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10 Barrel: Barreling Forward

I really wanted to hate 10 Barrel's new Portland brewpub (1411 NW Flanders St.,224-1700, 10barrel.com). Last year, 10 Barrel Brewing, which was crafting some of my favorite off-the-shelf beer in Oregon, sold to Anheuser-Busch while in the process of opening this new brewery, which is helmed by former Pelican brewmaster Whitney Burnside. I haven't bought any of my once-beloved OG Wheat IPA since. So when the new space finally opened March 16, I ho-hummed my way through their pretty doors. And, goddamn it, I liked the place.

Situated across from Rogue and a few blocks from Fat Head's in what's fast becoming one of Portland's better beer 'hoods, the bright, wide-open pub stands at the pinnacle of contemporary brewery chic, with lots of concrete and rough-hewn wood arranged around an open brewhouse. The staff is friendly, attentive and remarkably well-trained for new hires. The menu is similar to what you find at the Bend branch, with pizzas and $13 "nachos" consisting of a mountain of housemade potato chips topped with steak and Gorgonzola. That dish, plus a delicious $7 Cajun Brussels sprouts appetizer (also a huge amount of food) made me wonder whether this place is better than the nearby Deschutes pub, making me both angry and confused.

The pub is mostly pouring 10 Barrel beers made at other locations while they break in the house brewing system. The first beer from that system, Pearl IPA, is a perfectly bitter, slightly hazy, excellently crafted beer. I won't be back soon because I am a purist, but I won't ruin a good thing for you, either. Don't hate the player, hate the game.