Brew Crawling Through Downtown PDX

Portland, Oregon. Bridgetown. Rose City. A veritable craft beer paradise. claims that there are 58 breweries in Oregon and 84 in the Portland Metro Area and today we’re going to show you how to hit them all in one day! I KID. It will take many, many Brew Coups to cover all the drinkable glory in Portlandia. Today we are going to focus on four must-visit breweries in Downtown Portland.

Step 1. Pour One Out for the Tugboat

Start your trip with the sad realization that you’re going to miss a classic. Tugboat Brewery closed their doors in August after being open since 1989. Their Chernobyl Russian Imperial Stout was one of my top five favorite beers of all time, and I always made a point to stop by when I was in town to grab a half pint (the most they’d serve in one pour) and lounge in the establishment that looked more like a living room than a bar.

Step 2. Carbo-Load

You’ll be doing some drinking today, so don’t forget to start with a well-rounded breakfast. I’d head to Bowery Bagels on 310 NW Broadway. All their sandwiches share names with famous Portland figures so you can also learn why Portland streets are named things like Burnside, Stark, and Couch while eating meat and cheese on a tasty bagel. Want something a little sweeter (AKA A DONUT) head over to Blue Star Donuts at 1237 SW Washington St. for the best in town – and yes, that includes the pink-boxed tourist trap over in Chinatown. They’ve also got a location at the airport now!

Step 3. Pints at PINTS

PINTS Brewery (412 NW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97209) opens early and is a great place to get started on your brewery tour. Flights come in batches of five. Their Dark Times Black IPA is a must try as well as their Seismic IPA and Seismic Upgrade Double IPA. Want to have a really exciting morning? Ask about their small batch whiskey offerings!

Step 4. Embrace Your Inner Child

Your day shouldn’t be all drinking, all the time – otherwise it could be a short day. While in the neighborhood, walk two blocks south to Ground Kontrol (115 NW 5th Ave, Portland) . It’s a classic arcade with dozens of great pinball machines, racing games, air hockey, and my personal favorite: X-Men: the Arcade Game. Later in the day the bar there open up, so if you’ve always dreamed about drinking a PBR tall boy while challenging a stranger to some Cruisin’ Exotica, this is the place for you.

Step 5. Do It Up at Deschutes

Ok, now it is time to get serious. Head west on Davis st until to arrive at the crown jewel of the downtown brewery scene: Deschutes (210 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209). Deschutes has a first class location with a beer list and menu to match. I’ve visited Portland five or six times in the last two years and always stop here. Never had anything by them? Be sure to try the Black Butte Porter, a standard bearer of the style. If one of the Black Butte Anniversary editions is available, all the better. Like IPAs? Go for either the Fresh Squeezed or the Pine Drops. Lucky enough to find it and feeling adventurous? Grab a bottle of their out of this world Smoked Gose. It’s out of production but the Portland location still had bottles back in late August. The food is great here too, so grab a salad or sandwich for lunch before moving on.

Step 6. Get Lost in a City of Books

At this point in the day I usually want to wander aimlessly around my other favorite thing: books! Powell’s City of Book is a paradise for the lit-crowd. I under-pack on my trips to Portland because I know I’m going to be bring home a couple pounds of books (and other random stuff – see Squatchy pic above)

Step 7. Go Rogue

Like Deschutes, no trip to Oregon is complete without a visit to Rogue Nation. If you are further south and near the coast, be sure to check out Rogue’s flagship location in Newport, but for the purposes of getting some great Rogue beers, the location at 1339 NW Flanders, Portland, OR, 97209. will do the trick!

It’s hard to decide what to recommend, as I looked on Untappd and found sixteen different beers I’ve had to choose from! Here are a couple must tries:

  • Rebel Hop Brown Ale
  • 7 Hop Double IPA (7.77% ABV)
  • 8 Hop Double IPA (8.88% ABV)
  • Paradise Pucker Sour
  • XS Russian Imperial Stout
  • Dead Guy Ale

And if you are feeling like something different and get enticed by their pepto-pink bomber bottles, go for the Voodoo Doughnut Grape Guerrilla. It is interesting, to say the least. Here’s a non-Portland sighting of it:

Rogue also has an Eastside location that I’m sure will be discussed in a future Brew Coup.

Step 8. Down 10 at 10 Barrel

You’ve had a long day. So why not relax and take it easy? Nope! You’re in Portland, and there’s always more beer to try.  10 Barrel has a location literally across the street from Rogue at 1411 NW Flanders St, Portland, Oregon 97209. They’ve got a great roof top space and a killer flight (of 10 samples!). Some highlights include the Some Beech Smoked Beer and the Missed High IPA. The Cucumber Crush Berliner Weisse was not on the flight but I had to try it and it did not disappoint.

Still looking for more after all of that? Here’s a couple of nearby places to check out while you are downtown:

In summary, go here and do these things:

What else do you love about downtown Portland? There are some many spots to choose from. Send me a list (and send me back to Portland) and we’ll do another post! Until then…

Best Brews!



Leave a Reply