If you live in the Foster-Powell neighborhood, I hope you like beer. More specifically, I hope you like pale ales of the Indian persuasion by way of the Northwest. Because, if you're at the corner of Southeast Foster Road and Holgate Boulevard, there's no question the best bar within 20 blocks in any direction is 2-year-old N.W.I.P.A.
Don't take that as some bearded-beer-guy talk. The place's charms seem to impress a wide range of people. The Oregonian's everyman food critic, Michael Russell, proclaimed the bar's plate of a dozen raw Shigoku oysters one of the best things he had eaten all year. And at 5 pm on a recent Saturday, the picnic tables in the back half of the bar were taken up by a large baby shower—a normal American baby shower, replete with pink ruffles and lacy things and little cupcakes.
An airy, hardwood-floor storefront that might as easily serve as a chiropractor's office if it weren't for the beer and a rotating collection of edgy art, N.W.I.P.A. has quickly established itself as an embassy for hopheads. There are but six taps, and as many as four will be dedicated to IPAs, double IPAs and CDAs at any given time, plus one cider and something dark or sour. A short line of coolers is stuffed with everything from obscure local kombucha brands to $17 bottles of Double Mountain kriek and a few chintzy domestics for the slobs. In addition to the oysters, there are well-appointed cheese and salumi plates.
The bar stools are often occupied by people quietly reading something from the house's large library of beer books, but the tables in the back are convivial. It's a neighborhood place. In fact, it's the neighborhood place.