Visiting Portland (Spring 2013 update)

Discussion in 'US - West' started by guajolote, Apr 4, 2013.

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  1. guajolote

    guajolote Disciple (315) Sep 12, 2008 Oregon

    Updated to add some restaurants & a more decriptive Beer Bar/Bottle Shop section.

    Original thread
    Update v.1

    Surely many of us agree that this forum could use an easily seachable/bump-able "I'm visiting Portland, where should I go?" thread. Here, I'll attempt to cull the consensus "must-hits," along with other highly recommended PDX breweries, brew pubs, bottle shops & beer bars that appear in this type of BA thread. Recommendations & suggestions are encouraged.

    (Almost) Universally Recommended "Must-Hit" Breweries & Brew Pubs
    Cascade Brewing Barrel House
    Deschutes Portland Pub
    Hair of the Dog
    Upright Brewing

    Other Highly Recommended Breweries & Brew Pubs
    Breakside Brewery
    The Commons Brewery
    Gigantic Brewing
    Hopworks Urban Brewery / Hopworks Bike Bar
    Laurelwood Brewing
    Lompoc Brewing

    Highly Recommended Beer Bars / Bottle Shops
    APEX (Taproom, Bottles-to-go)
    Bailey's Taproom (Taproom, Growler Fills, Bottle List)
    The Beermongers (Taproom, Bottle Shop, Growler Fills)
    Belmont Station (Taproom, Bottle Shop, Growler Fills, Food)
    Bridgetown Beerhouse (Taproom, Bottle Shop, Growler Fills)
    The Green Dragon (Taproom, Food)
    The Hop & Vine (Taproom, Bottle Shop, Growler Fills, Food)
    Horse Brass Pub (Taproom, Food)
    John's Marketplace (Bottle Shop)
    Oregon Hophouse (Taproom, Growler Fills, Food)
    Roscoe's (Taproom, Growler Fills, Food)
    Saraveza (Taproom, Bottle Shop, Growler Fills, Food)
    (A Few) Beer-centric Restaurants:

    Just about any decent restaurant in PDX has an acceptable beer list. Many are more-than-acceptable. This might be the most debatable section of this thread.

    Cheese Bar
    Grain & Gristle
    Higgins Restaurant
    Some helpful maps:
    The Beer Mapping Project
    Oregon & Washington Brew Map
    Oregon Beer Country map
    digita7693’s map

    A couple suggested Pub Crawl maps:
    Cascade > HotD > Bailey's > Deschutes > Upright > HUB/Side Bar
    Inner SE Pub/Brewery Crawl (APEX -> Beermongers -> The Commons -> HotD -> Cascade -> Base Camp -> Burnside)
    Sunnyside Pub Crawl (Horse Brass -> Belmont Station -> Hawthorne Hop House -> Bazi Bierbrasserie)
    North Portland Pub Crawl (Amnesia -> Bridgetown Beerhouse -> Prost! -> HUB BikeBar -> Lompoc Sidebar/5Q)
    Other BA resources:

    Portland BeerFly listing:

    Some other forum threads on the topic:

    *disclaimer: This post is not intended to be a catch-all for Portland beer establishments. There are literally hundreds of well-regarded beer institutions throughout the greater Portland area, many of which are not listed in this post. This thread is an attempt to present the most frequently recommended and highest-regarded spots often cited in the Northwest BA forum. Exploration and experimentation are certainly encouraged!
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  2. digita7693

    digita7693 Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2010 Germany

    Nice update!
  3. BK1017

    BK1017 Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2009 Texas

    Beautiful. Thanks for updating. Visiting next weekend (19th-21st) so this will help. Definitely will be hitting the universally recommended spots.

    I was hoping to get some insider BA advice for the following (non-beer related questions):

    - Good wineries in the downtown area? (my fiancee is a wine snob)

    - Great restaurants? I know that's a stupid ass question, but after doing a bunch of research on Eater PDX, the choices are overwhelming. The restaurants don't necessarily have to be beer-centric, just friggin delicious. No particular style, just something that is worth visiting and worth spending money at. Was hoping to get some insider opinion.

    We'll be staying at the Ace Hotel (b/c we're damn Austin hipsters) for a few nights then on the Willamette for the last night of relaxation (Riverplace). Any thoughts would be appreciated!

  4. digita7693

    digita7693 Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2010 Germany

    For wineries, enjoy them in Willamette. I highly highly recommend getting a reservation for a wine tasting at Soter vineyards in Willamette (Carlton area) and eat dinner at Paulée in Dundee, huge wine menu and a very nice tap list too.

    In Portland I would go to Wildwood for dinner if you want something nice. Other, seemingly, universal recs for restaurants: Pok Pok, Andina, Le Pigeon, Ned Ludd, Bamboo Sushi, Grüner, Apizza Scholls... most of which are listed on my map.

    dianimal likes this.
  5. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Just a few more additions to what digita7693 recommended.

    For restaurants, I would also recommend places like Paley's Place (probably as close to a high end restaurant as Portland has) and Higgins. Higgins can be a bit inconsistent with their food (I've had fantastic meals, and others that I thought were just pretty good), but they have a very solid wine and beer selection (Paley's has an excellent wine list, but their beer selection is no better than so-so). Both places are fairly close to the ACE hotel. For that matter, the full sail riverplace establishment isn't half bad, both for food and beer (wine list is decent, but is a bit spendy IMHO).

    In terms of wineries, there are a few tasting rooms in PDX, but most of the better one's are out in the Willamette Valley (as digita7693 mentioned). However, very close to your hotel is one of my favorite places, which is Oregon Wines on Broadway. It's a combination tasting room and retail store, where you can also order light snacks (cheese plates, marcona almonds, etc.). You can order wine by the sample size, glass or bottle there, and they have an excellent selection of Oregon pinot (which is what they focus on). They also typically have a few Oregon whites open as well, and also 5 or 6 Washington reds (cabs, cab blends, syrahs and the like from Columbia Valley and Walla Walla). They sell a variety of different wine to go as well, generally at close to normal retail mark-ups. I personally love the place, as well as the staff working there, but I know the staff can sometimes rub some customers the wrong way with their often somewhat crude and earthy banter (I don't mind it at all, but some customers clearly are expecting a more upscale, sophistiicated experience, and so are put off by the place).

    Also, depending upon what time you get in on Friday, you might want to give this place a try:

    It's a bit farther away than OWOB, but Scott Paul makes great Oregon pinot from the Willamette Valley, and some of the Burgundy he imports are amazing. However, the Portland tasting room is only open on Friday, from 5-8 PM.

    Have fun.
  6. BK1017

    BK1017 Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2009 Texas

    Awesome thanks guys.

    Any Cantillon hanging around in Portland? Trying to snag a bottle or 2 for the old man.

  7. digita7693

    digita7693 Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2010 Germany

    Hahahha, funny!

    Think you need to take i5 north for about 6hrs for any hope of such things.
    However, the commons has bottles of myrtle still, which is wonderful and only $8/btl.
  8. guajolote

    guajolote Disciple (315) Sep 12, 2008 Oregon

  9. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    I'm not a huge fan of Cantillon, so it's not something that is typically on my radar. However, I thought I saw some bottles of cantillon over at the Apex the other day. The only reason I gave it a second thought, is that Apex tends to be a bit expensive for some of the more limited/rare bottles they carry, and I remember wondering what they might be charging for a bottle of Cantillon. However, definitely call the Apex before heading over if you're looking for Cantillon, as I didn't look closely to make sure I was right about what I (thought) I saw.
  10. BK1017

    BK1017 Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2009 Texas

    Great, thanks. And thanks to all who contributed to this thread. Very helpful!

  11. digita7693

    digita7693 Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2010 Germany

    Yes apex has some cantillon but very very expensive! I don't think they want to sell it, $75 for fou fonne I think
  12. BK1017

    BK1017 Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2009 Texas

    Damn talk about price gouging. I bought 2 from the brewery last year for ~10 euro a piece. Or less.
  13. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    I confess I don't undertand the thinking over at Apex. (sorry, don't mean to threadjack, but...). I think their prices are pretty reasonable for most of their stuff, but when they think they have something rare or limited, man do they mark it up. I saw someone picking up some bottles of elder to go the other day as well, and was tempted to ask what the price was (except I was afraid to hear the answer). Even draft elder there is $8 a pint, which I'm fairly sure is the highest price for draft elder in town.
  14. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Initiate (0) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon

    It's the Toronado mentality. Jack the prices up so that only someone who's really desperate (or trying to impress someone) will buy a bottle, and in the meantime you have the appearance of offering an incredible bottle selection.

    As for the Pliny, everyone in town could charge $8-10/pint and it would still sell quickly, just due to the almost obsessive cult following the beer has garnered. As you mentioned, most of their prices are pretty darn good, so perhaps Jesse is capitalizing on the Pliny craze so that he can have lower prices on other stuff.

    Either way, I'd rather drink a Hop Venom, so I could care less what he's charging for Pliny. :slight_smile:
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  15. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Initiate (0) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon

    Back on topic, I agree with digita7693 regarding wineries. The local tasting rooms and wine bars are great, but the scenery in the valley in incredible (especially this time of year with everything blooming), so if at all possible try to make the drive down 99W between here and McMinnville and hit a few of the actual vineyards. There's probably 3 dozen wineries along that stretch alone, and most of the are excellent.

    I recommend Sokol Blosser and Erath for sure; both of them have delicious wine and awesome views of the valley from their tasting rooms.
  16. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    I agree. It's not that big of a deal. PtE is relatively easy to find around a town, so I'll just go elsewhere for my fix.
  17. digita7693

    digita7693 Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2010 Germany

    Sokol Blosser is a very nice one w great views too. I love Soter as it has an amazing view and they do very small tastings, 6-8 people around a table, and they have great wines!
    Penner Ash is good as well, very nice location and views and good wine, bergstrom is another I'd recommend.

    If you make it all the way down to McMinnville is contact heater Allen about visiting them, the tasting room is not open yet, but you can visit and taste the beers if they have time.
  18. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    :-) Shrug. We could go on and on about our favorite wineries out there.

    Bergstrom and Penner both make good wine, but I think their wines have just gotten too pricey. They're not quite as bad as Domaine Serene just yet, but they're well on their way.

    OK. I go out there all the time, so I guess I might as well throw out my two cents. For a great view (along with very good wine), I would consider Domaine Drouhin, especially if it's a nice day. In the Carlton area, I'm partial to Scott Paul and Tyus Evans. The latter tasting room is an especially good spot, as they're owned by Ken Wright, and so typically offer a number of their single vineyard pinots to sample. The Tyrus Evans label is what KW uses for their Washington sourced fruit (they used to offer wines with fruit sourced from Southern Oregon, but no longer I believe), and they have some terrific syrahs, viognier and cab blends. If the OP is going to visit the Dundee area, then by all means stop by the Ponzi tasting room and Argyle. Argyle is kind of touristy, but their wine is pretty good (IMHO, they are still making the best sparkling wine in the valley). If the OP is going to be driving around a bit, then I would also recommend places like Cristom and Bethel Heights. If he's in McMinnville, then I would call a visit to Eyrie an absolute must stop. Eyrie is one of the older, more respected wineries in Oregon, and over time they've accumulated a pretty extensive library. They now offer some amazing old pinots and pinot gris, that you really can't find any place else. It's expensive to taste their library wines, but what they have on offer you likely won't find any place else in the valley. Anyway, that should keep you busy...
  19. msubulldog25

    msubulldog25 Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2005 Oregon

    Since this is a beer-centric site, let's keep it beer-centric in the forums, OK?

    Private conversations are good for all the winery recs... :wink: (Erath, Sokol Blosser & Penner Ash are personal favorites)



    PPS: whoa, edited and noticed blackcloud below me mentioned the same foodie site. Cool :slight_smile:
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  20. blackcloud

    blackcloud Disciple (372) Apr 28, 2012 Alaska

    as far as food goes, i just looked at the recently updated eater 38... and it's pretty damned spot on. you can't really go wrong at any of those. some tasty tacos from gorditos are a must with a visit to apex, if you ask me. (and are probably the number one food thing i crave since moving away)
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  21. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    :-) Well as we all know... it takes a lot of beer to make good wine.
  22. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Initiate (0) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon

    I almost forgot Ponzi, but since you mentioned it I thought I'd throw in a vote for their wine bar in McMinnville. They have beer and coffee as well, so it makes a nice change of pace from the wine-only spots in the valley. Plus, they have one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a tasting room: a huge table with probably 50 different herbs, flowers, dried fruits, bits of leather, gravel, and other things for you to smell so that when someone mentions a certain character in a wine (like leathery) you can sniff the actual item and help draw the connection.

    edit: sorry Brian, You posted while I was in the middle of typing this. I'll bring it back to beer now. :slight_smile:

    edit 2: back on the beer/food combo, be sure to try the new food cart we've got at Belmont Station. They are making incredibly tasty food, and since I have no involvement with them I don't feel bad pimping them. Their pretzels are awesome, and I could probably eat one of their meatballs subs every friggin day.
  23. kscaldef

    kscaldef Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2010 Oregon

    Well, you'll never see FF that cheap anywhere in the US. They are charging somewhere in the realm of a 2.5-3x markup, which is on the high end of wine markups, but not at all unheard of.

    For Pliny and other beers you want to move quickly, it doesn't make sense (other than that people will pay it, apparently). For Cantillon, it makes perfect sense. They don't have a limitless supply of the stuff either. Say they priced it at $40-50. I promise you someone would just swoop in there and buy it all. $75 keeps it around for a while, and allows them to have an un-matched bottle list.

    In contrast, the bottle list at Les Caves is generally priced only a couple dollars over original retail and you know what? It's gone considerably downhill since they opened because people snatched up all the good stuff.
  24. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    I disagree. Oh your reasoning is spot on, but you're not factoring PR into this equation. Folks who buy cantillon or parabola or Sucaba have a pretty good idea what the normal mark-up is for those beers, so when a place like Apex marks them 100% or 200% over normal mark-up, all that does is piss people off. Granted, at some point some poor pilgrim will walk in and buy the beers, either because he's desperate or doesn't realize how overpriced they are, but in the interim, I would argue that Apex has done incalcuble damage to their reputation (such as it is). In the long run, is it really worth making a few extra bucks from a few bottles of beer, given all the negative PR (and bad Karma) they've managed to acquire? That's something that you typically can never win back.
  25. kscaldef

    kscaldef Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2010 Oregon

    I'm not a particular fan of Apex overall, but I think they are playing a long game here. The relevant question is more: what will people think in 5-10 years when they still have beers available (for a price) that no one else has.

    Honestly, I'm surprised that no one else in Portland seems to be doing this. Other major beer cities all have places where you can drop $$$ if you want aged rarities. Why this doesn't exist here, I don't know. (As I mentioned already, Les Caves seems to have been going for this but, IMO, they made a mistake in their pricing and it may take a while now for their list to recover to it's initial quality.)
  26. RedMedicine

    RedMedicine Initiate (0) Jun 3, 2005 Oregon

    That's a two dollar increase in just the past year or so. Disappointing.
  27. Reino

    Reino Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2007 Oregon

    You can sit on expensive beer much more easily when you don't have food costs/kitchen labor to make up for, and when a much higher volume of craft beer drinkers are sucking down your draft list :slight_smile:. If we had a B15 bottle release every weekend, it might be a different story haha.
    I agree with the APEX model when it comes to beers that age well. I'm also surprised more people don't do it.
  28. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Crusader (741) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Going to hit Hair of the Dog on my way to Seattle this Friday!
  29. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Where I just moved from (the DC/Baltimore area), there is a store that is playing this game as well. Their prices are on the high side anyway (they're located in an expensive area), but whenever they get in what they perceive to be rare or limited release items, their mark-up it just outrageous. (BCBS bottles for $12; BCBS Rare for $99 when they first got it in) Over time, they have managed to garner a considerable reputation for this sort of thing, and seem to be roundly despised by the craft beer community. Granted, if you absolutely have to have a particular rare beer, you can count on their store having it, many months after other stores in the area have run out of it. My impression is that this has not garnered them much good will in the community (even if someone buys a bottle of Rare, it's pretty hard to be happy about the price).

    Maybe 2 or 3 years from now $99 for a bottle of Rare won't seem all that bad a price. However, that won't diminish all the bad will they've managed to build up in that time... and all for what? In the case of the store in question, I think they were able to get one case of the beer. In the case of Apex, how many bottles of Cantillon do you think they probably have? Is it really enough to for them to make the sort of money they will need to in order to offset the considerable ill will they've brought on themselves in the interim?

    There is always going to be more limited/rare stuff coming out, so why not simply price current raraties at the normal mark-up, acquire a repuation as a store that gets in a great selection at a fair price, and go that route? In the long run, I think this is a much more longlasting road to success. Just my two cents, but I would describe Apex's current business model as very short sighted.
  30. kscaldef

    kscaldef Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2010 Oregon

    $99 for a bottle of Rare sounds pretty good right now. What would you pay on ebay? How much would you have to trade for it?

    I don't imagine Apex has very much Cantillon. In the last couple years, no store in town that I know of has gotten more than a case a couple times a year. Most of it gets snatched up by employees and favorite customers and never even hits a shelf. Again, I'm quite sure that if Apex priced theirs at $40 they would have exactly zero bottles.

    As an aside, while in Copenhagen, I had the opportunity to check out the cellar at the Mikkeller bar. They have a very impressive selection of beers available on their bottle list. However, with a few exceptions, they have only one or two bottles of each.

    There's no shortage of stores doing exactly what you describe. But, how would a DHvL ever come to be if everyone did that? (At 20 years old, they are perhaps just a flash-in-the-pan by European standards, but I imagine most Americans would consider them a successful long-term business.)
  31. digita7693

    digita7693 Initiate (0) Jan 19, 2010 Germany

    I personally do not go to apex for the bottle list. I take it as something interesting to peruse once or twice and if you have not had it and cannot find it, it might be worth splitting w some people.
    Apex has a great tap list and brings in some some wonderful beers on a regular basis, add in the great outdoor area and knowledgeable staff and you have a very solid bar.

    Now if Jessee would just step up and get a tent and heaters for the winter/ rain they'd be set!
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  32. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Same here (I go for the draft list and can't imagine buying bottles here). That being said... seeing $8 pints of elder and $75 bottles of Cantillon doesn't exactly engender feelings of fondness and loyalty to a beer bar or store. They continue to have beers on tap that I can't find very readily elsewhere, so I'll continue to visit, but I'll generally go elsewhere if it's a choice between them and some other beer bar with a particular beer I want to drink.

    Again, just my two cents, but this is Portland, not Morgantown. As a customer, I have a huge selection of different places to spend my money on good beer, so it doesn't take much for me to decide I'm going to "dis" a bar or store for one reason or another. Huge, unjustified mark-ups on certain beers would definitely be a reason to go elsewhere (IMHO).
  33. blackcloud

    blackcloud Disciple (372) Apr 28, 2012 Alaska

    the ready availability of tacos from gorditos makes me not worry whether the pliny is $6 or $8.
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  34. sherm1016

    sherm1016 Initiate (198) Aug 10, 2009 Wisconsin

    Can anyone comment on the online bottle list for John's Market Place? Mostly interested in understanding how accurate the list is and how their prices are. Their online list shows some large format and vintage HotD.
  35. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Initiate (0) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon

    Well, they have Grant's, Siletz, and Nor'wester on the list, all of which have been out of business for several years. That should tell you everything you need to know.

    Just noticed they also have Flying Dog and Wolavers on there as well, and neither of them has been distributed here in at leas at a couple years.
    jgrgas likes this.
  36. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (7,317) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    :-) On the other hand, I can confirm that prices there, for what they do have, are actually pretty good.
  37. m4ttj0nes

    m4ttj0nes Initiate (142) Feb 21, 2012 Oregon

    I've found them to be more expensive universally than the other must hit bottle shops.
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  38. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Initiate (0) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon

    They're hit or miss, just like most places. :wink:
  39. mtbeer3649

    mtbeer3649 Initiate (182) Feb 10, 2008 Washington

    i've seen ipas two years past date in there before so maybe that list is up to date. also watch out for the lake in the back
  40. GatorBeer

    GatorBeer Initiate (0) Feb 2, 2010 South Carolina

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