Level Beer is Portland’s newest brewery and one of it’s most anticipated thanks to an ownership roster that includes Geoff Phillips founder of Bailey’s Taproom and duo Head Brewers Shane Watterson previously of Laurelwood Brewing and Jason Barbee previously of Ex Novo Brewing. Level Beer also has found a killer barn/farm space but unusual off the beaten path location that will prove that if you build it, people will come.
Level Beer has been brewing collaborations at other local breweries since last Spring, so you may have seen some of their eclectic styles around town. They soft opened their taproom east of the Airport and just a block south of the Columbia River across from Government Island on the 4th of July weekend as a pop-up. Until this last Friday the taproom/brewery did not have full occupancy permit so they could sell beers on the property but not invite folks into the taproom. Now that has all changed and their farmhouse-style property, enclosed beer garden and taproom is now open for everyone with full hours and on-site food carts every day from 11am – 8pm Sun. – Thurs. and 11am – 10pm Fri. – Sat.. Even though they serve no food they are a kid friendly all-ages and all hours welcome to minors and there is tons of room for little rascals to run around the property.
If you make your way to the well hidden Level Beer property off of Airport Way and 148th you will find a farm and large greenhouse you might expect to find a garden or farming store at. Though they have yet to brew their first beer in-house, Level’s draft are filled with ten taps of their collaboration beers plus non-beer guest taps Reverend Nat’s Revival, Hi-Wheel Strawberry Rhubarb, Coopers Hall Pinot Gris and Happy Mountain Honeydew Kombucha. Plus for non-alcoholic options by the bottle are Hot Lips Marionberry Soda, Pok Pok Som Thai Basil Soda and Steelhead Rootbeer.
Still on deck for the new startup is the release of their final collab, a Schwarzbier brewed with Barbee’s ex-employers at Deschutes Brewery Portland. The beer was split into two brite tanks, one batch to be served on Nitro and the rest re-fermented on blackberries and to be poured on regular C02. Look for that beer on tap as early as today. The rest of the taplist includes a dry-hopped Pilsner called “Let’s Play!” brewed with Zoiglhaus that may become a standard offering. As of this point no standard mainstay beers have been decided on. Hop heads should check out “Evel Headed IPA” brewed with Fat Heads and “Bonus Level” a strong hoppy Pale Ale brewed with Breakside. They have a couple farmhouse-style offerings like a great dry-hopped Table Saison called “Farm Hand” brewed with Great Notion and a straight saison called “Saison Quest” made with The Commons. If you want something a bit different, the Culmination Brewing collab “Verdita Lager” is brewed with pineapple, jalapeno, cilantro and mint.
Level Beer’s 20bbl brewhouse from Criveller
Shane and Jason show off the new Criveller 2.5bbl pilot brewhouse at Level Beer
Barbee hopes to be brewing their first beer on their own 20bbl brewhouse from Criveller Group late this week or early next week. The brewhouse has a younger cousin in a 2.5 bbl pilot brewhouse also from Criveller that will allow experimental and small batch one-offs brewed into double batches in two 5 bbl conical fermenters and one brite. The Criveller system is a show piece for the established brewery manufacturer based in Healdsburg, California as an intro to the Portland-area market. Level Beer also has two 20 bbl fermenters and two 40bbl brite tanks for the main system and lots of room to expand.
Though Level Beer’s indoor taproom is a modest space with a bench and standing rail seating it will probably be mostly ignored for the covered seats out front and the entirely covered but clear beer garden out front. If that’s not enough there eventually will be a small hop field in back with seating in the grass and a 2nd pop-up bar and space for live music. The field, additional back barn space and it’s own large parking lot make this space feel huge and perfect for festivals and other gatherings.
Though Level Beer is taking over a previous farm space and the have the greenhouse, red wood-framed barn and field to prove it, the beer is more reflective of the modern American staples. ie Lagers, Pale Ales, Kolsch’s and light Belgian-styles like Saison. Stay tuned for info on an official Level Beer Grand Opening this August.
5211 NE 148th Ave, Portland, OR 97230