If you’re new to Portland or reading this thinking that you have discovered every great spot this city has to offer, this is another goodie out of Portland’s giant goodie bag.
If you’re new to Portland or reading this thinking that you have discovered every great spot this city has to offer, this is another goodie out of Portland’s giant goodie bag. Plew’s Brews, located in St. Johns off North Lombard Street is a gem waiting to be discovered. Spiked with live music, great food, free hookah and a great selection of beer, it provides a guaranteed great time and serves as a catalyst for the surrounding community of St. Johns.
Randy Plew, owner and manager of the venue, has been a Portland resident for years. From his grandfather helping construct the famous St. Johns bridge to his grandmother running the local family ice cream shop 6 Point Ice Cream, Randy is out to make his own mark on the area.
Surprisingly, Plew’s Brews used to be known as “Plew’s Market,” providing St. Johns with their groceries. But since the economy took a dive—and with Safeway looming only a few blocks away—Randy decided to try and shake things up a bit.
That’s right, he converted his grocery store into a venue. With couches everywhere, the walls covered with original art pieces and the supportive and friendly atmosphere from the Plew family and locals alike, it is no shock that Plew’s Brews has been growing in popularity more each week it has been open. Another cool thing to note—Randy made the bar and stage himself. Perhaps more impressive: He did it all in just one month.
The most important part is what the stage and bar actually harbor for the venue. Behind the bar and the sliding glass refrigerator doors—which only six months ago was most likely part of a juice and milk aisle—are carefully selected local brews on tap. The guide to this array of hoppy goodness is a chalkboard, which sits smack-dab in the middle of the bar. This beer menu, so to speak, displays the names of the brews available and their ABV percentages.
According to the website, Plew’s philosophy is thus: “We feature the region’s finest artisan brews for just 3 bucks a pint and kegs change daily. We’re also building up to have 21 keg options in celebration of the 21st Amendment. We only seek the most amazing beer from a region that is bountiful with incredible options.”
Plew’s even offers up a growler service, so if you decide that you want to stay in for the night, but still crave a great brew, Plew’s offers growlers for $4. It costs $7 to fill it up each time after that.
However, the brew isn’t the only thing lately that has been catching the attention of the Portland crowd, including John Foyston, a beer critic for The Oregonian. As said before, this is a fast-growing place for live music as well. Local bands such as The Chancers and Bison Bison have put on shows at Plew’s within the past month. Randy supports local talent by providing an opportunity for new groups to perform. If you’re in a band and looking to play a debut show or you just want a gig with a great crowd, this is a safe bet.
Every good beer venue has good food that compliments the brews. Randy, with the help of Mrs. Plew, has clearly put some thought into the menu. This writer’s recommendation for an appetizer is the cheese and meat plank ($9). This may sound very basic—especially for the price. However, once the plank of wood shows up in front of you with a selection of fresh blue cheese, brie and pepper jack, savory assorted meats and an assortment of crackers, you may have to remind yourself that you are at a bar/venue and not a quaint café. What’s more, the plank comes with all-you-can-eat crusty bread and fresh fruit.
The Plew family is gung-ho about supporting locals with their endeavors. Whether that support comes in the form of hosting local music, food or the best hops in town, they are definitely doing something right.
Open noon–9 p.m. daily (all night certain nights)
8409 N Lombard St.