Beer and Games

Portland’s First Tabletop-Roleplaying-Devoted Brewpub Will Open This Spring

TPK Brewing wants to be a haven for beer lovers and gamers.

By Isabel Lemus Kristensen November 15, 2022

Image: Lindsey Shea

Craft beer and tabletop roleplaying games are coming together with TPK Brewing, a majority queer, woman-of-color-owned tavern coming this spring in the soon-to-be-former Tabor Bread building (5051 SE Hawthorne Blvd). The owners are touting it as the first dedicated tabletop roleplaying (TTRPG) brewpub in the city.  

Cofounders Elliott Kaplan and Jess Hardie have been dreaming of the brewpub since 2015, though their friendship goes even further back. They first met about 10 years ago while working in marketing in the video game industry in San Francisco.  

The two of them have been playing Dungeons & Dragons with a group of friends since they took part in a 24-hour Extra Life charity event in 2012, Kaplan says.  

Hardie, TPK’s head brewer, will create beers to go along with D&D campaigns. “Maybe we’re going to be investigating a swamp or something, so maybe I just want to stick with really dark beers, or somebody’s character reminds me of a certain flavor profile,” she says.  

The idea for TPK—which stands for “total party kill,” when an entire party of player characters is killed in roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons—grew from there, Hardie says. In 2018, she pursued brewing at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. The same year, Kaplan studied the business of craft brewing at Portland State University.  

A little over a year ago Dana Ebert, who was referred to Kaplan and Hardie through the podcast League of Ultimate Questing: Battle Axis, joined the team as creative director. She comes with an extensive marketing background, as well as experience as a professional gamemaster, writer, and voice actor. Since she joined the team, Ebert says the three of them have become “besties.”  

From left: CEO Elliott Kaplan, head brewer Jess Hardie, and creative director Dana Ebert

Image: Lindsey Shea

Ebert is the lead writer and designer of TPK’s flagship experience The Leyfarer’s Chronicle, an in-person campaign set in the original, post-ataclysmic world of Val’Ruvina, as well as a prequel adventure book titled The Blooms That Feed on Fire, which takes place 300 years before the cataclysm. TPK will also offer a selection of other TTRPGs with private, semiprivate, or public seating, with the option of hiring a professional gamemaster to run a game.  

TPK is combining its original story content with six flagship beers made in house, plus two thematic beers that rotate depending on the storyline of the game, says Hardie.  

“Dana will tell me about the world and how it’s kind of been decimated and there’s no longer any fresh fruit, so they really have to preserve fruit throughout the year. I’m like, ‘OK, what would be good preserves?’” Hardie says, describing her process for developing the beers.  

Hardie is also making a lager inspired by her Mexican heritage. “For me, it is taking something that I am familiar with in my community that I have memories of and making it my own,” she says.  

The owners want to change the narrative around what brewing and gaming looks like. “It is predominantly white males that are enjoying these two things and have held the space,” Hardie says. “[But] it’s something we love so much and want to share with other people who might not have had access.”  

TPK will be a space for both new and veteran players alike, and nongamers are welcome, too. Patrons can bring their kids, their own board games, or hang out, sip beer, and enjoy dishes from Hapa Barkada, a joint-venture from the owners of the Filipino pop-up BarkadaPDX and the Hapa Howies Hawaiian food truck. 

Uplifting the Portland community is at the forefront of the owners’ minds. The city is a haven for craft breweries and beer lovers, but its roleplaying scene is just as vibrant.  

“Portland has a really rich roleplaying community that does some of the most creative stuff I've seen,” Ebert says. “We have things like Dungeon Battle Karaoke. We have multiple venues that run games. We have a lot of content creators that are local.”  

TPK is “very Portland specific,” Kaplan says. “We’ve had some people who are like, ‘Oh yeah, I can’t believe this didn’t exist already.’”   

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