I like beer (and breweries) and I like Portland. In some of these posts I will be adding them both together in the series simply called “Beer in Portland”.
My series of beer in Portland starts with the end of a local brew.
Tugboat brewing was, until Aug 27th, 2017, right on SW Ankeny a couple of blocks away from Broadway. This hole in the wall was beloved by all of my beer friends that visited Portland, as it should have been. This eclectic location had been open for over 3 decades and never pretended to be anything it wasn’t.
With an extremely small system they didn’t brew that many beers, they really only had one beer that I fell in love with. The “Chernobyl Stout” a huge roasted malt behemoth aptly named with a 13% ABV and served in a little tulip was my go to. The flavor changed based on… actually I am not sure what it was based on but it did change in the percentages of coffee (from roasted malts) and chocolate and if the finish was boozy or not. They also had a Chernobyl Porter (once in a blue moon) but I am not sure if this was a different mash build or the same beer that just turned out different.
The environment was a cross between a library and a dive bar (I say that with the love that I have for all dive bars). The TV only played cartoons and nature documentaries depending on who was pouring. Walls were lined with books and each table was a lit by old small table lamps or desk lamps (think of stained glass Tiffany style). There was always a small jar off the to the side of the bar with free bar snacks (a perk that I always love seeing). I would often go in with book to catch up on reading and drink a couple of Chernobyls at the same time… multitasking at its best.
The clientele was all over the board as it was across from Bailey’s Taproom, around the corner from Mary’s and just under a extremely sketchy apartment building (which was part of their issue of closing). You could go in and have the place to yourself, tourists following the Portland beer scene or tables packed with gaming groups hunched over any number of games such “Settlers of Catan” or “Cards Against Humanity”.
I will miss this place. I am kind of glad that they closed versus try to recreate the vibe, but will probably regret that in a couple of weeks when I get the urge to drink a Chernobyl and there is none left. I would have bought a full keg if given the option but I got a consolation prize as I did end up buying a piece of art that was displayed on the back wall showing a view of old Portland which seems fitting for a tribute of my old Portland that has moved on.