Mt. Hood Brewing knows exactly where you might want to grab a pint.
Since 1991, the brewery has been pouring post-lift libations at its Government Camp pub, cultivating a steady flow of mountain-weary travelers into consistent business. So it makes sense that its new Portland outpost would also target another captive, thirsty audience: commuters.
The company has set up its new brewery-less spot, Tilikum Station (401 SE Caruthers St.), inside two converted train cars and a gorgeous corner building just steps away from the car-free crossing's eastside MAX stop, aiming to capitalize on the answer to the eternal question: "Do you want to grab a beer on the way home?"
A wood-fired pizza oven, long bar and stacks of fuel anchor the bright main room of the space, with the wide-bodied train cars serving as a pair of dining rooms for bigger groups.
The eight house-made beers range from light blond to dark oatmeal stout, and offer drinkers a time warp to the bygone cascade hop and crystal malt era. In fact, the Timberline Tucker Imperial IPA—a sappy pine-laden beer with a sweet malt finish—is such a blast back to the bitterness wars of the early 2000s it may as well come with a copy of the Strokes' Is This It.
Still, Mt. Hood makes a decent argument that some styles never need to change: The Cascadian Pale Ale was firmly bitter and lightly floral, balanced by honey-sweet Mecca Grade Estate Malt.
The hand-tossed pies alone are a compelling reason to stop in. Thin, lightly charred sourdough crust lays the foundation for everything from the simple Margherita ($13) to the onion-laden Walla Walla ($12). The Tilikum, with roasted peppers and eggplant ($14), was especially delicious on a sunny afternoon.
Sure, Mt. Hood's new spot isn't the glitzy home of modern IPA or barrel-aged sour ales that will appeal to more die-hard consumers. But as a 50-pace excuse to grab a beer after a long day, there are few better spots in town.