It's almost eerie walking into the Belmont Fermentorium (630 SE Belmont St., 503-420-0799, moderntimesbrewing.com), the new Portland outpost of San Diego's Modern Times Brewing. Only two months after the Commons farmhouse brewery closed in the same space, it's like a team of retro-obsessed vegans immediately moved in and started a tech company.
The cavernous brewing area is filled with a wealth of shiny new tanks, while the pub's 24 taps are busting out better-than-average hazy IPAs and truly excellent sours and coffee stouts—many already brewed onsite, the others sent up from California. A 40-foot, shiny piñata looms overhead like a balloon from the Macy's parade, while the halls leading to the restroom have turned into a yarn web that looks like the world's most complicated game of cat's cradle. Earth tones prevail, from Southwestern-style mosaic behind the taps to tiling of 3.5-inch floppies lining the front of the bar.
The food is vegan, including a tasty but expensive $12.50 a la carte burger made with Beyond Meat, and a $9 plate offering two bewildering vegan tacos with thick corn-masa tortillas with the spongy character of Ethiopian injera.
Modern Times came in with a swaggering reputation as a brewery, and the beer is good, particularly an Order of Hermes "Super Berliner" sour that's a swirl of tropicalia. The only question is whether Portlanders will pay the prices.
Beer tabs have crept up in these parts—see Great Notion or Breakside Slabtown—but Portlanders are not used to paying $7 for 5 ounces of beer, even if it's a strong, barrel-aged vanilla stout. Nor, for that matter, paying $6.50 for a pint of Pilsner or basic IPA made onsite, a bill made even more jarring when you see them for less money at the bar down the street. If this pricing works here, expect your own local beer hall to start charging prices that are a little more…Modern.