Breweries and Pubs of Portland

Contributed by Gwen Amsbury and Amber D’Ambrosio

What’s Portland without its beer?  Well known as a hub of micro-breweries and craft beers, Portland is home to numerous pubs and breweries where you can enjoy a nice beverage… or two.  Contributors Gwen Amsbury and Amber D’Ambrosio set out on an adventure to visit several.  Here are some of their favorites.

Within walking distance:

Commons Brewery 

Commons occupies a sizable warehouse space with exposed brewing equipment and offers counter service. The focus is on the beer, but light fare is available for purchase along with a limited brunch menu for the weekend. In the name of research, we sampled a range of their beers, pictured below. They have flights of four available for $10. We chose their flagship ale (Urban Farmhouse Ale) along with the Citrus Myrtle (a sour ale that tasted like the popular Fun Dip candy of the 90s), the Tea Room (a light, fruity, and flavorful saison made with green teas), and the Mr. Irrelevant (a standard IPA, not too hoppy). We highly recommend the Citrus Myrtle and the Tea Room as perfect beers for summer. Typically they have 12 beers on tap with a guest cider to make it a baker’s dozen.

Rogue Eastside Pub & Pilot Brewery

This is actually one of four Rogue locations in Portland. Be prepared for extensive beer and food menus, including the Independent 19 (a menu of 19 guest beers from independent breweries). It’s a large space with table service. This is where we ate during our research pub crawl. I had a burger and fries, and I cannot recommend the accompanying wasabi mayo strongly enough. It had the perfect combination of wasabi kick and flavor to complement both my burger and the fries. We selected a flight of 4 for $8 to accompany our lunch, and I also ordered the Rogue brewed root beer because I’m always curious about independently brewed root beers. The root beer resembled an old mug root beer that was less sweet with more of a flavorful bite. In our flight we had the Green Dragon Belgian Rose (guest beer that was smooth and rich), the Marionberry Braggot (in honor of Oregon’s famous berry and much more like a mead than we expected – heavy, sweet, and strong when we were expecting light and fruity), the American Amber (a solid amber ale, nothing special), and the Hot Tub Scholarship Lager (chosen for the name…a very mild lager). If none of that sounds appealing, there were pages of options. Pages.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House 

Cascade brewing


This is a smaller space than Rogue or Commons, but they do have patio seating available as well and all with table service. If you have never had sour beer then you need to visit Cascade Brewing. This pub crawl was my first experience with sour beers. I’m hooked. They don’t do flights, but they do offer 2 ounce glasses priced out on the menu, so we went with our traditional 4. We selected the Apricot (so wonderfully sour that you will feel it), the Honey Ginger Lime (the sweetest of our selection with an amazing flavor and less bite), Elderberry (sour and full of flavor but not as sour as the apricot), and the Cherry Bourbonic (this is one of their vintage selections, aged in a bourbon barrel for a year, 12.9%, dark and wonderful and not at all medicinal in flavor). The menu is primarily sour beers, but they do have a couple of standards like the Portland Ale and the Cascade IPA. There’s a light fare menu that includes sandwiches and salads and a dessert menu. I took the Dark Chocolate Bourbon Balls home with me…each bite burned with bourbon. I know Cascade Brewing is going to be a new favorite of mine…much thanks to Gwen for introducing me to it.

Cooper’s Hall

(winery and taproom)

A classy close-in option with a solid selection of guest taps, as well as draft beer and cider (they also offer flights of wine if that’s more your thing). They have a full dinner menu, but their happy hour choices are great including an amazing, full-size veggie burger with fries for $10.

Produce Row


Boasting a large selection of local beers, this is a great place to come if you want to taste what a number of northwest breweries have to offer all in one place. The Row has a food menu that is as extensive as their beer selection. Enjoy their comfortable patio or stay inside and catch the band or musician playing that night.

Across the River (also accessible via the MAX Blue Line)

Kells Irish Pub

(brew pub)

Delicious Irish fare in addition to their line of Irish beers. If you’re craving shepherd’s pie, this is the place to find it. The Irish nachos are also a must for anyone not too worried about their cholesterol. Several of the lighter fare options are vegetarian. Traditional live music can be expected Thursday through Saturday evenings. They also feature sports on the big screens: Portland teams as well as sports popular in Europe like soccer and rugby. There is also a cigar lounge in the basement. In my experience as someone sensitive to cigarette and cigar smoke, the cigar lounge doesn’t affect the upstairs dining space.

Thirsty Lion


Reasonably priced food, beer, and cocktails. The space has some of the feel of a traditional English pub, but with the type of diverse beer and food menu characteristic of American gastropubs. The assortment of reasonably-priced cocktails (and food!) brought a colleague and I here during a previous conference, and we were not disappointed. They also offer a range of wine and liquor options. Be prepared for sports on the big screens, but you can easily ignore them by snagging one of the high-backed wooden booths.

Tugboat Brewery 

Tugboat’s website is . . . a little odd, but their taproom and beer are amazing. With a relaxed atmosphere and a good selection of snacks, this is a great low-key spot downtown. Fun fact: Tugboat claims to be downtown Portland’s oldest micro-brewery.

Bailey’s Tap Room

(beer bar)

With an impressive selection of beers on draft, and the added bonus that you can visit their website to see what percentage of each draft remains, Bailey’s is a popular spot for happy hour and beyond. While the tap room does not offer food, you are free to bring in outside food, and with Santeria right across the street, that is a huge plus.

Easy access via MAX (light rail) or the bus

Lucky Lab – dog friendly brew pub with a covered patio.

Pints Brewing Company – has ten beers on tap with a full lunch/dinner menu and daily specials.

Fat Head’s Brewery – wide selection of craft beers and a solid happy hour.

Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House – “The brew pub’s 26 taps feature Deschutes mainstays plus a selection of seasonal and experimental beers developed and brewed on site exclusively for the Portland pub by our brewers.” (from the website) – I’ve been to the Deschutes main brew pub in Bend, OR, and I was impressed by both their beer and their food. I have no reason to suspect their Portland pub will be any different.

For the more adventurous >1.5 miles from the conference

Migration Brewing – relaxed, community minded brew pub with a ton of outdoor seating and garage doors that are raised on nice days to let in a lot of light and fresh air. Although I’ve never personally had it, I’ve been told their mac & cheese is the best!
Amber D’Ambrosio is Processing Archivist & Records Manager at Willamette University, a small, urban liberal arts college in Salem, Oregon, where she manages the collections and wrangles ArchivesSpace and Archivematica. In her spare time she discovers that she loves sour beers, writes, reads about early modern London, hikes, travels, and obsessively visits the Oregon Coast.
Gwen Amsbury is an Archives and Records Management Specialist at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center. Currently Gwen is serving as Secretary and Membership Coordinator for Northwest Archivists, Inc.  She spends her spare time reading, metalworking, and searching for abandoned amusement parks.


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