Had to take a beer break and give you the great news that Christian Ettinger's Hopworks Urban Brewery opened yesterday to throngs of happy hop-heads. So pent-up was the anticipation that by early evening they'd filled to capacity and there was a half-hour wait just to get in the door! And Christian was worried that no one would show up on opening day...
We got a table in the corner with a great view of the amazing bike-frame sculpture over the bar and ordered our first round from the selection of ten beers on tap plus two on cask. Christian came by and informed us that their two cask taps would always have the IPA and the other would rotate with seasonals. The incredible Kentucky Christmas ale, their Abominable Winter Ale aged in freshly emptied Kentucky bourbon barrels, is on now and has to be tasted to be believed. Rich, dry and completely quaffable, it's on my list of great brews.
One of the party got the sampler tray that featured eight beers, six of their regular brews with two seasonals, and all were outstanding. Though Christian isn't known for making flavored beers, his Survival Seven-Grain Stout, finished with 15 pounds of cold-pressed Stumptown Hairbender espresso, is a must-have. The rest, ranging from a pale ale to their ESB, are all, as expected, well-made and among the best you'll find in this beer-crazy town.
And the food? Well, I've been saying that what Portland needs is a pub with outstanding beer and outstanding food and, at this point, I'd have to say Hopworks' pub grub is at the top of the heap. We tried the papas fritas and the chicken wings from the very reasonably priced happy hour menu and found them excellent, the fried potatoes crisp on the outside and tender inside and the wings juicy and spicy.
We also ordered two pizzas, one a sausage and pepperoni combo and the other a feta and artichoke heart pie, and both came out piping hot and delicious. And despite the crush of customers, the staff was efficient and responsive, keeping us well-supplied and happy. The beer and the food disappeared in no time, and we were making plans to return when the HUB-bub dies down a bit.
Details: Hopworks Urban Brewery, 2944 SE Powell Blvd. Phone 503-232-4677.