A new addition to Portland's brewing scene, BJ's Pizza attracts both those looking for beer and pizza. The small bar and lounge area emphasizes that the focus is on eating rather than drinking. A small brewhouse stands at the side of the lounge and seems a bit out of place among the booths and tables of the open dining room. Under the 20 foot gray tiled ceiling and its steel beams hang the visible plumbing and short lights. Large beer-label posters decorate the red brick walls and set the tone for the casual atmosphere. Light wood tables and redwood chairs are scattered across the carpeted room. If yelling kids are not to your liking then there is the small outdoor patio. Five silent TVs create for background motion while the CD sound system cranks out the tunes.
The bar pours ciders, wines and bottled mega products in addition to the house brews. Draughts run $2.75 to $2.95, cask-conditioneds are $3.25, and four five-ounce samples are $3.50 or six can be had for $4.50. Kegs, mini-kegs and growlers are all available to go. Happy hour runs 3 to 6 pm Monday through Friday. The cask-conditioned LeRoy's Magic IPA is light-bodied with moderate hops present. The Pirahna Pale Ale is a clear amber color with a sharp hop bitterness dominating the subtle maltiness. The Jeremiah Red is a clear dark amber with a dry, rich malty flavor. The Altrageous Alt has a slight hoppiness with a caramel maltiness leading to a dry finish. The cask-conditioned Tatonka Stout is smooth and very dry. The AHA Special Stout contrasts with its dry, roasted flavor and very dry finish. The White Water Wit is a hazy straw color with a light coriander aroma and flavor. The Columbia Kriek is a clear red with a slightly tart flavor but syrupy mouthfeel. The Harvest Hefeweizen offers a clove aroma and flavor but no wheat or malt flavor.
Pizzas monopolize the menu but there is a variety of offerings as well. The pizzas run $4 to $18 and may include deep-dish style and toppings such as BBQ, Spinach & Artichoke and "veggie." Other attractions include Fish & Chips ($9); Sandwiches ($6.45); Burgers ($6), Calzone ($6); Appetizers ($3-$6); Soups ($3-$4); and pasta ($7-$9). Desserts feature the "Pizookie."
The atmosphere is friendly but a bit dim from the lack of windows. There are plenty of beers to sample and once the staff takes you order the service is fairly prompt. It will be interesting to see how this blend of product, service and atmosphere does amid the serious craft beer competition throughout the city. Personally, we can all use one more business pouring quality beers in our neighborhood and BJ's is now present in four of Portland's.
BJ's Pizza Grille Brewery
825 NW Weidler
Portland, OR 97232
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - July, 1998
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