Each year we put our heads together and profile some of the best new taprooms and beer bars to open in Oregon. Oftentimes these stories can be Portland focused but not this year, the suburbs have taken center stage with Hillsboro leading the charge and a handful of great new beer bars across the state joining the fray. While not everyone has a local brewery, nearly everyone has a local watering hole and it’s easier to find great beer thanks to the proliferation of these great community spaces.
Decibel Sound & Drink – Milwaukie, OR
The newly christened Decibel Sound & Drink in downtown Milwaukie is a craft cocktail bar with an impressive beer selection. With 12 taps (Czechvar on the regular) and a rotating list that includes Breakside, pFriem, Rosenstadt, and Occidental, as well as limited releases like Ecliptic’s Tiramisu Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, additional new beers are on the way. (Attention small brewers: They’re currently looking to partner with you.)
Step up to the bar and check out their custom-made tap handles fabricated from vacuum tubes (complementing the impressive hi-fi sound system and the overall theme.) Kids and dogs? A fully built outdoor patio space is in the works for 2020, meaning both will be welcome soon.
It’s a family run place, the food is good (try the torta) and the design and vibe is top notch. It’s on the Orange Line or easily accessible by bike. Tons of parking in the nearby church after hours, too. Score one for Milwaukie. – by John Chilson. Decibel – 11380 SE 21st Ave, Milwaukie, OR 97222
Mayfly Taproom and Bottle Shop – N. Portland
North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood has long been underserved for good beer and food but that’s been changing. Mayfly opened just last March and has the beer and the vibes well covered. The bright, airy space has plenty of views to the neighborhood and is filled with bright plants that liven up the room. The draft selection is just as well thought out as the design, with 16 taps to play with, Mayfly has a plan for each of them. Thirteen or fourteen of the draft lines are reserved for beer with two or three others for ciders. Rather than choosing beers for each line willy nilly, Mayfly has a plan for that. Each draft line is dedicated to a specific style of beer (barring special events that take over more lines), 1-3 lines for IPA’s (atleast one hazy), others are for a Pilsner, another lager, a Double IPA, a farmhouse/wild or sour ale13-14 of the drafts generally carry be, a collaboration tap for charity and a final one for rotating seasonal. In an effort to please more folks in the neighborhood, Mayfly has 4-6 different carefully chosen wines by the glass and snacks that they hope to evolve into more substantial items like meat, cheese, pickle, charcuterie plates and craft popcorn, all that pairs well with beer. You can also find a solid selection of bottled and can product for in house consumption or to-go: 140 different beers, 40-50 different cider, meads, seltzer’s and kombucha and 32 different bottles of wine. Mayfly is NOT kid friendly, which could be a plus or minus depending on what you are looking for. 8350 N Fenwick Ave, Portland, OR 97217 https://www.mayflypdx.com/.
Noble Hop Bierhaus – Hillsboro
Hillsboro’s new Noble Hop Bierhaus will celebrate their grand opening this Saturday, February 8th. The beer bar comes from Neal Glaske, a former west side rep for Point Blank Distributing, and Mike Soto, a restauranteur with 3 decades in the business and who’s restaurant Pizzario is across the street from Noble Hop. Noble Hop has it all; beers and ciders for there or to-go, in-house food menu, plenty of TV’s to catch up on sports ball, a large patio with outdoor games and is kid-friendly until 9pm. Noble Hop makes for a great anchor to new Hillsboro development Tokola Properties landmark project. Glaske and Soto bring a lot of beer and hospitality experience to the table, and Glaske is even a born and raised Hillsboro native. Noble Hop features 22 taps: 18 beer, 3 cider, 1 kombucha + 3 cooler doors of bottle/can selection to-go. Look for full on outdoor dining in the summer, Blazers and Timbers games, trivia nights and live music in the future. 370 E Main St, Hillsboro, OR 97123 https://www.facebook.com/NobleHop/
Wildwood Taphouse – Hillsboro, OR
Founded by two longtime friends – Andrew Bradford & Will Witt – Wildwood Taphouse recalls the late and great Portland restaurant that hosted world class beer dinners. Wildwood Taphouse, however, is more of a beer bar, offering 20 taps of fine beers and ciders. The food consists of light bar snacks and the edible kind of milkshake/smoothie beer made by Ruby Jewel called ice cream sandwiches. Wildwood keeps the party going from 11am to 11pm and is all-ages friendly until 6pm. Bonuses include some outside seating and a well stocked cooler full of liquid treats to-go. 9345 NE Windsor Street, Hillsboro, Oregon 97006 https://wildwoodtaphouse.com/
Tulip Shop Tavern – Portland, OR
Tulip Shop owners Tyler and Devon Treadwell might tell you that their bar is not a taproom but a locals dive bar, but don’t let that fool you. Tulip Shop Tavern IS a divey neighborhood bar and it has just 8 taps but the beers that are on draft prove it’s not about the largest number but the best selection. The Treadwells have been active in the beer industry for quite awhile, working at breweries, taprooms, cocktail bars and more. Their Seattle connections also run deep and they have tapped into them in obtaining beers from Holy Mountain Brewing and Cloudburst Brewing that you won’t find anywhere else in Portland. Local beers are often hoppy or crushable lagers from the likes of Wayfinder Beer and Occidental. The cocktails are stiff and the bar food is obnoxiously good. Rounding things out is the decor of leather booths, black light artwork, pinball and records. This is a true late night bar or dark respite from the bright pulsating drum of the ADD craft beer fads invading our feeds. 825 N Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97217 http://www.tulipshoptavern.com/
The Place – Portland, OR
When Bushwhacker Cider closed in 2018 we wondered if we would ever see another taproom/bottleshop with that level of cider selection. Luckily, some former staff of Bushwhacker took over the lease and reopened “The Place” in the original Bushwhacker location off of 12th and SE Powell Blvd. The Place, focuses on dry ciders, which is pretty unique in the currently culture dominating world of sweeter and additional fruit flavored ciders and seltzers. The Place has also opened up the selection to include natural wines not made with chemicals and often with wild yeasts present. The minimalist, vintage vibe of The Place is a perfect setting to sip on the more hard-to-find and subtle styles of wine and cider that are popular with connoisseurs if not the mainstream. 1212-D SE Powell Blvd. Portland, Oregon https://theplacepdx.com/
Portland Beer Museum – Portland, OR
Part kitschy gift-shop and tourist attraction and better part bottle shop and taproom, the Portland Beer Museum is an oddity. This downtown shop is no beer museum, but is a place to find an eclectic collection of beer related merchandise, gifts, toys and games in addition to actual beer to be drank. The prices for beers to enjoy on-site or to-go are good: 64oz growler fills are only $15, 12oz glasses of draft beer are only $4. There are also 10 cooler doors of packaged bottles and cans, making it perhaps the best bottle shop selection in downtown Portland. Read more about the Portland Beer Museum in our full story here. 318 SW Washington St. Portland, Oregon http://pdxbeermuseum.com/
Old Ironwood Taps / Bunk & Brew – Bend, OR
Since 2016 Bunk & Brew has been offering an affordable, communal and central location to stay in Bend, Oregon for all types of visitors, now they have added a beer truck called Old Ironwood Taps. Bunk & Brew has been under a refresh of sorts over the last year, remodeling the rooms, building out the backyard and putting a sauna in. The latest, and perhaps most substantial addition is the lowkey, European-inspired beer garden with fire pits, a gazebo, cornhole and giant jenga, a vegan food cart and Old Ironwood Taps. Inside the just opened tap truck is 8 draft lines, one for cider and another a kombucha. Bunk & Brew hopes both neighbors and visitors will take advantage of the trucks with plans for first Friday art walk events and pop-up markets. Winter hours for Old Ironwood are 11am-6pm and Summer 11am-10pm. 42 NW Hawthorne Ave, Bend, OR 97703 https://www.bunkandbrew.com/
Tap & Vine at 559 – Medford, OR
Medford has a popular new restaurant and taproom at the Village Medford Shopping Center. The large space has seating for well over a hundred people all told, that includes more than 60 outside on an open air dining area with fire-water feature. Tap & Vine serves a variety of crowds with house cocktails, an extensive wine and whiskey list and plenty of beer. There is a total of 51 taps, 34 of them beers, 3 for ciders, 10 for wine, 3 are craft sodas and 1 a Kombucha. The mass appeal of Tap & Vine includes a full kitchen menu with Americana and gastropub twists on Hawaiian, Korean and Spanish dishes. T & V accomodates families with a kids menu and activities, and large groups with a 30+ seating private room and five TV’s at the bar. 559 Medford Center, Medford, OR 97504 https://tapandvine559.com/
Prime Tap House – Hillsboro, OR
Even though they opened only last September, Prime Tap House is already expanding into their adjacent space on the corner of 188th and NE Cornell Rd. in Hillsboro. The small taproom opened with outsized plans for their own in-house brands and with 26 drafts to choose from. The expansion will allow owner Dong Khounphachansy to knock down a wall into the adjacent space and add a kitchen. From the upcoming food program Khounphachansy is planning on an Asian fusion wing concept capable of stealing crowds from Buffalo Wild Wings. 15-20 flavors of wings are on deck for the ryer, as well as asian rice sliders.
Prime Tap House currently does not serve food but does have 20-30 bottles and cans to-go, is family friendly til 9pm and has three 65′ tv’s and one jumbo 82′ inch. Khounphachansy hopes to open his wing kitchen in August and open more locations of Prime Taphouse in the near future. 1896 NE 106th Ave, Hillsboro, OR 97124 https://www.primetaphouse.com
Raindrop Taphouse – Beaverton, OR
The Portland suburbs have a new option highlighting local beer with 26 tap beer bar that serves entirely local product. Raindrop keeps things simple and pleasurable with a focus on kombucha, root beer and cider alongside 20 taps strictly dedicated to Oregon beer. While you won’t find food, other than bar snacks, you will find a convivial taproom with two tv’s and a couple outdoor picnic tables to take in the sun rays when available. 4545 SW Angel Ave Ste 170, Beaverton, OR 97005 https://www.raindroptaphouse.com/
Terminus Bottle & Tap – SE Portland
The outskirts of the Woodstock neighborhood has a new beer bar called Terminus Bottle & Tap that’s making craft beer easier to find for locals. We had the pleasure of covering Terminus in October not long after it first opened in August. Partners Louis Hindman and Kristi Schaffer got a development grant to open this new neighborhood spot in Lents, a simple one room taproom with a rotating taplist and menu of beer food snacks like sliders, hot dogs, paninis, salads and charcuterie boards, they even do Sunday brunch specials. Nearby Bella Italian Bakery will also deliver direct to the bar to satiate your craving. Terminus has 16 taps primarily of Oregon beers and 2 ciders. Read all about Terminus in our full article on their opening in 2019. 9133 SE Woodstock Blvd Portland, Oregon https://www.terminusbottleandtap.com/
Nebulous Taproom – Beaverton, OR
There is nothing nebulous about this new beer bar’s 48 draft lines. Opened in December by three Oregonians, two of whom put in their life savings to switch careers and follow their dreams of opening a taproom. Nebulous aims to serve the beer geek community by showcasing both currently trending beers like Fort George’s Magnetic Fields and highlighting lesser knowns like Cooper Mountain, Integrity Brewing, and Vanguard Brewing. While Nebulous does not serve food, they do have menus from local restaurants for outside food and carry 3 non-alcoholic drinks on tap. The goal is to make it a chill family friendly establishment with plenty of activities like indoor cornhole and board games and a hell of a lot of TV’s; 9 x 55″ screens, 3 x 75″ and one large projector and screen. 11645 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy Beaverton, Oregon
Brew Coffee & Taphouse W. Salem
Combining Oregonians two favorite brews – coffee and beer – this now two location business started in Independence, Oregon in 2016 and opened in west Salem last May. Both locations offer a full espresso bar and locally roasted coffee that they are strangely secretive about it’s origins. Both bars also focus on only local beer and cider on tap, with a bottle and can selection to-go. What makes the W. Salem taproom stand out is their huge outdoor patio and fire pit. A local chef makes sandwiches, salad, wraps, cheesecake and stromboli’s and delivers them to the taphouse for patrons. Brew Coffee & Taphouse strives to be an inclusive neighborhood establishment, family friendly and with 17 taps, 2 of them for cider, 1 for a nitro beer and another a nitro cocktail. 1320 Edgewater St NW B10Salem, Oregon http://brewcoffeeandtaphouse.com/
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.