Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
Everyone eventually finds their way to Laurelwood. Since its founding in 2001, the brewery has woven itself so deeply into Portland's cultural fabric it's easy to take it for granted. Shoot, for the uninitiated, it might even seem a little…lame. With its laminated menus, large wooden booths and bigger-than-seems-necessary children's play area, the flagship Hollywood neighborhood brewpub comes across like a slightly sportier Applebee's, and founders Mike De Kalb and Cathy Woo-De Kalb have never shied away from categorizing the business as family-friendly. In truth, Laurelwood may never have been cool, exactly, but there's a reason you'll find it everywhere—the beer is simply unassailable. If you're reading this guide, chances are you don't need to be regaled with flowery descriptions of the hop-forward Free Range Red, the roastiness of the stout or the knockout punch of the classic Workhorse IPA. If you've lived in Portland long enough, they're already part of you. MATTHEW SINGER.
Eat this: Laurelwood doesn't just look like a suburban chain restaurant—it's got the menu to match. But the burgers ($11.95-$13.95) are legit.
When it started in 2010, few would have pegged Migration for ubiquity. At least, the snobs wouldn't have. The brewery was seen as a place that made common beers for common people, the sort who just want something crisp and easy to sip while relaxing on the nearest patio on a warm spring day and don't much care about hop profiles or attenuation levels. Of course, it's precisely that populist approach that's allowed Migration to grow into something of a mini-empire. In 2017, the company ended its era of self-distribution to partner with Columbia Distributing, Oregon's largest beer distributor, and last summer opened a second, massive production facility and bar in Gresham. It even opened a Burger Shack in the food court of Lloyd Center as a holiday pop-up this winter and extended the venue's run. But the heart of the business remains its original brewpub on Glisan, a wood-paneled neighborhood hang with picnic tables on the front porch, dartboards in the back and flat-screens tuned to Blazers and Timbers games. Most of what you'll find in patrons' hands are two of its West Coast IPAs, the Luscious Lupulin and Straight Outta Portland, or the easy-drinking Patio Pale. But the dry, bitter Mo-Haze-Ic and malt-forward Old Silenus strong ale should even convince the snobs that Migration has stepped up its game, in more ways than one. MATTHEW SINGER.
Eat this: Go for the Migration Burger ($14), a standard pub burger elevated by chili jam and candied prosciutto.
Since it opened four years ago in a modest warehouse space in Kerns, Culmination's greatest trait has been its ability to match its ambition with its chops. Similar to Ben Edmunds of Breakside, Culmination founder and CEO Tomas Sluiter sets his sights on one grandiose brewing project after the next, leaving a lineup of exemplary beers across a variety of styles in his wake. Though Sluiter is currently director of operations at a brewery in Bozeman, Mont., he's left Culmination in good hands with Conrad Andrus calling the shots. The flagship IPA, Phaedrus, as well as Obscured by Clouds—one of the juiciest and most well-balanced hazys we've tasted since the trend blew up a few years ago—are essential sipping. But don't sleep on the constantly rotating mix of sours and dark beers, including Kriek Mythology and Illusion of Grandeur, which both offer impressive nuance and depth of flavor without smacking you in the face. Be sure to stop by on Sundays, when Jackfruit Kitchen, a weekly pop-up, transforms Culmination's impressive menu of hearty sandwiches and meat-and-cheese boards into a spread of colorful and tasty vegan dishes. PETE COTTELL.
Eat this: The Candy Bacon (3 for $5, 6 for $9) and the Brewers Board ($16) are shareable and well-suited for a light and salty nosh to keep you in the mood for more beer, but the Portland Hot Chicken ($14) is the real secret weapon, with a sauce so vibrant and tangy you'll almost forget you're eating in the corner of a warehouse in Portland and not Nashville.
Great Notion Brewing
Call it hype or call it genius—either way, what Great Notion has built over the past three years is nothing short of incredible. After taking over a failing brewery, the Mash Tun, founders James Dugan, Andy Miller and Paul Reiter have changed the entire Portland beer scene with sours that smell and taste just like Costco blueberry muffins and IPAs that could pass as fresh-squeezed tropical juices. Thanks to a mix of social media hype and expertly crafted beers, Great Notion's rustic Alberta brewpub is consistently packed with a mix of beer tourists and dedicated locals waiting to try the latest juicy IPA creations or to take in the intensity of the award-winning Double Stack imperial breakfast stout, so rich with maple syrup you can smell it from two tables over. Luckily, the overloaded taproom will see some relief in 2019. The brewery opened a production facility at 2444 NW 28th Ave. last year, which is currently only open for its high-demand Saturday can releases. But the space will house a second, fully functioning restaurant slated to open in March. SHANNON ARMOUR.
Eat this: Great Notion puts almost as much effort into its food as it does its beers. You can't go wrong with the tangy pulled pork tacos ($13) or a comforting bowl of nostalgic wagon wheel pasta ($13) covered in creamy cheese sauce (add the fried chicken for $5 if you're feeling really daring). If the wait for a table is too long, walk one block east for a gorgeous plate of pasta from Alberta's food cart gem, Gumba (Northeast Alberta Street and 23rd Avenue, 503-975-5951, gumba-pdx.com).
Old Town Brewing
Like the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers and Hawthorne Strip, Old Town Brewing refused to let a little relocation get in the way of good branding. Originating in 1974 as a purportedly haunted pizzeria on Northwest Davis Street, the business, under owner Adam Milne, expanded in 2008, jumping across the river to the King neighborhood, where he would open a massive ski-lodgelike facility that would eventually become a brewpub. The name might have been rendered incongruous, but the move quickly paid off. Within a few years, Old Town won a medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its citrusy Shanghai'd IPA. Since then, the company has grown into one of Portland's most recognizable breweries, not the least of which is due to the White Stag logo familiar to anyone who's driven over the Burnside Bridge. (A trademark snit with the city was resolved last year.) Old Town also specializes in well-made stalwarts that satisfy purists without boring the geeks, like Zitrone Lemon Wafer Blonde Ale, which manages to push the lemon flavor to the fore without tasting like Pine-Sol, and the Glow Torch, a hazy IPA that drinks like biting into a spoonful of fruit salad. MATTHEW SINGER.
Eat this: Old Town did not stop making pizzas ($12-$30.50) when it transitioned into the craft beer world. If anything, its beers are now made as a direct complement to the thick-crust pies.
In Level Beer's logo, the L and E on either side of the V face the middle, which in a way represents balance—like two kids sitting on the ends of a teeter-totter. And everything about Level speaks to equilibrium in a glass as every beer tasted complemented the whole. Founded in 2016 by Geoff Phillips, owner of the highly praised Bailey's Taproom, along with brewers Jason Barbee (formerly of Ex Novo) and Shane Watterson (formerly of Laurelwood), producing balanced beers was the focus from the get-go. The spacious 2-acre property that used to house a produce market called the Barn still features the cavernous, red namesake building, which now contains a 20-barrel production brewhouse and 2.5-barrel pilot system. Standouts coming from Level include a Japanese rice lager called Sweep the Leg, the initial flavor of biscuits mellows into a pleasant, grassy finish, and Fatality, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with subtle chocolate and coffee notes that beg you to find a big, comfortable chair and hide from the cold and rain. But resist the urge to curl up inside and head out to the heated greenhouse for a taste of the outdoors even in the dead of winter. JIM MCLAREN.
It's easy to get lost among McMenamins Edgefield's 10 different bars (though not all of them are open year-round). The charm at this Troutdale location of the Oregon and Washington restaurant chain lies in its sweeping grandeur—the 74-acre property used to be a country poor farm and maintains the verdant persona of its past life. While a popular destination for concerts on the lawn or nuptials in the ballroom, you don't have to buy a ticket or be a member of a wedding party to enjoy Edgefield brewery pints, which are some of the most creative of the franchise's beer offerings. McMenamins standards—like the grapefruit-sweet Ruby and inoffensive Hammerhead Ale—are, of course, on offer. But if you've made the short pilgrimage from Portland, try the sour A Currant Affair, which is brewed with 425 pounds of currants and melds floral, tart gooseberry and passionfruit with a mild wheaty finish. Or grab a 5th Floor IPA, Edgefield's earthy take on a winter seasonal IPA. ELISE HERRON.
Eat this: You'll notice the menu at Black Rabbit is much more high-end than those at other McMenamins restaurants. But if tuna tartare or slow-cooked wild boar are out of your price range, the bar menu's smoked turkey ($14.75) or Gruyère grilled cheese ($13.75) sandwiches are satisfying options.