The stealthy opening of Deschutes' Portland brewpub -- it's been open all week -- means I got scooped by several Beervana commentators. Better late than never, Carla and I went over there for lunch today on the official Grand Opening. At least we got some commemorative pint glasses for our effort.
It was probably a good strategic move to open a few days early, to take some of the pressure off, considering Hopworks' fire-code-busting opening day six weeks ago. Maybe it's a different story tonight, but the lunch crowd was manageable. The restaurant tables didn't really fill up until about noon, and as far as I could tell there was never a wait.
The Deschutes Pearl District pub is a great addition to the Portland scene, especially since they're actually brewing there. Their first Portland brew is on tap right now, the Armory XPA, named after the garrison-turned-theater across the street. It's a well-done Northwestern Pale Ale, with very floral hops.
I suppose the "X" in XPA is for "extra", though of course these extra pale ales turn out darker than the pales. On the other hand, there's a code-switching pun here: "ex-pee-ay" is how you pronounce the French verb "expier" -- to do penance or to make reparation. I can't help it, I loved the headline on the Champagne of Blogs' review -- "Deschutes: French for 'Watch out, Bridgeport'" -- and now I can't get the French connection out of my brain. So if there's something troubling you, some sin you have to make up for, go XPA it with a couple of pints.
John Foyston says there are 16 tap handles, but I think some of them just pour root beer, because I can only come up with 12 beers served. I forgot to take home the seasonal beer menu, but between the Deschutes website and my memory, here are the beers that were on tap today:
- Mirror Pond Pale Ale
- Black Butte Porter
- Obsidian Stout
- Bachelor Bitter
- Cascade Ale
- Inversion IPA
- Cinder Cone Red
- Armory XPA
- Hop Henge IIPA
- 2005 Mirror Mirror Barleywine
- The Abyss
- Green Lake Organic Ale
The decor is Northwest lodge through and through: big wood rafters, a stone fireplace, and chainsaw sculptures. The food seemed pretty good to us -- we each had burgers from the $9.50-11.50 burger menu. My french fries were drab and greasy, but the salads were decent. We were intrigued enough to try the hop cheesecake, but we didn't really pick up any hop flavor. Maybe the Mirror Mirror was to blame for that.
Let's talk about what might have been.... Two or three years ago, I noticed a banner on the side of the building on the northeast corner of 34th and Belmont. It said "Future home of Deschutes Public House". That was exciting -- one of Oregon's best breweries opening a pub in our neighborhood. But the banner was soon down, apparently because Deschutes made the deal for the current location in the Pearl, and the low-key Side Street Tavern opened on SE 34th instead. It's hard to imagine getting a pub and a brewery into the Side Street space, so although Southeast lost a pub, Portland gained a brewery. Whatever the case, welcome to Portland, Deschutes!