The first evening of the Oregon Brewers Festival weekend (Thursday) we visited Breakside Brewery for dinner and (more) beer—my first time there in fact, though I had been pining for a visit for a long time. We were not disappointed: even after a day of sampling beers and walking the Brewfest, we were ready for what Breakside had to offer.
Located way up in North Portland on an angled corner on Dekum Street, Breakside is a polished building in a semi-residential neighborhood that seems to alternate between run-down and remodeled-vying-for-upscale. I don’t know what the previous tenant did with the building, but you get the sense that it could have been some old-school tavern, located in the prime drinking real estate of a five-way intersection.
We sat in the upstairs part of the dining area inside, where we encountered the only real negative part of the visit—it was hot up there. It’s an open space looking down over the bar and lower dining area, so fortunately it wasn’t stifling, but next time we would definitely opt to sit outside at one of the big picnic tables, just outside the garage doors which were wide open for the summer.
After getting settled in, I tucked into the beer sampler, with my notes:
From left to right, they were:
Wit, 4.4% abv: Light, spicy, and the barest hint of funk in a very good way. Not fruity like some examples of the style, but a very well-done example with an appropriate Belgian flair.
Dry Stout, 4.1% abv: Very dry, roasty but dusty. (You want to take a sip of water after a sip of this.) Thin body and again, a very good representative example of the style. Very drinkable.
Aztec, 10.2% abv: A chocolate chili ale. There’s chocolate, chili heat at the the back, with a bit of malty sweetness, really nice. The chocolate character reminds me of what Deschutes Brewery did with their “S’More’s” beer or Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale—drawing out the smoky, fruity character of the chocolate rather than the dark, sweet notes. Nicely cacao-y, if you’ve ever had the raw cacao beans you’ll know what I mean.
IPA, 6.8% abv: Fruity and pungent, with the resin and green stem flavors characteristic of the northwest style. Very nicely hoppy and and excellent IPA.
Smoked Porter, 6.3% abv: Nice and mellow BBQ smoke flavors, on the tongue it’s very light and drinkable and I’m a big fan of smoke beers so I love it. There are hints of charcoal and fire and it’s super drinkable.
Old Woody, 9.2% abv: “Brewed in collaboration with Paul Kasten of legendary Portland restaurant Wildwood, this is a traditional English-style old ale brewed with two types of molasses.” Bourbon-y but soft—kind of an Imperial Brown aged on wood. [Wrote these notes before I saw that description.] Incredibly mellow and very drinkable for being so strong.
I have to say, across the board all the beers were excellent. I wish I’d had a chance at some point to try some of their past offerings!
For dinner I went with the Curry Fried Chicken, and I wasn’t sorry with it—it was a good complement to the beers—though I suppose if I were to pick one to pair with it, I would probably pick either the Wit or the Aztec. Here’s the menu description:
Served on a bed of mashed potatoes and seasonal local veggies. Topped with a Madras curry sauce, fresh pico de gallo, and crispy Walla Walla onions.
Curry and pico de gallo might seem an odd combination, but it really worked well. They are really focusing on quality food to go along with the beers and overall their mission as stated on the menu sums up the “Portland sensibility” nicely with this new generation of Portland brewpubs:
At Breakside Brewery we are proud to source our ingredients very carefully. We strive to utilize the best the Northwest has to offer. Our breads are baked fresh by Grand Central Bakery. Our beef is Country Natural brand, grown by a rancher-owner cooperative that never uses antibiotics or hormones and certifies the most humane treatment of their cattle. Other meat products are processed by Fulton Meats here in Portland. Our pork is raised in the Willamette Valley by Carlton Farms. Our cheeses are produced by Tillamook and Rogue Creamery. We buy organic and seasonal produce when possible. We compost our food waste and reduce our carbon footprint by using environmentally aware vendors.
Everyone else was similarly pleased with their food and beers, and we had a good time.
On the way out I snapped a picture down the stairs that leads to the basement brewery, and grabbed a so-so picture through the outside basement window of the brewery. Because we were shooting from the hip as far as the Brewfest weekend went, I hadn’t checked ahead of time to find out if we could get a tour of the brewery space—but that’s okay because it gives me something to look forward to next time!
Overall I really enjoyed Breakside and I can’t wait to get back to Portland for another chance to visit. Breakside is definitely one of the “new generation” as I mentioned and when you visit, it really shows.
820 Northeast Dekum Street
Portland, OR 97211