Review - Clinton Street Brewing

2520 SE Clinton St.
Portland, Oregon

Hours: apparently random.
Pints: $4.00 (16 oz), $2.50 (10 oz)

Beers: Two rotating brewery beers, a wide selection of micros on tap and in the bottle.

Let's start with the positives first. Over the weekend, I enjoyed a tasty porter at the ultra-wee, DIY Clinton Street Theater, brewed up by the folks at the adjacent Clinton Street Brewery. It was smooth and creamy, with nary an off flavor (common in DIY breweries), though perhaps a touch too much black malt. I'd rate it in the good to excellent continuum. And, good beer equals good brewery, yeah?

That generally fool-proof equation ran aground on the shoals of incredibly poor service at the Clinton Street. Our experience started when we arrived at a little after five-thirty on a Saturday, figuring we'd catch a beer and maybe some food before the 7 pm showing of Children of Men. It was closed, though we noticed that a guy was trying--and failing--to unlock the front door. We decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood and see if he'd gotten things fired up, but at ten to six, no luck (we was still standing in front of the place, looking forlorn). We departed for food elsewhere.

When we returned at 6:35, the pub was open and there were about a dozen people in line. Sally went in to grab a seat and I went to grab a couple beers. They had one guy manning the taps and between the time it took him to go into the "kitchen" and microwave pizzas and verrrrrry sllllloooowwwly pull pints, it was literally twenty minutes before I got my beer. Singular. It turns out they can only serve one beer per ID-bearing person, by decree of the OLCC. (This is probably because of the hinky set-up, where the pub and theater are not one--so you don't get carded walking into the establishment, as you do at the Mission. But of course, you lose a decent seat if everyone in your party wants a beer. Pick your poison.) By the time I was headed into the theater, there were thirty people in a line that snaked through the pub--god knows when they got their beer.

The theater is as it has always been, a dingy and decaying, unheated space with a crappy projector and poor audio. I lived at 19th and Clinton in the late 80s, and although the neighborhood has changed remarkably, there's the theater, as decrepit as always.

So the beer's fine. If you want to endure the experience of actually getting a pint, you'll probably enjoy it. But in a town like Portland, where good beer and theater-pubs are a dime a dozen, you don't have to endure an experience like this to get a good beer. The beer's not that good.