As more and more would-be Alberta Street homebuyers realize that their New Portland dream isn't a possibility without a hefty cash inheritance, they roll their Subarus north—carting with them a demand for places like Royale Brewing's newly opened Garrison Tap Room (8773 N Lombard) in St. Johns.
The first tasting room for the unassuming 2-year-old North Portland brewery looks just like it would in inner-Northeast Portland: brand new, groovily wood-paneled and garage-doored, with a gigantic painting of a rhinoceros on the wall. Royale did a good job of recruiting its new customers from the dive bars across the street—offering $4 pints and allowing food from elsewhere. But although it has one of the best-appointed awning-and-picnic-tabled patios in the area, there's something eerie about this place and its affordably fashionable patrons.
Without looking at the labels on the six Royale beer taps, five of them—pale ale, Pilsner, session IPA, strong ale, and bière de garde—could be generically described as "pale, and somewhat hoppy." The sixth was a coffee saison laden with cold brew. And though none of them were buttery or offensive by any means—if we lived in the neighborhood, the price of the beer alone would often make it our watering hole—the beers all come across as stand-ins for better regional selections.
Everything looks OK, tastes OK and costs the right amount here, but there is a lack of depth to the experience. It's kind of like living on Alberta Street.