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Beer Guide 2015: BJ's


12105 N Center Ave., 289-5566, 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday,

10 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.

[GHOST BREWDOG] Across from Portland's northernmost Hooters, next to CJ's, there is BJ's. Vasilios Gletsos, erstwhile brewmaster of Laurelwood—snapped up by Hill Farmstead this year—was first a master of Jantzen Beach. Dan Pederson, lately of Pfriem and Crux, was one of the first to bring Belgian brews to Oregon, here at BJ's. His apprentice? Upright's Alex Ganum. But the mash tuns are empty these days, displayed by the entrance for show. The chain brewer now imports its blondes and hefes from its mega-brewhouse in Nevada, or maybe Arizona, depending which bartender you ask. BJ's looks like a buffet-less Izzy's inside, and the obscurer taps taste like they've been sitting in the kegs too long. Stick to the standards: The IPA is a functional six-hop delivery system, the stout workable if a bit watery. The basic lager, sadly, is sour. Video lottery winners and losers sip translucent rum-and-Cokes from giant cups, while couples on midlife dates opt for margaritas. And the most popular beer is not quite a beer. It's a Jerry Burst, a mix of their Berry Burst Cider and Jeremiah Red Ale. It's like a tarter version of a dentist's appliqué for Novocain. Advice: If you find yourself here in front of a Sweet Pig Pizza and avocado egg rolls? Gentlemen prefer the blonde.

DRINK THIS: Oh, screw it. When in Rome, do as the Romans do: Eat the hearts of men. Go straight for that Jerry Burst.