The next stop in Portland was at Old Town Brewing and Pizza, and interesting little joint with a unique back story. This brewery and pizzeria has two locations, one in the heart of downtown Portland in a former hotel dating back to the late 1800s and another, newer location in northwest Portland, where the beer brewing actually happens. I stopped in at the NE location, however either spot will serve their brews and pies. While the pizzeria dates back to the 70s, they have been crafting small batch beers since around 2011, winning awards and a growing fan base. So, grab a beer and a slice of pizza and relax as I regale you with my night out on the town.
- Beer – The tap list is small, yet contains a decent amount of variety, with a nice mix of year-round and seasonal offerings and an amazingly small number of IPAs. Where I give them the most credit is the pure creativity they show. Brews like an elder flower lager, or a breakfast stout with chocolate, maple syrup, coffee, and coconut can be found on their menu. Or how about an altbier beer brewed with candy cap mushrooms? Not only are they creative, but the beers are solid, smooth drinking, and well made. Brewed in small batches, you are likely to find something new every time, making me wish I lived closer to Portland. I can see why they have won several awards for their creations and suspect they will continue to do so. Score: 4/5
- Brewery – I visited the NE brewpub, so this section focuses on that location, not the allegedly haunted downtown spot (seriously, check out their website for the full story). A modern exterior belies a turn of the century feel to the tap room here. Moderately sized, it still feels cozy, almost saloon-like with its large fireplace and wood and glass bar accented bar. About a dozen or so tables are scattered around the downstairs, with more up a flight of stairs that overlooks the main floor, and the aforementioned bar provide ample seating. A small outdoor patio allows for enjoyment of those elusive sunny days in the PNW. Their food menu is of course mostly pizza, though they do offer some beer themed pasta and sub dishes with prices that are surprisingly reasonable for Portland. Open from lunch until late every day and offering great happy hour deals, Old Town needs to be on everyone’s list when visiting. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – At the NE location, a few televisions downstairs and a large screen upstairs are available for watching the Blazers or some other sporting event while enjoying a pint. In addition, with two locations there are numerous live events held at the brewery and the downtown location. From new beer releases to Super Bowl parties to tours of the old tunnels under the downtown location, there are lots of interesting and exciting events to be found on their schedule, though I see no mention of live music nor did I see any pub or lawn games. Score: 2.5/5
- Location – As with most areas of Portland, there is no lack for other things around this brewery. Within walking distance, you will find several other excellent breweries and plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, with countless others only a short car ride away. Aside from ample street parking, they also have a large parking lot, though the public transit and bike friendly nature almost make driving more of a hassle. The only caveat I will give is that you must look closely for the leaping stag sign, it is high and on the small side, and you might miss it if you don’t pay attention. Score: 4/5
- Customer Service – Seated quickly at the bar, I had a great conversation with the bar keep who made some excellent recommendations and frequently checked in on me and everyone else seated there. Orders were taken swiftly, the food and drinks came out in a reasonable amount of time, and in general it seemed as though everyone was well taken care of here. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 18/25
Favorite Beer: Dark Helmet – 5.2% Lager
Final Thoughts: I enjoyed my visit to the Old Town brewpub and would like to make a stop at their downtown location next time I am in town. I would certainly recommend adding Old Town Brewing to your list of places to visit in Portland. As long as they keep coming up with creative and innovative ideas for new beers, I see them being around for a while.