Back in Portland yet again for work, I had several evenings free that needed to be filled with food and local craft beer. First up on the list was Zoiglhaus Brewing Company, a relative newcomer to the local beer scene having established their brewhouse in 2015. Modeled after Middle Age Bavarian styles of brewing, Zoiglhaus envisions themselves as a stylized communal brewhouse, a modern echo of that ancient tradition. So, throw on your best lederhosen, lift up a pint, and read on as I give you my take on this New World take of Zoigl tradition.
- Beer – Surprising absolutely no one, the German beer styles dominate the tap list here. The crown jewel is their 2017 GABF winning German pilsner, a reinheitsgebot following, crisp and delicious beer. Being the PNW, of course there are IPAs on the tap list (but only two!) as well as a red ale, but no English or American style offerings to be found. Along with the pilsner, their other offerings were well done and very refreshing after a long day at work, and they certainly reflect a love of this style of beer that shines through on the palate. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – The brewpub is heavily influenced by German beerhall traditions, from communal table seating to its Bavarian-centric food menu. The pub is split into several smaller areas: the large bar and group seating in the middle with more traditional smaller tables and cozy nooks around the periphery. The crown jewel, if you will, is the large skylight that lets in soft, golden warmth that matches the same feeling you get while sipping their beer. The total space is quite large, seating over 200 people, so even on the busiest days I wouldn’t expect too much of a wait. If you are looking for food here, expect German style offerings to dominate, though they do have a few hamburgers for those not looking for sauerkraut. The prices are slightly below what I have come to expect in Portland, and they are open every day from 11 am until 10 pm, affording plenty of time to plan a visit. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – Along with televisions scattered around the room you can find a pool and shuffleboard tables for some heated competitions. As seems to be standard these days, they also host various crafting events (paint your own stein!), yoga + beer, and of course holiday celebrations and Oktoberfest. The most interesting event to me they host is also a unique and wonderful idea: a wort share. You can bring your own carboy and fill it up with wort from their brew day to ferment at home. Makes me wish I lived closer, I would have a dedicated carboy and keg just for these events! Score: 4/5
- Location – Located on the southeast side of Portland in the Lents neighborhood, the brewery is in a light commercial area surrounded by neighborhoods. This part of town has the feel of previous benign neglect that is slowly being remade with new storefronts and a reinvigorated local population. The brewery is easy to find with ample parking, both in their own private lot plus street parking all around. There are even some nice new bike racks out front and a few bus stops close by if that is your preferred travel style. Close by are a smattering of other bars and restaurants, as well as some green spaces, but not much else within walking distance, unless you live here that is. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – It was pretty slow when I stopped in, so I had my server pretty much to myself. Sitting in a booth along the side, I had table service throughout, and was well taken care of. After making small talk and some great suggestions of what to try, my food and drink orders were taken quickly and came out with equal speed. The food was prepared well and cooked as I had requested. All in all, it was a good experience during my visit. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 17.5/25
Favorite Beer: Zoigle-Weiss – 5.2% Hefeweizen
Final Thoughts: A niche brewery in a market that does not have many of this style, I think they manage to pull off a nice interpretation of a German bier hall. I was impressed by their beer and food, as well as the cozy brewpub. Be sure to stop in for a beer and some schnitzel if you are in the area, or even a carboy fill if you happen to have one on hand when they are having those events.