Portland’s Hop Heads have it all. As one who just recently lived downtown, I know their life of regularly indulging in the fruit of the spoils. The city has so much to offer in regard to boutique beer shops, artisanal food and beer, plus more fresh local beers on tap than you know what to do with. Did I mention the beer? Now that I find myself in Oregon’s fourth largest town – a suburb called Gresham – aside from the supermarket, I’ve felt detached from those readily accessible hits of amber glory found in the big city. However, just last week I found a pocket of town that’s bringing the best in craft beer to a place you’d least expect it: the small storefronts of downtown Gresham.
Though you’ll find two McMenamin’s (part of a chain of regional brewpubs) on the fringes of town, Gresham spreads out over 24 suburbanized miles, making it tough to find tasty, independent restaurants serving great beer.
I’d previously found 4th Street Brewing in the downtown area, which features their own excellent selection of mainstay and seasonal beers brewed in house, as well as a solid menu offering everything from burgers and sandwiches to steak and seafood specialties.
Right around the corner I found The Local Cow, a small burger shop that prides itself in serving hand-crafted, locally sourced gourmet burgers and fries, which is what initially drew me in. What sealed the deal though was the separate menu of regional craft beers, something I never expected to find. While it isn’t a bar and doesn’t serve suds on tap, they do offer 13 crafts in twelve oz. bottles and another 8 in 22 oz. bombers, and all their offerings come from Oregon and bordering state breweries only.
As I was finishing up a delectable burger topped with pastrami, aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, and horseradish, I downed the last few sips of my Back in Black and learned from the owner that the place next door was having a beer tasting. The restaurant shares a courtyard with The Hoppy Brewer, one of the only shops selling homebrew supplies in Gresham. I was surprised to find that they also had 12 rotating taps filled with a variety of West Coast beers. I didn’t know what to say. What had I inadvertently fallen into?
The real question is – how soon will I be back?