124 SE 11th Ave., 971-271-7639, mttaborbrewing.com. 3-8 pm Thursday, 3-9 pm Friday.
Like a lot of beer people, Mt. Tabor owner Eric Surface is a foodie. Unlike most of his peers, he's all in on food-friendly beers. So many spots pay that concept lip service, but Mount Tabor is doing it as well as anybody else in town right now—I nearly stood up and walked out to buy a Taqueria Portland burrito to pair with the excellent Cowboy's Lament dark Mexican lager. The laserlike focus on restrained, balanced flavors is actually kind of shocking—on our visit a lineup of 10 beers included nothing in a barrel, nothing with fruit, nothing sour, no aggressive yeast strains and nothing above 86 IBUs.
It's even more surprising because Mount Tabor doesn't have any of its own food right now, though the long-term plan is for a gastropub in the wealthy northern neighborhoods of the 'Couv, where Surface lives with his physician wife. After opening in its namesake neighborhood, then moving north to downtown Vancouver, the new spot in Buckman opened last fall. The current taproom has very limited hours (check Facebook before you go, because they're sometimes even more limited than advertised) but a great vibe. On our visit, there was even live bluegrass.
Drink this: A lot of the best beers on my visit were actually leftovers from new Laurelwood brewer Ben Dobler's very short stint at Tabor. I highly recommend getting a growler of the cocoa-heavy porter to go, and pairing it with some slow-roasted meat.
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