5115 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-282-0622, laurelwoodbrewpub.com, 11 am-10 pm daily.
Between the expansive, laminated menus, family-sized booths and conspicuously huge children's play area, Laurelwood looks something like a rogue Denny's that up and decided to sell booze under the table. But instead of family diner gone bad, the Hollywood District brewery and restaurant has long been one of the anchors of Portland's craft beer scene, reliably producing beers since 2001 that have so woven themselves into the fabric of the city's beer culture that it's easy to forgot how damn tasty they are. Laurelwood's drink menu revolves around a handful of now classic American styles. The Workhorse is a classic Northwest IPA, bracing without veering into Pinesol bitterness. The Wood Lager is remarkably sophisticated for an American adjunct, biscuit rich and finishing clean with noble hop bitterness. The Free Range Red remains one of the few drinkable beers of its kind, hoppy and with a malt-forward finish. Laurelwood's takes on more fashionable styles were less even. A Northeast style hazy IPA was juicy and drinkable but unspectacular, while a Norwegian farmhouse ale was unfocused and thin. There are plenty of newer breweries that can handle the cloudy IPAs and citrus saisons, but let's see them make a great red.
Nearby: Once you've had a pint or two at Laurelwood, head a couple blocks southwest to the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd.) for an inexpensive flick—whether a rare kung fu flick on 35mm or a semi-artsy new release—popcorn with real butter and another pint from a respectable selection of Portland breweries.