2117 NE Oregon St., 503-353-6368, culminationbrewing.com. Noon-9 pm Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, noon-10 pm Friday-Saturday.
Culmination is kinda like the Eagles of beer. There's five brewers, and each one gets to take the lead sometimes, just like Joe Walsh or poor Glenn Frey. For some places this situation might lead to hellish inconsistency, but for last year's Best New Brewery at the Oregon Beer Awards, the backing is so damn tight it doesn't seem to matter, even when Culmination's five parallel brewing vessels means the place kicks out a whole hell of a lot of beers in small batches. And so every time I come into its little warehouse taproom just north of Sandy—nothing more than a blush of wood-grained chairs along the bar—there's at least two new beers to like.
It might be a long-aged peach Flanders blonde with Cantillon balance, a delicately tart yuzu farmhouse collaboration with a Japanese brewery made using yeast from a Shinto shrine, a finely malty doppelbock blooming with esters or a nitro Choco Mountain stout that might as well be a gun made of chocolate. Or, dear lord, it might be that Trumpet Major Burton Ale they made with homebrewer Bill Schneller that's one of our favorites of the year. And that's not counting the old reliable Phaedrus IPA, a beautifully classic pine-citrus West Coast IPA that's still one of my favorite five in Portland. Note that they also turn out food as good as any brewery in town, from a spicy pulled-pork sandwich to fish-sauce broccoli to an honest-to-god Irish colcannon.
Drink this: Among the regulars, the beautifully pine-citric Phaedrus IPA is the clear winner. But always look toward the bottom of their many taps and drink whatever looks weird. It won't taste weird. It'll taste good.
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