A new neighborhood pub opened up quietly last December, in the strip shopping center at SW 185th and Farmington Road in suburban Aloha. The 649 Taphouse is part of a positive trend that sees independent taphouses opening up away from city centers, serving neighborhoods where, in the past, people usually had a choice of a corporate chain restaurant, a sports bar, or with luck, a suburban McMenamins pub. Postwar trends and suburban sprawl in the ’50s and ’60s didn’t include much in the way of good pubs, and when these areas were developed, there wasn’t much choice in beer anyway. Back then, it was more typical to buy packaged beer at the supermarket or C-store and drink at home. Now, with local multi-tap pubs opening in outlying areas, people can enjoy a quality draft beer closer to their suburban homes, without having to make the trek into the big city. A good pub adds a community gathering place to a neighborhood, where people can get together for good beer and conversation in a way that’s just not as easy to do at someone’s home. (Bonus: someone else cleans up after everybody’s gone.)
The 649 Taphouse is easily visible from Farmington Road, at the southern edge of a strip mall anchored by an Albertson’s supermarket and a few other local businesses. It’s a single room layout, with a simple straight bar, a few tables including a big communal table in the middle, and with 24 taps, there’s plenty to choose from. Beer drinkers will be pleased to find 16 quality brews on draft, featuring a mix of Oregon and out-of-state craft beers and a couple of imports. Other tap selections include ciders, kombucha, mead, red wine, and Stumptown’s Cold Brew coffee on a nitro tap (we’re looking out for you too, designated driver) as alternatives to beer. The tap-list is also on-line at the 649’s web site. All in all, it’s the kind of selection that makes for a good neighborhood hangout, a friendly place for people to meet after work or for beers at just about any time. There are some others in the wider area, like the ABV Public House or Orenco Taphouse, but for the immediate neighborhood around SW 185th and Farmington, it’s a very good and nearby choice.
For now, the food menu consists of simple pub eats: a few appetizer snacks, a sandwich, salad, soup, or mac & cheese. Dessert is a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a pint of stout. The staff has been okay with bringing in food from home or from nearby places – there’s a Mexican restaurant, a sandwich shop, and a couple of pizza joints close by – but it’s always a good idea to ask first.
The 649 is run by Jeff Washburn and his crew, who have opened a friendly locals’ pub with a good selection of beer in a welcoming, single-room space with plenty of parking. It’s open daily at from 11am to midnight. 18647 S.W. Farmington Road, Aloha, OR, 97078; (503) 649-2337; http://www.649taphouse.com/
By Don Scheidt for The New School.
Don Scheidt has been into good beer since before the dawn of craft brewing in the Pacific Northwest. He created the Northwest Brewpage, a regional guide to good beer in Oregon and Washington, back in the mid-1990s, but has since retired it. Don started writing the Washington state “Puget Soundings” column for Celebrator Beer News in 1998, and continues to do that today. Don also wrote about beer for the Seattle Weekly in 2005-2006.