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Horse Brass Pub

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Horse Brass PubHorse Brass Pub
144 Ratings
Horse Brass PubHorse Brass Pub

Type: Bar, Eatery

4534 SE Belmont St
Portland, Oregon, 97215-1636
United States

(503) 232-2202 | map

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

Added by sinistersteve

View: Place Reviews | Events
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Ratings: 144 |  Reviews: 105
Photo of isaac
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

mmm... fish and chips...

i tend to visit the 'brass about once a month as its a bit far away and i don't want to have to drive, but i've never felt that a trip wasn't worth it. great beer selection and rotating specials, both on tap and cask, and then, as you may guess, i love their fish and chips. very few things can compare to sitting down to a nice pint of bitter and digging into their *huge* portions of this standard british pub-fare. you have to be sure to set aside the rest of the night and next morning though, 'cause the grease and beer tend to make quite a little gurgle in the belly. the smoke doesn't bother me as much as it apparently does others, but then again, i'm prone to ordering big beers, those that can muscle their taste and smell even through the thickest of crowds. a highly recommended establishment, though it can get busy and the quickness of the staff suffers on those occasions.

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Photo of GreatNorthwest
3.93/5  rDev -9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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.

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Photo of bannockburn
4.05/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I visited Portland in the late fall of this year (2006) on a business trip. One of the days ended up wrapping a little earlier than expected so three of us decided to find a pub. We'd spent plenty of time at McMennamins and the Nob Hill bar so we wanted something a little more unique. I recalled a conversation once held with a Portlander wherein she recommended very highly the Horse Brass Pub. The decision was made. We were a little underwhelmed by the exterior, but once inside we shifted gears and changed our minds. Very reminescent of some of my favourite pubs in England, it spoked to me on many levels. We, each of us, had four pints of different brews (that's twelve different beers); two of us had the Fish & Chips while the third had the Shepard's Pie; none of us were disappointed. Although the service lacked a little, and the fact that they allow cigar smoking was a bit offputting (very hard to enjoy your food with the taint of someone else's cigar in your face), the overall experience was well worth the drive. I can say unequivocally that when next I visit Portland, I shall return to the Horse Brass.


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Photo of phishgator
3.8/5  rDev -12%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

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.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.01/5  rDev -7.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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.

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Photo of Matthew
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

The horse brass is a regular stop for me since moving to Portland. The place has a lot of character, tons of beer decor on the walls from American Craft to Belgian to British. Lots of older tables with benches that really add a lot to the feel of the place. There is an area over to the far side of the bar where the cask beers are on for darts, there are also some other traditional english pub games on a few tables throughout the place. Semi dark, usually with a lot of cigar/cigerette smoke throughout.
Theres always a great selection of beers to choose from. They have a strong connection of the local brewers in the area and always have deschutes, rogue, full sail, hair of the dog, walking man, and other local beers on tap. The guest taps are always pretty good along with their cask selection. The service has for the most part been friendly and helpful, and the day time bartender Dennis is a gem of a guy.
The horse brass is definatley a must for anyone visiting Portland who enjoys interesting places with a great selection of quality craft beer. The only thing I would warn against is its not for those who are easily bothered by smoke.

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Photo of slander
4.64/5  rDev +7.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Jon's driving, I'm pretending to navigate. I don't have a map, and I have no idea where we are. I'm pretty sure everyone's on to me. We're in Oregon, I've never been here before and everybody knows it, but as I'm the only one here with wheels and am always driving, I'm most often paying attention when no one else will, so me riding shotgun is a good fit. And besides, I get to choose the new discs and take in the sights as we head to, where are we going exactly? Horse Brass...

I've never seen anything like this before. It's a beerflyer's nightmare, there's shit everywhere. Towers, pairs, single taps; it's a clusterfuck of someone's organization.
The bar is a wraparound and seats a dozen and a half. Intricately carved wood posts and crossbeams, covered with beer signs and a stained glass "Publick House" panel above, and heavily pasted with coasters, dangling Grolsch top necklaces, Xmas lighting and horse brass medallions which Phil described as being "kind of like bling". Spots to the front and center and strung Guinness mini-pint lighting. There's a large arched mirrored bar back with taps everywhere, booze with serving counters suspended, and glassware above. Ceiling fans, lanterns, glass chandeliers, mounted lamps; the walls decorated with beer & whiskey mirrors, and an entire wall done with Guinness mirrors, the John Gilroy prints and posters, and a great "The gentle art of making Guinness" 12 print set. The "side" side of the bar is open, by that I mean that there isn't a framed wood section overhead. Mirrored back, with shelves of booze, a dozen tables running to the rear, a duel dart area, mirrors, mirrors, mirrors, beer prints, whiskey prints. Lots of dark wood and some leather, and a suspended Trekkie model of the USS Voyager (NCC-74656).

The adjacent tabled areas are madness. Raised elevated seating areas to both sides of the front entranceway with a railing separating them from the bar ahead. 8 long tables in the larger room to one side and 8 various sized and shaped tables on the other side with a forward darts area. To the rear there, more darts, Horse Brass soccer team photos, English flags, soccer pennants and ribbons. A heavy, heavy WWII theme throughout; war photos, English recruiting posters and a whole lotta Churchill goin' on. Tons of well worn wood here, you'd think the place was considerably older than it is.

I counted, I don't know, something like 52 taps and 5 casks. At least half the taps are local and regional micros mostly from Oregon (Deschutes, Roots, Alameda, Golden Valley, Bend, Caldera, Laurelwood, Rogue, Full Sail, Bridgeport, Hair of the Dog, Terminal Gravity), and a bunch from Washington and California (Walking Man, Anchor, Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Stone, North Coast, Anderson Valley, Sierra Nevada). The rest of the taps are imports, standards like Bass, Guinness, Newcastle, Boddingtons, Pilsner Urquell, Stella, Lindemans Framboise and some not so usual (Paulaner Salvator Doppel Bock, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Bombardier Ale, Greene King Abbot Ale, DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux). The 5 casks were also local and regional selections from Deschutes, Hales, Rogue, Mt. Hood.

They've got a small bottle list with everyone's favorite Belgians and some Germans and English, that I never needed to know about as the taps were more than enough to keep me busy 'til the Spring. Also, some wines, port, single malt scotch, etc.

I had a pint of the Walking Man Black Cherry Stout which was just sublime. Chewed the fat with the bartender for a bit. "Here, try this. Here, try this". I asked about the lack of beers from Yakima Brewing/Bert Grant's Ales, and he told me the sad tale about the decline of the brewery. Out back on the bulletin board, a cartoon depicting fermenters at Yakima Brewing being packed up and moved. One character says "Those fermenters sure make a lot of noise on the forklifts", and the other character says "That's Bert rolling over in his grave". True, true.

This place is outstanding.

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Photo of TheLiterati
4.28/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

On the last day of my third visit to Portland, someone pointed out that if I hadn’t been to the Horse Brass, I’d truly missed out on something spectacular. So my friend and hostess obliged my sad puppy eyed request, fired up the ol’ Taurus – again – and took me on over to the Brass so I could tick off another great Portland Beer Establishment on my list.

The place was nearly empty when we got there, which was late in the afternoon. Still the traditional English Pub atmosphere was authentic and well captured without the appearance of trying too hard.

They have an impressive list of beers on draught – over 50 – but we only had time for one before I had to head over to PDX to catch my flight back to Burbank, CA. The gentleman behind the bar was gracious, made us feel welcome, and after asking a few questions about our favorite styles, he made a few suggestions and poured us a few samples as well. Feeling brave, we settled upon the Rogue Brutal Bitter, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

I didn’t have enough time to sample the food on this quick visit, but you can bet I’ll be going back to the Horse Brass the next time I’m in Portland!

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Photo of krberg
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Holy English pub meets chain restaurant! Makes me think of Super Troopers every time. "Hey Farva what's that place you like with all the shit on the walls?" My answer would have to be the Horse Brass. I am willing to bet Sir Winston didn't know so many photos were taken of him. Also weekend nights are so smoky it hurts.

Be it at a table or at the bar, the service is very good. As attentive as reasonable depending on the day. Friendly and knowledgeable.

Tons of taps and 5 engines. Rogue, Walking man, Lagunitas, Deschutes, Stone and more.

The food is a mix of standard English and American pub fare with veggie options. I enjoyed my steak and kidney pie.

Prices are pretty standard for Portland bars. Imperials are around $4.50 to $5 depending.

Overall: Great place if you love beer and smoke. I once had to leave because of the smoke and I was a smoker at the time. Amazing place when it isn't busy.

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Photo of waldowin
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Had heard so much about this bar both from friends and this site, that I decided I finally needed to make the trip.

Man was I ever glad I did.
Walked in, and was immediately greeted by a definite British Pub feel. The beer list is very tantalizing, and the food was well prepared (I had the chipotle burger, and loved it). Had a pint of Walking Man's Black Cherry Stout (unearthly smooth!), and Blue Dot IPA (holy cow, it's opaque! looks like cider gone bad, tastes amazing).

Our initial server was fantastic, and handily held up conversations about beer, food, and the bar, and checked on us twice in 20 minutes. Sadly, she was replaced soon after, when her shift ended, by a sullen woman who visited us only to pick up our check. Makes me wish we had been able to leave a tip solely for our first server.

The beer selection is an admirable list of regional brews, but not astonishingly large (there's a restaurant in Bremerton specializing in beer with a menu twice as large, but none are on-tap as they are at Horse Brass).

Definitely returning here next time I'm in town!

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Photo of John_M
4.53/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

7/08 Update. One of the few problems I have had at the Horsebrass involved the service (or should I say lack of service) I typically received from one certain gentleman. As near as I can tell, that individual has now semi-retired, or at least no longer works very often at the Brass. Hence, it's high time I upgraded my service score, as over the past year I have consistently received outstanding, attentive service. Might need to update my atmosphere score as well when Portland goes smokefree in 2009.

Happily, nothing else about this outstanding beer bar has changed one wit, and hence I make it a point to stop by the pub whenever I happen to be in town (frequently, though no where near often enough). Last time I visited, there was a wedding group in attendance, who apparently had made some arrangement with the bar to pour a keg of beer called "wedding cake," solely for the wedding guests (free at the bar for them). I thought that a great idea, something I don't believe I have ever seen elsewhere. As I left the bar a bit later, a couple of young ladies from the group were having a lightsaber duel in the middle of the street.. It was all I could do to keep the grin off my face and not stare.

This place truly is the crown jewel in the nearly endless array of outstanding Portland beer bars. (end of update)

After reading over the reviews about this place, I find myself in agreement with both the pros and cons. I've been coming here for many years myself, even more often now that I live only a few miles away. The criticisms are all warranted I'm afraid. The food here is no better then average for the most part (though the fish and chips are some of the best in town), and service uneven to say the least. I've walked out on a couple of occasions after sitting at the bar for what seemed an interminable period of time waiting for service.

All that being said, I'm not sure I agree with Mashmstr2's assertion that the HB's time has come and gone. Most nights I've visited the place it's been absolutely packed. The beer selection remains one of the best in town; where else can you find the awesome Blue Dot Double IPA from Hair of the Dog on tap as a regular? So I come here at least once a week for one reason and one reason only. The HB continues to offer local beers that I seldom, if ever, see any place else. As long as they continue to do that, and Don Younger (may he live forever) seems to be committed to doing just that, I'll continue to stop by whenever I have the chance.

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Photo of charlatan
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

This cavernous English style pub does a decent job of recreating blighty except that there is far too much nationalistic junk on the walls, the beer is simply much too good and one doesn't have to go to the bar or sit down for a meal to order a drink.

The beer selection is the best of anywhere I have ever been (although I have to admit I haven't been to many places which pass BA's beer bar criteria despite being ale friendly Portland) with an accent on strong local brews. They seem to a very good job of picking out the cream of the local crop with some beers which are tricky to find on tap (Hair of the Dog, Terminal Gravity and Walking Man all have beers here).

The service is rather English with more of an accent on substance than style or manner. I had chips (um, fries) on my latest visit (an unusual venture into bar food for me) and they were good, served with the all important malt vinegar at the table, but I haven't even brought it upon myself to peruse the menu so you'll have to take my food rating with a pinch of salt.

It is definitely worth the 3.8 mile walk once in a while.

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Photo of mashmstr2
2.33/5  rDev -46.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 1 | selection: 2.5 | food: 2

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.

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Photo of edmundfitzoil
4.13/5  rDev -4.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The Horse Brass Pub, something of a legend in the Portland area, has the looks only a mother... or a BA would love. The Horse Brass is actually quite spacious inside, with a large number of tap handles and cask setups peaking out from behind a large L-shaped bar. The woodwork is the sort that has seen better days, and couldn't look better for it. It's the kind of bar I would have killed for in college because of its size, beer selection, atmosphere (dark with breweriana hiding about), and overall vibe. The quality of the brew on tap is superb: both local and high quality imports are represented very well. The service the Sunday I visited was only a contankerous, older bartender from Yorkshire, England a single waittress. The bartender didn't offer opinions or descriptions of a single beer when I asked about a few, and only once even offered the descriptor "I don't like that one." Overall, I was dissapointed by the service while sitting at the bar.

The selection of the beer was superb, and the beer was all fresh and was not served overly cold. Our food arrived quickly, which we ordered from a simple menu of traditional British style items. They are said to have some of the best fish and chips though.

The price for the beer and food was extremely reasonable, and - when compared to places like Henry's - are cheap for the other Portland pubs I have been too. The Horse Brass, and the bottle shop next door, are places to see when in Portland. The only limiting factor had been the service, but I will just have to use this as an excuse to return there a number of times to see if it is consistently this way.

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Photo of bultrey
3.78/5  rDev -12.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5

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.

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Photo of RECiPE
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I try to visit this place whenever I travel to Portland. Impressive tap selection. Several tasty IPAs are usually available. My favorite during my last visit was Terminal Gravity IPA.

Next door to the Horse Brass is the Belmont Station. They sell an exceptional variety of beers.

Not the cleanest bathrooms.

Cigar friendly. I find a big stogie and a big, hoppy IPA pair nicely. I have never been chased out of the Horse Brass for stoking up a cigar.

Parking can be a challenge. I usually try to stop by at about 5:00 p.m. and have had good luck finding a parking space.

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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.

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

Went here for the first time tonight.
Eventually made my way to the pub,parked round the back and entered this legendary establishment. I was here to meet fellow BAs Blitheringidiot, Freed and Red Diamond. Wlked inthrough the back entrance past the kitchens and really it could have been a small traditional style pub in England. Some folk dont like the grungy smoky interior, but to me it just added to the atmosphere. Mossied on up to the bar (again a very trad bar arrangement) and was astounded by the vast array of taps , so much it was difficult to choose what to drink first..I chose the Hogsback Oatmeal Stout on cask..very nice and the bar people were very efficient fast, courteous and knoledgable.
Man I wish I lived in this neighbourhood..this a fantastic example of a beer bar.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.36/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

This was another nice pub in Portland, OR. It is certainly *the* place in the city to get that rare one-off draught or bottles brew you have been searching for. The atmosphere is great, real Liverpool local boozer feel to it, with dark wood, and several rooms. Lots of breweriana as well. Quality of my beer of choice (Homo Erectus IIPA) was fresh and great, and the service was nice as well, in this truly smoky and British style ale house. Selection as mentioned is usually great, but was not the best on my visist, since we just missed out on a keg of HOTD's new Blue Dog! D'oh! Still this is a classic SE Portland pub, in a nice neighberhood. The atmosphere makes this place worth it alone. Thanks for the ride David :-)

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Crotor
2.98/5  rDev -31%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

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...

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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!

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Photo of SamuraiJack
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3

a beer geek's pub indeed.
the score might indicate i think otherwise, but look at quality and selection - i mean, that's what we go for, right?
the best selection and the best quality in town. no doubt there at all.
incredibly smoky inside. in fact, if the quality was anything less than what it is i would have gone only once and never gone back. it's that harsh on the eyes, the lungs and the palate. the latter is the big issue - after about one hour i honestly can't taste right.
service at the bar is... hmm... knowledgable beyond belief but also a bit "brusque" if you know what i mean. service at tables is pretty weak though pleasant.
food is what you would expect.
Belmont Station (next door) has probably the second best selection of any bottle store in town.

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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.

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Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR
Place rating: 4.32 out of 5 with 144 ratings
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