Up in Portland to pick my parents up from the airport, we decided to stop in to a nearby brewpub for some lunch after their long flight from the east coast. As luck would have it, Laurelwood was close by and open for business. Founded in 2001, at one time they had 5 brewpubs in the surroundings area, including one in the airport, but that number has since shrunk to just their main brewing facility in northeast Portland. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this adventure through a long-time member of the PNW beer scene.
- Beer – I have had many of their beers before, both at local bars and ones I’ve picked up from the store. Their tap list is a nice mix of year-round and rotating options with a decent spread of styles. No surprise in the PNW but hop profiles really underpin most of their beers from the IPAs to the porters and stouts. Don’t sleep on their red ale either, with a balanced profile of yeast, hop, and malt flavors it really shines as an example of their brewer’s skills. Regardless of what you decide to drink, you won’t be disappointed here. Score: 3/5
- Brewery – Dim lighting and exposed duct work, combined with dark, rich wood throughout the pub give Laurelwood a cozy feeling. In keeping with the more restaurant aesthetic, the brewpub is arranged with a large table seating area on one half of the floor and a large bar with additional seating around it in the other half. A small play area for kids implies a friendliness to the tiny gremlins (I should have brought mine along to test it out) and a small outdoor seating area is at the back of the restaurant. The most unique thing about Laurelwood, and one I wish I had more time to actually try my hand at, is the axe throwing area. Off to one side of the building are three galleys with netting and targets where you can try your hand at a sport I can only assume started with Vikings. Or, if you prefer tamer options, they do offer a full food menu that was entirely pub fare but delicious with large portion sizes. Though the main pub is open every day from lunch until late, check the website if you are looking to get in one the axe throwing action as they have very specific hours for tossing. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – Aside from the axe throwing, the other main form of entertainment here are the televisions scattered around the bar for watching Timbers games or whatever other sporting event is on. As one would expect, they host axe throwing competitions as well as things like yoga + beer, trivia, beer release parties, and paint + pints events. Add in charity events and 5k runs and there is a little something for everyone here. At some point I am going to have to come back to toss an axe or two. Score: 3.5/5
- Location – Being in the heart of Northeast Portland’s Hollywood district, or just Portland in general, makes for an ideal location to have a brewery. Within walking distance are numerous shops, restaurants, and green spaces. By car or public transit, you have the entirety of Portland to explore, be it culture, food, or more craft beer. Laurelwood is easy to find, just keep an eye out for the signs. Parking is available in their own lot behind the brewery as well as ample street parking all around. Score: 4/5
- Customer Service – Though busy, our server managed to check in often and keep our drinks refilled. The food and beer were delivered quickly and overall the entire experience was pleasant. Exactly what I would hope for when taking my parents to their first Portland brewery. Score: 3.5/5
Total Score: 17.5/25
Favorite Beer: Workhorse – 6.7% IPA
Final Thoughts: Yet another strong offering in the Portland beer scene, and one with a unique element to their tap room. I certainly recommend stopping by if you are in the area and be on the lookout for their beers in stores around you. I know I will be back so I can try my hand at the axe throwing next time I am in the area.