In a state with nearly 300 craft breweries and counting (261 in Oregon; including 70 in Portland at last official count), it’s thrilling to see the scene grow and evolve. And it does every day — brewers are adventurous spirits, constantly innovating and collaborating, rediscovering old-world ingredients and reinventing flavor profiles and styles. (Have you heard about Oregon’s wild ales?) Much of the creative craft brewing is thanks to resources like Oregon State University’s experimental hop breeding program, intriguing stuff for any true craft beer lover. Here are four of Oregon’s newest experimental breweries for you to check out:
Breakside PDX Slabtown
Breakside Brewery has racked up some serious hardware since its launch in 2010, winning national recognition for its Breakside IPA, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Aztec and Passionfruit Sour. Its third location in the city — the two-story “hop lab” in Northwest Portland’s Slabtown district — is the launchpad for its own beers, meant to be enjoyed on-site only. Their Seeker series pays homage to the diversity of IPAs produced across the United States; and their Iron Chef-like approach to ingredients stretches our palates in ways we’d never imagined. Pucker up for a pint of the delightful Tropical Gose, with lychee fruit, coriander and umeboshi — a salt-cured Japanese plum.
Reach Break Brewing
Astoria is already a hot spot for craft beer lovers, but now you can add one more destination to your list. Opened in spring 2017, just two blocks west of Fort George Brewery, Reach Break has several projects in the works in its large oak barrel cellar. While the sour beers are aging, they are focusing on large-bodied stouts, farmhouse-inspired saisons and hoppy, juicy IPAs. Food carts are on site keep the hunger at bay.
Launched in summer 2017, Level Beer occupies a farmhouse on two acres of land in outer Northeast Portland — four miles east of the Portland International Airport — with plans for their own hop field plus lawn games, a kids’ play structure and food carts on site. While they get their own beers — hoppy, barrel-aged and sours— started, they’re opening with a lineup of tasty local collaborations like the Verdita Lager with Portland’s Culmination Brewing, a summertime thirst-quencher with pineapple, jalapeno, cilantro and mint.
Little Beast Brewing
Cult fans of farmhouse-style ales are cheering the summer 2017 opening of Little Beast Brewing in Beaverton. Founder and brewer Charles Porter comes with serious creds, as former cofounder of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Brewing in Hood River. At Little Beast (named for the microflora responsible for wild fermentation), Porter plans to age unique blends in steel and wood barrels. Until then, try his first rare beer releases — Bes Tart Wheat and Fera Brett Saison — available on tap and in corked bottles, perfectly paired with a good cheese and bread. Sampler trays of seasonal releases are also available. The taproom is open 3-7 p.m. on Fridays. Keep an eye out for their future permanent home in the Portland area, with a full-service taproom.
Also check out: Wolf Tree Brewery, which won a gold medal for its experimental brew — made with Sitka spruce tips — at the 2017 Oregon Beer Awards. Located on a working cattle ranch in Seal Rock, the brewery opens its taproom in Newport in August.