711 SW Ankeny St., 503-226-2508, tugboatbrewingco.com, 5-10 pm Monday, 4 pm–midnight Tuesday-Wednesday, 4 pm-1am Thursday-Friday, 5 pm-1 am Saturday.
There's a gregarious gent wearing a top hat working behind the bar. The room is dark and mildly dingy. Classic jazz plays on the sound system and there's an old movie showing on a miniature TV above the bar. The food menu is spartan and the house beer list is short. You've entered the Tugboat zone. If you're tempted to turn around and walk out, don't. Tugboat is one of the most indispensable places in the city. It's a relic of Old Portland: a combination dive bar, library and gaming room. Patrons quietly occupy most tables and seats at the bar. Cross-table conversations happen here. Don't miss the eclectic collection of old photos and artwork hanging from walls. If you crane your neck and open your sinuses, you might just sniff some of Portland's dank history.
Drink this: Chernobyl Stout is the flagship, and clocks in at a beefy 13.5 percent ABV. It's good, even when mildly infected (as mine was). The rest of the house beers are overtly bitter, a Tugboat trademark dating back to its early days. The guest list always has great options.
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