If you’ve ever visited Portland, Oregon, you already know one thing: Beer is big. I don’t mean just in the business sense, but rather in the sense of culture and community. Everywhere you go, a craft brewery lies just ahead and it’s common to hear about craft beer in the least likely of places and situations. This preponderance of fine brew can make it difficult to choose and I experienced this frustrating and very real problem when I was in Portland for several days in April, 2015, attending the Craft Brewers Conference. I wanted to visit a local brewery or two, but with so many options, which one should I choose? I finally decided to let my phone guide me to the nearest brewpub from where I was at the moment. That establishment happened to be Burnside Brewing Company, located at 701 E. Burnside St., just east of downtown Portland.
A Flight Please
I decided to start my visit to Burnside Brewing with a flight of beer. They had a nice selection and I decided to go with an assortment of styles that included Highbury Strong Bitter, Other IPA, Silence of the Lambs Stout, Spring Rye, Skyline Extra Pale Ale, Hot Chocolate Stout, Permafrost, and the Fifth Element. I liked them all, but I was partial to the Silence of the Lambs Stout. It was served on nitro for extra creaminess and had a nice, Irish- style, dry stout quality. Curious about the name, I inquired and found out that this beer is so named because it is brewed with charred lamb hearts! And here I thought it had something to do with the movie of the same name.
With the other beers, each had its own unique flavor/character and there wasn’t a bad brew in the bunch. The Other IPA has a nice tropical fruit taste dimension and the Hot Chocolate Stout had a firm spiciness and richness from the addition of habanero peppers and melted chocolate. I tended to stick with the seasonal menu when I made my selections so don’t be disappointed if you visit Burnside Brewing and are unable to get your lips around these options. Don’t worry, though- I’ve been told the regular, year- round releases are very tasty, too.
Food and Service Matter
I was feeling the munchies about midway through my flight and decided to order a burger and fries. The burger was made using grass fed beef and was cooked just right. The added side of fries with the burger was enough to satisfy my hunger pangs and with no more grumbling down below, I was able to focus on the beer, the service, and the social scene.
With good food and beer, Burnside Brewing already had enough going for it to recommend, but I must also mention one more thing: The attentive and friendly service. The young, red headed lady waiting my table was very pleasant and she epitomized what a waitress in a brewpub should be like. She did more than just serve the food and beer. She was also knowledgeable about the beer and was good at making small talk. She also knew when to stop talking and move on, and she checked back at just the right interval to make sure I had everything I needed. I, and the other new friends I met, all commented on her effectiveness and we all agreed that she was exceptional and really knew her craft.
Off I Go
Portland, Oregon is a great beer city and Burnside Brewing is a great place to drink delicious craft beer and soak up the social atmosphere. I would have stayed even longer if time permitted, but I had to get on my way to my next event before the night was through. I could have selected any number of brewpubs in a city like Portland, but I am glad I got to know Burnside Brewing. Good beer and food, attentive service, outdoor seating, and a social vibe make Burnside a worthwhile place to add to your beer travel list.