SAN JUAN ISLAND
In the search for my favorite breweries in Portland, it would help perhaps to start from the very beginning - my roots in craft beer.
Although San Juan Island Brewing wasn't there for my upbringing, its existence has since been a huge part of my home visits, making each political argument over thanksgiving dinner more enjoyable, one beer at a time.
For those of you unfamiliar with my hometown, it is a secluded town of few located in the Puget Sound, about 103 travel miles northwest of Seattle. Its close-knit family vibes breed generations of multifaceted artistically talented youth during the school years, and come summertime, fosters a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.
This character of community is certainly not lost on the brewery. Luckily not only for the owners and employees, but also for the consumers, this establishment was able to built from the ground-up, which is not something easily found in cities such as Portland.
Built by my mother's boss of 20+ years (I'm serious about the small town thing), in a vacant lot just up the road from the ferry, a masterpiece was born. What makes me love SJIB is that they had one opportunity to create something that had never been done on the island, and they executed it flawlessly. The building is the perfect modern brewery spread, with huge glass panelling separating guests from equipment, high ceilings, and a combination of industrious chrome and dark wood.
Before opening, the brewers (one of which was my high school science teacher) were sent to study and shadow various brewers around the Seattle area, and they wasted no time creating a list of drinkable beers. In fact, after only about two years of existence, their Bull Kelp ESB just placed first at the Washington Brewer's Fest.
Vibe: Modern Mom&Pop
Beer: 4/5 - They have mastered the basics, but I'd love to see expansion of more exploratory beers.