How did we determine our absolute favorite Oregon beers? We chatted up brewers, bartenders, and beer geeks of all stripes. We studied who won awards. And then we made some decisions: We wanted an even mix of Portland-area brews and others from around the state. We didn’t allow the region’s most prevalent beer style—the India pale ale, or IPA—to dominate. We eliminated most seasonal beers and hard-to-find brewer one-offs. And we made it a bottom-line demand that all the final pours be available by tap or bottle here in Portland. (OK, we made two exceptions well worth a drive to sample.) But from the 100 or so beers on our ultimate short list, we made the final cut solely with our taste buds—no ifs, ands, or buts.

We invite you—no, we encourage you—to disagree. Argue with us. Tell us about beers we missed. Just do it nicely, and do it on our website: What better way to celebrate Beervana than to refine our tastes together?­

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Upright Six
A dark rye that delivers a lightning strike of complementary flavors dominated by caramel and peppery citrus notes.

Also try: Heater Allen Schwarz Lager

Full Sail Session Black
Genius marketing aside—we love the stubby bottle—this is a top-notch lager that delivers subtle flavor waves you’d expect in smaller-batch beers.

Also try: Widmer W’10 Pitch Black IPA

Alameda Black Bear XX Stout
Smooth, with rich mocha flavors, this cuddly cub of a stout nuzzles tongues with a milky mix of molasses, toasted nuts, and bitter dark chocolate.

Also try: Mt Hood Brewing Hogsback Stout

Heater Allen Coastal Lager
Zippy Cascade hops and wild spice notes reined in by a placid coalition of German and British malts make this a true utility player in your fridge’s rotation.

Also try: Organic HUB Lager

Widmer Deadlift Imperial IPA
Taming potent, citrusy New Zealand-sourced hops—and an 8.6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV)—with sweet malt notes is proof that Widmer still innovates on a large scale.

Also try: Double Mountain Hop Lava

Bridgeport Blue Heron Pale Ale
First brewed in 1987 as a tribute to Portland’s Audubon Society chapter, this pale ale continues to soar with a crisp and refreshing hop-light bite.

Also try: Alameda Klickitat Pale Ale

Cascade Gose
Proffered by Cascade Brewing, the Gose has a modest alcohol content with hints of honey, lemon, and lavender.

Also try: McMenamins Ruby

Golden Valley Red Thistle
An addictive, sweet amber with a velvety mouthfeel and toasted toffee taste.

Also try: Hair of the Dog Ruth

Lompoc Proletariat Red
Coppery red with subtle cherry and plum attributes balanced on a solid foundation of malt.

Also try: Laurelwood Free Range Red

Laurelwood Workhorse IPA
Hoppy as hell, but with enough malt on the back end and a burly 7.5 percent ABV to avoid the dreaded “bitter-beer blanch.”

Also try: Fearless Scottish Ale

Hair of the Dog Fred Golden Strong Ale
At 10 percent ABV, Fred is no pushover. Still, the sweet and chewy body includes a sturdy dose of hops and fruit flavors.

Also try: Lompoc Special Draft

Hopworks Deluxe Organic Ale
It’s a testament to brewer Christian Ettinger’s skills that this strong ale is so evenly balanced. Perfectly poised between bitter and bready; muscle and malt; fruit, flower, and earth.

Also try: Amnesia ESB

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Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Bend
Black Butte’s swirling dark chocolate notes and lingering roasted malt finish make it impossible to keep a sixer of this out of our grocery cart.

Also try: Southern Oregon Pin-Up Porter

Rogue Irish Lager, Newport
Refreshing and very drinkable lager with shades of dry grass and honey followed by a crisp champagne finish.

Also try: Caldera Lawnmower Lager

Terminal Gravity ESG, Enterprise
This American golden ale is balanced and lightly hopped—ideal for summertime sipping—but with a bit more body and flavor than a typical lager.

Also try: Ninkasi Radiant Summer

Gilgamesh Mamba, Turner
Made with tea leaves in place of hops, Mamba is a warm-weather refresher reminiscent of a hearty sun tea spiked with a splash of grapefruit juice.

Also try: Oakshire Vit

Ninkasi Tricerihops Double IPA, Eugene
A tight-wire act of herbaceous hops, creamy citrus notes, and pine resin, none of which lose their footing—or your interest.

Also try: 10 Barrel Apocalypse IPA

Pelican Tsunami Stout, Pacific City
It’s dark and brooding as a storm cloud. But don’t head for higher ground just yet. Espresso, chocolate, and sweet tobacco goodness hide beneath the Tsunami’s smoky froth.

Also try: Oakshire Espresso Stout

Walkabout Worker’s Pale Ale, Central Point

Big hop flavors out of the gate slowly fade to a chorus of round orange notes, which linger happily on the back of the tongue.

Also try: Deschutes Mirror Pond

10 Barrel Sinistor Black Ale, Bend
All the complex roasted malt characteristics of a porter, but less aggressive in both hop-bite and alcohol content.

Also try: Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Caldera IPA, Ashland
Packed with whole flower hops, this is a bold, juicy citrusy beer that finishes dry. (We like it right from the can.)

Also try: Terminal Gravity IPA

Bend Brewing Outback X, Bend
Tonya Cornett laced this 9.5 percent ABV ale with ribbon-smooth flickers of coffee and currants.

Also try: Gilgamesh Hopscotch Ale

Wakonda Beachcomber Cream Ale, Florence

You have to drive to Florence to get it, yes. But when you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a garden’s worth of dancing fruit and spice notes in what might be the state’s best beer.

Also try: Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale

Southern Oregon Na Zdravi, Medford
Honey-golden in color, this Czech-style pilsner’s tart-apple spiciness and clean, dry finish make it a beer worth revisiting.

Also try: Wakonda Sneaker Wave Pilsner

This article appeared in the July 2010 issue of Portland Monthly.
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