Don't let the strip-mall setting keep you from venturing inside of the McMenamins Highland Pub & Brewery. A half-dozen picnic tables act as a buffer between the stand-alone brewpub and the adjacent parking lot. The L-shaped dark wood bar features about a dozen stools, while the dining area offers twelve booths and another twelve light wood tables and chairs. The interior is far from "dark and dingy", with green printed carpet beneath and a high, peaked ceiling supporting colorful beer banners overhead. Large dark gray ducting are purely functional, in contrast to the dangling live plants that appear very ornamental. Atop the bar stand statues and plants, surrounded by artistic tapestries and looked on from above by a large painted glass chandelier. Behind the bar lies the compact open kitchen. The classic McMenamins's style brewhouse is clearly visible to customers: 180 gallon brew kettle, rectangular open mash tun, and the requisite three decorated Grundy fermenters.
The house beers are joined by those from sister breweries and feed a total of 11 taps bearing the McMenamin moniker. For the unconverted, there is also draught Bud, Bud Light and Henry Weinhard's Root Beer. The Little Lady IPA is a hazy light gold that opens with a pungent, lightly sulfury hop aroma that is followed with a tangy hop bitterness and supportive underlying maltiness. The Powell Butte Bitter is a light gold, its very light body matched to a very dry, almost spicy hop bitterness in the flavor. The cask-conditioned Highlands IPA is a hazy dark gold with a pronounced hop bitterness dominating the flavor profile but tempered by a mellow, very smooth mouthfeel. In addition to common serving sizes, the bar offers a quart for $4, two quarts for $8, and a "jar" for $1.50. The place seats 115 but if you'd like some beer "to go", that can be accommodated. Overall, the McMenamins Highland Pub & Brewery offers good beers and a relaxed setting to enjoy them. Another example of a great neighborhood place in the Portland metro area that is a key component to making a community "livable."
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri -