Hopworks Grand Opening

Made it up to Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) to partake in the grand opening. Arrived at about 5:30 and met up with some friends who (luckily) got a table in the packed to the gills brewpub. Seems like anybody who had any kind of interest at all in local beers was there. The servers were completely overwhelmed but still managed to get us our beers in a reasonable amount of time, which says a lot about the high caliber of service at this place.

So how is it? It’s pretty nice. Probably won’t replace my local watering hole in the immediate future, but once the crowds die down, I can see myself going here pretty regularly.

The Good:

1. A separate area for kids – I’ve given up trying to fight the fact that some people feel absolutely compelled to bring their children to the pub with them. But unlike some places (I’m looking at you Lucky Lab) you don’t have to worry about dodging children running around while their parents completely ignore them. There is an upstairs area where those with children can sit. The downstairs (and main room) is reserved for grown-ups. This is a huge plus.

2. The beer – in a word? Great. HUBs beers stand up with the best Portland has to offer. Their lager is crisp, malty, and tastes like something you’d get in Germany. I think that lager, as a style, has been ignored by too many Portland brewers, and I applaud a place that not only makes them, but makes them well. I didn’t try the pale, IPA, or ESB because, frankly, this town is awash in them. I did, however, try the “Seven Grain Survival Stout” and it was fantastic. It’s nice, malty, and has that slightly chalky mouth-feel that all great stouts have. HUB also adds Espresso to their Stout, which makes for a nice finish.

3. Happy Hour – the happy hour menu here is awesome. All kinds of stuff for less than two bucks, and a lot more for under four. Pizza, wings, all kinds of goodies to be noshed.

4. The service – as I mentioned before, this place was packed. Yet our server was continually fighting her way through the crowd to make sure our beer needs were met. She was awesome. As I was leaving, one of my buddies mentioned that he heard someone saying that the service was to slow. If that person is reading this – you sir (or ma’am), are a jackass. It’s opening freaking day. There will be snags. And, given the size of the crowd, I think that the people working there did an amazing job of getting everyone served in a reasonable amount of time. So cram it.

The Bad (and these complaints are minor):

1. Food can be a little spendy. It’s a small complaint, as I’m mostly coming for the beer, but $9.25 for a cheeseburger? Really? On the other hand, they have a great lunch special (a slice, a salad, and a beer for something like six bucks), and the prices for pizza are about in line with other local joints.

2. The location. SE Powell blows. It reminds me of my time spent in Vancouver. It’s like our own little Mill Plain Blvd. Traffic, fast-food chains, and noise. At least HUB is close-in, and inside it’s fairly well shielded against the outside road noise.

3. Crowds – did I mention this place was crowded? Granted, it’s opening day, but I might give it a week or two before you go sauntering in, or go during off-hours. And as time passes, this is certain to be only a temporary problem.

All in all
HUB has done a great job of appealing to a large cross section of Portland beer geeks. The selection is varied, the happy hour rocks, the service is prompt, and adults can be left alone for awhile if they so choose. They’re a welcome addition, and I wish them all the success in the world.

Check ’em out at 29th and SE Powell

3 Comments so far

  1. dieselboi on March 26th, 2008 @ 7:27 am

    I am so glad you made it out on opening day. Well done sir. We waffled and landed on not going due to not wanting to deal with the crowds. I’m glad you had a good time.

    I have been thinking about the location also and wondering if it is right, but then again, Christian Ettinger wants to reuse everything and I bet that location was less expensive than anything in North close in or in the central eastside. Also, it affords parking. It is only 1 mile walk from Roots and Lucky Lab if you’re interested in doing a brew crawl – and that 1 mile would be through Ladd’s addition.


  2. nmarchetti on March 26th, 2008 @ 8:04 am

    I’m glad you got in…we went around 7pm and they had a wait to "get in the building" that was close to half-an-hour long. They were at code capacity (I think fire) and couldn’t let any more bodies in the brewery. Once you got in it was another one-and-a-half hours wait for a table. As much as my wife and I and some friends wanted to check it out, we ended up over at Green Dragon. I had a HUB beer there so I guess we didn’t totally miss out…

    Will try again another time.


  3. derrickvee on March 26th, 2008 @ 9:43 am

    also stopped by last night around 7:30 and quickly ascertained eating anytime soon was not a possibility. we left but hope to return for an early happy hour in the next week or two to beat the crowds.

    i wonder if HUB stays hot if it will spur any improvement to the disaster that is powell. also, does the alleged ‘vitalization’ (i would say revitalization, but i’m not sure if foster was EVER vital) have any teeth to it?



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