On a mission to find the best Oregon pubs and breweries to enjoy a beer
written by Jeremy Storton
These days, winsome Oregon pubs and breweries set a very high standard. The challenge, now, is determining where to nd the most memorable experiences. No doubt we’ve all had many good times with a great beer in our hand, and we have both our regular hangouts and our special reserve list of must-visit places we share with our friends. But if we were to play our highlight reel, which of these experiences bubble to the surface?
The challenge—to curate a list of the best-of-the-best places to have a beer in Oregon.
The following are on my list of best places to enjoy a great beer. I look for places where the sum of the experience is greater than the parts. This list is not intended to end the conversation, but to begin it. What’s on your list?
1) HORSE BRASS PUB, PORTLAND
Back in the 1970s, Portland beer icon Don Younger awoke with a puzzled expression, a hangover and the ownership of The Horse Brass Pub. He created a lifeline to British beer, and decades later, the Horse Brass continues to lead as Northwest beer has grown into a global force. When you visit, grab a bitter and some Scotch eggs and look around. The stories will reveal themselves when the listener is ready
2) BREWER’S UNION, OAKRIDGE
In search of a traditional British pub? Save money on airfare and head to Oakridge instead. Brewer’s Union Local 180 is a bastion of real cask ale brewed in the true Brit- ish tradition. Owner and head brewer Ted Sobel created a British pub in the middle of the forest about 40 miles east of Eugene along Highway 58. This may be the only place in Oregon to get “squiffy” (British for somewhere between sober and drunk), just without the funny accent.
3) DE GARDE BREWING, TILLAMOOK
Belgian-style Lambic isn’t for everyone. Neither are wild sour ales, for that matter. But when complex flavors and a true sense of Oregon terroir are the only thing that can sate our palate’s lust, spending an hour or three at De Garde Brewing in Tillamook becomes paradise. As a bonus, De Garde is the only place I’ve found the iconic Cantillon Lambic on tap.
4) CASCADE LAKES LODGE, BEND
When everyone just wants to go to a brewery, venture down to Cascade Lakes Brewing in Bend. This epitomizes the classic lodge of yore in pub form. It’s perfectly situated near many mountain biking trails and at the bottom of Cascade Lakes Highway with Bachelor up the road. Cascade Lakes also has a new brewer in Ryan Schmiege (formerly Deschutes Brewery) and a revamped menu that includes sumptuous and healthy options.
5) JOHN’S MARKET, PORTLAND
For those who wander into gear shops and take a few laps just to see what’s new, John’s Market is that place, but for beer. John’s is where even people from the largest cities would say, “Damn! That’s a lot of beer.” If I ever need to impress with an excellent, hard-to-find bottle, John’s Market is my #1 choice.
6) THE BIER STEIN, EUGENE
With eighteen cooler doors, around 1,000 bottles, more than twenty taps and a beer marquee befitting a small sports arena, The Bier Stein is my #2 when it comes to finding hard-to-find and interesting beers. The food is good and the knowledgeable staff can translate beer nerdery into English.
7) LOCAL BARBER, ANYTOWN
This one is for the fellas. Being both bearded and bald, my version of a spa day would be nothing without a pint of beer. Barbershops have a vast history, and they serve as a place where men get together and talk while they have a beer, a shave and a haircut.
(*Ladies, if you want to enjoy a great beer at your next hair appointment, talk to your stylist ahead of time. You may have to bring your own, but these are first-world problems.)
8) MLS SOCCER, PORTLAND
A couple years ago, some friends took my family to a Portland Thorns soccer game. I grew up watching pro sports, but I wasn’t prepared for professional soccer— either Major League Soccer or the National Women’s Soccer League. I sat in a sea of people clad in black Adi- das shoes and the occasional face paint waving Cascadia flags. I learned soccer is better live, and the craft beer sometimes flowed into cups from the bottom. Both are super cool.
9) SISTERS FOLK FESTIVAL, SISTERS
I’ve been attending the Sisters Folk Festival for more than a decade now. One of the few things that gets me as excited as the perfect beer-and-food pairing is drinking a good beer while rubbing elbows with a world-class musician before she goes onstage to drop audio bombs and blow everyone away. Trust me, just get there. Some of the shows are even free.
10) HOMEBREW CLUBS, MOST TOWNS
Some of the men and women who homebrew are so good they have collected more medals than Michael Phelps, and their beer is even better than the six-pack you paid too much for. The best part is, legally one can- not charge for homebrew, so it is always free. George Washington was a homebrewer. So was Ben Franklin. Basically, it’s our patriotic duty to drink homebrew.
It’s obvious the farthest east this writer has been is Bend. There is this whole section of state appropriately labeled “eastern Oregon”, perhaps you’ve heard of this mythical place? Off hand I can think of Side A, Barley Browns, Prodigal Son and Terminal Gravity that would have been easy additions to your list.
You’re absolutely right. I even stated, this article is the beginning, not the end of the conversation. I look forward to continued beer exploration. Cheers.