1401 SE Rasmussen Blvd., Battle Ground, Wash., 360-723-0937, northwoodpublichouse.com. 11 am-9 pm Sunday-Monday, 11 am-10 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday.
[EXURBAN HELL] These days, you can't just build some houses around a regular ol' strip mall and call it a day. No, the people buying homes in outer Battle Ground demand all the trappings of a walkable city within their 21-acre planned community. So we have Northwood Public House, a brewery-themed bar intended to help make warrens of prefab homes on No Outlet streets sellable. There's a hobby-sized brewing operation on exhibit by the hostess station but only one house-brewed beer on tap. Country hits play over the stereo and the hostess asks if "Ya'll prefer a table or a booth?" The menu includes what has to be the worst grilled chicken sandwich in the Pacific time zone, paired with fair to middlin' seasonal veggies. ("They're Brussels sprouts, are you good with that? Kinda catches people off guard.") Sadly, the beer ain't gonna do much to help fill all the vacant storefronts amidst this planned community's neatly trimmed planters and old-timey street lamps. That lonely house-brewed beer, an old ale, tastes like sugared pennies—no caramelly depth, no nuttiness, just rancid sweetness and alcoholic heat. Next time, can't we just go to Bennigan's?
DRINK THIS: A solid lineup of guest taps. And this is Washington, so they have a lot of stuff not available in Portland.