Beer Guide 2013: Now You Brew

A guide to Portland homebrew shops.

Portland U-Brew
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Chuck Klosterman once observed that every teenager goes through a Led Zeppelin phase. Sometimes, it lasts a week. Other times, for a year. But it happens.

This axiom holds for homebrewing. As the love of beer grows, it's natural to want to try making some yourself. If you're, say, an electrical engineer, you'll find brewing to be easy and rewarding. If you nearly had to retake algebra II, you'll learn to distinguish between many different types of skunkiness as you slog through a case of your own bad beer. Here's where to get that bustle for your hedgerow.


11945 SW Pacific Highway, Tigard, 968-2736,

This shop in a strip mall off Highway 99W is moderately sized but well-stocked. And, after 20 years serving suburbanites, it knows what the dads who shop here need: a play area to distract kids. JORDAN GREEN.


711 N Grand Blvd., Vancouver, 360-750-1551,

Steve Bader's goal is to wean brewing newbies with "as few beer words as possible." He wrote a five-page guide to make it easy, so wait until you've broken in your starter kit to ask about the bric-a-brac packed on his metal shelves. Half of the shop is dedicated to wine, with a comprehensive selection of acids and bases. ENID SPITZ.


2020 Alocleck Drive, Suite 107, Hillsboro, 971-222-3434,

Brew Brothers claims to have the widest selection of brewing equipment in Oregon, and we buy their claim. Shelves are neatly stocked with even the most obscure ingredients. A substantial book selection covers everything from wine to home-distilling, and three homebrews are tapped at any given time. JG.


234 SE 12th Ave., 232-8793,

The oldest homebrew store in the country, inner Southeast's F.H. Steinbart has been in business for nearly a century. Today, it's a destination for the most and least experienced brewers. The regular retail space—well-stocked with books and kombucha kits—isn't especially large, and there's no keg to congregate around. However, you get a great view of the massive stockroom housing pieces and parts for the pros. It's quite a sight, though not especially romantic. As the clerk says: "At a certain level, brewing becomes plumbing." MARTIN CIZMAR.


6550 N Interstate Ave., 286-0343,

Kenton's Homebrew Exchange is a renovated shop featuring a cheerful staff that measures out grain and teaches fermentation courses both basic (homebrewing 101, mozzarella-making) and serious (how to propagate your own wild yeast). It has the feel of a neighborhood hardware store, with limited selection but plenty of soul. Sit in an Ikea-type chair to peruse the homebrew bible, its holiness snapped into a three-ring binder. ES.


328 N Main Ave., Gresham, 328-8474,

Gresham is not always a hoppy place, but this down-to-earth store, where bearded regulars cozy up to rows of bulk hops, does its best to remedy that the shop includes a welcoming attached bar, serving housemade brew from a team that includes a chef and astrophysicist. ES.


23596 NW Clara Lane, Hillsboro, 648-4254,

Main Brew experienced a substantial location change in 2010, moving from 1,000 square feet in downtown Hillsboro to 4,000 square feet in an industrial park north of Highway 26. While selection isn't as large as neighboring Brew Brothers, Main Brew has five kegs tapped and a superb selection of already-full bottles. JG.


8235 SE Stark St., 256-0205,

Want to try your hand at brewing without all the overhead? Go to the corner of Southeast Stark Street and 82nd Avenue. Along with equipment and ingredients, Let's Brew has a nice little setup for onsite brewing. And, unlike the larger U-Brew setup, you can make yourself as little as one case, for less than $100. The helpful shopkeeper is always happy to offer an assist with measuring or boiling. MC.


6237 SE Milwaukie, 943-2727,

An attached pub sets the tone at this fraternal Sellwood supply shop, which gets busy with young Southeasterners on weekends. The copper kettles for the onsite brewing operation in the basement are inviting, but a minimum batch of 140 bottles (for about $160) means you need a big group or a special occasion. MC.


6620 SW Scholls Ferry Road, 336-4783,

In addition to being an excellent bottle shop and taproom, Uptown Market has a good selection of homebrewing essentials. The selection can't top shops devoted to homebrewing, but Uptown is open much later (9 or 10 pm most nights), helping homebrewers fix the fuckups that always happen after regular business hours. JG.

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