Wayfinder deck entrance to Bar
The most highly anticipated Portland brewery opening of the last few years happens this Saturday, October 1st, when Wayfinder Beer throws open its gorgeous deck and natural light-filled bar for the public. Much has already been written about the ambitious new brewpub with an all-star roster of ownership Charlie Devereux (co-founder of Double Mountain Brewery), Matt Jacobsen (owner of Sizzle Pie), and Rodney Muirhead (Podnah’s Pit and La Taq) down to the lead staff of bar manager Jonathan Carmean (Green Dragon, Saraveza, Belmont Station), Jacob Grier (Brewing up Cocktails, etc.), and Head Brewer Kevin Davey (Gordon Biersch, Chuckanut, Firestone Walker). What hasn’t been written is how passionate these guys are and how much attention to detail they are bringing to this project.
The first thing you should know about Wayfinder–besides the people behind it–is that the brewery does not have its own in-house beer available yet. There are, however, six collaboration brews with local breweries, all of which are excellent. The brewhouse was delivered yesterday, tanks are coming soon, and plenty of plumbing work needs to be done, but we should see in-house beers by the end of November. For now, the great collaborations as well as guest taps and full liquor bar with housemade sodas should be more than enough to satiate anyone. The collaborations should be pretty indicative of the beers; the Hopworks collab “Tiny Bubbles” a hoppy German-style Helles is probably my favorite, followed by the Breakside collab that’s been available for a while, a juicy wheat IPA called “Definitely Not”. You will see more of Wayfinder’s German influence in the Widmer collab “Supergeil,” a traditional Munich-style festbier, the Baerlic collab “Bike Crush,” a kolsch, a 2nd Breakside collab called “Li’l Goblin,” a Weizenbock. Something more like Double Mountain emerges with the 54-40 collab “Double Trouble” red ale.
Wayfinder Head Brewer Kevin Davey
When Wayfinder’s four vessel, 15bbl Metalcraft Fabrication brewhouse gets pumping, you can expect more German-styles, including two year-round lagers and an IPA for hop heads. The rest of the lineup will be discovered through trial and error. The same goes with the food menu, as I hear it the kitchen is still cutting and making additions to the menu.
Rodney Muirhead (center) with chefs Dallas Nelson and Ryan Day
This is upscale pub grub with a German influence on a level that few other breweries attempt. From the specially-built high-temp wood grill Rodney Muirhead and his chef team of Dallas Nelson and Ryan Day have dialed in, a list of four main entrees will be served after 5pm: a deliciously juicy ribeye steak with mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts; a Chicken Al Carbon with lemon, lime and herb, served with sweet potato hash and grilled broccolini; the Wayfinder Burger, a 1/2lb house ground chuck, prime rib and sirloin patty with fries; and a grilled lamb chop with lamb demi served with mashed potatoes and grilled broccolini.
The plates served all day include fish & chips, jumbo crabcakes, grilled albacore, smoked sweet potatoes, mac & beer cheese, and an awesome sausage board of housemade brats and two different kinds of kraut, along with a great German potato salad. Sandwiches also served all day include the already talked-about “Black Lodge,” featuring smoked prime rib with beer cheese, peppers & onions on a torpedo roll. Classics like a pastrami on rye, diner burger, sausage sandwich, and a vegetarian portobello sandwich on rolls. More unique is the confit banh mi with duck confit, daikon, carrot, cilantro, jalapeno, sriracha mayo. The rest of the menu is filled out with four different salads and starters like fried oysters, smoked fish, sausage, charcuterie plates, and pretzels.
The outside seating is a big feature. Sadly, we don’t have much more time this season to enjoy it. It is the main centerpiece on the front of the building along SE 2nd and is elevated with two ramps bringing you up four feet or so off the ground. It provides open areas and intimate alcoves, trees grow out to give it a more beer garden feel and there is a gas fire pit.
Jacob Grier brings his mixing acumen to the cocktail menu and booze selection, which is likely the best of any brewery in the state. The nine house cocktails include a Cachaca beer cocktail and a classic Manhattan, along with playful takes like a Rum Old Fashioned and a Oaxacan Highball. There are thirteen bourbons on the menu, five rye whiskeys, fifteen single malts, and another seven whiskeys. Plus plenty of tequila, mezcal, rum, brandy, gin, vodka and a substantial lineup of digestifs.
Bartender Jacob Grier
With design work that includes the Wayfinder logo on large prints displayed in the pub and restaurant, Orion Landau’s fingerprint is all over this space. Orion is known for his metal and punk posters and artwork for Relapse Records, Sizzle Pie, and White Owl Social Club, all under the RXE umbrella headed up by Wayfinder co-owner Matt Jacobsen. With abundant skills and experience on display, they have transformed a rundown space into one of the most beautiful brewpubs in the state. It’s eminently photographable under the right lighting, and for that reason I am mostly going to let the photos do the talking on the rest of the space.
Wayfinder Opening Hours (OPENING OCT 1)
304 SOUTHEAST 2nd AVENUE
PORTLAND, OR 97214
Wayfinder Head Brewer Kevin Davey (left) and owner Charlie Devereux (right)