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!

Kennedy School (McMenamins)

Not Rated.
Kennedy School (McMenamins)Kennedy School (McMenamins)
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

31 Ratings
Ratings: 31
Reviews: 19
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 8.89%
Active Beers: 1
Beer Ratings: 1
Beer Avg: 4.15
Taps: 12
Bottles: 3
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

5736 NE 33rd Ave
Portland, Oregon, 97211
United States
phone: (503) 249-3983

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
On-premise brewing:
Concordia Brewery, established September 1997.

(Place added by: weefisheads)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Ratings: 31 | Reviews: 19 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by DoubleSimcoe:
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.33/5  rDev -17.8%

This place is fun! The atmosphere is definitely a five, outstanding and unique. An old school that is kind of creepy, mysterious and fun to explore. So many nooks and crannies and rooms and bars and spaces...

We spent the night here in a great old room with high ceilings and chalkboards. The soaking pool was on the other side of the hallway but we didn't try it (looked nice). Before bed, we drank a couple of beers at the Boiler Room bar. So beautiful! Two levels with a spiral staircase and a great industrial/plumbing decor. Funky and cosmic, sort of like Willy Wonka meets Magic Hat. Art on the walls everywhere.

It was busy on a Saturday evening and our server didn't come too often, but we still got our beers. Salmon Run IPA was only alright, I liked the Hammerhead Pale much better. I decided to try the McMenamin's house spirits and ordered an "Alambic "13" brandy, aged for 13 years in oak barrels. Shit tasted like moonshine!

The selection here is far from great. Only a couple of house brews, plus a guest beer: Coors Light. Oy! Three bottled beers only, including St Pauli alcohol-free and Estrella Damm from Spain.

In the morning we had a fine breakfast (kale biscuit!), although service was again sluggish. Not impressed by their brews or spirits, but the Kennedy is a blast of a place to spend a night or two at and I'd do it again.

DoubleSimcoe, Feb 18, 2014
More User Reviews:
Photo of 2beerdogs
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

2beerdogs, Sep 28, 2014
Photo of SickBrew
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

SickBrew, Jun 17, 2014
Photo of johnny5martini
5/5  rDev +23.5%

johnny5martini, Jun 17, 2014
Photo of tylerstravis
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

tylerstravis, Jun 05, 2014
Photo of dmorgan310
4/5  rDev -1.2%

dmorgan310, May 13, 2014
Photo of jtosch
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

jtosch, Mar 29, 2014
Photo of Hobbit
4.75/5  rDev +17.3%

Hobbit, Mar 14, 2014
Photo of GrantBrennan
4.75/5  rDev +17.3%

GrantBrennan, Mar 12, 2014
Photo of Braz
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

Braz, Jan 27, 2014
Photo of TimoP
4/5  rDev -1.2%

TimoP, Jan 10, 2014
Photo of seanchai
4/5  rDev -1.2%

seanchai, Dec 31, 2013
Photo of Adamnimmo
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Adamnimmo, Nov 30, 2013
Photo of djbreezy
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%

Finally got to check this place out on Mother's day with my girlfriend's family. It was a gorgeous day. We sat outside on the internal patio, so to speak. The weather was awesome. The surrounding plants made for a great atmosphere along with the overhead hanging light bulbs...would be great on a clear, warm night I bet.

The beer was good. I enjoyed 2 pints of Ruby and sampled one of our party's Rubinator pints...first time for that...not bad! The Ruby is refreshing and was perfect for the day.

The food is consistent with every other location.

The service was fine. There were only 2 servers for probably 15 large 8-10 top tables so I can't be upset. Our busser was definitely stoned. Made for a good laugh when he couldn't remember any of the featured items. Aw, well.

djbreezy, May 19, 2010
Photo of JimmyK77
4.26/5  rDev +5.2%

Going to Kennedy School is like an adventure. Walking in feels like walking into your old elementary school (because it is), except that there is beer and food. The place is large - very large - with several distinct areas. There are many bars, each with a different theme (cigar bar, whiskey bar, some quiet, some not) along with a movie theater, restaurant (in the old courtyard), soaking pool, and guest rooms. First time - stop by 'the office' by the entrance for a map! We spent most of our time in the 'boiler room bar' playing pool and shuffleboard. Besides good beer, they also have liquor and wine made by McMenamins distillery and winery (not located here).

My only regret is not getting a room for the night.

JimmyK77, Oct 13, 2009
Photo of indiapaleale
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%

I want bother describing this place as its one of those places that "you've got to see to believe".

We spent the bulk of our time in the "boiler room" bar. I've never had a beer in a place that had a more amazing atmosphere than that. Whomever fabricated the interior of the boiler room bar is an amazing artist.

Beer at McMenamins is nothing amazing. The draw is defintiely more the atmosphere here than anything else. They had a "hot for teacher IPA" on tap that was decent, the porter was okay and the Hammerhead is definitely solid.

I really was impressed by how cool the whole Kennedy School experience was. If you are not familiar with this place, it is pretty much amazing.

indiapaleale, Feb 20, 2009
Photo of Goldorak
3.4/5  rDev -16%

Victoria and Seattle were already behind us and after a short and uneventful drive down I-5 we were in Beervana. Finding the place was a piece of cake from the highway, this section of town is an easy to follow grid, with short length blocks and well identified streets. With the old schoolhouse concept and the Méliès film / turn of the century art motif, it was easy to fall under the charm of this complex. It's a bit far from downtown and the other Beer attractions (Concordia ale house being the exception), but the bus system is pretty efficient and the parking in the back is free. I didn't try everything on the Beer menu, I mostly stuck with the hammerhead which was okay. It was even more okay after stumbling out of the aforementioned neighboring drinking establishment a little tipsy (see my review for the whole story), ordering a pint and a pizza, and watching the movie on those comfortable old sofas. I came really close to falling asleep only a few minutes after the show started and ended up crawling back to our room not too long afterwards. That experience alone was worth the price of the hotel room in itself. Speaking of that, it was similarly priced to a lot of hotels and B&Bs in and around the city, the amenities and other quirky features make it even more of a bargain. The soaking pool is great. Service was slow at both the restaurant and gift shop, but not to the detriment of the whole experience. If I ever go back to Portland, I'll do whatever I can to book my sleeping arrangements here.

Goldorak, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of msubulldog25
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%

Decided to get up early this morning and stroll around the corner to Kennedy School for breakfast...however, this review is based on dozens of visits over the years...

Before writing about Kennedy School as a beer destination, I must mention that this place is the heart of the Concordia neighborhood we've called 'home' for over five years now. All the previous descriptions of this building, a beautifully restored and whimsically reused elementary school (ca. 1914) are accurate.

There's a cozy restaurant ('Courtyard' - the former cafeteria) with a lush patio surrounding a huge outdoor fireplace. There's the movie theater (the former auditorium), where chowing on burgers and pizza, quaffing a pint, and relaxing on a cushion-y couch are the norms. There's a variety of tiny bars scattered through the place with names like 'Honors' and 'Detention' and smoky, pub-like Cypress Room. The former gymnasium is now a rental space, hosting events as wide-ranging as political debates, wedding receptions and dodgeball tournaments. And, of course, there are the 30+ former classrooms, creatively converted to hotel guest rooms (complete with original chalkboards and coat hooks in the closets).

On a personal level, Kennedy School is where we met our realtor (in the smoke-filled Detention Bar) mere days before finding our home (a 1 minute walk away). It's where we've seen dozens of films (usually ones we missed in the theaters), noshed on popcorn and drained pitchers of Ruby or pints of Hammerhead. Many a Sunday morning has been spent lingering over the paper and a leisurely breakfast. The Community Room hosts our neighborhood's monthly association meetings and one of the smaller conference rooms held my office's year-end party a couple Decembers ago. So, yeah, it's a pretty special place on so many levels...

As a food and beer destination, Kennedy School has some merit. Food options are a broad-ranging array of pub regulars: burgers, fish & chips, sandwiches and a few bigger entrees and rotating specials. I usually stick with favorites like the Captain Neon burger with tots or, at breakfast, the Schoolhouse. Food quality and service have gained a reputation locally for rampant inconsistency, but we've usually been satisfied by the meals and attentiveness of our (usually) friendly servers. Then again, we've always tended to avoid the restaurant on busy evenings, opting to go at quieter times (mornings or matinée showtimes).

Beers are the standard McMenamins half dozen, with a couple seasonals in the rotation. Usually the restaurant has a nitro option and something on cask. Besides their own beers, there are usually a couple 'guest' taps (something like Alaskan Amber, PBR or Coors) and an assortment of wines, cocktails and spirits. Kennedy is one of the few McMenamins establishments that brews on-site; wander down the back hallway for a glimpse into the Concordia Brewery. I've been generally impressed by their creations, with some ventures into Belgian and German styles counted among their successes.

Bottom line, when in Portland visit Kennedy School. It's fun and charming and located in a great neighborhood. And if you're not a fan of their beers, just head a block down the street to another neighborhood favorite, Concordia Ale House. And remember to book your room well in advance...

msubulldog25, May 24, 2008
Photo of blackkristos
4.05/5  rDev 0%

This was the place that I most wanted to visit when I moved to Portland. I really did not know much about the McMenamins empire at the time, but the idea of the school was alluring in itself. Driving into the parking lot I was instantly transported back to those parent/teacher conferences that I went to in primary school. The building was not altered on the outside at all and it still looks like the school it was.

Inside was the same. Even the bathrooms still have those big round washbasins in the center with the foot release for the water. Creepy. The food in the courtyard was good but pretty much the same as all of McMenamins other places. The drinks as well. The one really super cool part of this whole place is the Detention Bar. Built in what we were told was actually the janitor closet is a small dark room with few seats. The bar is tiny as well with only 2 taps at the time. We ended up spending more time in the Detention bar then we did eating dinner in the court yard.

The Kennedy School is tons of fun and worth any visit to PDX just for the experience of it.

blackkristos, May 09, 2008
Photo of GJ40
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%

The setting for this place is just unreal. It feels like you're back in third grade all over again (but with plenty of beer to get you by). What an idea. I can't believe more people haven't converted an old school into an adult playground. McMenamins establishments are always good but this one is a step above. You just can't capture this kind of atmosphere in any old place.

They offer a nice variety of beer. They're all good but considering the options in Portland, none are outstanding. The food is good as well. I enjoy the burgers.

If you're visiting Portland, check this place out. It's a one of a kind. And be sure to visit the rest rooms. You'll think you need a pass from the teacher.

GJ40, Feb 21, 2008
Photo of IPALOVER
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%

I'm happy to see that others have reviewed the Kennedy School. I traveled to Portland about a year ago on business, and booked a room there.

This was the best place I stayed during my business travels! The room was clean and comfortable and nicely decorated. I loved writing on the chalkboard in the room (former teacher-- couldn't help it!). All of the guest rooms are converted from former classrooms-- just too cool!

The absolute best part was coming back to Kennedy School after a long day working, knowing that I'd get a great meal, terrific beer, and then could walk back to my room afterwards. Could a business traveler ask for more?

I would stay there again-- business or pleasure. It was a treat!

IPALOVER, Aug 20, 2007
Photo of josiahschlender
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%

When I moved to Portland I kept hearing people talk about a school that was a great place to eat, drink, watch a movie, and more. By the way my friends talked about it, there was almost a mystical anticipation by the time I actually visited the Kennedy School.

I wasn't disappointed by the atmosphere. Converting an old school into a compelling and diverse entertainment and hospitality venue seems like a huge task. McMenamins did a great job. The school auditorium was converted into a late-run $3 movie theater with antique furniture to lounge on while eating your slice of pizza. The gym is a dance hall, often reserved for bands and special events. The cafeteria is now the main restaurant, and many classrooms are now hotel rooms.

Historic photos, mementos and typical McMenamins art adorn the walls. Artists were employed to paint murals, create mosaics and add a unique schoolhouse touch to the decor.

Three individual bars are scattered around building, the Honors Room, Detention and the Cypress room. They each have a different feel. Both Honors and Detention are very small, seating a dozen people each max. The Kennedy school is a popular hangout. Expect to wait for a seat in the bars on the weekend evenings. The movies will sometimes sell out on weekends, as well.

McMenamins beers have a fairly wide variety that are decent without any true standouts for me. Their IPAs and bitters are often one of their best bets. If you're in the mood for something really different, try the grapefruity Ruby. Their Terminator stout is pretty good, but their porters have always seemed weak to me. McMenamins will just about always have an interesting seasonal or two, but you might have to check a couple places on the site, not every bar carries every brew. McMenamins does not carry many outside beers. If you can't stand their beer, you might not come away satisfied.

Food is pretty typical American. Lots of sandwiches and burgers for moderate prices. No exciting happy hours, unfortunately.

Depending on your tastes, the Kennedy School might become one of your favorite haunts, or at least be an intriguing sight to see. It's worth a check. I often bring visiting friends to give them a taste of one of the Rose City's eccentricities.

josiahschlender, May 15, 2007
Photo of Rippeddisc
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%

This place is a trip. It's all been covered below but to really get a feel for it go check it out for yourself. Trippy. Nothing like walking down the hallways drinking a caucasian (or beer) and be IN a school. Numerous themed rooms (cigar, liquor, beer), movie theater, hot tubs?!, resturant...all in the one building. Not the biggest fan of McMen's beers, espeically considering the local selection but can find something that is tasty enough. Go back to school today.


p.s. Movie theater shows everything from ski movie premiers to Big Lebowski (personal fav) Couches, tables, cheap! tickets, beer/booze. Good Times.

Rippeddisc, Apr 13, 2007
Photo of FightingEntropy
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%

It looks like the history of the Kennedy School is covered well in the previous reviews, so I'll focus on what found unique about the Kennedy School and McMenamins in general.

The Kennedy School itself is a fun place, quite beautifully done, especially the bar in the old cafeteria with an entire wall of windows to the outside patio with fireplace. They extend the metaphor a little bit with the Detention Bar, etc. I really like that the McMenamins chain will take many old buildings and restore rather than replace, and preserve the history and community. While we were there, we walked by a Celebration of Life in a side room and a the Victory Garden restored on the other side of the parking lot as an educational garden.

Later, when chatting with a bartender at the next place I visited, I mentioned that I had just come from the Kennedy School, and he gave me a beer snob eye roll, one I might give to someone who has just found the new great place called Rock Bottom. But in the end, he was intrigued by my point of view enough to give me a mind opening Hmmmm.

I agreed that the beer at McMenamins (I visited three between Seattle and Portland) is adequate to a bit above average for the best beers, but because of the attitude McMenamins takes towards preserving and fitting into local communities, that this is what capitalism is meant to be. Every McMenamins had tater tots for us to eat, as well as other in common beers and food items, but then the rest was local adjustments, down to the price of our tater tots changed with each place we went to, which we paid the most for them at the Six Arms location. McMenamins is a chain, but it's a chain with heart that could show some compassionate conserative business types how capitalism works when community is at the center of making money.

FightingEntropy, Nov 11, 2006
Photo of slander
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%

We're on the move again. Jon's talking some crazy about a brewpub in an old school. Kind of almost nearly in the vicinity of where his brother lives so we might actually get to meet him; get a peek into the secret life of Washburn. Found it! He's right, it's an old elementary school. Are we sure we're at the right place? I hope so, or it's a going to be a bad scene when we go in looking for beer. Scored a slander style parking spot (which means "right out front", it's an art form), and then we made boogie for the door as I think that was the second bell and we don't want to be late...

First and foremost, I have a message for the kids, which is "Don't be a fool, stay in school. Until at least last call. Or later if you can cozy up to the bartender all nice and have them want to serve you another beer". Hell!! If school was like this when I was there, I wouldn't have dropped out and become the garbageman I am today (Oh, I'm sorry, garbage is funny to you?) It's a 90 year old elementary school done up beyond imagination. You're walking the halls and it's like a flood of K-6 rush comes over you. Old black & white photos of when school was in session here, murals, bas-relief reproductions, maddening intricate mosaic tile work ribbons, paintings, gorgeous ceramic pieces, wood panels; the art work alone is worth the visit. There's just so much to see here, I don't know where to begin so we'll start with everything that isn't the brewery. They've got lodging; classrooms converted to nearly 3 dozen guestrooms with the original chalkboards and cloakrooms still in tact. Meeting rooms, event spaces & a cushy seat movie theatre with a bar converted from what used to be classrooms, a library, an auditorium and a gymnasium.

They've got 2 small bars; The Honors Bar (smoke free, opera & classical music, beer, wine & liquor) and The Detention Bar (cigar friendly, jazz, beer, wine, single malts & bourbon, and the only TV in the house). Are you a good kid or a bad kid? Yep, smokes and Jazz it is!!! Down a hallway and around the bend is the Cypress Room, housing a bar that seats a dozen with a wood section overhead carrying sprawling plants, and a dozen booths and tables. Maroon walls with a green trim, shaped glass lighting, and a large blackboard at the end listing tap selections. It looks out back over a patio seating area with nearly a dozen tables.

We finally got the call for our table in the Courtyard Restaurant, formally the school's cafeteria. This main dining room holds roughly 2 dozen tables and booths scattered about and 5 bar tables off the long bar which seats about 14. The bar back holds glass front cupboards with booze, and tap selections are written on blackboards. Green slat wood walls, Indian print panel décor throughout, hanging dangling plants, mosaic tile artwork, lamps on the dividers, and a sizable wood stove. Chinese lanterns, big colored radishes, bulbs, cones, flowers, balls and shardlike lighting all about. The long wall of this room is made up of paneled windows looking over the outside courtyard; a beautiful garden with two and a half dozen tables amongst the hedges, some in little private nooks and hidden areas, many of them surrounding a massive center fireplace.

9 taps. Some regulars (Hammerhead APA, Terminator Stout, Ruby, Nebraska Bitter) and some seasonals (Elusive IPA, Magic Cup Espresso Porter, Stinger Honey Chamomile Ale, Old Leadbelly Stout, Firefly Kolsch). The Elusive IPA had a good hop bitterness; the Ruby a light non cloying Raspberry Ale; the Hammerhead, copper colored, Cascade hopped; the Porter, roasty, coffee on nitro; the Terminator Stout chocolaty, roasty, coffee.

Had the chicken & rice soup and prime rib dip. Food was solid, no complaints there. Likewise, the service was good and attentive for a busy Thursday night. Great tunes piped in. There's just so much going on here, I can't remember it all. I should've paid more attention in school. This is a must see.

slander, Sep 26, 2006
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Kennedy School (McMenamins) in Portland, OR
91 out of 100 based on 31 ratings.