164 S 15th St., St. Helens, 896-7776, columbiacountybrewing.com. 4 pm-close Thursday-Saturday.

The formula at Columbia County is simple: housemade beer served in elegant, bucket-sized mugs, and a small but well-executed menu that will hold you until you return to Portland. Unlike many small breweries, the food is more than blotter paper. On a recent visit, bragging rights went to the "Super Chicken Mac Daddy," featuring deep-fried chicken strips sandwiched between two seared slabs of macaroni and cheese. For the health-conscious eater, there was a gluten- and dairy-free black-eyed pea chili. While trying to calibrate your intake, you can let your eyes wander to a light fixture made from hardhats or the excellent whiskey list, including Weller's bourbon for just $5.

Drink This: The coppery ShutDown IPA shows why bitter is better.