670 N Russell St., 971-271-8151, labrewatory.com. 3-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 3-11 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-7 pm Sunday.
It's been a year since brewery-equipment maker Portland Kettle Works launched a modern, subway-tiled brewpub right up the road from Widmer in North Portland. In that time, head brewer Charlie Johnson's initial experimental foibles (such as a divisive beer made with squid ink) have been transformed into terrifically balanced but still adventurous brews that make use of Johnson's Ph.D. in chemical engineering.
A fruity Brett beer with wasabi is positively delicate in its delivery of spicy tang, and Johnson has also quietly made one of the best traditional Czech Pilsners in town. The interior of the 16-tap pub comes together in much the same fashion as the beers: On the surface it appears to be another chic, garage-doored affair for plaid-clad New Portlanders. But further inspection reveals unique custom-made light fixtures, a gorgeous stainless brewhouse, and a massive projection screen that make it an inviting place to imbibe.
Drink this: Anything with Brettanomyces in it. Johnson has a way of coaxing delicious stone-fruit flavors out of this sometimes hard-to-tame bug.
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