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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Review - Amnesia Brewing

832 N Beech Street
Portland, Oregon

Monday 4-11 pm
Tuesday-Sunday noon-Midnight

Pints: $2.75

Pitchers: $10.00
Seasonal outdoor seating; dogs allowed.

Beers: Pale ale, porter, IPA, ESB, seasonals and specials.

Brewpubs come in a few major styles, and among these, a Portland standard is the converted warehouse. While it has its aesthetic virtues, generally the warehouse brewpub is the result of a thin pocketbook: breweries need space and warehouses provide it. Cheaply. Amnesia, like so many brewpubs, was an early resident in a marginal neighborhood. But it also fits the vibe of the no-longer-marginal Mississippi neighborhood: straightforward, hardworking, and a little funky.

The building is made of corrugated metal, and except that the parking lot in front has been converted to outdoor seating--picnic tables under white tents--you might mistake it for a metal shop. In fact, once you're inside, you see an old sign on its side up near the rafters that reads "Ornamental Iron" and you might still think it's a metal shop. The building is a one-room job, but the brewery is set off from the seating area by the bar. The rafters are open and disappear into insulation at the roofline. Tables are oak, and the chairs may even have been picked up at auction from the old, original BridgePort--anyway they're exactly the same variety. All in all, a Lucky Lab-ish vibe.

The menu is simple: meat. The kitchen consists of an outdoor grill, and the brewery will throw a burger or four varieties of sausage on for you. They also have a mixed appertiser plate that includes cheese and bread. Since I'm still irrationally afraid of mad cow disease, I skip the burgers and go for the sausage and, as a connoisseur, I give them the hearty thumbs up. My fave are the slightly spicy Hungarian sausages.

Brewer Kevin King seems to groove to the pale tune--he's currently got two IPAs and an ESB on tap, and he usually has a pale as well. They are Northwest in character, with lots of citrus and bite, but fairly approachable. During the holidays, he had on two winter ales, a big and bigger, that de-emphasize hops for malt and warmth. They are, like the brewery, straightforward and hardworking. Most Oregonians will recognize these beers as variations on very popular themes. As a group, they're above average--not at the Roots/Laurelwood level, but substantially above the McMenamins. Below are some capsule reviews I scribbled out the last time I was there.
ESB - Very nice, balanced ale. Has a good, malty structure and a spicy hop complement. Almost tending toward brown in the glass. A classic English-style ESB. Rating: Excellent.

Porter - The palate is chalky and I get more tannins in the mouth than I would like. The brewery's weakest beer, but, if you like dark ales, perfectly respectable. Rating: average.

Copacetic IPA - Rich, super creamy, sweetly malty with a spritely citrusy hopping. Their strongest beer. Rating: excellent.

Frosty's Revenge (winter seasonal) - A rich, malty beer, akin to a Scottish ale. It's frothy and creamy, and has a touch of diacetyl that's actually a nice note. Rating: good.

Sleighjerker (winter seasonal) - A traditional winter warmer with lots of hops and alcohol (8%). It did end with a sweet note that not everyone at the table found uniformly delightful. I thought it was fine. Rating: good.
Amnesia is one of those great brewpubs that reflects the character of the neighborhood and feels like a happy gathering place for locals. Of course, it's worth a drive, too.


  1. i've never been to's one of those spots i think of occasionally but never when i'm out drinking.

  2. Amnesia is great. Great people. Great staff. Great owners. I was there when they opened and became a regular quickly. I was ruffled to hear you state the beer wasn't the BEST you'd ever had, but then again, it isn't, but it is pretty darn good. I gotta not be defensive about my neighborhood pub.

  3. Brett, in any other city, Amnesia would be a rare gem. But in Beervana....

    Every neighborhood should be so lucky as to have a brewery this nice, though.

  4. Thanks for the nice post!

  5. The ginger stout is truly inspirational...a big hearty beer with a ton of what seems to be chocolate malt. awesome!