Portland Oregon: My Must Do List

Hair of the Dog, Portland

If you’re visiting Portland, whether it’s for the first or 10th time, you will find amazing craft beer everywhere you turn. I often get asked what people should check out on their trip so here’s my list of favourite places. I love lots of them equally but since your time may be limited, I’ve broken it down into number of days. Caveat, I haven’t been back since May 2015 so there are likely new bars and breweries that should be added to this list. Send me your comments on what to add and why!

First rule of Portland, well my rule, put your big boy/girl pants on and be prepared to sample a lot of beers. This doesn’t mean get drunk, but if you’re anything like me, drinking small amounts all day make me zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. If the establishments have flights/paddles, I always choose those to try more beers without over indulging.

If you want to plot your day(s) by location, check out my handy, dandy map. There are even a few restaurants on it (a girl’s gotta eat).

Accommodations

There are lots to choose from in every price range. If you’re travelling there in the summer months, be prepared for higher prices. We’ve stayed at a couple of the Marriott Hotels and both were in good locations on the north side of the Willamette. Jupiter Hotel is on the south side and a better location to be near the breweries. Airbnb is another option that we’ve used to stay in neighbourhoods that have bars/breweries, but no hotels.

Map

If you want to plot your day(s) by location, check out my handy, dandy map. There are even a few restaurants on it (a girl’s gotta eat).

Transportation

Getting There

Amtrak takes you right downtown if you want a leisurely journey. WiFi on board but shitty food – bring your own. They do have a few craft beers to start your journey off right, though. We took it from Bellingham since it would have been more of a hassle to start our trip downtown Vancouver when we’re only a half hour drive to the border. Bolt Bus is another, cheaper alternative, which we haven’t tried as yet.

Around Town

Transit options are light rail and buses from TriMet; Uber & Lyft are available around the city or you can try your luck with Portland Taxi – and get a free estimate online to make sure you don’t get taken the long way. Lastly, car2go and zipcar are available and good options for making the beer store run or a one-way trip to the brewery.

Enough of the responsible planning, let’s get into the beer! If you’re coming with kids, most places are kid (and dog) friendly, just don’t sit at the bar.

DAY ONE

You should never, ever just plan one day in Portland but if that’s really all you have (you quitter), fine. Pull up those pants and let’s go.

First, skip Rogue. Yeah yeah, we all know it’s well known and is a pioneer but there are so many other breweries and places to check out that are far superior. No offence to Rogue, they make some decent stuff, but they don’t make the cut for day one (see Day Three).

Hair of the Dog

Plan 1.5 – 2 hours – Eight of their beers on tap, bottles to consume there or to take home. Tasters are sold in adorable mini tulip glasses. Vintage bottles are only consumable on site – pick a From the Wood and enjoy. If you like hot food, try the Chuck Norris Duck Wings and you’d better pair it with the Blue Dot Double IPA. Devine. Pick up a couple tulip glasses and check out their cool growlers (don’t forget to fill it). Indoor and outdoor seating.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House

Cascade Barrel House, Portland

Plan 1.5 – 2 hours or 4 if you’re like me and love your sours – Cascade is walking distance from Hair of the Dog. If you like or love sour beers, this is a must. Sixteen taps, two Live from the Barrel beers and Blender Reserve Taps. Tasters are sold two at a time and the food menu is very limited. Don’t forget about the bottle sales. Pick me up a few, will ya? Growler sales/fills too. Indoor and outdoor seating.

Apex Bar

Apex Bar, Portland

Plan 2 hours – My favourite bar in Portland. Fifty taps and a great selection of bottled beers for consumption or to take home. Bar is cash only, no tabs and they don’t have a kitchen – but you can bring in food from the Mexican place next door. Great food and cheap (caution: huge portions). Lots of outdoor seating here and a few pinball machines.

The Beer Mongers

Plan 1 hour – Kitty-corner from Apex. Eight taps at the bar, taster paddles available, but what I suggest is picking up some bottles to go. Prices are cheaper than Apex and Belmont Station.

Belmont Station

Plan 1 – 2 hours – Do some shopping here and with 20 taps in their Biercafe, drink whilst you shop. Pliny has been on tap every time we’ve gone there, if you’re so inclined. They have over 1300 bottles in the store and if you walk out with less than 10 bottles, I’d be shocked. It’s usually a large bill for us.

The Commons

Plan 1 – 1.5 hours – I’m finally taking you to a brewery where you drink amongst the tanks. There are many, many amazing breweries in Portland and this is one of my favourites. This brewery started in Mike Wright’s garage and they opened the brewery in December 2011 and they just moved to a larger facility in early 2015. Their focus is on Belgian style beers and their Urban Farmhouse Ale and Flemish Kiss have won multiple awards.

If you’re still thirsty, you may have noticed that corner and grocery stores sell beer. Not a fantastic selection in the corner stores, but for hotel room libations, it will suffice.

Alright, you’ve had a big day. Time to rest up for tomorrow’s adventure.

DAY TWO

I may have planned eleven hours of drinking plus travel for one day so if you need to carry some over to day two, I won’t judge you. Much. But if you only have one day, fit in as many of those in from Day One as you can. Regret is a horrible thing.

Day Two – giddyup

Upright Brewing

Plan 1 – 1.5 hours – Drink your choice of five or twelve ounce glasses of beer of the ten taps (they usually have one guest tap) sitting in the basement of this building. Enter and head to the right, and you’ll be surrounded by barrels. Beautiful, beautiful barrels. Stage left, the small tasting room with games, a record player and beer geeks a plenty.

Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom

Plan 1 – 1.5 hours – Sixteen taps and a large selection of bottles to enjoy there or pack home. The owners are super nice and they’re only a few blocks away from Pok Pok. So if you’re going there to dine, you’re undoubtedly told there’s a wait, come here to enjoy some beer. Even better, get your Pok Pok to go and eat it at Imperial – they’re cool with this.

Cheese Bar

Plan 1 hour – I’ve listed  Cheese Bar under food, bottle shop and here for their taps. It’s a great little place that you can have a pint and pair it with some of their fabulous cheeses. The bottles are for in-house consumption or to go and you may find a few here that aren’t available at the bigger beer stores.

Deschutes Brew Pub

Go for a meal/beer Plan 1 – 1.5 hours – Established in 1988 in Bend, this is a popular stop and worth a visit. Nineteen taps with a selection of seasonals or one-off beers only available on site. Growler fills and bottle sales available. Food wise, try the pretzel (with creamy white cheese and Black Butte Porter stone mustard) and the Obsidian Stout Mac & Cheese. The name says it all.

Bailey’s Taproom

Plan 1 – 1.5 hours – This gem has 24 rotating taps and a large bottle list, which can be consumed in house or taken to go.   

Henry’s Tavern

Go for a meal/beer Plan 2 hours – The bar is famous for its frost-top drink rail and more importantly, 100 taps.

DAY THREE

How are those pants holding up? Ready for more delicious beer and food?

Roscoe’s

Plan 2 hours – A bit out of the way, but worth a visit if you’re in the hood. Sixteen taps, slot machines and an awesome happy hour menu (all the tater tots!) from 2-6pm daily.

Saraveza

Plan 2 hours – Voted as one of America’s best beer bars 2001 – 2014 by Draft Magazine, this neighbourhood watering hole has 10 draught lines and a large selection of bottles for consumption or off-sales. The do lots of events so watch their twitter feed or website. Oh, and they have FREE BACON NIGHT. Second Monday of the month, buy a beer, get free bacon. Boom.

Horse Brass Pub

Plan 1 – 2 hours – Horse Brass is a few blocks from Belmont so you may want to visit after Belmont. This is a traditional English-style Pub complete with uncomfortable wooden chairs in a dark, windowless room. Ok, so the ambiance didn’t do it for me but their beer list makes up for it. Their draught, guest beers and bottle selection is extensive and you’re likely to find a few casks during your visit.

Rogue

Plan 1 hour – It’s time to check out the original pioneer. I don’t need to explain to you who Rogue is, I’m sure. Four locations in Newport and Portland – pick one close to you. The Flanders Street location is downtown and has 38 taps including limited releases that can only be found at that pub. Washrooms are labeled Barley and Hops – figure out the boy/girl parts and choose wisely.

Alameda Brewhouse

Plan 1 hour – Alameda is a neighbourhood brewhouse, a bit out of the way, that has good beer and food.

That’s it – those are my recommendations for a trip to Portland. I’ll continue to update this post as we visit more place. There are a lot of breweries you can visit and will find an extensive list here: Portland Breweries Map.

Beer Shopping!

Shopping is a must in Portland. Local beers, a large selection from California (including Russian River which is no longer available in WA State) and from all over the world.

John’s Marketplace

Huge selection – most of which is not refrigerated so do check bottle dates. You need a vehicle to get out there (and a shopping cart for all the bottles you’ll buy) but it’s worth the trip. Decent prices. Watch for old bottles though (shelf turds are common).

Belmont Station 

I love this store. Good selection, their bar in the next room is fantastic, and it’s a short cab ride from downtown. Their prices aren’t the cheapest, but you’ll be happy you shopped here. They often bring out some rare/aged beers so be on the lookout for them. Large selection of glassware too.

Beer Mongers

All beers are refrigerated, prices are good (we found them cheaper than Belmont and Apex) and you can shop while you drink. Flights available here.

Cheese Bar

Small selection but they often have beers that are sold out elsewhere. Delicious cheese and worth the stop.

Saraveza

A few fridges to check out if you’re in the area.

Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom 

Good selection to choose from

Most of the bars have bottles to go – Apex, Bailey’s etc. Just ask.

Bridgetown Beerhouse

Beaumont Beer Market

Whole Foods

Food

Lots of food trucks and fantastic places to eat in Portland. I admit that we don’t spend much time seeking out the good food, but these four I can highly recommend. I could write about each of these but I’m too lazy and I’ve just spent hours putting together a description of all the beer places. Time for you to do some work 😉

Pok Pok – 3226 Southeast Division St

Cheese Bar – 6031 SE Belmont St

Pine State Biscuits – 3640 Southeast Belmont St (small place and expect to wait for a table)

Maya’s Tacqueria – 1000 SW Morrison

Lardo – 1205 SW Washington St and 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Podnah’s Pit BBQ – 1625 NE Killingsworth

Mac & Cheesery – 3936 N Mississippi Ave

Little Bird Bistro – 219 SW 6th Ave

Le Bistro Montage – 301 Southeast Morrison St

Screen Door – 2337 E Burnside Street (line-ups, have the fried chicken)

That’s it. My extensive list of favourites for Portland, Oregon. Tourism Portland, send me my royalty cheques (or checks for you) anytime. Happy travelling!

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