The Best Brewery Hops in Portland

Before we dive into one of the great beer cities on Earth, a caveat: you could spend two weeks in Portland doing nothing but visiting breweries. And if you have the time, budget, and liver fortitude, you should try to do this. But there will always be new places for great beer in Portland, there will always be new hops, there will always be a need to plan another trip. So while these are the beer excursions we strongly recommend, it’s worth noting that we are but one couple of flesh, blood, and limited bladders. There are undoubtedly other delicious beer paths in this city, and if you know of any, we strongly encourage you to share them in the comments.

That having been said, here are our favorite brewery hops in Portland:

Breakside Brewery: Dekum –> Great Notion Brewing and Barrel House

This is not, in the truest sense of the word, a hop. One could certainly bike between the two, but it’s a good mile and a half between locations. So while some of the subsequent hops may not reach the stellar heights of these two breweries, the others are immensely more walkable, which earns major points for brewery hoppers everywhere.

However, if you have a bike– and you should, because it’s Portland– start at Breakside. It’s a terrific brewpub, often filled with people. Order their Breakside Burger and begin your day drinking with a nice layer of tasty meat. Our recommendation: the Breakside IPA. It’s an award winner nearly every festival it enters, including the esteemed Great American Beer Festival. Additionally, keep your eyes peeled for any of their Fresh Hop IPAs, and, in the cooler months, their seasonal Salted Caramel Stout is as mouth-watering as the name suggests.

From there, go to Great Notion. You should go regardless of if you’re doing a hop or not. Bike, Uber, hitchhike if you must. Great Notion isn’t only one of the great Portland breweries, it’s one of the best on the West Coast. There are three must-try categories when you stroll into Great Notion: 1. the New England IPAs. The Juice Jr. is one of the best New England IPAs available on this side of the Mississippi, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not try it. 2. the flavored imperial stouts. They are heavy, so we’d recommend flight-sized pours. The Double Stack is an 11% ABV that tastes like straight-up maple syrup. 3. the sours. My God, the beautiful, mouth-puckering sours. Last time we went, we had two that blew us away: Heart of Gold, a peach-flavored tart bomb, and the wonderfully-named I Love It When You Call Me Big Papaya. Try it all, and crawl back to your hotel or AirBnB before settling in for a ten-hour nap.

Hopworks BikeBar –> StormBreaker Brewing –> Ecliptic Brewing

You don’t need a bike to handle this brewery hop, but it wouldn’t hurt! Especially since the first location is Hopworks BikeBar. Hopworks prides itself on sustainability, so they’d prefer you not only avoid driving for legal reasons but also for environmental reasons. Reduce carbon footprint by leaving the car at home, dispose of alcohol by storing it in your belly. Win win! Our recommendation: get one of their many tasty stouts. Give yourself a hop-starting boost of energy with their coffee-infused Survival Stout. With all the beer you’ll be drinking in Portland, you’ll need energy any place you can get it.

Next up, take the slightly-over-half-a-mile trek to North Mississippi Avenue, where you’ll find several lovely boutique shops (and a Blue Star Donut– pop in, get the Buttermilk Old Fashioned, thank me later). Along this road is StormBreaker Brewing, a location with a dog-friendly patio and a wooden beer-garden vibe. This would be a welcoming place to watch sports, as the beer is hoppy and the pretzels and beer cheese hit the spot. Several good options here, but our recommendation: you’re in Portland, so go directly for the hops and order the Savage Nimbus Double IPA. Surprisingly smooth for a 8% beer nearing 100 IBUs.

Finally, mosey down Mississippi– those hankering for food can try to squeeze into ¿Por Qué No? for some of their exceptional tacos– and finish your tour at Ecliptic Brewing. Its space decor is appropriate for a brewery whose IPAs are often out of this world. (We apologize for that pun.) Ecliptic is one of those rare places where, in our experience, nothing was bad and everything was good. From your pilsners to your goses, your reds to your porters, your malty finishes to your hoppy explosions– we were pleased by everything we tried. And we tried a lot. (Maybe that’s their secret– serve enough delicious beer that you’re too drunk to remember if anything disappointed you. Very clever, Ecliptic.) They also have ample outdoor seating and some tasty-looking burgers. Our recommendation: any of their IPAs will suffice, but our personal favorite is the Starburst. Strong hop flavor but a very clean finish. An appropriate ending to a Portland day.

Upright Brewing –> Ex Novo –> LABrewatory

Start your hop off with some more refined, balanced, and occasionally challenging flavors at Upright Brewing, a small, open-fermentation brewery that can be slightly difficult to find. It’s worth the search: at least half of their tap list tends to be bold and/or adventurous. Last time we were there, we had a chocolate saison and a smoked beer that tasted strongly of scotch. It’s a great place for a quiet beer– assuming a basketball game hasn’t just let out. Our recommendations: their Supercool IPA is brewed with saison yeast, creating one of the more singular IPAs in Portland, and the Four Play is a banger of a barrel-aged sour saison.

From there, head up Flint to Ex Novo Brewing Co. If it’s too late in the day to swing past Pine State Biscuits (or if you ate one earlier that day and are hungry again, and if that’s the case, tip of the cap to you), order a personal Detroit Style Pizza to line your stomach and let the beer-drinking commence. For those of you who came to Portland for the IPAs, Ex Novo is your home away from home. Our recommendation: try any IPA they have on tap. Did we say any? We meant every. Most of their IPAs are 3.8+ on Untappd for a reason. The Eliot is their tried-and-true, so start there, and then hit any Eliot variants, the Dynamic Duo DIPA, and literally everything else. (Also, if you’re a stout drinker, cop a bottle of Kill the Sun while you’re there. It’s a 12.5% ABV barrel-aged monster that’ll warm your soul and put some hair on your chest.)

Finally, stumble up the block, hang a left on Russell, and make your way to the LABrewatory. One of the great things about Portland: there are so many breweries that you can just be wandering the city, find one, and say, “Hey, let’s pop in here.” That’s what happened to us for the LABrewatory. We went in without expectations and left thinking we’d found a gem. It’s a small, five-barrel nano brewery dedicated to crafting varieties of innovative flavors alongside some well-executed standards. When we were last there, we had the Gypsy Rose, a Flanders Red that rivals many of the best sours in Portland, and went straight into the Tamarindo, a tamarind brown ale with a spicy kick at the end. We have no idea if anything we tried is still on tap, which makes us all the more excited to return. Our recommendation: try a variety in flight form– include whichever sours they have, and whichever of their Dream-themed IPAs are being poured. You are in Portland, after all.

Base Camp Brewing –> Modern Times –> Cascade Brewing Barrel House

It’s unfair to the other breweries that they aren’t geographically closer to Cascade, as this means their chances at being among the best hops in Portland were drastically limited from the start. Their loss is your gain. Even if you don’t want to brewery hop in Portland– if you, for some insane reason, only want to visit *one* brewery in a town famous for its breweries– Cascade is your destination. But let’s not start there. The anticipation makes it better.

Start at Base Camp Brewing Company, a spacious taproom with a good atmosphere, a wide variety of beers on tap, and flight boards that run ten samplers deep. If you’re having a larger hangout at night, this would be a strong choice. (Plus, after you’re down hanging out with your friends, you stumble to Cascade and close the night there– win-win.) Our recommendation: have an Ultra Gnar Gnar, their popular, malty IPA, and grab a S’more Stout while you’re in the taproom. They serve it with a toasted marshmallow, which completes the flavor– we’ve had the S’more Stout in can form, sans marshmallow, and it doesn’t work nearly as well.

You could go straight to Cascade, but the night’s still young. Head down 7th and go to The Belmont Fermentorium, the Portland branch of Modern Times. We may get crucified by Portland locals for suggesting that visitors get beer from a brewery that *didn’t* originate in Portland, and perhaps they’re right to do so. However, two counter-points: 1. Their beer is terrific. 2. It’s right down the street from Cascade! Modern Times is one of those does-everything-well breweries, so it’s hard to narrow down our suggestions. Our recommendation: they usually have a few imperial and/or barrel-aged stouts on hand, and they’re always exceptional. The Fermentorium also should have some of their trademark stellar hazy IPAs, brewed for Portland in Portland, so have a couple of those before heading to Sour Town.

Finally, you’ve done it. You’ve reached Sour Valhalla. Cascade Brewing Barrel House is, quite simply, one of the best sour breweries in the country. If you like your sour beers to make your mouth pucker, then stretch your cheek muscles before being seated. They have a wide selection of barrel-aged wild ales, and when we were there last, we tried literally everything on the menu. This also meant we ordered plenty of food in order to survive the evening, and the pretzels with beer cheese, chased with a Korean BBQ sandwich, were just what the doctor ordered. Our wallets were unhappy, but our tastebuds were overjoyed. Our recommendations: call your bank and ask for a loan before arriving. If you can only have a couple– which makes me cringe at the mere thought– the Framblanc is a blissfully sour raspberry wine, the Kriek is a mouthful of Northwest cherries combined with a sledgehammer of tart, and the Apricot is, as you’d expect, as near perfection as an apricot sour can be. BONUS: if you’re there in the colder season, the Glueh Kriek is a heated sour– it’s the mulled wine equivalent of a Flanders Ale, and even though it’s currently summer and our home is in the middle of a heatwave, our mouths are watering just thinking about it. Be sure to grab a bottle or three of your favorites as you head out the door.

Great Notion (Runners-up: Ecliptic, Ex Novo)

Cascade (Runners-up: Great Notion, Upright)

Great Notion (Runners-up: Modern Times, Ecliptic)

Base Camp Brewing (Runners-up: LABrewatory, StormBreaker)

Cascade (Runners-up: Great Notion, Upright)

Cascade (Runners-up: Ex Novo, StormBreaker)

Which is your favorite of these brewery hops? Are there any you love that we neglected to mention? Please shout them out in the comments below! Also, please check out our other beer travel guides, including guides to other great beer cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Anaheim!