Ten Best New Oregon Taphouses & Beer Bars

The Brown Owl – Bend, OR

Breweries are great but it might be beer bars and taphouses that make a beer culture great. There you can compare offerings from dozens of breweries, local to international and in perhaps a more conducive environment. Where you cannot find a good brewery, hopefully you can find a good taphouse. Each year more beer bars open in Oregon, many of them are overlooked but here are ten of the best to open in the last year from Portland to Lincoln City. No one knows where the next The Bier Stein or Belmont Station will come from but these ten new Oregon taphouses/beer bars are among the best bets.

48 North – St Johns

So new, they haven’t even opened yet. 48 North is a new beer bar coming to North Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood with, you guessed it, 48 taps. Conveniently located in the heart of St. Johns on the main strip on Lombard street, 48 North refers to the 48th Parallel North where most hops are grown, and also of course for the number of tap lines. 48 North is finished building out the space and simply waiting for the city to give them the go ahead to open, so that should be within the next week or two. When they do open their doors, expect a family friendly beer bar with wine, cider, mead and soda also on draft and a full kitchen specializing in thin crust pizza, sandwiches and salad. 8801 N. Lombard Street Portland, Oregon, OR 97203 https://www.facebook.com/48northtaps/

Black Squid Beerhouse

Black Squid Beerhouse – Lincoln City

Oregon’s coast can make for a great getaway and the beer scene is growing but still embarrassingly bereft of good beer bars. Black Squid Beerhouse has become the first craft beer dedicated bar in the Lincoln City area and become a welcome home to the areas surfing community.  Husband and wife team Sara and Andy Hill moved from southwest Portland and sold their home to fund turning this old surf shop into a taproom while living in a mortorhome for about 8 months. Black Squid has 17 constantly rotating taps that include three kombuchas and 2 ciders, plus six different wines by the glass and 80 different bottled wines to compliment a bottle and can-centric selection of about 250 choices of beer with around 18 different meads. That might make Black Squid one of the states best places for Mead, only Kookoolan Farms in the gorge can compete as far as I know.  Co-owner Sara Hill says ” We love and appreciate beer, and when we decided to move to the coast, we missed the access we’d previously had to awesome selection.  When living in Portland, we were two blocks from Uptown Market, and frequented Bridgetown Beerhouse, Saraveza, and Belmont Station pretty often- so those were definitely our inspiration.” Black Squid has outfront seating, a backyard beer garden, rotating art displays, live music and is dog friendly! That last bit with the dogs does come at the cost of having no kitchen and thus being no minors. Black Squid is conveniently located right on Highway 101 with a big squid mural out front that is hard to miss. 3001 SW Highway 101 Lincoln City, Oregon, OR 97367 (541) 614-0733 www.blacksquidbeerhouse.com

Hops on Tap

Hops on Tap – Tigard

Tigard needs more beer bars and Hops on Tap is there to fill that need as the most verteran beer bar on this list having opened Nov. 8th 2016. Hops on Tap features 31 draft lines. 4 of those taps are for cider, 3 for wine, 4 for kombucha and they even boast 2 taps for Mead, with the rest being beer. Being a suburb beer bar Hops on Tap is smartly kid friendly from 11am to 9pm, well lit with lots of windows, a full food menu and outdoor seating that is dog-friendly, (something that is harder and harder to find these days). They also have toys, board games, puzzles and card games to keep the kiddos busy while you enjoy a pint. Another suburban benefit includes all of their easy access parking off of Highway 99. 15660 SW Pacific Hwy St A-8 Tigard, Oregon, OR 97224 (503) 673-1099 http://www.hopsontap-pdx.com


Sessionable – Portland

Though the theme of this taproom is also it’s name, session beers actually do not dominate the taplist at this new southeast Portland beer bar as much as you would think. The plan is to center this small taproom’s thirty draft lines on low alcohol aka “session” beers along with small food plates and a carefully chosen local spirit selection. The intimate, loungey space is reminiscent of a dressed up The Growler Guys and the taplist is not all low abv but about half of those thirty lines are 5% abv or much higher (session beer is considered to be under 5% abv). Sessionable is located on busy southeast Division street just a few blocks from hot trendy restaurants like Pok Pok and Ava Genes and coud provide a welcome respite to enjoy a pint inside or on the side street while waiting for a table. For a more in-depth look at Sessionable check out our full writeup here. 3588 SE Division Street Portland, Oregon, OR 97202

Happy Hops

Happy Hops – Happy Valley

Just opened this past July 2017, Happy Hops might be the nicest Portland-area beer bar you have not heard of. Out in the suburban but increasingly popular Happy Valley area near Clackamas Town Center, Happy Hops is a full service restaurant and taphouse. With 40 draft lines, about 5 of them ciders, 2-3 wines and 2 kombuchas, plus a whole lot of beer, and a bottle selection, there is something for everyone. Happy Hops offers the full experience with a full service bar and food menu, some outside seating, and a crowler can filler. The only thing they don’t have is a permit for kids, so that could be a good thing depending on what you are looking for. 14650 SE Sunnyside Rd Happy Valley, Oregon, OR 97015 https://www.facebook.com/Happy-Hops-1880056555611109/

McKenzie River Taphouse

McKenzie River Taphouse – Springfield

Just outside of Eugene is the underserved Springfield, long home to only the original small Hop Valley brewery and restaurant as far as beer selections. Now they have Plank Town Brewing and McKenzie River Taphouse’s 33 draft lines. 22 of those lines are beer dedicated with atleast 10 IPA’s and one nitro, 1 sangria, 1 white wine, 2 red wines and currently 5 of them are ciders. If you make it in and like big barrel-aged beer ask for the secret tap. McKenzie River Taphouse offers a little bit of everything, from a menu of mini pizza’s, quesadillas and snacks to food trucks on the weekends, tv’s and a projector for sports like local Oregon Ducks games and best of all 6 doors of cooler space with about 100 bottles and 6 and 4-packs. They are even kid friendly until 9pm each day and make for an easy stop when heading up the McKenzie highway. 5818 Main St Springfield OR 97478 www.mckenzierivertaphouse.com

Proper Pint Taproom

Proper Pint Taproom – Portland

One of the major new taprooms to open in the last year is Sean Hiatt’s Proper Pint Taproom in the Woodstock neighborhood of southeast Portland. With a polished but handcrafted feel of copper, steel, wood and dimly lit warm lighting, this taproom has a more modest but well chosen 24 draft lines, small bottle selection and a really cool private garden patio. Somehow they have made a newly constructed building feel more stylish and warm than cold and cookie cutter like most growler fill stations/beer bars that open these days. Check out our full preview of Proper Pint Taproom here. 5965 Se 52nd ave Portland, Oregon, OR 97206 (971) 544-7167

Iron Tap Station – Brooklyn Yard

Iron Tap Station – Brooklyn Yard

This beer dedicated taproom opened in the underserved Brooklyn neighborhood in January, 2017 pouring 24 taps with three dedicated to cider, one a non-alcoholic root beer and another a non-alcoholic CBD beverage. They do not have bottles, a crowler machine or a food menu above snacks like chips & salsa and Pita & hummus. That means no-frills but a more curated taplist and a casual, relaxed environment with a focus on unique lesser known breweries alongside the mainstream. Co-owner Steven Hyun says, “We keep things as simple as possible with our main focus being beer discovery.  We go out of our way to find small breweries that are not largely distributed and new breweries.” 4780 SE Milwaukie Ave Portland, Oregon, OR 97202 (503) 719-6397 http://www.irontapstation.com

patio at The Brown Owl

The Brown Owl – Bend

Bend, Oregon is rife with breweries but perhaps not as many beer bars as you might think, and none of them have the unique story and setup as that of The Brown Owl. Originally just a food cart that opened in May of 2016, The Brown Owl is now a full restaurant and bar with the food cart remaining to serve as the kitchen outside of the brick-and-mortar. Not just any food cart but the Food Cart of the Year according to Bend’s The Source Weekly. As far as beer, The Brown Owl features 18 well-selected tap lines with at least one kombucha and a cider always on tap. They keep a rotating selection of nearly 100 bottles and cans available for there or to-go and also keep it kid friendly. The menu might be even more of a highlight here than the beer, known for their scratch food items that range from an all-day breakfast special to charcuterie and pickles, a burrito, burger, cubano and vegetarian portobello sandwich there may be something for everyone. Bonus: hand crafted cocktails and an awesome partially enclosed beer garden, plus regular meet the brewer events and tap takeovers. 550 SW Industrial Way, Ste 120 Bend, OR 97702 541.797.6581 http://brownowlbend.com/

Hops Beer Bar

Hops Beer Bar – Oregon City

Only one month old, Hops Beer Bar is only the 2nd non-brewery taproom I know of in Oregon City as of their May 2017 opening. This spot sports 20 draft lines with up to 4 of them for cider and an additional nitro tap with a healthy selection of sour beers available. “We expect Oregon City to become the new beer enthusiasts go to destination for unique, amazing beer” says Todd Nelson, one of the main owner/managers along with Eric Nelson, Holly Schlepp and Michelle Nelson. While Hops Beer Bar is just getting their feet under them, they are not kid friendly or have outdoor seating and food is limited to bar snacks with a meat and cheese plate on the way. What does make it stand out other than the few other options in the OC is their new 16oz beer canner from Oktoberdesign. Also Todd Nelson adds, ” We consider ourselves a micro beer bar (550 sq ft), dedicated to offering great beer regardless of origin or brewer.” 14210 Fir Street Ste C. Oregon City, Oregon, OR 97045 (971) 204-7675

Imperial Bottleshop & Taproom – Alberta St. – Portland

The high profile second location of Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom who’s first location has been a hit on southeast Division street. The new spot is pretty much an improvement on everything from the first except perhaps less windows and outdoor seats. The new bar is more stylish and dimmer with more taps, old school arcade games and a temperature controlled bottle room. Read our full first look preview of Imperial Bottlesho & Taproom’s new Alberta St. location here. 2006 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211 (503) 954-2021

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: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com