Great Notion Brewing

Great Notion BrewingGreat Notion Brewing
Great Notion BrewingGreat Notion Brewing
Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

2204 NE Alberta St
Ste 101
Portland, Oregon, 97211-5885
United States

(503) 548-4491 | map

View: Beers | Place Reviews
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 95 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of eppie82
eppie82 from Illinois

4.17/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Very chill vibe with mostly young-adults and into 40s crowd. The place has some character to it, which only adds to the good vibe. I sat at the bar with a couple of other guys and we were always asked if we needed anything, and water was continuously being refilled. Selection had a good mix of 'trendy' styles (NE IPAs, fruited sours and adjunct stouts) and an outlier or two of pilsner and such. Something for everyone.

Overall, I like the place and I would be happy to get back there when in Portland again.

Apr 29, 2020
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stevoj from Idaho

3.94/5  rDev -11.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75

Stopped by on a recent Portland trip. Located in a neighborhood, small and friendly place. Spare interior, nothing fancy here. Did not try the food. Taps are mostly hazy IPAs, not a lot of variety, but all of high quality. Cans and crowlers to go..

Mar 15, 2020
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RyanK252 from California

4.55/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Dropped into their original location for a nightcap while on an Oregon road trip. I had heard all they hype, but wanted to see what was up. They absolutely loved up to it. Got to try a little bit of everything, from IPAs to sours to stouts, they were fantastic. Wish they had a little more available to take home, but with their demand I understand. That will probably change as their new facility ramps up production. I'm already trying to find excuses to go back.

Sep 04, 2019
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Sammy from Canada

4.07/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4

A must visit . good competency in running . makes what people want to drink. Good in every way, in one of the greatest beer cities it is just another B+ place.

Aug 20, 2019
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Domingo from Colorado

4.31/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

One of those places that HAS to be all hype, right? Nope! Great Notion is as legit as they come as long as you like dessert inspired stouts and sours or hazy/juicy IPA's.
Located in the Alberta area, it's a tiny bit off the beaten path if you're staying downtown. It's still only about a $10-15 Lyft/Uber away, though. When you arrive you'll notice it's tucked behind a coffee shop and it shares space with a garden center. Luckily it isn't tiny. There's an indoor dining room (where the brewing equipment and bar are located) as well as plenty of outdoor seating via a pair of patios. There's an additional garden center space that seems to be available as needed, too. It's a little bit biergarten-esque.
On to the beer! When I was there they had a pretty astounding 15 taps and a guest or two as well. About 1/2 are variations on hazy IPA's while the other half are split between kettle sours and big stouts. The sours and stouts were almost all featuring dessert adjuncts like coffee, blueberries, lime, maple syrup, peanut butter, and more. Most of the hazy IPA's were simply featuring different hops and strength levels. I don't think anything I had was less than terrific. Blueberry Muffin, Wai-Iti, Juice Jr. and Peanut Brother were highlights. If you can imagine Funky Buddha crossed with Trillium, you're most of the way there. As long as you aren't rolling in expecting a Munich-level dunkel or a SNPA clone I think you'll be more than happy. Prices are low compared to what you'd pay in most of the country. All pours are either $5 or $6. Pour sizes range from around 11oz all the way up to standard pints. However the real gem is the price of a flight. It's $15 for 5 samples, any beers you want. Samples are listed as 4oz each, but I'd say that's a very conservative estimate. They're probably closer to >5oz. and that $3 per sample size applies to everything they have.
Something that also surprised me - the food is also really good. Meal options are mostly sandwiches and salads, but where they shine is the snack menu. Curry-ketchup waffle fries, buffalo tostones, and pan fried Brussels sprouts are some examples. Oh man they're delicious, too. Prices are on par with everything else I encountered in PDX. I appreciate that pretty much every brewery in town has food, but GN's was the best I had. I'd probably feel comfortable simply eating there without even getting a beer.
They have beer to go, but only select items in crowlers and 4-packs. Neither option suited me when I was there, but I guess when they do Juice Box and Double Stack people are known to swarm. I appreciate that their main focus is making sure as many options are on tap as possible for visitors. I wish every place did that. Most of the to-go stuff is just going to be swapped around until it turns to mush anyway.
Overall, I couldn't have been happier with GN. They know what they're doing and they do it well. On both the beer and food front. The staff is super nice, too. If you're in the area, it's a must visit.

Aug 12, 2018
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Roustabout from District of Columbia

3.63/5  rDev -18.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3

Dug it more as a place (of a piece with garden-y craftsman Alberta) than as a source of beer. Very much the kind of populist, presentist approach I see from more and more new outfits across the country: Sweet-Tart-thin fruited kettle sours; creamy New England IPAs; big stouts that sit in your stomach. Being more of a horseblankety farmhouse boy this all makes me long for a dirty brett beer, or a grisette or, hell, a Weihenstephaner.

May 25, 2018
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Kiki1414 from Oregon

1.35/5  rDev -69.5%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 1 | selection: 2 | food: 2

My friend and I were sitting outside at one of the tables having lunch and beers. There were several tables with dogs, kids were enjoying themselves, it was a great afternoon. Then we had family (parents and a toddler) sit down at the table behind us. All was fine for a while. Then the toddler started grabbing the gravel and throwing it in the air, which caused dust to travel throughout the entire patio area. The parents didn't seem to notice or care. Depending on how the wind was blowing, someone would look around for the source of the dust blowing (likely into their beers). After this went on for a half an hour my friend eventually asked the mother if she could ask her son not to throw the gravel. That is ALL she said. The mother got very upset and both her and her husband were yelling for the servers to "come take the toys away because we apparently didn't like kids and didn't want their son to play with them". The father then went around to each table asking them if their kid was bothering them, because he was "bothering us" (these are all his words). He then walked by our table and said that we had called them a**holes. We both said "we never called you or your wife an a**hole, all we did was ask that your son not throw the gravel". He then went and put all of the toys away, all the while muttering things about us, and when he came back by our table he said "I wish you would stop talking about us". We were both shocked and had literally said nothing while he was making this scene After he sat back down at the table both he and his wife called us b*tches. We didn't say a word to them.

The manager, Sasha, went over to the family's table, and I'm not sure what they told her, but she was apologizing and offered them free t-shirts. She walked right by our table, so my friend motioned her to come over to our table. She was EXTREMELY rude and completely disregarded us. She wouldn't even listen to what we had to say. We tried to explain that we had been there for a while and several tables of children had cycled through, that it wasn't an issue of us not wanting kids there. She then accused us of harassing the couple. When we told her that they were in fact the ones harassing US and had called us names, she continued to belittle us and yell in our faces. It was clear that we were not going to be able to have a productive conversation with her because she was belligerent. When I finally took my phone out to record all of this, Sasha (the manager) shoved her menu into my face, said that I was immature and walked away.

I think it's great when establishments embrace families. I just don't like dirt in my beer. I don't think I'm alone in expecting parents to let their kids have fun as long as it's not disrupting other patrons.

It was, frankly, embarrassing to watch and I wish that I would have been quicker to record the entire scene.

Never NEVER going back!

May 14, 2018
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chrisjws from California

4.61/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Small brewpub that tries really hard on the lumberjack vibe. Won't hold that against them because the beer is A+.

The Double Stack Blew my mind, the Blueberry Pancake blew it again. The beers here are off the hook. A must visit in Portland.

Jan 28, 2018
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MFMB from Idaho

4.11/5  rDev -7.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25

Stoked I finally made it here. Beer was killer and the vibe was great. Didn’t have food but I’m sure it’s great too. Service was good, it was busy so there wasn’t many chances to interact with beer tenders and what not and that’s okay. Fair amount of regulars in there tho I sensed that the beer tenders did focus on when they had the time. I love the beer and will be going back next time I am in Portland.

Jan 21, 2018
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CUBeerBuff from Washington

3.59/5  rDev -19%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Update: So they eased up a bit. Still have some wait and group issues for seating. Service is better when busy and much improved when they are slow. Customers are not an afterthought.

Original rating - Vibe 1, Quality 4, service 1, selection 3, food 3.
Preface - finally hit my limit with the hipster too cool for school vibe. I'm not a "local" but we are in the greater Portland area so we get down to Alberta once or twice a month. I know my beer and I'm easy going, not demanding or pretentious. A big part of enjoying a beer is the location. Warm, inviting, good service and good company. Otherwise, drink a pint of Pliny in a cold basement with the lights off if that's your jam. The beer and food are good, no issues there, but I'm not a fanboy. It's the service and attitude are dreadful. I've been in about a dozen times since they opened. Was actually there on opening night when the owners did a invite only bottle share. Since then, every time we've been in the staff has not been welcoming or accommodating. They need a course in customer service. A few times we waited, seated at the bar on a night when it was less than half full, while the bartender talked with friends, checked their phone, poured a few beers for the waitress and finally said, "You want something to drink?" Um, yes, it's why we've been sitting here for the last ten minutes looking at you. As well, general seating issues when the place is less than half full, looks of disdain from staff when asked about wait times ( "20-30 minutes, hard to say, you can wait by the door" seriously? and careful if you are there 30 minutes before close on a slow night - almost like they are chasing you out. Just sick of the surly attitude. If you are a regular, maybe you don't have these issues - I say good for you. For others looking to check them out, don't hold your breathe. No, I don't have a beard, only have one flannel and don't Instagram my beers but my dollar spends just as good at any one of the many other Portland breweries that have good beer, good food AND good customer service.

Nov 18, 2017
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cjgiant from District of Columbia

3.94/5  rDev -11.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.25 | food: 3.75

This is a not-too-large brewpub with some extra seating outside. This seemed like a place to meet a couple people, but isn't too conducive to many large groups. Except for outside, there isn't a good congregation or waiting (for a table) area. The bar seats about 10, and there are about a dozen or more tables throughout the dining area.

The beer selection was quite heavy on IPAs and fruited sours, and I don't think there was a dark beer on the menu. They did have about a dozen or so taps, so there was a little variety within the styles, but still not a place where you'll find something for all. The selections were very tasty, with all the IPAs I have of the NE IPA substyle. The sours generally highlighted their fruit additions quite well.

The food was tasty, with a variety of options beyond typical American brewpub fare. Service at the table was quite good and friendly. The service at the bar was more sporadic, but it was a bit of a busier operation with people waiting and wanting to get started on their sampling.

We were there twice at full but not over-packed times. The small place absorbed the patrons better than I'd have expected looking at it. I am aware they are opening a second, presumably larger location in the near future, which I think will be a good thing, as this place could use a little more space.

Oct 24, 2017
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Sabtos from Ohio

4.08/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

They really could have taken the lumberjack theme too far, but it wisely stops with the branding and swag. This place is pretty cool, but might take a bit of time finding even if you park right in front of it. The entrance is tucked into a wide alley through the modest beer garden, and opens to a very wide space with a good many wooden tables, but a somewhat short, cramped bar, with a large flatscreen TV behind it displaying everything on tap. Some live barrels are even sitting out very close to the bar.

The beer selection was quite varied, including fresh hop IPAs, sours, saisons and stouts, as well as a couple guest taps. Almost everything was top notch delicious, and all of it was in line with the modern trends, including sours reminiscent of JWB, stouts coming close to MD, and IPAs going after New England with gusto.

The food menu is casual but also very modern, and is executed at a high level, which I suspect is partly responsible for the heavy foot traffic. Plates are big and filling as well.

This place seems to attract a large number of patrons who are taking a first crack at the beer scene, so try to be patient with your server, who will likely be explaining things in great detail to numerous tables.

Oct 12, 2017
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elNopalero from California

4.66/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Look, I get it. Those who complain about this place probably shouldn't visit. Yes, their crowlers are expensive. That's about as far as I'll agree with the negative comments tho. Because I have no complains. $5 pours of delicious hazy beers? Sign. Me. Up. I sat at the bar. And everyone was friendly. E v e r y o n e. Come and check them out. Or don't. I'm glad I did.

Oct 04, 2017
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wordemupg from Canada

4.41/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

August, 19, 2017
Rented bikes and rode here from downtown in the heat and it was worth it. Place was packed in the middle of the afternoon and we had to wait for a table but that's a good sign I suppose. Nothing really stood out in regards to the brewpub itself but clean and orderly, nice spot. Our server was on top of everything even though she was stretched pretty thin, the girl was clocking miles, great hustle on her part. I had a burger and salad and it was awesome, I've had many pub burger plates in my day and this was top notch. As much as I liked my food the beer put it to shame, the hype behind their brews is real. I had a few awesome hop bombs and Double Stack was one of the better stouts I've had in a while. I think I can safely say this place put out the best beers I had in Portland and that's a pretty bold statement. Overall this place hit everything just right, a must if in the area.....

Aug 22, 2017
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jjboesen from Maryland

4.3/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

The Great Notion is a worthy addition to the Alberta District (and to the PDX scene). They have created some wonderful high-end IPA styles with about 10 taps. I enjoyed their Three-Way IPA, an homage to the New England style, and a crisp and tasty Farm Hand Sais son. Additionally, it is an attractive venue, popular with locals and friendly to families. The neighborhood is an interesting one with funky stores, eateries and many interesting murals. If you wish to take the bus here (which is a good idea when exploring several breweries), the No. 72 passes by. Look for the Pine State Biscuit sign and enter off Alberta Street. Certainly, another must in Beervana.

Jul 31, 2017
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Radcpa from Washington

4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Excellent service with very attentive staff. Food is excellent. Sweet beers are excellent. Need to expand operation to meet demand for bottles and take home products

Jul 12, 2017
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Lingenbrau from Oregon

4.73/5  rDev +6.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.25

Awesome location right off Alberta. Outside area is very nice with plenty of tables, umbrellas, plants, etc. Friendly staff that was hustling the whole time. Glass empty, gone in seconds! Beer? On a whole other level. Had the Blueberry Muffin, Grapefruit Zest, Farm Hand, Juice Jr., and 3-Way collab, and all were phenomenal! Man, that Blueberry Muffin would make anybody smile. Even got some free beers thanks to "extra pours"! I can't rate the food, as we only shared the Waffle Fries, but they were damn good with the Ginger Ketchup, for what that's worth. Would have loved to see more available to-go, as there was none. Crowlers, cans... gone. Cheers!

Jul 12, 2017
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lsutailgater from Louisiana

4.9/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

My kind of place. Great beers, super service from knowledgeable, personable servers and a chill vibe. Another reason to be super jealous of my Portland peeps.

Apr 05, 2017
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jakecattleco from California

4.58/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Everything I've had off the menu has been great. Enjoyed most of their beers, but some have been too sweet for my preferences (e.g. Double Stack, Supple).

Jan 29, 2017
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John_M from Oregon

4.06/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Located on NE Alberta Street, an area already teeming with eateries, bars, coffee shops etc., GN is still a welcome addition to the neighborhood I think. Located on the corner of NE 22nd and Alberta, GN is fairly sizeable (high ceilings seem to enhance the impression), with a modest size bar in the back (room for around 10 patrons), roughly 15 or 20 tables inside, and then a decent size patio area adjacent to Alberta Street (the latter was closed on the cold and wet January evening we stopped by). The vibe is very informal and laid back, and there are couple of sizeable flat screen TV's over the bar area, typically turned to some type of sporting event. So GN comes across as a relaxed place to hang out with a beer or three.

So of course the beer is the focal point of this new (relatively) to Portland brewery, and GN has garnered a lot of attention for the IPA's and DIPA's they've been producing. Most are made in the so called NE style, which means they tend to be hazy, fruity citrus bombs with very low bitterness in the finish. My take is that these beers come across as initially very pleasing, as the fruit presence is huge and easy to appreciate. However, the lack of bitterness always wears on me, and I tend to get tired of drinking them pretty quickly. That was the case last night with the glass of guava IPA and over-ripe (an experimental IPA) that I ordered. On the other hand, the stack of coconuts imperial stout I ordered was impressive, with a huge aroma and flavor of coconuts in with the dark chocolate and vanilla flavor I picked up. In the past, the double stack maple coffee stout has also been very impressive. I should add that while some of the fruit flavored IPA's they make (which often come across as gimmicky to me) have struck me as "misses," there have been some resounding successes as well, The original orange creamsicle IPA which I was expecting to be terrible, was so good it was literally jaw dropping. In the end, I would say quality is pretty high here, though there's no doubt that the NE style IPA's they're making here are not going to be a hit for everyone. Still, I feel as if I have to give the brewer extra points for bringing something new to the NW, and for the willingness to try something innovative and creative.

In terms of selection, it varies of course, but typically there are around 10 different GN beers, and then 2 or 3 guest beers. Last night, I think there were actually 12 different GN beers, and then 3 guest taps. Food always looks pretty good here, and the menu looks interesting, but I haven't yet ordered any food here. I would also add that GN has a crowler machine, though typically only certain select beers are available for crowler fills.

So that brings us to the last bone of contention in the local community when it comes to GN. Pricing. By NW standards, the prices GN charges for their beer is undeniably high. $5 for a 10.5 ounce pour is standard for the lower alcohol, core line-up, and prices go up from there. Crowlers are typically priced at $15 for a 32 ounce can. In both cases, that's at least 50% higher than what you'll normally see around town for craft beer. That being said, GN's philosophy seems to be that no other brewery is making anything comparable to what they're making in town, so I gather in their mind that makes the pricing here justified. I do know that those who adore GN beers, seem to have no problem with the pricing here, and are happy to pay these sort of prices for GN beer. My take is that no one is forcing anyone to go to GN or pay their sort of pricing, and so customers can decide for themselves whether they want to go here or not. For me, the quality of the beer simply doesn't justify the premium GN charges, and so my visits here will continue to be infrequent. Cheers.

Edit from 12/17. Have now ordered food here several times, and as expected, it's pretty good (not great, but pretty good). As before, the beer make here continues to be the primary reason for coming to GN, and increasingly, it's a very good reason (the quality level at GN continues to be quite high).

Jan 22, 2017
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DallasK from Oregon

4.64/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Food is ok. Place is always busy but the staff handle it well. You come here for the beer. Always amazing. Sometimes they have limited styles being offered. Its ok though because many of the house staples like double stack are world class!

Jan 03, 2017
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wisrarebeer from Wisconsin

4.59/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Hands-down one of the better finds I've had in a long time! Nice open air feel, outdoor seating, close to great restaurants on Alberta, varied selection, and great beer. Staff were helpful. Just wish there was a bit more options for filling the crowlers.

Jul 12, 2016
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Raimalise from Oregon

4.73/5  rDev +6.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

These people are doing fabulous things. They have great service, amazing selection and they are always looking to upgrade and fine tune anything that is amiss. I am really impressed with what they have done in such a short amount of times. Definitely, a great place to be right now! The atmosphere is relaxing and the people are alway excited to share in the many happenings that are making this place a fun spot! Cheers.

Jun 26, 2016
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Antg8989 from New Jersey

4.83/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Great food. Great beer. Great service. Their selection is limited to about 10 beers give or take but the 3 I tried were some of the best I experienced in Portland. Must haves are the Blueberry Pancakes and the Passionfruit IPA.

May 25, 2016
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JWD from California

4.29/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Very good for such a small taproom - a lot of time these places disappoint and this one did not. Great beer (out of some due to spring break), good bar only service (I like this) and great happy hour food + great prices.

Highly recommended!

Mar 29, 2016
Great Notion Brewing in Portland, OR
Brewery rating: 4.32 out of 5 with 2963 ratings