5716 SE 92nd Ave., 971-339-2374, zoiglhaus.com. 11 am-10 pm daily.
BIERFEST / Judging by the lively atmosphere inside this woody beer hall on any weekend afternoon, Zoiglhaus is the picture-perfect success story. Since opening Zoiglhaus in 2015 in the formerly downtrodden Lents neighborhood, head brewer Alan Taylor has been luring drinkers to outer Southeast Portland with his award-winning German-style beers, and it's fortunate for everyone they're available in such a beautiful space. The crisp, straightforward Zoigl-Pils is a perfect starting point and true north for the palate; from there the journey branches out in several directions. The spicy and sessionable Hopfenbombe imbues German hops and malts with Pacific Northwestern sensibilities, while the Zoigl Weiss deftly balances expected clove and banana undertones with a bitter back end that pleases hop heads and traditionalists alike. High-ABV deviations, like the thick, malty Doppelsticke or the tart cherry Eisbock, are great closers, and a menu packed with hearty German fare offers plenty of salty starch and protein to sop up the beer. Pete Cottell.
Threshold Brewing & Blending
403 SE 79th Ave., 503-477-8789, threshold.beer. 4-9 pm Monday, Wednesday-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, noon-7 pm Sunday.
PERFECT BLEND / After brewing at home since 2010, Jarek Szymanski and David Fuller decided to take the plunge and go pro, and in early January Threshold celebrated a year of operation. Hobbyists scaling up and hanging a shingle is a common formula in Portland's beery past, though the results have been mixed. But Szymanski and Fuller, both driven by a desire to experiment with techniques and ingredients, have done a nice job generating an eclectic list of pleasing beers, including Night Runner, a fabulous hazy IPA with dank tropical notes, as well as Grandma's Loaded, a boozy imperial stout brewed for the 2019 Holiday Ale Festival. My favorite was Triticale Mass, a dry-hopped farmhouse ale that's light and full of flavor. As the name suggests, "blending" is a theme here. Threshold doesn't have a lot of square footage with which to run a barrel program, but it's been producing small batches with interesting results. Stay tuned. Pete Dunlop.
Montavilla Brew Works
7805 SE Stark St., 503-954-3440, montavillabrew.com. 3-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 3-10 pm Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, noon-8 pm Sunday.
COUNTERCULTURE / Montavilla Brew Works has become a popular destination for the neighbors, as well as for outsiders who desire a chill atmosphere. Founder Michael Kora, a transplanted drummer from Michigan, opened the brewery five years ago and has been steadily building momentum. The hippie, tie-dye theme may have something to do with that, or not. During the winter months, patrons enjoy quiet conversation while quaffing beers in the tasting room next to the brewery. Everything changes when the sun comes out, whereupon paths lead to a spacious and comfortable patio. The beers have evolved since the early days—Kora's creations are now more sophisticated and have layered flavors. Lupulin Symphony was Montavilla's entry in the 2019 Holiday Ale Festival, a brilliant and highly drinkable imperial IPA. But my current favorite is Old Montavillain, a bourbon barrel-aged strong ale that melds flavors and aromas of chocolate, dark malt, coffee, vanilla and charred oak. Pete Dunlop.
4334 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-764-9574, ancestrybrewing.com. Noon-9 pm Sunday-Wednesday, noon-9:30 pm Thursday, noon-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday. 8268 SE 13th Ave., 503-946-8424. 11 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday. 20585 SW 115th Ave., Tualatin, 503-454-0821. 11 am-9 pm Sunday-Wednesday, 11 am-9:30 pm Thursday, 11 am-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday.
DROPPING ANCHOR / Ancestry Brewing dropped anchor in a beer desert three years ago, and has been throwing out life preservers to parched neighborhoods ever since. Most recently, the company docked in the far reaches of Southeast Hawthorne, in a sprawling ground-floor space beneath three stories of apartments. It looks as if it had been designed by someone from one of those HGTV house-flipping shows, with crisp white accent walls adorned with the brewery's A-shaped anchor logo—a nod to the Navy careers of one of its founders and the cellar manager. Although Ancestry has been connecting a good portion of its taps to well-executed, less-trendy styles, including an award-winning Irish red, the IPAs are the standouts. The hazy Aussie bobs ebulliently between bitterness and gushes of mango fruit, while Ancestry IPA is pine forward. But, really, why not try them all? You'll find generous pours in a sampler that arrives on a steel tray shaped like the metal flank in the logo. Take your 10-pound drink holster to the hidden patio. The space might appear to be exclusively for the apartments' tenants, but it's open to anyone who's thirsty—though craft beer-adjacent living might motivate you to look into locking down a lease. Andi Prewitt.
Little Beast Brewing Beer Garden
3412 SE Division St., 503-208-2723, littlebeastbrewing.com. Noon-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, noon-11 pm Friday-Saturday.
BEAST OF THE EASTSIDE / Little Beast has come a long way in a short time—from a back-of-the-house brewery space subleased in Beaverton to a full-fledged craft brewery in Clackamas, while snapping up the Lompoc Hedge House for its pub and beer garden to reach more drinkers. During winter, customers can settle into the cozy confines of this compact watering hole, and there's plenty of grassy lawn to stretch out on once the sun comes out. Show up here on a fine day, grab a Bes Tart Wheat ale or another Belgian-inspired specialty at the bar, park yourself outside, and take in the distinctly aromatic libations by former Logsdon brewer Charles Porter. Always make time for a seasonal spiked with fruit, like Dream State with Oregon strawberries, Tree Spirit and its Montmorency cherries, or Black Cap with the namesake raspberries. Then wander back inside and grab a bottle or three to go. Don Scheidt.
Hopworks Urban Brewery
2944 SE Powell Blvd., 503-232-4677, hopworksbeer.com. 3947 N Williams Ave., 503-287-6258. 11707 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, Wash., 360-828-5139. 11:30 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday.
PLEASE PAUSE HERE / A brewery can thrive anywhere if the beer is good enough. For a dozen years now, Hopworks has lured people to a part of town that has a lot of traffic but few want to linger. In fact, the former bulldozer showroom has become as family-friendly as a McDonald's Playland. Given the prominent kiddo presence and the brewery's age, it might be easy to assume Hopworks is comfortable coasting along on its flagship IPAs. But in addition to putting out an impressive lineup of core and seasonal beers, founder Christian Ettinger and head brewer Justin Miller continually refresh the tap list with limited releases, like the barrel-aged oatmeal stout Cashmere, churning with bourbon and chocolate, or their most recent submission to the Holiday Ale Festival, which was inspired by a Scandanavian Christmas cookie and tastes like a juicy raspberry soaked in booze. The bike frames above the bar illustrate Ettinger's commitment to sustainability, even when it might be easier to neglect environmental duties. For instance, Hopworks has been experimenting with Kernza, a deep-rooted plant that requires fewer resources to grow, even though the long, thin shape of the grain is challenging to brew with. You can now taste it in a Belgian wit balancing refreshing orange citrus with spicy clove. Andi Prewitt.
5224 SE 26th Ave., 503-208-3416, giganticbrewing.com. 3-9 pm Monday-Wednesday, 2-10 pm Thursday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, noon-9 pm Sunday.
LITTLE BIG BREWERY / Gigantic feels like a scrappy upstart that still can't believe it made it big. The brewery's sense of humor is perhaps best summed up by its taproom décor, which includes a taxidermy boar and Timbers apparel, yet it sells Champagne by the bottle. Hidden in an industrial area just west of Reed College, the 8-year-old operation feels like a secret clubhouse: The walls are covered with oddball art, there are comfy couches and bartenders chat up regulars. Gigantic has built its reputation on a beer that never changes, the crowd-pleasing flagship IPA, as well as its constantly rotating lineup of seasonals. Clearly, founders Ben Love and Van Havig aren't done experimenting. The tropical Fluffy Tufts, a worthy addition to the overcrowded landscape of super-juicy IPAs, is like drinking sunshine. On our visit, even the marzipan holiday ale was a success—fizzy and tart with a light, roasty sweetness. Shannon Gormley.
4784 SE 17th Ave., 503-662-8325, rusebrewing.com. 3-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 3-11 pm Friday, noon-11 pm Saturday, noon-9 pm Sunday.
COOL KIDS / Well before they opened their brewery in Southeast Portland's Brooklyn neighborhood, founders Shaun Kalis and Devin Benware had built a solid reputation with the beers they brewed at Culmination Brewing. It was not unusual to find a Ruse beer or two on the Culmination board while they were planning their brewery. It's been a wild and crazy ride since the pair moved out on their own and began operations in mid-2018. In the first year alone, Ruse was part of the Fort George 3-Way IPA franchise along with Seattle's Cloudburst—it was standing room only during the release party at Kalis and Benware's taproom last spring. But they aren't strictly about IPAs, although they certainly make some good ones. Imaginary Lines, a hazy, is especially tasty, if you can find it, and Translator is a fine West Coast take on the style. But these guys have expansive brewing chops. Ruse's Czech-style Pilsner and Evertide, a helles, are also nicely done. And they've produced some solid barrel-aged batches during a relatively short period of time. Ruse is one of Portland's best and most creative breweries. Pete Dunlop.