My next set of reviews brings me back to the beer capital of the PNW: Portland, Oregon. In town to pick up my parents from the airport, I decided to squeeze in a few brewery visits while I waited for their plane to land. My first stop was a place where I could get both dinner and a drink at Great Notion Brewing. Crafting IPAs and sours since early 2016, they joined a crowded and ever-growing beer scene in the capital of craft beer. They appear to be doing well as they are planning to open a second location in NW Portland sometime soon. So grab a brew, relax, and read on as I discover if this notion to open another brewery was a good one.
- Beer – Known early on for their juicy IPAs, sours, and stouts, they have stayed mostly true to those styles since opening, though they have started to try their hands at barrel aged beers more recently. Their menu is dominated by IPAs (seriously, there are 10 IPA variants on the menu) and sours, with a couple imperial stouts thrown in the mix, I love the creativity they exhibit in the brews (a sour IPA?!) and they actually made me a sour beer lover with the papaya infused sour. While I really enjoyed all their offerings and admire the creativity, a little more variety would not be amiss. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – Lumberjacks everywhere! From the logo to pictures around the room, the heavy use of wood accents, and even old logging equipment hanging from the walls, the theme is evident throughout the brewery, harkening back to the old days of the PNW. The brewpub is sizable, with numerous tables scattered around a large open room and a decent sized bar at the back that overlooks the brew floor. Outside, there are a handful of tables under a covered patio that looks out on Alberta Street for enjoying the nice Oregon summers and people watching. They do offer a full food menu, mostly pub style food, and it is good! I had the fried chicken sandwich, and not only was the portion huge, the flavors were fantastic. The prices are normal for Portland where the meal will run you around $15, and the price of a 5-5oz flight is the same cost. The tap room is open every day of the week from lunchtime until late, giving you plenty of time to visit. I’d just recommend going hungry so you can enjoy the food. Score: 4/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – Make no mistake, this is more restaurant than taproom, so the entertainment options are somewhat limited to what you bring with you. There are a few televisions for big games, and they do have tons of beer release and fundraising events on their schedule. Just don’t expect much in the way of live music and I did not see any board games that can be played. Score: 2/5
- Location – Located on Alberta Street, one of the many trendy and hip places in Portland, afford you lots of options when stopping in. While the brewery does serve food, if you do not find anything that suits you on the menu there are lots of other options within walking distance, from pubs to upscale restaurants, to dive bars and food trucks. The brewery can be a little difficult to find as they do not have much in the way of signage out on the main street and the entrance is hidden behind a food truck and their outdoor seating area, so keep an eye out for the sign with directions on the sidewalk. If you drive, parking is limited to whatever you can find on the street, and the surrounding area is heavily residential so good luck. Its Portland though, so biking, walking, and public transit are all options. On the plus side, there is an adorable massage cart parked right outside the brewery if you need some work done while you are there. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – The customer service stood out here, mostly because of how busy the place was yet how quickly I was seated and served. With table service and a larger, full restaurant, they did a great job of checking in frequently, bringing drinks and food swiftly, and in general just being very nice and friendly. Well done! Score: 4/5
Total Score: 16/25
Favorite Beer: I Love It When You Call Me Big Papaya – 6.5% Sour
Final Thoughts: I never thought I would see the day when my favorite beer was a sour! Its hard to stand out in a place like Portland, but I think Great Notion will continue to do so if they keep crafting such good beers. I definitely recommend stopping in anytime you are in town and seeing what new beer notion they have come up with.