VANCOUVER: LOOWIT BREWING COMPANY
507 Columbia St., Vancouver, Wash., 360-566-2323, loowitbrewing.com.
Where the party at, Vantown? Oh, yeah, Loowit Brewing, This 2-year-old brewery just might be the best and busiest bar in downtown Vancouver, with crowds that look like either recent divorcees or bewildered townies exploring their city's nightlife while the students are away on winter break, from a 20-something in a tie-dyed shirt to a middle-aged woman who confesses her parents were homophobes until they met some gay people. The whole place smells like fresh hops, possibly from a batch of the pretty, copper-colored and ultra-hoppy Shadow Ninja IPA. You can just get one of those, or you can do the taster tray. Everything at Loowit is cocked, locked and ready to rock, as the locals may or may not say. MARTIN CIZMAR.
SCAPPOOSE: WIGWAM TAVERN
52499 Columbia River Highway, 543-8362.
Scappoose is a stretch of U.S. 30 mostly known to Portlanders for the Fred Meyer where you can stock up on the way to Astoria. Fittingly, its best bar is made for the open road. The Wigwam is a ramshackle Harley haunt that takes only cash, mostly serves Miller High Life and looks at you funny if you're new—although if you talk about fishing for catfish, you'll bond in no time. The bar's only real decoration is a long row of video poker machines whose spectacle is rivaled only by the vast array of choppers parked in front and the patches on the jackets of the dudes in the bar. When somebody tells a story out on the bar's concrete patio, it always somehow starts with someone dying—whether a second wife or an old riding buddy—and then reaches back to a hard-bitten sentimentality that can only be bought off with love and then heartbreak. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
GRESHAM: SPUD MONKEY'S BAR AND GRILL
17312 NE Halsey St., spudmonkeys.net.
Spud Monkey's stands almost exactly on the border between Portland and Gresham, but the bar proudly claims only Gresham as its home. Buried in a strip mall mostly devoted to the care of your nails, hair, tan and—eerily—prosthetics, the bar's staid and boxy exterior belies an absolute explosion of resort-style kitsch within. It's the sort of place that declares its own fun with bottomless french fries and Buffalo-wing variations on the good ol' baked potato. Swings hang from the ceiling by the bar, and the musicians onstage might actually and unironically describe themselves as a "party band"—by which they mean the good-time bar blues that Bruce cut his teeth on before he was ever the Boss. But by God, there's a nitro tap pouring espresso stout, and the karaoke that gets sung here Wednesdays will break your heart with its wailing sincerity, even when it's a 22-year-old dude with wraparound shades singing Journey. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
TUALATIN: COUNTRY INN BAR AND GRILL
18786 SW Boones Ferry Road, Tualatin, 692-2765.
Even as Tualatin city leaders hawk every last remnant of small-town aesthetic for supermall acreage and mastodon statuary, the Country Inn remains a bustling preserve of blues bands and bingo nights hidden just beyond the creeping tide of prefab exurban renewal. Middle-aged dads and overgrown sons wade into table-straining breakfasts while ribbing each other's waistlines. Three generations of loved ones cheered on what appeared to be a matriarch's traditional postchurch/pregame liqueur tipple. If newcomers aren't entirely made to feel welcome during weekend rush, the barstaff affects the truculent cheer familiar to hosts of any extended gathering whenever a few extra cousins crash dinner. JAY HORTON.
DAMASCUS/CLACKAMAS: CARVER HANGAR
16196 Market Road 39, Damascus, 658-2576.
The Damascus bar scene is weirdly awesome, once you've made your peace with the double-length parking spots filled to the paint with tricked-out Hemis and F-350s and whatever comes after F-350. Out front there might be a food cart lackadaisically serving barbecue to a line of people who swear it's the best on the West Coast, and a little growlery kicking out 42 taps. But if you're too late for the parking-lot barbecue, wander down to the aluminum-sided Hangar and get a pitcher of Fearless Scottish Ale ($13 at happy hour) and its hand-tossed bar pizza, which tastes like the best version of Pietro's you could ever hope for, laden so heavily with cheese it's like eating nachos (which are also huge here). After dinner hours, the back bar turns into a bustling pickup bar for the pickup-truck set, assisted by the odd soundtrack of feet crunching on the peanut shells everybody throws on the floor. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
10835 SE Main St., Milwaukie, 654-4595, wine30bar.com.
The most controversial bar in Milwaukie is not the stealin'-drinkin'-fuckin'-fightin' Wichita Town Pub. It is, instead, this totally harmless wine bar with cheap wine on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wine:30's cozy elbow-bar space, with its neutral tones and urban-eclectic furniture, looks a little like a starter apartment for Frasier Crane; it might as well be the emblem of the new Orange Line dreams pinned to Milwaukie's ghost of a downtown. So why does the bar cause such uproar? The "parklet." They built a little patio on top of a few parking spaces, and their neighbors—Curves gym—raised a ruckus until the city made Wine:30 tear it down. But you know what? Screw 'em. The parklet's back up and fully permitted, which means downtown Milwaukie again has a patio worth sitting on. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
OREGON CITY: THE HIGHLAND STILLHOUSE
201 S 2nd St., Oregon City, 723-6789, highlandstillhouse.com.
Deep in bar-happy Oregon City, the Highland Stillhouse reigns supreme over Willamette Falls with the most extensive Scotch selection that you're likely to get anywhere, including Scotland. The bourbon and Irish list would likewise shame any bar in Portland short of the Multnomah Whiskey Library, except that in this two-story beauty of a bar, you get absolutely none of the snoot. Take the 33 or 35 bus down there some weekend, and notch off the whiskeys like strikes on your bedpost. There'll soon be nothing left of the bed. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
BEAVERTON: WATSON HALL
12655 SW 1st St., Beaverton, 616-2416, watsonhallbar.com.
This gin joint lies in the heart of downtown Beaverton, on the same block as a midcentury modern consignment store and its sister restaurant, Decarli. The cocktail menu is respectable and the happy-hour snacks delightful (especially the $3 grilled-cheese Gruyère). Figure out which drink is $6 at happy hour, and order that. Amid tattooed servers, the haute bar foods and aging yuppie patronage, Watson Hall would be out of place in the Pearl or downtown. But in Beaverton, it's remarkable. JOHN LOCANTHI.
TIGARD: MAX'S FANNO CREEK BREW PUB
12562 SW Main St., Tigard, 624-9400, maxsfannocreek.com.
Max's proves that being the best brewery in Tigard can actually mean something outside of, well, Tigard. The pub is large, has a patio, and is soccer-mom-friendly. Beer selection is vast and quaff-worthy, and it is delivered tank-to-tap from 10 tanks behind the bar—a rarity even in the beer-soaked Portland city center. Belgians such as the Reverend's Daughter taste ester-y and vibrant, and hoppy ales such as the IPA balance their bitterness with a well-calculated malt backbone. Max's is still one of the best places to drink beer in the suburbs, and is wholeheartedly deserving of as much time you have to spend in, well, Tigard. PARKER HALL.
HILLSBORO: SYUN IZAKAYA
209 NE Lincoln St., Hillsboro, 640-3131, syun-izakaya.com.
The most singular drinking experience in Hillsboro is tucked into the basement of the old downtown library. Syun was the first izakaya in the Portland area, and still boasts its biggest collection of shochu, not to mention a boggling variety of sake available in flights for $12 to $18, with a customer base that's almost entirely Japanese, who spill out from the burnished pine of the izakaya onto its two-level front porch. Ask your server about her favorite sake among the rotating selection, and you may get steered down the oft untrodden path of fruit infusions. Always complement the sake's sweet riciness with the bracing brine of grilled mackerel. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.