Recommended Breweries, Portland and Seattle

Next week, Patrick and I are headed to Seattle on a brewery-touring odyssey during which time we hope to record some excellent podcast material. Last week, in preparation for said odyssey, I asked hive mind (Twitter and Facebook) to tell us which breweries, if they were forced to choose only three, to visit. I got 107 recommendations. I kept seeing a lot of the same names, which was ideal for our purposes, but it made me wonder--would I get more diversity if I asked hive mind the same question for Portland?

The answer is: not really. I started tallying the Portland responses and when I hit 107, I stopped the experiment. All of what follows is analysis built on the thinnest of empirical reeds: I didn't pre-screen hive mind to see if respondents were familiar with most or all of the breweries in each town. I don't know the background of the respondents. It wasn't scientific, in that the polled group were those who could find me on social media. And so on. And yet, because I ran the damn experiment, I'm going to show you the results.

In total, people recommended nineteen Seattle breweries. (People recommended a lot of breweries from outside Seattle--a lot more than outside Portland--and those I ignored.) Four of the 19 were cited only once (Brother Barrel, Counterbalance, Old Stove, Perihelion), and another seven just twice (Pike, Lucky Envelope, Seapine, Optimism Redhook, Standard, Ghostfish). The top five recommended breweries constitute 70% of all responses. The most recommended breweries and the number of times they were mentioned are as follow (all breweries getting more than two mentions):

  1. Holy Mountain    (24)
  2. Reuben's     (15)
  3. Cloudburst    (14)
  4. Fremont    (12)
  5. Machine House    (10)
  6. Georgetown    (5)
  7. Stoup    (5)
  8. Urban Family    (4)

In fact, Portland was slightly more diverse--but not enough to make a lot of hay about it. Respondents mentioned 26 breweries overall. However, twelve of these were mentioned just once (Lucky Lab, Base Camp, Wayfinder, BridgePort, Lompoc, Migration, Kells, Laurelwood, Groundbreaker, Montavilla, Little Beast, Commons) and three twice (Deschutes, Hopworks, Occidental). In Portland's case, the top five garnered 59% of the total mentions. The Portland numbers:

  1. Breakside    (21)
  2. Upright    (13)
  3. Hair of the Dog   (11)
  4. Ex Novo    (9)
  5. Great Notion    (9)
  6. Cascade    (5)
  7. Ecliptic    (5)
  8. Zoiglhaus    (5)
  9. Culmination    (4)
  10. Gigantic    (4)
  11. Baerlic    (3)

There were a couple of interesting similarities. Breakside and Holy Mountain really seem analogous. Similarly, both cities have a gluten-free brewery, and respondents named those breweries at least once. I would say, speaking for my home town, that I was surprised by the performance of Ex Novo and Hair of the Dog. One is an old dog who has ignored new tricks, the other a new brewery noted less for wild experimentation than consistent quality. But again, given the methodology, this is all really just for fun. The one thing I'd bet my life on is that, in a scientific poll of Portlanders who have been to most of the city's breweries, Breakside would come out on top. At the end of 2017 it's got all the juice.

I think Portland can also take a bow for the diversity of different kinds of breweries. Within the top eight breweries are only three famous for their IPAs. There are in that group breweries focused on German lagers, saisons and barrel-aged beers, sours, and high-gravity ales. What's really remarkable about the Seattle list is that Machine House entry--a brewery devoted to cask ales. That's something that just couldn't survive in Portland, and one brewery I'm really looking forward to seeing.

Jeff Alworth6 Comments