Good news, there are at least six Oregon cities to visit with amazing beer — but that may count as bad news, too. Here they are, with my best-bets for breweries:
- Portland. They don’t call it “Beervana” for nuthin. There are scores of breweries here, and it’s hard to go too far wrong. The inner Southeast has the richest vein of good breweries, and you can do a walking tour of several of them. Hair of the Dog is just across from downtown on the Morrison Bridge (good for big, barrel-aged beers). A bit further east is the Commons, which makes wonderful farmhouse ales. A bit further east is the Cascade Barrel House, which makes amazing sour ales. Other highly recommended breweries are Breakside, Upright, Gigantic, Deschutes, and Widmer. (There are even more, but this is a great start.)
- Bend. For a small town, it really has a crazy amount of breweries. The original Deschutes is there, along with several other great choices: Boneyard, Crux, Worthy, and Bend Brewing.
- Hood River. While Portland and Bend get most of the attention, I’d actually nominate Hood River has having the state’s best beer. It was where Full Sail got started, and brewers from that brewery have gone on to found some absolutely astonishing places, Double Mountain, pFriem, and Solera (actually a short drive away, in Parkdale). The founder of Wyeast yeast labs also founded a farmhouse brewery — in an actual farm just outside of Hood River — called Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. pFriem, Logsdon, and Solera have amazing views.
- Astoria. The Northern Oregon Coast has some great beer, too. Fort George and Astoria Brewing (Wet Dog Cafe) have recently been joined by Buoy, which is a fabulous brewpub right on the bay.
- Eugene. In the southern Willamette Valley, Eugene has a growing stable of great breweries: Ninkasi, Oakshire, Falling Sky, and Hop Valley. Just outside of town is Agrarian.
- Corvallis. Not far from Eugene, Corvallis has also got two of Oregon’s best breweries in Block 15 and Flat Tail — both a short stroll from one another.
Even if you’re not in one of these cities, make sure you look around (the Oregon Brewers Guild has a good listing by region) because chances are there’s a good brewery nearby.