I realize that summer is long gone... But I haven't gotten around to these five places which I visited near the end of my latest sojourn in Portland, OR. So, here we go.
Breakside Restaurant & Pub Brewery
We visited Breakside on a warm mid-summer afternoon, after a long day flying from Minneapolis to Portland. It's a very pleasant brewpub, in an
area of town that is not overrun with beer places. A few tables
and bar occupy the first floor, with space for maybe 25 people. There are five long tables
with benches outside. The second floor is an open split-level space with views
of both the first floor and the outside area. The food menu offers a limited but good range of pub grub.
Four regular beers and seven seasonals were on tap. Sampler sets are also available: six
5-oz. glasses for $8 -- this includes their four regulars and a choice
of two seasonals. We sat on the edge of the second level, and while I
sampled my girlfriend enjoyed watching the very "Portlandia"-like scenes
which unfolded below. The beers were good to very good and the food tasty.
- Breakside Pilsner: Light grassiness, and very light fruit -- pears. Very pale straw color. Sweet grassy initial / balances so nicely in mid / final goes sweet
again. Thin-medium body. Well done.
- Breakside Woodlawn Pale Ale: Good mild citrus aroma, with some other hopping in the mix. Medium copper color. Citrus certainly leads / continues and adds other hop
notes / balances smoothly in final, leaving decent hop tracks. Nice one.
A bit overhopped for a pale ale, but that’s fine.
Alameda Brewing Co.
This is a brewpub/restaurant located quite a ways down Fremont St. It was fairly quiet on an
early Thursday evening. The crowd was mixed, a bit older than many beer places
in PDX. Light rock on the sound system, and news on TV. It has a sort of tepid industrial
look: cinder block, shiny metal siding, and warm blonde wood. A very extensive
menu of pub stuff. The sampler set comprised six 3-oz. glasses for $7, with a choice of
eight regulars, three seasonals, and one on nitro. The beer is here okay, with a
couple of pleasant surprises.
- Alameda Klickitat Pale Ale: Funky and fresh aroma. Light copper with a tan head. Tangy, bright caramel and pine balance right away . Pleasant bittering in mid and
final. Thin-medium body. Pretty good. Has more flavor than (and somewhat
different flavors from) most pale ales.
The Commons Brewery
Commons has a bare-bones tasting room set in the fermentation/conditioning area of
the brewery. The tables are upended barrels and seating consists of a few
(literally, three) stools. We were the only ones
there at opening time, so we took all three. But people soon began arriving and they had
nowhere to sit. Within 30 minutes, there were maybe 25-30 customers. Only one
staffer, and she sure got busy in a hurry. Nine beers on tap and four
bottles for sale. The sampler set provides four 5-oz. glasses (of any of the beers) for $9. Bombers cost
$7-9. No food was available. It was a bit warm in the building, with the afternoon
sun streaming through the large windows and the fermenters working away. The focus is on Belgian farmhouse styles and sour beer, which they do more or less
well. They’ve been open less than two years, and I’m sure that I'll go there
in a year or so to see if they have gotten better.
- The Commons Pale Evening Ale: A bit of harsh fruity Saaz nose, with considerable yeastiness. Hazy light orange/amber color - very pretty. Sweet fruity initial / moves to
some sourness and light bittering, and a well-balanced finish. Medium body.
- The Commons Flemish Kiss: Nice sourish "red ale" nose. Copper/orange color. Starts out great: good tart berries and something a bit funky and even vegetal / finishes with
good balance and lingering scraps of fruit peels. Thin-medium body.
Good sourness. The Brett does come through -- but only a little. Nice,
delicate. Not overpowering in any way. Smooth, with a good range of flavors.
Concordia Ale House
Concordia is a fairly noisy bar. When I went, there was loud music, sports news, and an amplified trivia game announcer broadcasting endless questions. Twenty-two brews were on the well-selected tap list, with
a decided emphasis on NW stuff. Also, a very impressive selection of bottles in the coolers behind the bar. The service
was not bad. This is a very good place to find all kinds of new beers.
Grain and Gristle
Finally, a restaurant, one of whose co-founders is Alex Ganum, the owner of Upright Brewing. I've been here twice, on my two most recent visits to Portland. It has a pleasant
atmosphere and great service. Excellent food. The "2-fer"
is a wonderful deal; in fact, that’s what we had both times: a meal
for two with two beers for $25. Somewhat limited tap list, but all the beers
are good: eight taps, with two or three of them Upright brews. My girlfriend said that she wanted to eat there EVERY night. Be sure
to check out the beautifully carved maple bar. Love this place!