When 10 Barrel Brewing's brewpub location in Portland's Pearl District opened on March 16, the question wasn't whether it would attract a crowd; it was more like how long it'd be until the wait for tables extended past an hour.
A recent visit to 10 Barrel's third brewpub location found the place—a smidge bigger than Bend's, though not much—mobbed. Every table, stool, and space on the long communal tables near the bar was occupied, with the pub's 20 taps flowing nonstop, and pizzas and sandwiches flying left and right. Just like the home office, in other words, although the industrial wood-and-metal interior is far more Portland hip than the original's homey neighborhood feel. (The indoor crowds should thin out a bit once the rooftop beer garden opens up, an addition that's been delayed until summer-ish.)
Just like the Boise location, 10 Barrel PDX has an onsite brewing system, this one operated by former Pelican Pub brewer Whitney Burnside. Two Portland-made brews are on tap now: Spring Blossom, a crisp and well-executed pale, and Bam Bam, a roasty, espresso-tinged stout made with a pair of Belgian yeasts that add fetching fruity flavors for an extremely memorable package. While not brewed onsite, the bar also debuted Strawberry Crush last weekend, latest in research and development brewer Tonya Cornett's line of fruit-infused Berliner weisses—and Lord, hopefully they saved a keg for Bend, because it'll be irresistible come summertime.
With this opening, the Pearl now has five enormous brewery sites—this one, Deschutes, Rogue, BridgePort, and Fat Head's—within walking distance of each other, to say nothing of the dozens and dozens of other breweries and beer bars in town. But so far, at least, they're all still attracting huge crowds, symbolizing how much beer has become part of the standard experience for Portlanders and visitors. Where will it all end? Probably not with 10 Barrel, anyway.