Stormbreaker Brewing opened a second location last week in St. Johns, in an impressively large space that formerly housed Plew’s Brews and an adjoining dentist’s office. The new Stormbreaker is poised to become a focal point of the neighborhood, with a spacious, covered patio directly facing the street, further sidewalk seating, a large and handsome wooden bar, and a cavernous empty space in the rear that will house a new brewing facility at some point in the future. For now, the beers are still being brewed at Stormbreaker’s original location on North Mississippi, and there is room for as many as 20 different beers on tap at the new spot.
During a soft opening last week, there was more than enough good Stormbreaker beer to be had, and an Extra Special Bitter brewed in collaboration with Laurelwood was especially tasty. Beer flights come in trays that are small wooden replicas of the St. Johns Bridge, iconography that indicates Stormbreaker hopes to fully connect with a neighborhood that’s seen so much change in recent years.
To Stormbreaker’s credit, their new joint doesn’t feel as though a buffed, polished, merch-flogging brewpub has been dumped fully formed into St. Johns like so many stacks of condos. They’ve kept an appealing amount of ramshackle-ness in the new space, with exposed beams, brickwork, and other remnants from the space’s previous incarnations offsetting the new build, which has been done with reclaimed wood originally found in the building.
The menu is not exactly a game-changer, and the food falls well within the established parameters of usual brewpub fare. There’s a range of burgers (also available with Impossible patties), sandwiches, wings, nachos, a Bavarian-style pretzel with beer cheese, and a smattering of salads.
Still, that covered patio is the main draw, and should attract North Portland families—and their kids and dogs—to the brewery on summer afternoons especially, but even during rainier months of the calendar, too. Those families should find enough room alongside all the street traffic and beer questers looking to taste Stormbreaker’s Good, Not Great, which won a gold medal in the imperial red ale category at the World Beer Cup earlier this month. The new Stormbreaker feels big enough and versatile enough to please almost all of its visitors—it’s rare to see a brewpub this large that’s this tastefully done. Stormbreaker St. Johns, 8409 N Lombard, Sun & Mon 11 am-10 pm, Tues-Thurs 11 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight
As Stormbreaker Brewing unveiled its second space, two other Portland brewpubs also announced forthcoming locations, with openings scheduled for later this year. Ex Novo Brewing Company’s new tap room and restaurant will arrive in Beaverton in late 2018, at 4505 SW Watson, at the corner of Farmington. The new outpost will be inside the Cady Building, which was Beaverton’s first brick building and in the past has housed a bank, pharmacy, and market. Ex Novo, whose mission is to donate their profits to charitable causes, is getting assistance from the City of Beaverton for updating the exterior of the building. When it opens, they’ll be serving 14 Ex Novo beers and the Detroit-style pizza that’s found in their original brewpub on North Flint.
Meanwhile, Von Ebert Brewing—which recently took over the Fat Head’s space in the Pearl District, with former Commons brewer Sean Burke turning out their beers—is also taking over the Ringside Grill location out at Glendoveer Golf Course in deep Northeast Portland (14021 NE Glisan). Slated to open its doors in June with brewing scheduled for around September, it will focus on German lagers, Belgian styles, and mixed-culture and sour beers. The press release touts “multiple foudres, wine puncheons, barrels, oak fruiting tanks as well as a coolship.” The new place has two patios and seating for 250.
OPB and Earthfix report that seven Oregon breweries will be making their beer available in stronger, reusable glass bottles in an attempt to cut down on recycling and environmental costs to the community. The bottles can be washed and refilled up to 40 times, as opposed to typical American beer bottles, which get crushed during the recycling process and then heated and melted into “new” glass. The participating breweries are Widmer, Double Mountain, Gigantic, Buoy, GoodLife, Wild Ride, and Rock Bottom.