A Beer Lover's 48 Hour Guide to Portland

By Ethan Fixell |

© Ethan Fixell

If you only have 48 hours in Portland – regularly cited as the city with the most breweries of any in the world – you'd better love beer. Because you're going to drink a hell of a lot of it in a short amount of time.

Of course, we cannot live on beer alone, so there are also plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and wine bars in the tour curated below. This isn't the only way to do the city in two days, but it's the jam-packed (arguably insane) path I chose to take – and I couldn't have been happier with my decision.

One quick disclaimer: Portland beer geeks might bemoan the fact that this schedule neglects fantastic breweries such as Gigantic, Upright, and Base Camp – all of which certainly deserve a visit. But given the tight time constraints, some locations are more difficult to get to (or visit during open hours) than others. My apologies to these selected few.

And perhaps most importantly, you're going to need a sufficient headquarters for this journey: I strongly suggest the Hotel Vintage Portland. Not only is the hip, boutique hotel conveniently located right in the center of downtown — like all Kimpton properties, it has a nightly complimentary wine hour, and also a killer bar (which we'll get to shortly). Use your sweet digs to rest up: You're gonna need it.


MAP (First 10 stops)

9:30 AM – Heart Coffee Roasters

537 Southwest 12th Avenue

Start your Portland journey off the right way: heavily caffeinated. To do so, you need only wander five minutes from your hotel to Heart, a clean, modern coffee spot offering a most excellent cuppa joe. But no matter how delicious their pastries might look, save your appetite for your next stop…

10:00 AM – Blue Star Donuts

1237 Southwest Washington Street

Portland is not only a beer and coffee town; it's a doughnut town, too. And while Voodoo might be the "original" Portland doughnut shop, I believe Blue Star is number one. Fortify yourself for the long day ahead with an Orange Olive Oil donut, a comparatively healthy counterbalance to the Cointreau Crème Brûlée or Maple Bacon treat you'll likely stuff your face with first.

11:00 AM – Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House

210 Northwest 11th Avenue

Deschutes – the second largest brewery in Oregon –has a rich brewing history that dates back to 1988 in nearby Bend. Arriving at their downtown outpost at 11AM, you'll want to focus on dark beers, starting with Black Butte Porter — the most popular of its style in the U.S. — and ending with The Abyss, a 12% ABV barrel-aged imperial stout. Take it easy, though – you've still got 46 hours to go.

12:30 PM – Pine Street Market

126 SW 2nd Avenue

Bring your early afternoon buzz to Pine Street Market, a one-stop-shop for tasty lunch-things. Nine independent vendors sling everything from Spanish (Pollo Bravo), to Israeli (Shalom Y'All), to Japanese (Marukin Ramen), and it's all good.

2:00 PM – Water Avenue Coffee

1028 Southeast Water Avenue #145

If it's nice out and you're feeling good, you can hoof it over the Morrison Bridge to Water Avenue Coffee (if not, treat yourself to your first Uber of the day). This preferred spot of locals makes one mean single origin espresso, which you'll need to keep you awake at your next stop, home of the most intense beer in town…

2:30 PM – Hair of the Dog Brewing

61 Southeast Yamhill Street

Though the brewpub – a former ice machine factory – is only six years old, Hair of the Dog's legendary owner, Alan Sprints, has brewed more than 100 beers over the last two decades. Standouts include Lila — made with 30 pounds of Oregon cherries, From the Wood— a rotating barrel aged selection, and Dave — a 29.00 percent ABV barleywine available for a cool $1500. (Bring your checkbook.)

4:00 PM – Cascade Brewing Barrel House

939 Southeast Belmont Street

Like Hair of the Dog, Cascade's taproom is also only six years old, but the brand has been brewing world-class barrel-soured beers since 1998. Cascade uses fresh, northwestern fruit to make Kriek (aged on bing and pie cherries), The Vine (wheat and blonde ales refermented with grape juice), and Honey Ginger Lime (spiced rye ale aged with candied and fresh ginger). It's the perfect brewery for wine lovers.

5:30 PM – Baerlic Brewing

2235 Southeast 11th Avenue

Whimsy, discovery, and puns abound at this two-year-old experimental brewpub, ("Does a Baerlic in the woods?" reads one of the t-shirts for sale on one wall). The small, neat taproom offers beer ranging from a classic cream ale made with basmati rice, to a silky oatmeal pilsner. Baerlic is all about breaking the rules with a subtle wink.

7:00 PM – Division Winemaking Company

2425 SE 35th Place 

Enjoy a brief respite from barley at one of the best urban wineries in the country. Tom Monroe and Kate Norris opened Division Wines in 2010 after studying winemaking in the Loire Valley. By 2012, they'd founded the Southeast Wine Collective, an incubator for small local labels. About 50 percent of SWC's output (~ 4,000 cases) is skillfully made by Division, but pretty much anything that comes out of this small but mighty wine commune is worth a try.

8:30 PM – Hopworks Urban Brewery

2944 Southeast Powell Boulevard

Hopworks may be known for fantastic hop work in pale ales and IPAs, but it’s green in another important way. It’s one of the most environmentally friendly breweries in Portland. Not to mention it produces excellent lager, stout, wheat beer, and cider. To whet your appetite for dinner, order house-made beer pretzels with HUB Lager mustard or a Going Green Calzone and prepare to be amazed.

9:30 PM – Clyde Common

1014 SW Stark Street

Hopefully you didn't over-app at Hopworks, because a killer dinner is to be had at Clyde Common, where lamb, rabbit sausage, and rainbow trout star alongside local vegetables and artisanal cheeses (try the grilled Adelle…no relation to the singer). Best of all, the bar is managed by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the innovative mixologist best known for his oaky barrel-aged cocktails (like the delicious gin negroni, aged for six weeks in Tuthilltown whiskey casks).

10:30 PM – Bacchus Bar @ Hotel Vintage Portland

422 SW Broadway

Back at the no-frills bar in the lobby of your own hotel, ask Geoff ­– the longest tenured bartender – to whip up "The Payback," a take on a Manhattan that includes Templeton Rye, Cardamaro, Cocchi Americano, and black walnut bitters over an espresso ice cube. It evolves in the glass, with different aromas and flavors surfacing the longer you sit with it (but don't sit too long -- you've got another big day ahead of you).



MAP (First 10 stops)

9:00 AM – Nossa Familia Coffee

1319 Northwest Johnson Street

You had a big day yesterday, so best to start your second day with a hot cup of Full Cycle, Nossa Familia's medium-roasted signature blend. Come back on your next trip on a Tuesday at 12pm to enjoy one of their free cuppings and learn how they source, evaluate, and roast the Brazilian, Guatemalan, or Nicaraguan beans that go into each cup.

10:00 AM – Broder Nord

2240 North Interstate Ave. Suite 160

Café Broder is the Scandinavian brunch spot beloved by locals and visitors alike (beware the lines…oh, the lines!). At Broder Nord, the Café's first satellite location, you'll forget you ever gave a crap about biscuits or eggs benedict; the Swedish Hash with smoked trout is a must, but you can't go wrong with any of the international variations on egg scrambles, pancakes, or fritters.

12:00 PM – The Commons Brewery

630 SE Belmont Street

Commons owner Mike Wright makes excellent Belgian, German, and French-influenced farmhouse ales in a beautiful old-world style taproom that reflects the traditionalism of the labels on his large format 750ml bottles. Wright favors yeast-forward brews with subtle malt and hop flavors, but has recently ventured into lager territory with an incredibly impressive pilsner and kettle sour.

1:30 PM – Coava Coffee Roasters

1300 SE Grand Avenue

What, did you think you'd escape Portland without at least one more coffee stop? You must pick up an early afternoon espresso or pour-over before lunch at the most impressively laid out coffee tasting room in the city. Coava's "brew bar" is a beautiful, airy, sunny space that has to be seen. Oh yeah, and the coffee they roast on premises ain't bad, either... (It's fantastic, actually.)

2:00 PM – Olympia Provisions Southeast

107 SE Washington Street

Portland's first salumeria is the place for charcuterie in town – and perhaps the best place for a meat-centric lunch of any kind. Go for the Chef's Choice Charcuterie board for the greatest hits, and a mixed green salad to keep your doctor at bay. When you return home, visit their online retail site to order your favorite meat treats – everything from salamis to sausages to pâté.

4:00 PM – Coopers Hall

404 SE 6th Avenue

What better way to wash down all those pig parts than with a nice glass of Oregon pinot? A former auto body shop that looks more like a well-decorated airplane hangar, Coopers Hall is the first Portland winery / taproom to offer its own kegged wine. It’s some of the best Oregon Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris one can find for the money.

5:00 PM – Culmination Brewing

2117 NE Oregon Street

After expressing my love for Commons Brewing, legendary Portland beer writer Jeff Alworth gave me the heads up on this brand new yeast-forward brewery. Owner Tomas Sluiter has been brewing for well over a decade, and his Phaedrus IPA and Red Saison are especially quaffable – but expect to hear about Culmination's wild beers and sours in the years to come.

6:30 PM – Breakside Brewery

820 NE Dekum Street

Head brewer Ben Edmunds is an encyclopedic brewing genius equally obsessed with beer culture and balanced brewing: "Drinkability is the single most important part of a beer," he claims. Proving this notion are brews like his Lunch Break session IPA, Smoked Porter, and Breakside's flagship IPA, which won gold at GABF last year.

8:00 PM – Great Notion Brewing

2204 NE Alberta Street #101

Feeling homesick for the northeast? Great Notion is the only Portland brewery focusing on "New England style" IPAs (read: balanced, minimally bitter, hazy India pale ales). In addition to Juice Box (made with 100 percent mosaic hops) and Juice Jr. (a lower ABV version of the former), this wilderness-themed, family friendly brewery also has some lovely kettle sours and breakfast stouts.

9:00 PM – Aviary

1733 NE Alberta Street

If I had to pick only one restaurant to visit while in Portland – it'd be Aviary. Not only is it a great representation of the diversity and range of cuisine available in Portland, but goddamn is the food good. Applying "classic French techniques to exotic Eastern flavors," owner and chef Sarah Pliner whips up dishes like fried chicken skin salad, slow roasted goose, and sweet potato noodles.

10:30 PM – Salt & Straw

2035 NE Alberta Street

If you have any room in that overstuffed stomach of yours, limp down the street to the original of three Salt & Straw locations for a fresh ice cream nightcap. Tantalizing seasonal flavors come and go (Caramel Corn on the Cob! Green Fennel & Maple!), but the shop offers a few year-round selections such as Honey Lavender and Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon that are dependable go-tos.

11:00 PM – APEX

1216 SE Division Street

Finally, hop in an Uber to APEX, a no-frills cash-only beer garden that earns its Soup Nazi-esque rules (don't you dare ask them to turn down that Slayer album) with an incomparable tap and bottle list. Come here to try beers from all of the incredible Portland breweries you didn't get a chance to visit this time around, and to clinch, with certainty, a devastating hangover on your flight home tomorrow.


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