no apology, I really have very little good to say about service.

The beer menu’s where out dated and most items on the beer menu where not available.

The food has been hit and miss for some time. This visit solidified the downhill slide. The fish and chips were awful. The fish cold inside barely cooked. The fries were the end chips and scrapes of other batches. It appeared little effort was put into preparation or concern for quality.

While I have enjoyed the Horse Brass many times in the past with consistent quality in food, service and selection; I feel this establishment is missing their original mark.

mashmstr2, Nov 20, 2005
Photo of Crotor
2.98/5  rDev -30.9%

Dank and dark British pubs I dig, but solid clouds of tobacco smoke I loathe. Despite being a generally cool place, the smoking just about did it in for me. The originally white walls were stained brown with tar. After leaving this place I just about had to burn my clothes for the tobacco stench.

Service (table) was wretched. Our waitress was slow, unpleasant, and non-beer knowledgeable.

The selection was generally quite good, with all sorts of rarities available. However, I dound myself somewhat disappointed by the purely British/PNW ale emphasis - almost nothing in the way of Belgians and lagers.

The quality with regards to beer was a bit disappointing - for a beer bar, I was surprised to recieve mediocre pours - too cold and with almost no head.

The food was downright grubbin' pub fare though. Best scotch egg I've ever had (only scotch egg I've ever had).

Overall, worth a visit, but make sure you have a change of clothes for afterwards...

Crotor, Mar 27, 2005
Photo of Flyer
3.3/5  rDev -23.4%

The place potentially has a lot going for it, but it's lacking a certain something. Okay, we were there in late afternoon, and what it was lacking were customers. The physical atmosphere is classic, gnarly English pub, and the selection was pretty good overall. The bartender seemed like he might have been knowledgable, but he was more interested in talking about what was selling than what was good, and his service was indifferent at best. I probably owe this place another shot when there are people present, but it just didn't seem to have that inviting quality (which most great beer bars have even when they're empty). If you're in this neighborhood, visit Belmont Station first, then stop here only if you have extra time.

Flyer, Jul 02, 2007
Photo of Reagan1984
3.53/5  rDev -18.1%

Well, this review will have a ying/yang quality to it. On balance I am not sure where I stand on the Horse Brass. The beer selection and atmosphere were awesome. Among the elite. However the food and service were just terrible. I simply can't explain how bad our server was. There is a restaurant in Boston where the servers are intentionally supposed to be grouchy and mean to customers. I almost got the sense that this was the case at Horse Brass as well. I can assure you I went with one other person and we just came from a business meeting. So we were not acting out of line or intoxicated at all. The server had a bad attitude, would barely engage us or answer any questions.

The guest tap list and regular tap offerings were awesome. The beer was/is clearly top notch. We had a chicken pot pie and also a grilled chicken sandwich. The sandwich was passable the pot pie was terrible.

This place does look like a genuine British Pub and as mentioned above the atmosphere was fantastic.

My strong suggestion is to sit at the bar and eat either before or after you visit the Horse Brass. This is what I'll do on my next visit to Portland.

Reagan1984, Nov 11, 2009
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.61/5  rDev -16.2%

Around the corner from Belmont Station, we all walked down to Horse Brass to drink a couple of beers before dinner at Roe on Division. The Brass looks like a rural British pub, takes me back to those lovely trips through the English countryside with the wife, stopping at small places like this one for a cask ale and some rustic fare.

Only here the beer selection, while geared towards the UK and British styles, includes many great examples of American craft, including a good number of Oregon/Northwest beers.

They have 4 casks, no less, and also Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig, Ft George Vortex, Migration Black IPA, Walking Man Black Cherry, Boneyard Hop, Breakside Salted Stout, Laurelwood Goose... a bit too IPA-focused for my tastes, and not enough big beers. But it ain't bad, that's for sure.

Prices are good, I paid $7.25 for a pint of Pliny that seemed to be 20 ounces. Other beers are between four and six dollars. Service wasn't so great, even though we were at the bar...

Didn't try food but it looked like typical pub food, fries and fish and chips and stuff. I think I would come back here for the atmosphere, so cozy and warm, but would go elsewhere for beer.

DoubleSimcoe, Feb 19, 2014
Photo of squaremile
3.68/5  rDev -14.6%

I have mixed feelings about this place. When I first moved to PDX this was one of my favorite sports, but over time it has fallen a bit out of favor, mostly because of the terrible service. There has only been one time in countless trips that the service has been up to standard for everywhere else in town.

The selection is usually pretty solid but since they are pretty web phobic I never really know what I'm going to get into when I arrive. This can be pretty frustrating and it's surprising that in 2010 they aren't more communicative.

Otherwise, the fish and chips are to die for, and the history of the place is amazing.

squaremile, Mar 14, 2010
Photo of yuriruley
3.68/5  rDev -14.6%

I didn't like the atmosphere as much as I thought I might. But, it wasn't bad.

The quality of the beers I had from there were good, and the food was decent.

Service was not great. The waitress was in a bad mood, brought us three different beer lists, and then got mad at us when we didn't know which beers were on or tapped out. She did bring us stuff pretty quickly, but was not a pleasant person.

They had a pretty decent selection of stuff when I was there.

Food was decent, as previously mentioned.

Prices seemed reasonable.

I know it is kind of an iconic place in Portland for beer, but it is far from my favorite out of all the places Portland has to offer. It was worth going to, and I'd probably go again if I was in the area. But, I wouldn't go out of my way to go again. Admittedly, this is mostly due to the service we received.

yuriruley, Jan 09, 2013
Photo of weefisheads
3.73/5  rDev -13.5%

I could probably sum up The Horse Brass in two words - Authentic and Impressive. And smokey, but I'll get to that last...

The essence of The Horse Brass is an Olde English Pub, and upon entering the doors it's as if you've been instantly transported "across the Pond". Though the accents aren't as plentiful as they may be if you we're in England, there's plenty here to help create the illusion that, for the moment, you're not in Portland anymore - lots of dark wood, the obligatory dart area, spacious bar area, a generous selection of scotch, and loads of smoke.

The authenticity of this English Oasis is also reflected in the menu options. Alas, this may not be the greatest thing as British cuisine is hardly known for it's remarkable complexity, but authentic nonetheless. However, that's not the reason for my average score on the food - I feel that the food menu is somewhat limiting, and in the 6+ times I've been to The Horse Brass, I've never had any food that I thought was "wow" in any way, shape, or form. Just...well...average...

As to the Impressiveness of The Horse Brass, one need not look further than the selection of beers they offer. In addition to their "regular" taps, their are always a bountiful array of guest beers to choose from. Upon my most recent visit I had the good fortune of trying some Racer X - need I say anymore?!

Unfortunately, there's another aspect of Impressive and Athentic about The Horse Brass that isn't too positive, and that's the amount of smoke that is ever-present. It's truly impressive they can get THAT MUCH smoke into one bar! On some nights it can be tolerated, but there have been two occasions where the party I was with had to leave for less polluted climes. As good as the beer is, and as warm and fun as the atmosphere is, it's almost moot if all you can smell and taste is smoke. Ugh.

However, despite the occasional assault on one's respiratory system, all in all The Horse Brass is a must visit when in Portland. It truly is one of the select few bars in Portland that pursue the over-the-top beers that I love, and as such will be back again and again.

EDIT: My serivce score was recently changed to reflect a miserable experience - the server brought me the wrong beer (I even pointed to it on the menu!) and REFUSED to bring me the right one! She said she could "add it to the bill" but would replace the beer I HADN'T EVEN SIPPED!

weefisheads, Apr 08, 2004
Photo of bultrey
3.78/5  rDev -12.3%

This pub is all over the place. My girlfriend, her brother, and his GF all went on a Sunday afternoon. A very cool entrance, sort of like in the side of an old carriage house, leads you to what feels like a basement pub but is actually ground level. This place is actually quite large, with table areas on the left and right, a big bar sort of in front, and the rooms on either side go far back into the building and connect in the back by the bathrooms. The place is full of all kinds of nooks and crannies, so there is probably a comfy place for everyone here. Quite dark and dingy and wooden, so you have to like your bar to have... ummm.. "character." There is a great selection of beers on draft, including several cask ales, mostly local and all quite fresh and delicious. It's obvious they keep their beer menu updated fairly frequently, although I was disappointed that the Walking Man Homo Erectus, while listed, was not available. Beers are available by schooner and pint, for dirt-cheap prices. The food is nothing to speak of -- very English-slanted menu, with things like Ploughman's lunch, fish and chips, shepherd's pie, etc. I though the food was pretty darn lackluster for the price, but that's not why you come here -- it's mostly to absorb the beer. Our service was spotty -- there weren't that manny people there, but the waitress was running around like her head was on fire, and even then it was tough to find her.
A great historic-feeling pub in a cool area of Portland -- every BA going through should at least stop by.

bultrey, Oct 31, 2005
Photo of phishgator
3.8/5  rDev -11.8%

I stopped in for the last few hours of my trip and before I was to catch my plane back to SWFL. I had been saving this spot for the last because I had heard it was legendary and unfortunately the hype didn't live up. The bar it set up well wtih lots of space to both sides and in the front area. The bar probably accommidates about 20 people and the rest of the areas can handle another 150 people or more. The offerings were a lot of locals and NW selections, which I find great, but very heavy on the IPAs. Not really compling because I love IPAs, but after that the selections seemed limited. I had a Hop Rod Rye that was really fresh and then ate some fish and chips. Food was so big I couldn't finish all of it. It was a Wednesday afternoon so it was slow, probably better on an evening.

phishgator, Dec 12, 2006
Photo of RedBrewer83
3.85/5  rDev -10.7%

Finally made it to the famous Horse Brass Pub! So you walk in through some Iron Gates and through an old wooden door into what I would imagine it would be like to walk into a true English pub...noisy, busy, a bit dark and very rustic. The bar has probably thirty taps along with some basic liquor available for shots but no mixed drinks or anything. The decor is very old and rustic and English, lots of English flags on the ceilings. A dart board in the corner with a chalkboard to keep score on. The furniture is all wooden and worn, very rustic. The quality of the taplist is good, I would say it was great but honestly the variety wasn't all that impressive. Lots of IPA's (typical of the NW) and a few seasonals and a couple of standouts (Supplication) but I was surprised to realize I had tasted the majority of what they had on tap. Our waitress was prompt with our order but after our beer and food came she was like a ghost, tough to track down for a second beer and when we needed the check. The food was pretty cool in that it was true, traditional English pub food. I had the fish and chips of course and they were delicious! Nothing mind blowing but everything you'd want/expect from a pub. The prices were very reasonable...all in all it was a great experience and I can't wait to go back!

RedBrewer83, Mar 15, 2010
Photo of BeerZack
3.86/5  rDev -10.4%

This place is great for what it is- an old dark, dingy, dirty English Pub. It smells smoky in this place even when you can't see anyone smoking (it was Sunday morning I believe). If that sounds good to you, then this is your place. Selection probably is the best thing about Horse Brass- Great local and West Coast micro selections as well as quite a few Imports, including Belgians. The waitress was excited to help us almost as soon as we walked in. She did seem a little weeded with all the food orders (one waitress on, but at least 3 guys "working" the kitchen). Probably not the best time to come to this place (Sunday morn). Overall, its definitely one of the best selections of taps in Portland, even if its not my favorite.

BeerZack, Mar 31, 2008
Photo of Damian
3.88/5  rDev -10%

Located in a sleepy neighborhood in the far east end of Portland, the Horse Brass Pub has an inconspicuous exterior. Once you step inside however, you feel like you are instantly transported across the Atlantic to an authentic British pub. The interior is swathed in dark wood. Moderately spacious, the Horse Brass has ample seating both at tables and at the bar. Speaking of the tables, they are covered in carvings and graffiti and the walls are donned from floor to ceiling with British (and some Irish) breweriana. There are also two dart boards in the back section of the bar. As for beer, the Horse Brass has a terrific selection of English and English-style beers on tap, along with an array of other European and American craft beer selections as well. On the night I visited, they also had two beers on cask, one I which I sampled (Rogue's Younger's Special Bitter). It was "spot-on" and paired perfectly with my fish and chips. The bottle list was also lengthy. As for the service however, our waiter seemed rather unfriendly and appeared to be annoyed when I asked him questions about the tap list. He also made a mistake on my friend's order but was gracious enough not to charge him for it. The overall quality of the food was decent. I enjoyed my fish and chips but my friend complained about his popover (in the Horse Brass's defense, one must keep in mind that British pub fare is not highly regarded by most people). One final knock I have against this pub was the smoke. Even on a quiet Monday night, the bar was fairly smoky. With the new legislation taking effect soon, I apparently will not have to worry about this in the future.

Damian, Jul 23, 2007
Photo of oregone
3.88/5  rDev -10%

A knockout joint really without being distinctive in any individual category (except being a damn good value!). Good selection of brews, and pricing is very solid. I mean, $5 for an imperial of Fred? That's stupid cheap and invites wanton debauchery. Solid pub fare (scotch eggs!) that delivers the necessary satisfaction for a style that will never wow, but does so veeery affordably. This place is cheap for what you get. Atmosphere is warming and comfortable. Nailed the pub feel. Service was slow/mediocre but knowledgeable which compensates somewhat.
Recomended.

oregone, Nov 26, 2010
Photo of GreatNorthwest
3.93/5  rDev -8.8%

Ah, the Horse Brass, it is a legend, an institution and will pull your favorite "Irish" or "British" pub out by the collar and kick its rear.

I am not a smoker, so busy nights can get to be a bit too much, but OR is about to follow suit and institute a smoking ban. Though there are ventilation devices all over, I think that they are there for looks!

Either way, you must go. Tap selection is 9/10 great, that one time you might catch them in between kegs and orders. For whateevr reason their cask always tastes great. Cannot go wrong there.

The daily food is good, certainly not bad, but not mind-blowing. I recommend the Brie and Bread appetizer, yum! But, for me and my friends, the star attraction is the Sat and Sun Traditional English Breakfast. Wow, it is authentic, great price, HP sauce and all! Be sure to get there before noon to enjoy it.

It is also a great place to watch international soccer matches and throw darts.

GreatNorthwest, Feb 09, 2007
Photo of Myk
3.95/5  rDev -8.4%

I walked into this joint when italian teabag and i were on tour. we decided to go here with the help of andy and a few other ba's suggestions for some lunch. it was a wednesday at about one in the afternoon, and it was like being in Britain. the place was filled with about 50 people and all being loud and having a great time. it had a great comfortable atmosphere, lots of old things hanging on the walls alongside a mad amount of flags from all sorts of countries. even the menu looked old, i still have it. the beer selection was very good. tons of regional beers on tap that i was told are rotated around pretty frequently. the food was basically english style food, with some normal pub fair as well. the burger i had was damn good. the service was very friendly and knowledgable. i would go again, and often if i lived in the area.

Myk, Nov 20, 2003
Photo of Rozkosny
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Rozkosny, Jan 05, 2014
Photo of TaborTime
4/5  rDev -7.2%

TaborTime, Dec 14, 2013
Photo of artoolemomo
4/5  rDev -7.2%

artoolemomo, Aug 16, 2014
Photo of FightingEntropy
4.01/5  rDev -7%

This was my last stop of a long day of testing, so I might go back and give it a full shot. When I do it will be in the afternoon so as to avoid the thick smoke, though it was only 8 pm. I know I'm often in the minority here with my beer drinking bretheren, but but I don't get the point of paying $5 a pint or $7 for a 10oz glass of great beer when I can't even smell it over the smoke. Decided not to rate either beer from the bar because I'm not sure what was there.

With that said, the selection is awesome, and pretty much everyone I asked along my week long trip said to hit the Horse Brass for the best beer. Between the guest beers, regs, and the rotating casks, it is beer heaven. What I drank, was well served and well cared for. Food looked good, even some vegetarian options which was unexpected from the look and attitude of the place.

HB web says they are a smoke friendly pub and that adults should have a choice, which a choice would be nice. I think it's a much more sensical choice if smoker's can choose to smoke outside so that the rest of us actually can actually choose to not drink or dine in smoke. But, with so many good bars in Portland, maybe nonsmokers and those allergic to it like myself shouldn't waste the time or money here.

FightingEntropy, Nov 12, 2006
Photo of AylwinForbes
4.01/5  rDev -7%

The Horse Brass is a legend in the Portland scene. I can see why from the beer selection that highlights not only regional breweries but also international ones.

Maybe because of my English heritage, I don't quite get off on the faux English pub thing so much. It does conjour up the archetypal dark city pub thing, except most of them don't put up all those cliched pictures of English "culture," though I would gravitate towards the rural, brighter airy places myself.

Many have mentioned the smokiness, in these reviews as well as folks at the Belmont Station (that used to be right next door); and I have to say it is an issue: even on a quiet Sunday afternoon with very few there it was very evident; it was almost as if there was a smoke machine hidden somewhere (one hour later our clothes reeked). It's a problem because the smoke kills the aroma in the beer - if you care about capturing a subtle piney hop.

Go there for the beer and a game of darts for sure, but it couldn't become my local.

AylwinForbes, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of olympuszymurgus
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%

one of the last stops on le grand tour de la citie des ponts. the city of bridges is always good to us, although they did kick us out last time, and rightly so. bartender was a good man, we were there during the daytime on a monday after a tour of bridgeport. the selection was indeed splendid, a match of everything from a traditional english ale to some of the newer bolder american models (we do what we do). they had a fresh batch of pliny but, bored with that, i went for the double rocket from bear republic, which i'd not had before. a lot of fun stuff, some good stuff, some standard stuff, some bottled bullcrap. a little something for everyone. darts, pool, no tvs. what a bar should be.
the food was very average pub food. i wanted a burger, i got a burger, it was pretty good. win-win.
the regular mail-lady for that area is enormous
ly attractive. hi-5!

olympuszymurgus, Jan 31, 2010
Photo of Metalmonk
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%

Gave this place an intentional skip a couple years ago, as it was still a smoker's haven. Now that the law has changed, it was a must-visit this time around. Pleased that the decades of smoke didn't embed itself into the place--there's almost no trace of it, except for some yellowed wall-hangings. The atmosphere is really great, all very dark wood, from walls to tables to chairs, benches and bar. All kinds of crazy shit on the walls, from soccer-team pennants to coasters to various Brass Horse lore/history.

The public area pretty much wraps around the bar in a huge square shape, and the night we went there were tons of dart fanatics doing their thing. The place was full but not over-packed.

Food was okay. Fries were excellent, but my vegetable pastie was pretty bland. Typically English, I guess. The beer selection was good, although the menu is deceiving. About a third of the beers shown are actually "coming soon," and quite a few of the other ones were crossed off and no longer available. No big deal, as there was still plenty of cool stuff available, mostly US crafts with a concentration on west coast stuff. They rotate the list frequently too, so it's easy to understand the minor issues.

Service was inconsistent. Our waiter seemed like a cool dude, but was often nowhere to be found when we needed something or needed more beer. We actually had to chase him down a couple times, but it wasn't a service disaster or anything.

Very much has the vibe of a neighborhood pub in jolly ole England, but their beer offerings go a step beyond the norm in any land. Very glad to have visited, and would definitely return next time around.

Metalmonk, May 15, 2009
Photo of zhanson88
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%

Another beer related stop on my trip to Portland. Was very excited to come here.

Atmosphere: This was a cool place. I'm not sure what a "classic English pub" actually looks like, but this fits pretty well into my imagination.

Quality: The beer and food tasted fresh. Good quality.

Service: The service was decent. Had a couple fairly long waits but nothing too bad. The waiter was an interesting personality, but not a turn-off I suppose.

Selection: For IPA selection, this is definitely the place to come. Tons of very high quality IPAs. However, it was a little too IPA heavy for me, I wish that they had some darker/maltier/just less hoppy beers to offer.

Food: The food was pretty damn good. I had the beef and mushroom pie, and the girlfriend had the fish and chips. The fish and chips especially were incredible. Great English pub fare.

Overall, I liked the place a lot and would definitely go again. Not my favorite beer related place that I went to in Portland but still very good.

zhanson88, Jul 05, 2011
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Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR
96 out of 100 based on 127 ratings.