Roots Organic Brewery

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Roots Organic BreweryRoots Organic Brewery
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Roots Organic BreweryRoots Organic Brewery

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

1520 SE 7th Ave
Portland, Oregon, 97214
United States

(503) 235-7668

// CLOSED //

CLOSED as of July 2010.

The owner retains all his trademarks and could conceivably get Roots beer back on shelves, but the brewpub is closed.

Added by freed

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Ratings: 17 |  Reviews: 17
Photo of ccrida
4.06/5  rDev +11.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Being new to the city, I have only been to Roots twice, but have enjoyed both visits. I really enjoyed the laid back island vibe, very unpretentious with the picnic tables and all. Only 1 TV, but it is a nice, well placed flat-screen, and the 1 dart board is real, not one of those plastic ones I hate. Very warehouse feel with the brewing equipment that is visible. The servers seemed nice enough, but the second time I visited, for the release of their 5th winter ale, the Triple, I had both brewers/owners (?) come up and chat with me in my wife in a very genuine manner for quite some time, even buying us a beer. That immediately bumped this place up high on my list of Portland brewpubs I've enjoyed so far. They had really good jazz band playing that night too, and the volume levels were spot on for a bar of this size. I've had all of their winter ales and their Red...none were bad, but the Triple, Epic, and RIS all stood out as really being well done. The fact that they delayed the release of their Triple by a week or two from the originally scheduled date indicated to me that these guys cared more about the quality of their beer then other places who might just rush stuff out. Also, the fact that a lot of the beers weren't just standard British style ales appealed to me, as I appreciate a sense of adventure with brewing. I will say that the food menu was a bit to thin and granola looking to entice me thus far...

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Photo of Matthew
3.98/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Roots is a nice brewpub to stop into every once in a while. The atmosphere is unique, their mash tun and kettle are off to the right as you walk in with their tanks on display in as well. Mostly picnic tables set up along the door with a nice TV usually displaying a sports game. Most of the decor is themed in the vain of Jamaican type style, lots of red, yellow and green. Their tap handles are all surfboards.
The service is always very friendly, talkative and always ready to explain Craig's latest concoction. Roots always has some innovative beers to be had, from their coconut porter, chamomile beer, to their unhopped heather ale.
The food is nothing too great. Just some usual pub food for a decent price. Veggie burgers served on bagels, pizza, chips, etc.
Always reasonably priced. Pints are pretty standardly priced. Certainly worth checking out for the Portlander or the visitor.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

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...

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Photo of mashmstr2
2.85/5  rDev -21.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 2.5

Located in a warehouse/garage space, this brewpub has a bright feel. As you enter, you’re visually directed toward the brewery and brewing system, and guided down a ramp way which strangely goes right in front of the brewing equipment and behind the bar. This would have a nice showboating appeal if the brewing system was more posh, which it is not. The ramp dumps you right in front of a cooler, which is cold sterile feeling with the exception of huge dent in the cooler and cheesy misfit architecture. After you make a big left “U” turn you come upon the bar and pub area. A wooden bar, tall enough for the Jolly Green Giant, appears to be well made by a crafter who has no idea of what the regulation height of bar should be… Table and chairs surround the bar. The theme seems to be, an Island Palm trees meets artsy tendiness and then run over by haphazard low cost construction feel. Not horrible, but not very visual comfortable.

After being dwarfed by the Incredible Hulk bar, you’ll notice that the back bar is packed with stuff and looks disheveled.

There’s a chalkboard with beers listed and the bartender was attentive and dismissive at the same time. Not very knowledgeable about the beers… Always a bad sign. Noted, he hasn’t tried some of the beers, so tell him what I think. OK.

The food board is off to one side and is limited.

After going through the sampler, I realized there really wasn’t a beer I would want to drink in any volume. All beers were unstructured, poorly concepted and not up to Portland quality.

Update: I've returned now at least 3 more times.... I find beers STILL to be loosely formulated with oddball ingredients. The odd ingredients are fine, but they're not intagrated into the beers very well. Either heavy handed and choying or underhanded and unnoticed. Some of the BASE beer flavors are a little gritty, grainy and astringent.

I jacked up my rating a little, due to a better selection of beers and better service staff...

I wish I could report better news because I do like the pub abd the energy of the brewers....

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Roots opened in early 2005 as Portland’s 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 don’t 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 Portland’s other new eastside brewery, Amnesia. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that Roots’ one guest tap is frequently occupied by an Amnesia beer. Tuck’s beers have also made appearances here along with other equally thoughtful choices. Beer quality can be hampered by harsh, unrefined recipes and techniques though I’m 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.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

With a couple months under their belt, things are shaping up nicely for Roots. As you may have surmised, all their brews are organic, and they show potential for creating unorthodox styles; their heather ale (no hops) is already on tap. This progressive attitude is mixed in with a vacation-y, spring break-y beach ambience (the tap handles are mini surfboards) to provide a stilted but inviting atmosphere. The space is bisected by an overly dramatic ramp which suggests they are hoping to move a lot of product out the front door. To the right is the spacious brewing area and some large holding tanks. On the other side is the small pub, with a very tall bar made of recycled floorboards, a few picnic tables and some smaller cafe-style tables.

On last visit, they had 5 beers (pale, red, IPA, nitro stout, heather) and 3 guests (Amnesia, Lucky Lab, Hair of the Dog). The red and heather ales were the most interesting. The music was Caribbean in flavor but not really reggae; it was pretty lousy but fortunately it wasn't obtrusive. The acoustics were also not too great but this is only a problem if a table gets really rowdy. All their brews were solid with the sole detriment of being a bit too yeasty. In some cases, like the full-bodied red ale, it suits the beer but I would have liked a lighter, filtered pale ale for instance. Food was unambitious but fine, with Hot Lips personal pizzas and sandwiches like what you would make for yourself at home. The bartender was outgoing; she let those sitting at the tables know they should come up to the bar to order, and she was graciously apologetic when a keg blew on someone's growler fill. On the way home I realized she overcharged me but it's my fault for not saying anything. Pints are imperial, $4.25 except on Tuesdays and happy hour when they are $2.50. They are also open for lunch, despite what their website says.

With two creative, skilled brewers, a devotion to organic and herbal beers, and a murmur about bottling in the future, I'd say at this point the most exciting thing about Roots is its potential. Let's hope we can look forward to Nicholls' kolsch, McAdam's pilsner, and a bunch of unusual beers that haven't been imagined yet.

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Photo of freed
3.54/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

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.

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Roots Organic Brewery in Portland, OR
Brewery rating: 3.68 out of 5 with 0 ratings