Where are we drinking tonight?
In Portland, the answer is both obvious and a little overwhelming. We get to sip our beers in the same buildings where they’re brewed. And dozens of craft brewers are eager for us to visit.
Those breweries are no longer cold, industrial affairs with a couple of barrels next to the tanks. These days, you can sip on a cask-pulled ale in a century-old renovated church, crush a dry-hopped Pils while seated at a sprawling beer garden that’s basically a sudsy amusement park, or quaff a fruit-forward Flanders red inside a cozy Craftsman home that’s been repurposed as a taproom.
In short, Portlanders get to pick from a dizzying selection of breweries—inventors’ laboratories that double as the neighborhood tap.
This week, WW presents the Oregon Beer Awards, a celebration of the best brewers in the state. The event, held April 6 at Revolution Hall, is the state’s only double-blind beer tasting competition, which this year had more than 1,000 entries in 30 style classes. Champions in a dozen other categories, like Best Bottle Shop and Best Beer Bar, are selected by an academy of industry professionals. You can read about the winners, following Thursday evening’s ceremony, at wweek.com/drink.
To celebrate the occasion, we decided it was time for a pub crawl. So we had an epic one: We sampled beer from all 50 craft breweries in Portland, so you know which ones to visit.
An assessment of the local craft scene has been a long time coming. Our last brewery directory hit stands in February 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago—even a foreign country.
So, in this issue, you’ll find a comprehensive list of beer producers operating within the city limits. Writers have been sipping their way through each one for weeks in order to provide you with accurate descriptions of everything from the atmosphere to which brew you should order.
We’ve established a few parameters for inclusion. For instance, breweries needed some sort of taproom or pub with regular hours. And their flagship and/or production facility needed to be located within Portland proper. That means the guy running a nano out of his garage, or a business like Backwoods, which has a restaurant in the Pearl but brews in Carson, Wash., didn’t make the cut this time. We also limited our visits to one primary location when it came to brands with multiple outposts, like Breakside and Gigantic.
Let’s be real: Portland brewers could use your help. We still haven’t completely shed our COVID cocoons, which threatens most breweries’ business model: people in seats at the bar. On-premises beer sales remain below their pre-pandemic level. According to the Beer Institute, an industry trade association, draft beer’s share of the overall Oregon suds market last year was 18% below what it was in 2019.
Which means we’ve got work to do. The best work of all: having a beer.
Consider this issue a call to action to seek out a pint from the source: one of the 50 Portland breweries featured in the return of WW’s Beer Guide.
It’s a guidebook, too. We hope this becomes a resource to help you navigate them all, quadrant by quadrant, or just direct you to a decent place to meet up with a friend for beers on a Saturday afternoon.
Hoist a glass and have at it.
—Andi Prewitt, Arts & Culture Editor
★ Highly Recommended
★★ World Class
Our rating system for all Portland breweries in this collection is modeled after the Michelin Guide. Stars are not awarded solely for the quality of the beer, but also for ambience, distinctiveness and overall experience. A single star denotes a brewery is highly recommended and its beers are worth going out of the way for. Two stars indicate the experience is exceptional, which means you should not delay planning a special journey.