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Portland is the proclaimed beer capital of the world, affectionately deemed "Beervana" and "Munich on the Willamette," boasting 35 craft breweriesoperating within city limits.
That's more than any other city in the world. Bumper stickers across town toast to Brewtopia with catchy slogans: Just Brew It and SNOBs (Supporters of Native Oregon Beer). Besides a notoriously misty climate conducive to the brewpub culture, the region is fertile with the essential ingredients that are needed to make high-quality beer, and is surrounded by the largest hop-growing regions in the United States. Fourteen varieties of hops are grown in the nearby Willamette Valley, and Oregon is overall the second-largest hop-growing state in the country.
The Portland metro area triumphs as the largest craft brewing market in the nation. The granddaddy breweries BridgePort Brewing Company and Widmer Brothers Brewing are still landmark institutions—but the future tastes hoppy good with the new generation of brewers emerging.
Bailey's Taproom in downtown Portland, is a shrine to artisan beer featuring 20 constantly rotating taps of hard-to-find craft ales and lagers, spotlighting Oregon breweries. The beers change so frequently that the Tap Room sends out Twitter and blog posts for devotees to follow. 213 Southwest Broadway, OR. 503/295-1004. www.baileystaproom.com.
Whether you're thirsty for a pale ale or an over-the-top stout, Portland breweries will tap it. Bountiful throughout the city, it is close to impossible to pick favorites. But if we had to—here are some of our top picks ranging from traditional to avant-garde.
BridgePort Brewpub + Bakery : Visit the oldest microbrewery in Portland, a beautiful brick-and-ivy building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Their heritage beer, Blue Heron, was first brewed in 1987 and honors Portland's official city bird. Brewery tours are free and take place on Saturday at 1, 3, and 5 pm. 1313 NW Marshall St., OR. 503/241-3612. www.bridgeportbrew.com.
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company : Founded in 1984, this is Oregon's largest brewery, and their Hefeweizen is still the top-selling craft beer in the state. Brewery tours take place on Friday at 3 pm and Saturday at 11 am and noon. 929 N. Russell St., OR. 503/281-2437. www.widmer.com.
Hopworks Urban Brewery "HUB" : In addition to brewing only organic beer, the brewery is powered with 100% renewable energy. Pint picks include the Organic Survival "Seven-Grain" Stout, finished with the iconic Stumptown Hairbender espresso and their namesake Organic Hopworks IPA, a Northwest classic. Brewery tours, which cost $5, take place on Saturday at 11 am and 3 pm. 2944 SE Powell Blvd., OR. 503/232-4677. www.hopworksbeer.com.
Beer geeks must visit two cult favorites.
Hair of the Dog Brewing Co, is known for unusual and bottle-conditioned beers that improve with age, similar to wine. 61 SE Yamhill St., OR. 503/232-6585. www.hairofthedog.com.
Upright Brewing Co, specializing in farmhouse-inspired beers with a Pacific Northwest twist. 240 N. Broadway, Suite 2, OR. 503/735-5337. www.uprightbrewing.com.
Both breweries can accommodate tours, but only with advance scheduling. Tasting fees apply and vary.
Festivals that celebrate the city's most beloved beverage are quite common in Portland. The North American Organic Brewers Festival (www.naobf.org) kicks off summer in Portland the last weekend in June, pledging to "save the planet one beer at a time." This ode to sustainability spotlights beers and ciders made with organic ingredients from across the globe. July marks the start of Oregon Craft Beer Month (www.oregoncraftbeermonth.com) with more than 120 beer events throughout the state. The beertastic climax is the Oregon Brewers Festival (www.oregonbrewfest.com), one of the nation's longest-running craft-beer festivals, held the last full weekend in July on the banks of the Willamette River. This sun-soaked celebration features more than 80 craft breweries, live music, and Mount Hood as the backdrop. Portland pays tribute to the world's most legendary brewing styles at the Portland International Beer Festival (www.seattlebeerfest.com) in mid-July.
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