Best of the Year 2013

Another year, another best of list. 2013, more than any other, has been full of great beer, so much so that choosing a best of was practically an impossible task. Like previous years, we have assembled a panel of twelve beer critics and experts from the local beer scene, first to nominate the entries in each category and finally vote on the winners. Unlike previous years, few outright dominated the running, showing that the overall quality of Oregon beers is better than ever.

BestOregon Beer of 2013 The Commons: Bier Royale
Runner-up – 10 Barrel Brewing: Swill

One of the most contested and wide open fields this year was Oregon’s Best Beer. During the nominations round it seemed that no two people were going for the same beer, but when narrowed down to a tight race, The Commons Bier Royale–originally created for the Portland Fruit Beer Fest–wins. All the nominees should be proud, as no one held a distinct voting advantage when it came down to it.

Also nominated:

  • Laurelwood Megafauna
  • Logsdon Fresh Hop Seizoen
  • Deschutes Fresh Squeezed
  • Double Mountain Killer Green
  • Block 15 Sticky Hands
  • Gigantic F’n Legit Fresh Hop
  • pFriem Mosaic Pale
  • Ninkasi Sterling

BestNon-Oregon Beer
Stone Brewing: Enjoy By IPA
(Allowing foreign or domestic draft or bottled beers, but must have been available at some point in Oregon in 2013.)
Runner-up – Ballast Point Brewing: Sculpin 4 vote

Voting in Best non-Oregon beer was a tight race between two favorite San Diego area brewers, Stone and Ballast Point. Both IPAs, the recently-launched Enjoy By series from Stone Brewing narrowly achieved victory against one of the most respected year round IPAs, Ballast Point’s Sculpin.

Also nominated:

  • Sierra Nevada Narwhal
  • Green Flash Green Bullet
  • Ballast Point Sculpin
  • New Belgium Le Terroir
  • New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweizen

BestNew Bottle/Canned Oregon Beer – The Commons Bier Royale
Runner-up TIE – 10 Barrel Brewing: Swill / Breakside Brewery: Wanderlust IPA

If The Commons Bier Royale’s victory in Best Oregon Beer was not decisive enough a win, then a 2nd win in Best New Bottled or Canned Beer most definitely was. Does this signal the embracing of fruit beers by the larger beer snob community? I certainly hope so.

Also nominated:

  • Ft George/Lompoc/Gigantic 3 Way IPA
  • Gigantic Most Premium RIS
  • Good Life Sweet As Pacific Ale 1 vote
  • Breakside Wanderlust

BestOregon IPA- Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack

Runner-up: Boneyard Brewing: RPM

2013 is the year that perennial award winner and cult favorite Barley Brown’s Brewpub went mainstream and captured a gold medal at the GABF for American IPA, as well as the hearts of critics and fans in Oregon. Narrowly beating out last year’s winner and best-seller, Boneyard’s RPM IPA, the Pallet Jack is seeing expanded availability with the brewery’s expansion and new Oregon distribution through Point Blank Distributing. 2014 may be the year that Barley Brown’s goes from respected and well-kept Oregon secret to nationwide beer geek subject of envy.
Also nominated:

  • 10 Barrel Apocalypse
  • Fort George Vortex
  • Block 15 Sticky Hands 2 vote
  • Breakside Wanderlust
  • Gigantic IPA
  • Double Mountain Killer Green 1 vote
  • Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack 6 vote
  • Oakshire Watershed IPA
  • Breakside IPA

Most Underrated Oregon Brewery – Old Town Brewing
Runner-up: Silver Moon Brewing

While early nomination voting showed Goodlife ahead of the pack in this category, Old Town Brewing dominated the pack in the final round. Contributor Bill Night sums up the fitting underdog win well: “Old Town is so underrated that I forgot to nominate them.” Hopefully that will not be the case from now on.

Also nominated:

  • Goodlife Brewing
  • Occidental Brewing
  • Widmer Brothers
  • Lucky Lab Brewing

BestNew Brewery(Oregon) Ecliptic Brewing
Runner-up: De Garde Brewing

A handful of new breweries vied for attention this year, some debuting with massive hype and others with no buzz at all. In the end, one of each dominated the category, with John Harris’ much-hyped Ecliptic Brewing winning out by only 1 vote above the word of mouth-based new cult favorite, De Garde Brewing. Either way, we expect big things from these breweries in 2014.

Other nominees:

  • Worthy Brewing
  • Agrarian Ales
  • Planktown Brewing

Best Oregon Brewery Deschutes Brewery

Runner-up: Breakside Brewery

One of this year’s most difficult categories with a wide-open strong field ended up having voters choose a classic, with Deschutes Brewery winning top honors for the 2nd year in a row. It’s a bit of a surprising win, as Deschutes beers did not dominate any other category, but shows that the overall quality and the strength of the brand makes it an All-Star.

Other nominees:

  • Boneyard
  • Upright
  • Block 15
  • The Commons
  • Barley Browns

BestOregon Brewpub Breakside Brewery
Runner-up TIE – pFriem Family Brewers (Hood River, OR)

& Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom(Hood River, OR)

Choosing this category was among our voters’ most difficult tasks; a tie breaker vote had to be cast between a 4 way tie, with Breakside Brewery walking away with the win after not even being nomintated in 2012. It says a lot that just a few years ago there was not much to write about for Oregon brewpubs, but with brewers stepping up their games–especially with new guys like Pfriem entering the ring–this category looks promising for the future.

Other nominees:

  • Deschutes Portland Brewpub (Portland, OR)
  • Burnside Brewing (Portland, OR)
  • Block 15 Brewing (Corvallis, OR)
  • pFriem Family Brewers (Hood River, OR)
  • Double Mountain (Hood River, OR)

BestOregon Brewer Ben Edmunds (Breakside Brewery)

Runner-up 3 way TIE:

Josh Pfriem (Pfriem Family Brewers)
Nick Arzner (Block15 Brewing)
Sean Burke (The Commons)

Wow, what a difficult category this one was. I think a strong late year showing from Breakside Brewery (100 beers brewed in 2013) helped push ex-New School columnist Ben Edmunds into the winner category above last year’s winner, Nick Arzner, and strong showings from The Commons’ Sean Burke and Josh Pfriem of the up-and-coming Pfriem Family Brewers.

Other nominees:

  • Alex Ganum (Upright Brewing)
  • Tom Bleigh (Hopworks Urban Brewing)

BestOregon Taphouse Bailey’s Taproom

Runner-up: Belmont Station

Pulling out a win after last year’s tie for first is Bailey’s Taproom, which one could say is one of the most influential beer bars in the state. Bailey’s has continued to innovate, from the digital tapboard to the new upstairs annex space. Also, much credit to Belmont Station, which this year expanded by adding a patio, new food options, and more taps.

Other nominees:

  • Horse Brass
  • Saraveza
  • The Beermongers
  • Apex
  • The Bier Stein

BestNew Trend Popularity and Increasing selection of Wild/Sour Beers

Runner-up: Rise/Return to popularity of Pilsners/Lagers
Other nominees:

  • Rise/Return to popularity of the Radler
  • More and Better Food Options with Beer
  • More Barrel-Aged Beers
  • More lower alcohol session beers
  • Single Hop Beers

Worst New Trend Overpriced Beer

Runner-up: Beard Beer
Other nominees:

  • Nano Breweries
  • Collaboration Beers
  • Fresh vs Wet Hop Debate

Our Esteemed 2013 Best of the Year guest Voters:
Kerry Finsand (Taplister), Warren Wills (American Craft, Jason Notte (The Street), Martin Cizmar (Willamette Week Arts & Culture editor), Paul Kasten (Beer Chef at Wildwood Restaurant), Nicole Kasten (, Hilda Stevens (owner of Bazi Bierbrasserie) and Alex Kurnellas (owner of Imperial Bottleshop & Taproom)

and from The New School:
“SNOB” Ritch Marvin, El Gordo Feighner, Bill Night (Piss & Vinegar column), Brian Yaeger (New School & freelance beer writer) & Samurai Artist (New School founder).

    Samurai Artist
    Samurai Artist

    Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact:


    • Anonymous
      Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:29 PM

      I enjoyed that you had to point out that you are the founder. Also best brewer award goes to person you work with at Breakside and a contributor to your blog. I think other breweries should encourage employees to start blogs. This is kind of like Columbia River voting itself best brewpub, right? Good list though. Almost like it as much as my favorite beer blog, Brewmance NW

      • Samurai Artist
        Samurai Artist
        Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:47 PM

        You must not have read the post or you would see that there are 11 other voters not associated with any brewery. If the voting was up to me entirely I can guarantee you these would be quite different. In fact barely anyone I have work with did well, only Breakside.

      • Anonymous
        Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:35 PM

        Other most annoying trends: More suck-up beer blogs with lists projecting opinions that they think anyone actually cares about.

        • Samurai Artist
          Samurai Artist
          Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:44 PM

          yet your still reading and commenting

        • Anonymous
          Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:38 PM

          Great list! I agree with all of these!

          • Anonymous
            Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:56 PM

            I think people should just chill out. This is one group’s list and their choices are fairly legit. It’s maybe a little Portland-centric, but the only obvious omission I see is Ale Apothecary’s Sahalie, which I believe is the best beer made in Oregon. It’s so expensive that maybe they should have a “best beer” and “best specialty beer” category next year.

            • Brian Yaeger
              Brian Yaeger
              Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:42 PM

              All Best-of lists are subjective and, as I like to say, as scientific as Chicken Shit Bingo where there’s no telling where the chips will land. But to the haters, there are 10 beers/breweries/places/people you can likely think of that would’ve made a fine candidate, but as a voting member of the panel, even of the “winners” I didn’t cast my vote for I’d never say they didn’t deserve to win. And as Samurai Artist had to repeat often, each category was difficult and the end results were still tight. So forget who won and who was runner-up. Just go relish the embarrassment of riches Oregon’s brewing culture has to offer.

              (And was that first comment BY Brewmance’s Perry or just a dig at him?)

              • Notteham
                Wed Jan 8, 2014 4:51 PM

                Just consider that two of Draft’s top beer bars in Portland — Bazi and Imperial — weren’t even among the nominees. That says nothing about their quality and everything about just how much there is to choose from in this town. It’s an absolutely subjective process and, as a result, a lot of great candidates fall by the wayside. That’s just how it is. I’m with Brian: The real winners in this are the people of Oregon who get to go through every nominee on this list and plenty who aren’t and judge for themselves. If this list offers some suggestions or fills in some blanks in the itinerary, then that’s about the best it can do.

              • SnobRitch
                Mon Dec 30, 2013 10:16 PM

                I can’t believe 10B Swill beer gets so much love, it’s probably one of my least favorites for the year. I generally like 10B beers, but not that one, way too sweet.

                • OregonHopmonster
                  Mon Dec 30, 2013 10:26 PM

                  Worst trend of the year? Breweries suing each other over trademark infringement.

                  • Unknown
                    Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:19 AM

                    This comment has been removed by the author.

                    • Drew Worden
                      Drew Worden
                      Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:20 AM

                      Hey, I voted too! Haha, thanks for including me. Very fun exercise.

                      • ian
                        Tue Dec 31, 2013 8:05 PM

                        Yes The Commons! Yes pFriem single hop beers! Yes low alcohol beers! (although I did have an amazing, secretly-15% tripel from De Garde, which is hands down the best new Ore. brewery).
                        Meh Deschutes.
                        Best Beer that was Around for Two Seconds that also had an Awesome Name: Upright’s The Hop and the Abstract Truth