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Sunday, January 15, 2017

How Would You Choose the Four Best Breweries in Portland?

This coming weekend, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia will be gathering in Portland for its 2017 Digital Conference. One of the events of the conference is the "best brewery tour" hosted by Willamette Week's Martin Cizmar. When I got the email, I clicked on the link to see which breweries would be on the tour. Turns out there are four of them, and you can find Martin's choices at the link.

Over the past year, I welcomed a dozen or so people from other parts of the country and globe who came in part or entirely to tour Portland breweries. The question of "best" was a discussion with each one of them. There are probably thirty or so breweries that might regularly appear on the average Portlander's best of list, so choosing four is fool's errand. Even when those visitors arrived with more the four slots on their dance card, the process was one of winnowing, always tinged (in my case) by regret. I doubt I ever recommended the same breweries twice.

The question is not even so much as which breweries to put on the list as how you go about your own winnowing. What criteria do you use? How do you make sure the person leaves with a sense of the city's diversity and quality? There is no right answer to the question--nor which breweries are "best." Still, these are questions I bet you all wrestle with and I'm curious--what is your thought process?

(Now back to this excruciating Green Bay/Dallas game, in which my beloved Packers are slowly, inexorably--and inevitably?--giving away the game.)


  1. With me it depends on the person. Does it need to be family friendly? (HUB no brainer), Have they had the beer where they live? (probably off the table unless they want to visit that brewery). I really like interesting atmosphere and good food (Fat Heads and Double Mountain come to mind). Great beer is always paramount. Great thought provoking article. Can't wait to see other people's thoughts.

  2. The best four for visitors are what you might call the Eastside Essentials.

    There's plenty on the other side of the river, but I feel like they will find that on their own. Fat Head's house beers and comfort food are great. Deschutes is where I'd splurge (not that you have to). 10 Barrel is crowded and not your scene. Omissions are intentional.

    For most, the trip starts at Breakside (which finally seems to have daily lunch hours). From there, you head to Hair of the Dog, Commons Brewery, and Cascade Barrel House. Of the world's many beer districts, few are as big or close together, and none are so uniquely anchored as the Central Eastside.