Ex Novo Brewery – Drink Beer. Do Good.

Not too long ago I posted about our current favorite breweries in Portland.  True to form I’ve been spending plenty of time at them!  Recently, I took another trip back to Ex Novo and thought I’d write up a deeper dive.


It was a sunny 100 degree Sunday so my buddy and I decided to walk the mile over to the brewery.  To say we were thirsty by the time we got there would be the understatement of the week.  As soon as we sat down we ordered a cold The Most Interesting Lager In The World.  It hit the spot!  This beer is a Mexican lager brewed with Vienna and Pilsner malts with a hint of flaked corn.


As I mentioned in the previous article, Ex Novo is a non-profit brewery that aims to donate 100% of their net profits to a variety of causes.  These causes include Friends of the Children, IJM, Impact NW, and MercyCorps.  They’ve been open for two years in the Eliot neighborhood of North Portland.  They have an inviting atmosphere that is perfect for families (the bathrooms actually have baby changing stations complete with diapers) as well just grabbing beers with buddies. Sitting at the bar for a few hours will show that many from the neighborhood come in often and the beertenders/waitstaff know them well.  There is also plenty of sidewalk seating to enjoy the nice days and they brew the beer in the back. The perfect one stop shop brewery!


The first couple pints of lager went down well so we decided to branch out and sample a few of the current seasonals.  I’m not a huge sour beer fan but the beertender talked me into trying their newly released version, Cactus Wins The Lottery!.  This Berliner Weisse with prickly pear was surprisingly easy to drink and actually refreshing.  We also tried the Stiff Upper Lip which is made with British malts, East Kent Golding Hops and a London Ale strain.  Might have been the lagers talking but ended up buying bottles of both to drink later.


Per the usual, each trip to Ex Novo makes me wonder why I don’t get there more often. If you’re in the city looking for a brewery that exemplifies everything that makes the Portland beer scene so amazing, this is the place to visit.

21st Amendment Brewing


This San Francisco brewery is named after the amendment to the United States Constitution that repealed a previous amendment (the 18th), which had prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol and was in place from 1920-1933.    

21st Amendment Brewing is known for being ahead of the craft brewing curve when it comes to the can trend.  The cans that contain the beer are as well-known as the beer itself, artistic and full of historic references surrounding the topic of prohibition and U.S. history on the whole.  The cans – made by a Portland, Oregon company called TBD, include renderings of Americana such as the Statue of Liberty, FDR, astronauts, signers of the Constitution and various other bits of U.S. history. These cans stand out.  I recall being impressed by them some years back when I received a shipment in the mail as part of a beer-of-the-month club membership a friend had gotten me.  But the product goes far beyond the packaging and theme.  21st Amendment makes good beer.  It adds fruity quirks – watermelon and grapefruit among them – to its brews, and everything from lights to porters and delicious IPAs as well. 


The setting is rustic and inviting, with a large rectangular bar on the main level and an upper indoor balcony that overlooks the main level.  The upper balcony is a slick set-up with multiple screens for watching sports.  AT&T Park is just a few blocks away.  The Saturday afternoon crowd was a mish-mash of age, gender and background, feeling welcoming across the board.    

My favorite beer was the Blah Blah IPA, which had been released just a week prior to my visit and was recommended by the friendly bartender just a minute or so after I sat down.  I was more than impressed by the quality of this one and I’ve had my fair share of IPAs.

If you are in the Bay Area and you enjoy a good beer and brewery experience 21st Amendment is a must. 

When it All Comes Together at the Sports Bar


There’s very few times in life when two things you love come together so beautifully.  I was lucky enough to have it happen tonight at Kimo’s/Rattle Snake Mountain Brewery.  Former NFL lineman and Super Bowl Champ, Kimo von Oelhoffen who has played for the Steelers, Jets, and Eagles, has opened a brewery in Richland, WA.  It’s been a long time favorite that I’ve finally decided to write about.  This is a great sports bar that has an equal number of TVs showing the NBA Western conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals.  On top of that they brew their own beer and have a gorgeous view of the Columbia River.  Honestly speaking, their food leaves a little to be desired but their beer more than makes up for it.  The go-to brew here is the Helluva Honey, a mix of their Honey Red and their Helluva Hefe which is a combo of Hefeweizen and American Wheat Ale.  Going during happy hour is an added bonus as they sell pitchers for $8 a pop (4 and 1/2 beers per pitcher). Although they don’t have plans to distribute any time soon, it’s definitely worth a stop in if you ever have a reason to be in the area.

My 5 Current Favorite Portland Breweries

Living in Beervana can turn anyone into a beer snob.  There once was a time when I could be happy grabbing a cold Bud or Coors light (I think they call it college).  But after a few years here, if it’s not Ex Novo’s Most Interesting Lager in the World, it’s not Taco Tuesday. There are so many breweries here (and new ones pop up all the time) that it’s easy to stumble on to something “new” or “different.”  So here are the 5 that I’m enjoying the most as the weather is getting nicer.

1.  Ex Novo Brewery (http://www.exnovobrew.com/#drink-beer-do-good) – This North Portland brewery has a laid back feel because it’s tucked into a residential neighborhood.  It is the nations first not for profit brewery, with a motto of “Drink beer.  Do Good.” There are 3 essentials for every trip I make here: a pint of the Dynamic Duo IPA, a pint of the Most Interesting Lager in the World, and an order of table bacon.  The best part is being able to give back to your community while you drink!
2.  10 Barrel Brewing (http://www.10barrel.com/) – To be honest, they aren’t on this list for the beer.  While they have some interesting stuff, it’s just not my favorite.  But as the weather gets nicer, their rooftop bar is a great place to grab a seat, have a beer, enjoy the sun, and people watch. Being an IPA guy (you’ll see a trend with all my picks) I’ve been known to throw back a few Joe’s here.
3.  Grixsen Brewing Company (http://www.grixsen.com/) – This one definitely has a personal bias to it.  This brewery was started by a friend of a friend so I was able to get some sneak peaks at their tasting room as it was being built, got the personal tour of their brewery, and tasted all of their beers.  Their tasting room is intimate, giving you a chance to really talk to the bartenders and make friends with others at the bar.
4. Deschutes Brewery (https://www.deschutesbrewery.com/) – It’s a classic.  You’ll see locals and tourists visit and it’s always busy.  But things become a classic for a reason….they are consistently producing great beer.  These days I can’t get enough of the Fresh Squeezed IPA (I constantly find myself ordering it even when I travel).  They also have really good food here so it’s the perfect place if you are with family or for a work event.
5.  pFriem Family Brewing (http://www.pfriembeer.com/) – Since this is my post I can cheat and add a brewery that’s not in Portland.  I spend a good amount of time travelling from Portland to Eastern WA.  Whenever I’m driving around lunch time I make sure to stop in Hood River just to grab a beer and burger from here.  They have some of the most friendly people on staff, the beer is one of my favorites (their IPA of course), and the burgers hit the spot.  They have a great location in Hood River, OR right on the Columbia River.  There is even a park across the street if you are travelling with kids.