I have yet to be to another city with as many interesting and thriving breweries as Portland, OR. It’s even ok (in my opinion) to judge an eating establishment by who they have on tap (if you walk in and only see PBR, Heinekin, and Coors–it’s time to keep looking). I love how it’s socially acceptable to walk into a brewery with a large jug to fill for later, and some breweries even have their own food cart entourage that ensures hot food is available to beer lovers. I usually rate breweries on three subjects: venue (is it cozy? Neat? Cramped?), beer offering (i.e. do they offer a lot of different kinds? Do they have guest taps? Sours? Ciders?), and service (because a smile goes a long way).
Recently, the standard was set for breweries by a Portland-based brewery by the name of Base Camp Brewing. Their brewery and taproom, located in inner SE Portland, is an experience. The taproom has vast amounts of seating compared to most other breweries I’ve frequented, and the entire place exudes a mountaineering feel. It brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from comedian Mitch Hedberg–
I would live at Base Camp Brewing if they’d let me. The taproom is set up on to a second story, and outside at the street level there are bonfires burning in the evenings with seating. I’m half convinced they donated tents to the surrounding homeless as you will see tents pitched in the blocks around the brewery.
Base Camp only had its own beers on tap during my multiple visits, and this impressed me. Not because they didn’t include guest taps, but because they had 10-13 of their own beers on tap! That is quite impressive. I also happen to have a special place in my heart for puns, and many of the beers were punningly named (my favorite being the In-Tents IPL of course). Of the ten, I’ve managed to sip four to five but have come back to the S’mores Stout every time–and no, it’s not because it’s got a charred marshmallow on the rim of the glass. I just have a thing for espresso-y stouts.