Beer near here: Beer Guide II

You suspected it. We’ve confirmed it. North Portland IS one of the state’s nexuses of brewing talent. “A world-class home-brewing community,” says Sam Holloway, a University of Portland business professor who studies the beer industry. Oregon has a high-quality water supply and brewers have close relationships with local growers, Holloway explains.

North Portland has more than 50 taverns and taprooms from Linnton to Mississippi Avenue. To help you find beverage treasures, we’ve reassembled our crack team of researchers to recommend tap beer experiences for you. We trekked to a dozen North Portland bistros in our last issue (check at NorthPeninsulaReview.com) and are back this month, thirsty for more. Check out these gems.

Pouring draft beer at Urban German in Cathedral Park neighborhood
Pouring draft beer at Urban German in Cathedral Park neighborhood

ST. JOHNS

St. Johns Beer Porch food-cart courtyard
7316 N Lombard St, 503-267-8680, 12 pm-8pm, Sun–Thurs; 12pm–9pm, Fri & Sat

The tantalizing aroma of Japanese pot stickers, vegan chicken and the hiss of sizzling meat create a sensory experience inside the St. Johns Beer Porch food-cart courtyard. Place your order at the Thai, Tibetan, Greek, Mexican and other vendors, and then take a seat at the Beer Porch where manager Debbie has ten draft beer selections, three hard ciders, and treats for your four-legged pet. 

The rotating choices of local and regionally brewed selections often include the popular Fortside Orange Whip Hazy IPA and malty Rosenstadt Schwarzbier. “On summer days we’ll often ‘blow out’ (sell) a keg a day,” Debbie said. Notable coming attractions include Baerlic Brewing’s “Dad Beer Lager” special on Father’s Day.

The customers are both neighbors and a steady stream of tourists at nearby AIRBNBs. “We’re like a little community here,” she says, “it’s very chill.”

The Fixin’ To
8218 N Lombard St, 503-477-4995, 4pm-2am daily

Arkansas-reared owner Bart Blasengame has created one of the city’s liveliest music venues. The best-selling beer-shot combo is a swallow of Old Crow and an Old German lager tallboy that would floor a Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman. Its wealthier cousin is the “Fancy Lad,” a belt of Jameson whiskey and a Rainier. The ambitious can also simulate a lunar launch with the Mexi-German (well tequila & Old German), Old Crow and house-made horseradish vodka served with pickle-backs.

The ambiance has rural Southern bones including a mug shot of former American corrections system jailbird Johnny Cash. The food is also Delta-influenced. “The Frito Pie is our bread and butter and will put my child through college, but the homemade brisket tacos are also killer,” Bart opines.

The Fixin’ To has brought national and international acts and local legends including Stephen Malkmus (Pavement) and The Gossip. Treasured moments include when former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic hung his famous bass from the chandelier while the audience strummed the strings. “Horrifying and exhilarating,” Bart regales. (See top music listings in NPR June edition page 11).

Your Inn Tavern
7004 N Catlin, 503-285-0420, 11am-9pm, Mon-Fri; 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun

City planners for decades have zoned taverns to commercial areas, but the 101-year-old Your Inn Tavern is a charming exception. It’s grandfathered into a vintage residential neighborhood on a slope overlooking the Willamette River. Second-generation family owner, Denver Skalbeck, grew up in St. Johns and still lives two blocks away from the cracker-box-sized tavern. The venue features nine draft beers. We particularly enjoyed the lemony, tangy aptly-named Straight out of Portland IPA. The menu is ambitious with creative daily specials.

No tavern in the city is closer to the maritime muscle of Portland’s working harbor. Longshoremen are regular customers. Skalbeck remembers notable times “When a cargo ship arrived at the Toyota port and we’d have 30 longshoremen here for lunch.” The dockworkers, Rivergate crews and neighbors make a merry mix. “Here,” Skalbeck says, “everybody really does know your name.” 

Mosaic Taproom,
7955 N Lombard St, 3-9 pm Mon, 2-10 pm Tues, 2-10 pm Wed & Thur, 2-11 pm Fri, 12-11 pm Sat, and 12-10 pm Sun

Mosaic is one of the newest taprooms in North Portland. Owners and married partners, Jarek and Laurence Oliver, believe that beer can unite cultures and hope their own queer and Filipino identities can foster that. Watch their tap rotation for their San Miguel brewery Pale Pilsner that one panelist described as “Sweet, malty; it tastes like a cold beer you’d drink in a boat on a hot day.” Check out the Fieldworld IPA, too.

Mosaic Taphouse
Mosaic Taphouse

KENTON

The Kenton Club
2024 N Kilpatrick St, 503-285-3718, noon to 2am 

Hollywood execs once scoured America to find an atmosphere-rich setting to film key scenes for “Kansas City Bomber” starring Raquel Welch, the American film industry tribute to women’s roller derby. They found their cinematic answer at the Kenton Club. While Ms. Welch’s good looks created unrequited interest among some North Portlanders back then, your interest in the Kenton Club need not be unrequited. Nine taps include Boneyard IPA, 54’ 40’ kolsch and, of course, Pabst. The live music is so good, they do a cover charge. (See top listings on North Peninsula Review June edition page 11).

Mayfly Taproom
8350 N Fenwick St, 503-206-8034. 2pm-10pm Tues-Thurs; 12pm-10pm Fri & Sat; 10am -9pm Sun. Closed Monday

Find the giant Paul Bunyan statue at North Denver and Interstate, and follow the fresh beer aroma across the street to the Mayfly. Local owner Ryan Born describes it as “a taproom in Kenton, built by Kenton.” It was bustling the night we stopped by. Customers exuberantly vouched for the Oregon-brewed Block 15 and Kings and Daughters drafts. Why the Mayfly name? The answer is the bistro’s motto. “A Mayfly is a beautiful aquatic insect that, as an adult, lives for less than a day. Life is short! Be good. Have fun.” Kids are allowed until 6 pm daily. 

ARBOR LODGE / OVERLOOK / HUMBOLDT / MISSISSIPPI

Bottles & Cans /Arborlook Food Carts
5916 N Greeley Ave, Noon-9pm daily

You know a beer garden is unquestionably family friendly when the owner Evan Ross cradles his 16-month-old daughter while talking with you. The vibe is as relaxed as a lazy summer day in your own backyard. Standouts in the ten-taps rotation include the Matchless Hazy IPA, the silky, chocolate Nitro Stout, Silver Falls Porter and the cider-like Threshold lager. 

Bottles and Cans beer sampler
Bottles and Cans beer sampler

The community-spirited Ross lives three blocks away, and his activism includes stocking Grand Fir Brewing’s Undergrowth Pale Ale, a collaboration with Oregon Wild to help protect Oregon’s old growth forests and wild rivers. We recommend the amazingly beer-like, non-alcoholic drafts and the Cannabrew Organic grapefruit seltzer. There are more than 1.000 beers, wines and cider. Stop by and check it out.

Double Mountain Overlook Tap Room
1700 N Killingsworth, 503-206-4405, 12–9pm Mon-Thurs; 12-10pm Fri & Sat; 12- 9pm Sun

The hole left by Lucky Lab’s closure at this same location in 2021 has been successfully filled by Double Mountain Brewery’s bustling tap room. The Hood River brewers serve 18 taps of their elixirs. The Hop Lion and Hop Lava IPAs brought down the house at our table. The Black Irish Nitro sweetly tasted of vanilla and coffee. Japanese-style rice lager was clean and crisp. Lots of ciders with apples, cherries and pears that Double Mountain grows themselves.

The Alibi Restaurant & Lounge
4024 N Interstate Ave, 503-287-5335, 11:30am-2:30am daily

Save yourselves the $10,000 bucks for a Hawaiian vacation and get a $3 Light Rail ticket to The Alibi, the city’s premier Polynesian tiki bar. Ferns, tropical flowers, exotic beers and flaming drinks: Portland author Chuck Palahniuk loves this place and writes of it in his book “Fugitives and Refugees.”

McMenamins Chapel Pub
430 N Killingsworth, 503-286-0372, 11am-10pm Mon-Sat; 11am-9pm Sun

Soak in gorgeous architecture and elegant landscaping with chandeliers, mahogany bars, crackling fireplace, foliage-ensconced patios, fire pits and lanterns. A dozen taps of signature McMenamins-brewed beverages await you including Boysenberries Are My Superpower Sour Ale and their signature Irish Stout.

Prost
4237 N Mississippi Ave, 503-954-2674, 11am-2:30 am daily

Prost means “cheers” in German and there’s a lot to cheer about here with 11 tap beers. “All German, all the time,” their bartender says. The menu is similarly so. Pronounce and savor the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel with its fruity freshness and hints of banana, harmonized with roasted malt.

Arbor Beer Lodge & Brewery
6550 N Interstate Ave, 503-286-0343, 4-1pm Tuesday; 12-10pm Wed-Sat; 12-8pm Sun

This one is easy to miss with its set-back location on N. Interstate Avenue, but worth the stop. Three neighborhood families pooled together to create a pocket-sized brewery that pumps out two meritorious beers at a time, sold on site. They’ve teamed up with a vegan food cart and will be hosting a monthly street fair this summer in the side alley.