For all the seedy dives along the Foster-Powell triangle, it's somewhat surprising that Assembly Brewing is the first place to manufacture its own intoxicants in-house. But if there's anyone who knows what this neighborhood wants, it's George Johnson, a former homebrewer who spent years bartending and working the door at the nearby Devils Point strip club.
From the massive four-section mural showcasing the brewing process—inspired by Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry series—to the affordable $5 pints and square-shaped, Detroit-style pizza, the Michigan native, along with business partner Adam Dixon, have created a craft beer haven for the city's working class.
Even the beer veers away from the vapid palates of inner-Portland beer nerds, leaning instead on the most recognizable stylistic pillars. Four housemade pours were available on my visit—a single hop ale with Eukanot, an IPA, a porter and a stout.
Each had a soft, silky mouthfeel with restrained, fruity flourishes. The roasty stout and chocolaty porter were dry, balanced by a crisp citrus bite on the finish. That pleasant, low-carb approach worked well for both of the dark ales, but the two hoppier pours could have used a sharper edge and a bit more carbonation. Still, each beer was a solid first effort from the new brewer, and we expect the quality to steadily improve with further batches.
Affordable, sessionable beer is just one reason the neighborhood might soon find itself congregating here rather than the already-acclaimed beer bar NWIPA up the street—not only is Assembly open until 2 am for late-night pints, but the food is fantastic. Johnson developed the Detroit-style pizza ($13-$28) recipe alongside two-time world pizza champion Shawn Randazzo, and it's already up there with the best in town. Thick slabs of crust lie beneath lightly charred cheese, topped by various meats and veggies before getting a healthy dose of tomato sauce on top.
With late hours, a solid lineup of beers, and some of the best Detroit-style pie in Portland, it's hard to believe this brewpub hasn't been anchoring the area for longer. We expect the neighborhood to welcome it warmly.
DRINK: Assembly Brewing, 6112 SE Foster Road, 971-888-5973, assemblybrewingco.com. 11-2 am daily.