One of the great things things about Portland is our decent public transportation. The other is the vast selection of delicious craft beers! So what better way to explore some of Portland’s favorite beer stops than by taking the Max Light Rail train.
For this excursion, we chose the Orange Line, the newest line in the system completed back in 2015. From downtown, you can catch the Orange Line on the west side of SW 5th Avenue between Morrison and Yamhill. The train will head south and east from here to the SE quadrant of the city. Your journey will take you over the newest bridge across the Willamette River, also completed in 2015, known as the Tilliikum Crossing Bridge. Tillikum is the only bridge in the country intended for use by pedestrians, bikes, light rail, the streetcar, and buses. You won’t find any private vehicles crossing this bridge! The word Tillikum originates from the Chinook Wawa language and means “people”. Many Portlanders like to refer to this as the “Bridge of the People”.
The ride to our first stop, at Clinton and SE 12th, will take approximately 14 minutes. From here, we will walk north on SE 12th to Division. Please look both ways before you cross the tracks! FYI this is one of the more famous train intersections in all of Portland. The intersection is located very close to the train yards, so the freight trains frequently stop here for long periods of time blocking traffic in all directions. Luckily, the city recently put in a new pedestrian bridge just east of the Max stop, so be sure to utilize this if necessary.
There are several awesome beer stops here within a few short blocks. If you like a huge selection of beers on tap, including many highly sought after brews from all over the world, check out Apex at 1216 SE Division. Apex has 50 rotating beers on tap and 250 bottles available to go. They have a chill vibe with pinball machines, vintage beer decor, good music and cool lighting behind the bar. In addition to a regular pint, they offer 6oz sizes, pitchers, and also growlers and 32 ounce mason jars to go. Come here too to see a photo behind the bar of Portland’s famous World Naked Bike Ride!
If you head west on Division Street and take a right on SE 11th, you will discover the new location for BeerMongers, one of Portland’s unique bottle shops. Step inside and discover an eclectic selection of mostly Oregon beers but they also have beers from all over the world. Many of these brews are small batch and from hard-to-find nano-breweries. According to the staff, they currently have over 400 bottles, but have had as many as 700 in the past. Bottles are arranged in the cases by style, which include non-alcoholic beverages, seltzers, CBD drinks, kombucha, smoothies, sours, ciders, barley wine, barrel-aged, and more.
They also have 11 to 12 rotating beers on tap, and this popular bar draws a crowd even on a weekday evening. The owner likes to play old B movies on the TV screen, and there are various card and table games available for entertainment. Check out the wood-block counter near the door which documents how many days BeerMongers has been open. You can find BeerMongers at 2415 SE 11th Ave.
Just north past BeerMongers make a left on Caruthers Street. Two blocks down at 920 SE Caruthers you will find a little nondescript brewery on the corner, known as the Chuckanut Brewery P.nut Beer Hall. Chuckanut Brewery was started in Bellingham, Washington back in 2008 by Mari and Will Kemp. Will Kemp is a long-time brewer and consultant in the craft beer industry (since the 80s), and has helped set up breweries all over the country and even in Mexico.
The P.Nut Beer Hall features 10 beers on tap and 1 cider, with several award-winning brews. If you like a super-friendly atmosphere with high quality beers, this is your spot. The brewery has plenty of comfy spaces to sit, knowledgeable bartenders, a foosball table, dartboards, a private party room, and picnic tables out front.
For our final beer stop, we will be leaving the neighborhood and jumping back on the Orange Line. Retrace your steps to the Clinton/SE 12th station and board the next train going south towards Milwaukie. It is just a short ride to SE 17th & Holgate, where you can find one of Portland’s most exciting little gems, Ruse Brewing. Ruse is known for their artisanal small-batch beers and they have built up quite the following among locals. Beer geeks will appreciate the focus on crafting, flavors and yeast.
Ruse is also big on community and they frequently collaborate with local businesses, organizations, artists and musicians. On weekends, they often host live music and a pop-up food business. Ruse is located at 4784 SE 17th Ave Unit 100. FYI this brewpub can get really busy on weekends. Locals will line up around the block just for the canned beer!
Had enough beer? These are just a few of many, many fantastic beer stops in Portland. We are, after all, one of the best cities for craft beer in the country!