In Portland, the Laurelwood Brewing Company occupies two locations: their NW Public House in northwest Portland, and their Public House and Brewery located in northeast Portland, in the Hollywood district. This Hollywood location is relatively new and very kid-friendly, and since we had the kids with us on our Memorial Day trip to Portland, we decided to try it out.
First, a note about driving there: most likely (if you’re not native to Portland) you’ll be traveling east on Sandy Boulevard to get to Laurelwood, which is on 40th Avenue, and as you approach 40th you’ll see the building housing the brewpub on the left. However, there are no left turns allowed for that and the next several intersections; we found out the hard way to go right and back around the block to 39th, past Sandy and come in the back way. This makes it frustrating for first-time visitors, I’d imagine.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the place is definitely kid friendly. A big crate of coloring books and stacks of small buckets full of crayons are near the hostess station by the door. In a back corner, overlooking the brewing operation, is the kids’ corner: a play area with a bunch of toys and activities that the little ones can hang out in. There were a good number of kids there, though surprisingly they weren’t overly noisy—any more than the ambient noise of the brewpub anyway.
The atmosphere and layout felt, to me, old fashioned, as if it were an older tavern or somesuch. A mix of bench seats and chairs flanking long(ish) tables contributed to this, as did the raw wood beams exposed on the ceiling—which was not a bad touch, actually. Dark hardwood floors and furniture added to this feeling, and there was a half-height railing separating the bar from the rest of the dining area. The word that came to me near the end of the visit to describe this: "Roadhouse."
Service was good, and efficient: my dinner salad came out really, really quickly. And the dinner followed just as fast! I was impressed with how quick they were.
The food was excellent, too. I ordered the chicken fried steak, which came with mashed potatoes and really fresh, really good asparagus. Everyone else’s food looked good too, but frankly I was too preoccupied with my beer to take much notice.
Yep. The sampler tray. Comes with all their standard beers, and a seasonal—although the "seasonal" that evening was one of the regulars on cask. Here’s what I had:
Mother Lode Golden: Crisp and hoppy. Pale yellow gold. Hops are bitter without being fruity. Nice malt base, light and refreshing. Nice firm but thin body.
Piston Pale Ale: Nice copper color, though clear and pale. A bit on the light side malt-wise, but has a nice hop kick—though not overpowering. Nice Northwest Pale Ale.
Ettinger Amber Bier: An Altbier style! Nice amber-brown like I’d expect. Very nicely malty—tasty—with nice malt backing. This was also the casked "seasonal" selection. It was good; I think my favorite of the bunch.
Free Range Red (Organic): Red-brown—so far the colors match up really well. This is hoppier than the rest, I think, but (again) not overpoweringly strong or bitter—up front and dry. Thinner body than "standard."
Boss IPA: Hop kick—the Northwest IPA for sure. Nice and sweet malt body with the big hop character—woody.
Tree Hugger Porter (Organic): Roasty, dark, dry. A little thin and and little dark (burnt) and dry for my liking of a porter. Not bad, just heavy on the roasted/black malts.
Overall, good food, and good beer, and a neat retro atmosphere—and a good place to go if you want quality microbrew and have kids along. I’ll just cap this with a couple of pictures of the brewing operation:
Gotta dig the awards and the row of beer bottles lining the wall.
Laurelwood Public House and Brewery (Hollywood location)
1728 NE 40th Avenue
Portland, OR 97212