Woodlawn, Slabtown, Milwaukie
An acclaimed multi-purpose brewery that proves “big” doesn’t always equal “bad”
Scaling up can be a herculean task in the brewery world: the risks of losing your soul and/or biting off more than you can chew with clandestine hopes of an InBev buyout are very real, and it’s very rare that an earnest brewpub can stick the landing. And yet Breakside has managed to do so flawlessly, evolving quickly from an unflattering industrial space in Milwaukie to a multi-location behemoth that’s received support and acclaim at every step of the way. Brewmaster Ben Edmunds cranks out far too many amazing beers to even begin to pin down exactly what makes Breakside arguably the best brewery in Portland, but the wall of medals in their aforementioned Milwaukie space points to years of sustained success as a master of all things hoppy, with their namesake IPA taking home gold at GABF in 2014 (and a deluge of similar prizes steadily rolling in ever since). Their first satellite location on Northeast Dekum has the feel of a buzzy neighborhood brewpub minus the try-hard sheen of a more hyper-modern location, while their newish two-story facility in the burgeoning Slabtown neighborhood of Northwest Portland is about as shiny and new as it gets. Both offer a dazzling array of clean and crushable lagers, pilsners, IPAs and assorted other styles, but your best bet is to plan a weekend afternoon around drinking your way through the tap list at the Slabtown spot, as the bulk of their more experimental beers are brewed fresh at that location. We’ve said this before about Breakside, and we will say it again: if you can’t find a beer you like at Breakside, you probably don’t like beer.
Alberta, NW Industrial, Beaverton (coming soon!)
A much-hyped destination for pastry stouts, milkshake IPAs, and all things hazy
Speaking of Haze Bros, Great Notion is Portland’s undisputed go-to for beer nerds whose primary focus is to do it for Untappd and the ‘Gram. Dudes with tricked-out Subarus and mobile dab rigs queue up outside their new Industrial Northwest location at 4am almost every Saturday in anticipation of their latest can release, which is now an event similar in scale to Supreme drops. The transactional nature of this geeky questing can be a buzzkill to casuals who just want to drink a goddamn beer, but it’s important to remember the beer at Great Notion is very, very good. What started as a garage project amongst homebrewer friends to bring the cloudy joy of legendary New England-style hazies like Heady Topper and Julius has evolved rapidly into a two-location powerhouse of all things thicc and juicy. And remarkably, few of their wacky experiments with ingredients like milk sugar, rare fruit and kids cereal are outright flops. Newbies should start with a classic from the Juice series, which initially cast Great Notion front and center in the early arguments regarding the validity of the style. Adjunct-laden hop bombs are perfected and pervasive at Great Notion, and you can’t leave without trying at least one dessert beer like Double Stack -- an imperial stout that releases a cloud of maple syrup and coffee flavor when it arrives at your table -- or one of the many fruit-and-lactose infusions we won’t name here because they’ll probably be sold out by the time this article goes live. Most serious drinkers have already made up their mind about Great Notion and its ilk, so the days of attracting converts are likely behind them. Judging by the crowds at their brewpubs and the flurry of “ISO” comments in their can release posts on Instagram, preaching to the choir is paying off quite handsomely.