Mt. Hood Brewing has been an Oregon staple and regular stop for many in Government Camp, and now the 27-year old brewpub is making a play in Portland by opening a new pub and restaurant at Tilikum Station near OMSI. Mt. Hood Brewing’s Ice Axe is a beer that used to be a regular around Portland in the early 2000s and can still regularly be found on tap at Horse Brass Pub. Over recent years the brewery has been known as a favorite stop for skiers and snowboarders. Like many Oregon breweries struggling under increased competition, Mt. Hood Brewing is going direct to the public and the mainstream in Portland with a really unique new pub on the train tracks at the intersection of new and old.
Located right next door to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and on the eastside of the Tilikum Crossing bridge, both the MAX Orange Line and the old school train tracks carrying locomotives cross right next to the pub. The location is a strange quiet industrial area just a few blocks west of The Beermongers and Apex. Except for the incredibly loud locomotives that pass by (blaring their horn loudly on most occasions) as much as every thirty minutes, according to staff, it’s a surprisingly quiet oasis in the heart of the city.
Outside of having all of Mt. Hood Brewing’s beers on tap in Portland, the main feature of the Tilikum Station pub is the rail cars. Tilikum’s dining room is located inside a connected rail car and roll-up windows in the main room of the brick and mortar provide bar seating to the oncoming trains. It’s a very sunny space with great neighborhood watching.
Mt. Hood Brewing’s beers can tend to be throwbacks to the early 2000s as well; on my recent visit the new Mt. Hood Lager that was brewed just for the new location wasn’t on tap yet. Both the two mainstay hoppy beers seem like they came straight out of 20002. For my money, Cascadian Pale Ale is the best bet, with grassy hops and signature Cascade hop citrus flavor in a darker malt body than what we usually expect in pale ales these days. It’s nonetheless light, with fresh hop flavors and goes down pretty easy. The flagship Ice Axe IPA tastes like a straight throwback to the 90s, with a level of hoppiness that had the group of people I was with questioning if they had received the right beer. I thought at first we were served a Cloud Cap Amber Ale instead of the IPA, but after getting a deeply caramelly sample of the amber, we realized, no, it’s just a very British-style IPA with those signature earthy and mild English hopping. Timberline Trucker Double IPA will be a crowdpleaser if you are a fan of the extreme beer movement and all the Double IPAs that were on the market circa 2005-2010. It’s not for everyone, but Mt Hood Brewing’s dark beers may be their best. Multoporter Smoked Porter will please fans of Alaskan Brewing’s Smoked Porter, and Hogsback Oatmeal Stout is a nice and light but creamy oatmeal stout that’s excellent on cask (unfortunately no cask engine at the new place). If you are not in the mood for beer, there is also a small liquor selection for housemade cocktails that look to be carefully crafted.
For food to go along with their beers and train watching, Mt. Hood Brewing has went for elevated pizza and classic foods of Spain and Italy. Mt. Hood Brewing Tilikum Station’s Chef’s Jason Stoller Smith and Chris Flanagan are baking Neapolitan-style pizza with NW grown wheat flour and dough that’s fermented for 24 hours and cooked to char in a wood-fired oven. The pizza selection has a lot of potential with familiar but slightly out of the box takes on pies. I look forward to trying the Walla Walla (sweet yellow onion, parmesan, olive oil, IP8 beer vinegar, sea salt). The North End could also be a popular pizza; it’s an homage to the Portland Timbers and topped with pesto, zucchini, green olives, goat cheese, parmesan, and arugula. I did get to try a Margherita because of my vegan brother’s presence, and while the flavors were quite tasty, the crust is dead on arrival with a flabby, soggy bottom that doesn’t even attempt to hold up to the ingredients, though it looks the part with requisite bubbles and right amount of char. It needs to be a lot more solid and substantial, even if it’s a thinner crust. Then again, this was the first day and hopefully the kitchen is dialing the pies in.
I actually might be even more intrigued by the menu section for Spanish Tin Can Seafood; Sardines with piquillo pepper, Octopus in olive oil, and Mussels escabeche. It’s all rounded out with a couple of salads and a burrata and vegetable spread and a couple of dessert options.
Mt. Hood Brewing’s new Tilikum Station PDX pub and restaurant may not raise to destination level, but it makes for a great bicycle or public transportation commuter stop, or a solid option for food and beer while attending an event at OMSI or Portland Opera.
Mt. Hood Brewing PDX at Tilikum Station
401 SE Caruthers Street
Portland, OR 97214
Sunday – Thursday 11:00am – 9:00pm
Fridays & Saturdays 11:00am – 10:00pm