Best Breweries in Portland, OR

Portland's Best BreweriesOne of the most popular things to do in Portland is touring the local breweries, as the city boasts a diverse and innovative craft beer scene celebrated for its quality, creativity, and community spirit. Whether it’s award-winning IPAs, experimental sours, or European classics with a local twist, Portland’s breweries offer something for every beer lover to discover and enjoy.

Brief Highlights

  • Portland's craft beer scene has a rich history and is now known for many breweries offering unique and innovative beers.
  • Portland is home to award-winning breweries like Breakside, Great Notion, and Upright, offering a variety of high-quality brews.
  • Portland's craft beer culture values sustainability and philanthropy, giving back to the community.

The Origins of Portland's Brewery Scene

Portland’s craft beer scene has deep roots, dating back to the 1850s when German immigrant Henry Saxer opened the Liberty Brewery. Shortly after, another German immigrant, Henry Weinhard, followed Saxer’s lead by acquiring the first liquor license in the Portland area and opening the historic Weinhard City Brewery. However, Portlander Fred Eckhardt, who authored the first modern American book on homebrewing in 1970, contributed significantly to the national homebrewing movement. Despite Oregon leading the world in hop production, the local beer scene after Prohibition remained chiefly limited to light lagers until the emergence of craft breweries.

For Portland, 1984 was a watershed year. It witnessed the founding of several key breweries, including:

  • BridgePort Brewing Company
  • Full Sail Brewing Company
  • Portland Brewing Company
  • Widmer Brothers Brewing

The McMenamin brothers’ 1974 opening of the Produce Row Cafe in the Buckman neighborhood further buoyed this wave of craft breweries, kickstarting the farm-to-keg brewpub revolution. In 1985, the McMenamins followed up with Oregon’s first brewpub, the Hillsdale Brewery & Public House, offering beers made from local ingredients. The Hillsdale Brewery & Public House is still in operation today in Southwest Portland.

Today, Portland is home to over 200 craft breweries. By 2013, the state had employed approximately 6,400 workers across 154 breweries. Portland further cemented its reputation as a world-class beer city in 2019 with the arrival of new breweries such as Ruse, Little Beast, and Von Ebert. This journey of evolution and growth has cultivated a diverse craft beer scene that continues to thrive and innovate.

Portland’s Award-Winning Breweries

Best Craft Breweries in Portland OR

Portland isn’t just about quantity; it’s also about quality. The city is home to several award-winning breweries, each recognized for their exceptional beers and dedication to the craft.

Breakside Brewery

Originally founded in the Northwest District, Breakside Brewery is a popular and well-respected craft beer brewery in Portland. In 2022, it garnered the following achievements:

  • Large Brewery of the Year at the Oregon Beer Awards, securing 11 medals in the process
  • Gold medal for their Fresh Hop Chinook IPA, showcasing their prowess in brewing high-quality beers
  • Recognition for Excellence in Brewery Operations within the Western region during the 2022 awards

Having won dozens of national and international awards, including multiple “Brewery of the Year” designations in its decade-plus history, Breakside Brewery is arguably the trendsetter for breweries and Oregon IPAs. With multiple locations, including one in the high-end Lake Oswego community and a tasting room in the Milwaukie area, Breakside is an excellent option for Portland vacations and staycations. They have a tasty array of Northwest-style hoppy ales and have introduced a new white ale and witbier to their core line of beers.

Great Notion Brewing

Great Notion Brewing is another jewel in Portland’s craft beer crown. Established in 2016, this brewery quickly distinguished itself with an immersive taproom experience and innovative beers that have earned them numerous awards. They are renowned for their flavorful, juicy New England-style IPAs and have been a trendsetter in the hazy IPA category. Their creativity extends beyond their beers to their visual aesthetic, with colorful and whimsical branding that reflects their innovative spirit.

With eight locations along the West Coast, visitors often start at the original location Portland’s Alberta Arts District neighborhood. The second taproom in the Slabtown area boasts a tasting room and production brewery. Some must-try beers include the Juice Jr., the Double Stack, and the reworked Ripe, which is now a clear beer many people say is better than the original.

Upright Brewing Company

Upright Brewing Company—located in the Lloyd District, one of Portland’s best neighborhoods—adds more depth to Portland’s beer scene. This brewery has won accolades in competitions such as the Oregon Beer Awards, the Great American Beer Festival, and the World Beer Cup, earning it a top spot among Portland’s most acclaimed breweries.

Upright’s beer selection, including the Engelberg Pilsner and Four Play, is renowned for its unique, inspiring, and creative qualities. Upright Brewing provides a stage for the city’s beer enthusiasts to experience the artistry of brewing.

Deschutes Brewery

Known for flavorful pub ales, Deschutes has a nice menu of diverse offerings, making it an excellent gathering spot for groups with varied tastes—not to mention one of the best nightlife spots in Portland’s Pearl District. This award-winning Brewery is known for its Black Butte Porter, Hachimitsu Mai Japanese lager, Fresh-Squeezed IPA, and The Abyss. The pub is open daily and has a party room available by reservation.

Experimental Ales and Unique Creations

Portland’s craft beer scene isn’t just about traditional ales and lagers. The city is also a playground for experimental ales and unique creations.

Ruse Brewing

There’s no deception—Ruse Brewing is the real deal. With an assortment of barrel-aged sours and saisons, Ruse Brewing is a prime example of innovation in the Portland craft beer scene. Known for their unique take on brewing, Ruse uses custom yeast strains to create distinct flavors, particularly in their IPA styles. They have also mastered the double dry-hopped IPA trend, further illustrating their innovative brewing techniques.

For unusual and experimental ale, Ruse Brewing in the Brooklyn neighborhood is the place to go. Like most of Portland's breweries, IPAs of both the hazy and clear varieties grace the menu. There are typically a few lagers, and some are interestingly different, such as fruit sours, witbiers, and kölsch. Popular beers that routinely are available include Imaginary Lines and Translator.

Little Beast Brewing

Little Beast Brewing specializes in traditional farmhouse ales, mixed culture fermentations, and experimental beers from its Richmond neighborhood location. Their offerings, like ‘Dream State’ Foeder-Aged Ale and ‘Animal Family’ IPA, focus on seasonality and innovation, providing a diverse range of mixed fermentation beers for those seeking a unique tasting experience.

Threshold Brewing & Blending

Threshold Brewing & Blending in the Montavilla neighborhood offers a versatile selection of house beers, from fresh IPAs to sours and dark barrel-aged beers. Each beer tells a different story, inviting beer enthusiasts to embark on a journey of flavor exploration. Some adventurous visitors pair their hops with an open-faced baguette stuffed with spiced mushrooms and cheese called Zapiekanka.

European-Inspired Breweries in Portland

Best European Craft Breweries in Portland OR

Portland’s craft beer scene also takes a page from the European brewing handbook with a Pacific Northwest twist. Let’s explore the European-inspired Rose City breweries.

Von Ebert Brewing

Von Ebert’s European brewing craftsmanship sources local ingredients to craft unique and innovative flavors. Since its Portland debut in 2018, the brewery has won numerous accolades, including a gold medal for its IPA from the OAB (Oregon Beer Awards) and GABF (Great American Beer Festival) organizations. Subsequently, their pilsner earned awards from the GABF and the World Beer Cup.

Wayfinder Beer

Located in Portland’s Buckman neighborhood, Wayfinder Beer brings traditional European brewing styles, including Belgian beers, to the Pacific Northwest with a Portland beer twist. Their range of lagers, such as the richly malted Export66 and the double-decocted spring amber Märzen, showcase their mastery of European brewing styles. Additionally, their Relapse IPA offers beer enthusiasts a cold IPA experience influenced by both new and old-school hops, indicative of the West Coast style.

Away Days Brewing Co.

Away Days Brewing Co. creates a convivial pub atmosphere, brewing traditional European beers with a local flair. Its beer selection masterfully combines classic European processes with Pacific Northwest ingredients, showcasing the brewery’s commitment to quality and creativity. Moreover, the soccer-themed branding at the brewery, which is adjacent to the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, adds a playful touch to the craft beer experience at the former scout beer spot.

Steeplejack

With three locations in the Portland area, Steeplejack has become a beloved brewery, serving Portlanders since 1906. In 2021, it transformed a gorgeous, stained glass-laden church in the Sullivan’s Gulch community into its most visually striking brewery. The unique beers that have recently earned the Brewery three OBA awards include bitters, Irish stouts, session lagers, and Belgian table beers. Steeplejack has revived the cask-ale movement, making their brews a true rarity.

Philanthropy and Sustainability in Portland's Craft Beer Scene

Many Portland craft breweries are committed to philanthropy and sustainability. Companies like Hopworks Brewery and Culmination Brewing Company are leading the way in these efforts.

Hopworks Brewery

Hopworks Brewery, based in Southeast Portland’s Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood, is leading the charge in sustainable brewing practices. The brewery has released a sustainability report detailing its environmental actions and aspirations, showcasing its commitment to green brewing practices.

They’ve implemented sustainable practices in their operations, focusing on energy efficiency, water conservation, and purchasing 100% renewable energy.

Culmination Brewing Company

Culmination Brewing Company is not just about brewing great beer; it’s also about making a difference. Prioritizing sustainability and community enrichment, it has pursued a B Corp certification, a prestigious designation for companies committed to balancing profit with purpose.

Through active support and participation in local events, Culmination Brewing in the dynamic Kerns area fosters a more inclusive and sustainable Portland economy.

Must-Visit Taprooms and Beer Gardens

The craft beer experience in Portland is not complete without a visit to some of the city’s top taprooms and beer gardens.

Level Beer

Level Beer boasts multiple taproom locations throughout Portland, each offering a unique experience for beer enthusiasts. Their original location is in Northeast Portland, directly across the Columbia River and Government Island from the Fisher’s Landing neighborhood in Vancouver. From a brewery and beer garden to a bustling village and a trendy downtown spot, each Level Beer location provides an array of beers and experiences.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House

Founded in 2006, Cascade Brewing Barrel House is a must-visit for sour beer fans. It offers over 28 rotating taps, featuring a multitude of sour beers with barrel-aged and fruit-forward profiles.

Baerlic Brewing Company

Baerlic Brewing Company is known for its unique contribution to Portland’s craft beer scene. Their Northeast Barley Pod location in the Rose City Park neighborhood features a beloved beer garden that offers a laid-back atmosphere conducive to enjoying Baerlic’s diverse beer selections. Be sure to check out their locations in the Hosford-Abernethy area and the Alberta neighborhood, too.

Brewery Tours and Events

Craft Beer Tours in Portland OR

Portland’s brewery tours, beer festivals, and other activities showcase the city’s rich brewing culture. These events, which are focused around Portland’s most walkable neighborhoods, offer beer enthusiasts a unique opportunity to explore and experience the creativity and diversity of local brewers.

Oregon Craft Beer Month

Oregon Craft Beer Month is a festive time for all craft beer enthusiasts. This month-long celebration is filled with multiple events that serve to celebrate the state’s rich brewing culture. From the Zwickelmania brewery tours to the Portland Fresh Hops Fest, there’s an event for every craft beer lover.

Bridge to Brews

Bridge to Brews offers a unique twist to the traditional beer festival. This annual event combines a run or walk over the city’s notable bridges with a beer-tasting festival afterward, giving participants the chance to burn off some calories before indulging in some of the city's best craft beers.

SheBrew Festival

The SheBrew Festival is a unique event that celebrates women in the brewing industry. Coinciding with Women’s History Month in March, SheBrew showcases a homebrewers competition and a festival featuring female brewers and cider makers.

Portland's Hoppy Heritage Shines

Portland’s craft beer scene is diverse and vibrant, with a rich history, award-winning breweries, experimental ales, and a commitment to philanthropy and sustainability. Its breweries are some of the most popular spots in the city, and the events surrounding them are often among Portland’s best outdoor activities. With numerous taprooms and beer gardens to explore, a do-it-yourself or guided-themed tour of Portland’s best breweries is a must-do activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many breweries does Portland have?

Portland has over 70 craft breweries, with more popping up over the years.

Who are some of the award-winning breweries in Portland?

Some award-winning breweries in Portland are Breakside Brewery, Great Notion Brewing, and Upright Brewing Company. They have received recognition at events like the Oregon Beer Awards and the Great American Beer Festival. Cheers!

What are some examples of experimental ales and unique creations in Portland's craft beer scene?

If you're looking for experimental ales and unique creations in Portland, check out breweries like Ruse Brewing, Little Beast Brewing, and Threshold Brewing & Blending. These breweries are known for pushing the boundaries of brewing and introducing exciting new flavors and techniques into the craft beer scene.

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