Food & Drink

The 10 best craft breweries in Oregon, according to science

Published On 07/02/2014 Published On 07/02/2014

If there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's that Seattle sucks (obviously!)... and that Oregon brewers make some of America's most essential beers. Unfortunately, not everyone can agree on which of the state's beer makers are actually best, so we turned to an unexpected source for help: SCIENCE.

Yup, the Thrillist Beer Appreciation Team (TBAT for short) developed a top-secret, patent-pending formula for ranking breweries (actually it's not that secret, get the details below). Weighing factors such as performances on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate, beer competition medals, and other accolades, the formula declared these 10 suds slingers to be the finest in all of Oregon.

Flickr/Chris Scott

10. BridgePort Brewing Co., 16 pts
1984, Portland

Founded by winemakers, BridgePort is Oregon’s oldest craft brewery (full disclosure: this makes us feel old), and despite not taking gold at the World Beer Cup since 2006, it manages to make the top 10 by virtue of a solid beer line-up that still makes their Pearl brewpub a popular suds-ing destination.

Key Beers: IPA, Blue Heron Pale Ale


9. Hair of the Dog Brewery, 24 pts
1993, Portland

The smallest brewery on the list, Hair of the Dog earns its spot not by turning out a high quantity of suds, but by making high-quality and extremely creative brews. These guys have been barrel aging beers since 1994, and they were one of the first breweries in America to specialize in high-alcohol (up to 12.5%), bottle-conditioned beers, almost all of which are named after the people who inspired them, like Bob, and Adam, and Lila. Seriously.

Key Beers: Fred, Dave


8. Full Sail Brewing Co., 28 pts
1987, Hood River

Oregon's second largest craft brewery is probably best known for their line of stubbies, but session-style brews aren't the only thing they’re making over in Hood River: Full Sail puts out quality seasonals (and until recently thousands of barrels of local favorite Henry Weinhard's) that you can score at their tasting room right on the Columbia River.

Key Beers: Session Black Lager, Wassail Winter Ale

Flickr/Baker County Tourism

7. Barley Brown's Brew Pub, 33 pts
1998, Baker City

A little-known brewery in a little-known town, Barley Brown’s is a surprise addition to this list. But after tallying the scores (and tasting the beer) there’s a reason every Oregonian should be planning a road trip to Baker City. These blue collar guys are making quality beer without pretense, something hard to find in the big city.

Key Beers: Palette Jack IPA, Shredder’s Wheat

Flickr/Dan O'Leary

6. Bend Brewing Company, 33 pts
1995, Bend

Overlooking Mirror Pond (a name you’re sure to see again in this list…), this accolade-heavy brewpub is perfectly happy serving next-level nachos and bacon mac & cheese on their patio outside. Upstairs they're crafting a limited amount (less than 1,000 barrels a year) of award-winning, hand-labeled, and hand-bottled suds.

Key Beers: Ching Ching American Sour, Wicked Medicine

Flickr/Sean Davis

5. Laurelwood Public House & Brewery, 44 pts
2001, Portland

Helmed by a pair of beer-and-each-other-lovers, this fast-growing brewery is turning out a wide range of signature and seasonal brews designed to please every palate, that is, when it's not opening new brewpub locations around Portland (and... sigh... even Washington). And the best part? Each location features small batches indigenous to that pub, giving you a great reason to visit them all.

Key Beers: Motherlode Golden Ale, Free Range Red Ale


4. Widmer Brothers Brewing Co., 66 pts
1984, Portland

Often maligned because of its size (it was once the nation's largest draft-only brewery, and is now the ninth largest in the US), Widmer should at least be credited for introducing the Hefeweizen to the masses... and for pouring a selection of suds that is varied and approachable. And consistently good.  

Key Beers: Drop Top Amber, Hefeweizen

Rogue Ales

3. Rogue Ales Brewery, 83 pts
1988, Ashland

Famous for their inventive, fun branding and often offbeat flavors, Rogue Ales are not only beers that stand out on their own, but are meant to be paired with food -- hence outlandish-sounding brews like the New Crustacean Barleywineish Imperial IPA Sorta, or the Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale.

Key Beers: Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Smoke Ale

Pelican Brewing Company

2. Pelican Pub & Brewery, 99 pts
1996, Pacific City

Speaking of pairing food with beer, Pelican makes its name on the Oregon coast by offering some of the best food paired with some of the state’s best beer. It is not as well known as many of the breweries you’ve seen here, and definitely not as large, but Pelican focuses on top-notch brews that recently took the World Beer Cup by storm after tidying up at the North American Beer Awards.

Key Beers: Kiwanda Cream Ale, Stormwatcher’s Winterfest

Flickr/Ethan Prater

1. Deschutes Brewery, 109 pts
1988, Bend

Owned by its employees, and available in half of the states in the US (and two Canadian provinces), this relatively massive craft brew slinger got that way by focusing on sustainability and community... and by providing said community with badass beers made by using state-of-the-art tools in their brewery on the banks of the Deschutes River.

Key Beers: Obsidian Stout, Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Here's how we awarded the points:

Awards for individual beers
Each beer in the BeerAdvocate 250 or RateBeer 100: 3pts
Medals in The Great American Beer Festival or World Beer Cup since 2004: 3pts Gold, 2pts Silver, 1pt Bronze

Recognition for breweries overall
Prominent outlets have published Best Breweries in America lists of different lengths, so we awarded 10 points for a top-10 finish, 9 points for an 11-20 finish, and so forth (no list is longer than 100) for appearances on recent best brewery lists from RateBeer, Paste, and The Daily Meal.

This list -- and all the rest -- look even sexier in our iPhone app. Get it now!

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1. BridgePort Brewery & Brewpub 1313 NW Marshall St, Portland, OR 97209 (Pearl District)

Bridgeport Brewery & Brewpub features six of its most popular beers on tap, as well as a mouthwatering selection of gourmet twists on pub classics such as the Bridgeport Burger and Cuban pork sandwich.

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2. Hair of the Dog Brewery 61 SE Yamhill St, Portland, OR 97214 (Se Portland)

Hair of the Dog works to obtain local ingredients for all of its brews, which is great for the community. It's also great for the people who drink their beers, with 8 on-tap selections to choose from at their taproom. Growler refills are available for 5 of them, in case you're the kind of person who likes to stock up for the winter.

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3. Full Sail Brewing Co. 506 Columbia St, Hood River, OR 97031

Full Sail is the second largest craft brewery in Oregon. It puts out quality seasonal brews and thousands of barrels of the local favorite Henry Weinhards.

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4. Barley Brown's Brew Pub 2190 Main St, Baker City, OR 97814

This small brewery in a small town is worth a road trip. The beer is made just right, and the Palette Jack IPA or Shredder’s Wheat are the must-try beers on the menu.

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5. Bend Brewing Company 1019 NW Brooks St, Bend, OR 97701

Bend Brewing, overlooking Mirror Pond, is a local favorite, and others are noticing as it's consistently showing in festivals and national events. Be sure to try Ching Ching American Sour or Wicked Medicine.

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6. Laurelwood Public House & Brewery 5115 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97213 (Ne Portland)

Laurelwood is the perfect family spot (or spot to watch families actually behave), because there's something for everyone. They feature an impressive amount of seasonal brews, and fresh-ingredient pub food.

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7. Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. 929 N Russell St, Portland, OR 97227 (N Portland)

Widmer Brothers is capable of filling 300 kegs per hour, which, if you're keeping track at home, is a lot of kegs. The Gasthaus Pub features an assortment of German-inspired dishes, and the banquet facility on the second floor has three separate rooms with a combined area of 2,818 square feet.

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8. Rogue Ales Brewery on the Bay 2320 SE Osu Dr, Newport, OR 97365

Rogue Ales are not only beers that stand out on their own, but ones meant to be paired with food, which explains why there are so many brewpub pairing options. Stick with the Hazelnut Brown Nectar or Smoke Ale.

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9. Pelican Pub & Brewery 33180 Cape Kiwanda Dr, Pacific City, OR 97135

Even though it isn't as big as other breweries, with brews like Kiwanda Cream Ale and Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, Pelican Pub & Brewery is making a name for itself by offering some of the state's best food and beer pairings.

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10. Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House 210 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209 (Nw Portland)

Drop in to sample the 18 varieties of beer on tap, as well as the selection of seasonal and experimental brews created onsite. You can also bring your own growler and fill it with your favorite hoppy beverage, although there are growlers for purchase if you're not already cool enough to own one.



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