Twelve Breweries for Twelve Bridges, Portland Style
In the distant past Portland was known primarily for two things, rain and trees. Then we were known for the Lewis and Clark Expo, then for our parks and city development, then for our vice as one of the last holdouts of the frontier way of life. More recently, Portland has become known for our bridges, for the Trailblazers and the Timbers, for great coffee, and for self-absorbed navel-gazing indie pop. But, most of all, what we’re known for now, is good beer.
Scratch that, not just good beer—excellent, world-class, award-winning, exceptional beer. People move here for the beer. So, in celebration of our arrival as the beer capital of the Western Hemisphere, we present twelve great examples of the best of Portland’s craft breweries—one paired with each of the twelve bridges spanning the Willamette. Note: Older, pioneering craft breweries that are now big enough to get regional or national distribution were left off this list intentionally.
1 – The St. Johns Bridge & Breakside Brewery
Though we tried to craft this list of pairings in a way that each brewery was nearby one or the other end of its bridge, we came up short in looking for a brewery in St. Johns that came anywhere near to the iconic level of the St. Johns Bridge. So, we looked to nearby North and Northeast Portland breweries for a stand-in and landed on Breakside. This anchor point of the revitalization of the Dekum Triangle is currently making some of the hands-down best beers in Portland.
2 – The Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge & StormBreaker Brewing
Having moved into the spot on North Mississippi pioneered by another brewery that shall remain nameless (because they moved to Camas for some reason), StormBreaker has been serving some of North Portland’s best craft beer for the better part of the last five years.
3 – The Fremont Bridge & Ecliptic Brewing
A relative newcomer to the Portland craft-brewing scene, Ecliptic has been constantly improving in their tucked away spot near the east end of the Fremont Bridge. And where else can you learn about astronomy while sampling a variety of some of Portland’s best craft brews.
4 – The Broadway Bridge & Bridgeport Brewing
Well…up above, where we said we weren’t going to include any of the pioneers…we were wrong. The name Bridgeport in and of itself demands a spot on any list of Portland breweries, not to mention that it’s the only brewery on the West Side worthy of a spot on this list and the fact that it arguably the first craft brewery in the city to open its doors way back in the eighties.
5 – The Steel Bridge & Migration Brewing
Migration is one of the best, most laid-back, yet nice enough to bring your in-laws, brew pubs in the whole city. That and it’s happy hour during every Blazers game in this East Glisan spot, they make a fantastic IPA called Luscious Lupulin, and they have one of the best outside seating areas in the city.
6 – The Burnside Bridge & Burnside Brewing
Icon meets icon in this pairing. Burnside Brewing makes excellent beer, but is almost better known for its food these days.
7 – The Morrison Bridge & The Commons Brewery
The Commons is another relative newcomer to the local beer scene. But this spot on SE Belmont has quickly made a name for itself in the local beer scene for having great food and even better beer.
8 – The Hawthorne Bridge & Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.
An old-school Portland brewer that chose to stick with its specialty (Belgian-style ales) and not grow beyond its grasp on quality, Hair of the Dog, near the Eastern terminus of the Hawthorne Bridge, has always been one of the city’s best.
9 – The Marquam Bridge & Baerlic Brewing
While this pairing may be a bit unfair to Baerlic (after all what can be said for the Marquam Bridge other than it’s still standing?), but we wanted to be sure that they were included on the list. They certainly deserve mention for the quality of their gose and CDA beers.
10 – Tilikum Crossing & Apex A Beer Bar
Ok, so this was supposed to be a list of breweries paired with bridges, but this beer bar, Apex, is too good to leave out. So we’re pairing it with the new pedestrian and transit-only Tilikum Crossing. Horse Brass may get all the press and Roscoe’s may attract the foodies (Apex doesn’t have a kitchen), but Apex consistently has the best beer list in the city.
11 – The Ross Island Bridge & Hopworks Urban Brewery
The Ross Island Bridge may not be much to look at, but it will deliver you to one of the best (and most eco-friendly) brewpubs in the city—Hopworks Urban Brewery.
12 – The Sellwood Bridge & Thirteen Virtues Brewing
Where else in the city, other than Thirteen Virtues in the Sellwood neighborhood, can you get a good Philly cheesesteak and drink an excellent house-made beer? Nowhere. That’s where.
Something for Just About Everyone
…unless they don’t like beer. Then this list is a good resource for places to go for food and listen to your non-beer drinking friends and family complain about the lack of non-beer options. For the rest of us, Portland may be just this side of Nirvana, and the beer is a big part of why.