Adventure-Eager Portlanders Stop at Wayfinder For Great German Brews

On sunny days, Wayfinder looks a bit like people started drinking on the set of a photo shoot for a Poler catalog.

(Emily Joan Greene)

304 SE 2nd Ave., 503-718-2337, 11 am-10 pm Sunday-Wednesday, 11 am-midnight Thursday-Saturday.

On sunny days, Wayfinder looks a bit like people started drinking on the set of a photo shoot for a Poler catalog, as the wood-slatted front deck fills with tourists, families and roving packs of the young Patagonians who might otherwise be out on hikes. A partnership between the founders of Double Mountain, Podnah's Pit barbecue and Sizzle Pie, Wayfinder is home to seriously good cocktails, excellent nachos and great German brews from Kevin Davey, formerly of Bellevue, Washington's world-beating Chuckanut. The Pilsners haven't quite hit their stride, but Wayfinder's helles is one of the few in America to ever match that deep bready malt and balancing light sulfur aroma that characterizes a freshly cracked bottle of Augustiner in Munich. It's a portal to Bavaria, where they drink beer-flavored beer. Meanwhile, the hazy Mindsturm hefeweizen uses the centuries-old Weihenstephaner yeast to create an intensely aromatic school in clove, bubblegum and banana. But the best Wayfinder brews so far have showcased Davey's skill with dark, caramel malts, whether an impossibly round Vienna Lager that gives Negro Modelo reason to worry, a crisp and lovely Czech black lager or a recent doppelbock that fills the palate. In a sop to American craft palates, Wayfinder does offer up the occasional IPA, and most should be skipped. Nonetheless, the Flower in the Kettle hazy IPA—which contains no flour, don't worry—is a nice sunny-day beer for one hell of a sunny-day brewery.

Nearby: If you'd like to follow up your German beer with some world-class sausage, head a few blocks south to Olympia Provisions (107 SE Washington St., 503-954-3663, for some of the most excellent French, Spanish and Italian-style charcuterie you're likely to find made anywhere in the western United States. Expect Belgian beer and Basque cider imports, alongside an extensive wine and sherry list.

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