When I am back home in Portland I tend to eat out a lot in an effort to see my friends. Luckily my trips back to Portland have been longer so I don’t have to pack so many meals into a shorter trip. There were some Portland trips after I moved to Miami where I would have breakfast, lunch, and dinner booked most days. However I still eat out often and people tend to leave the choice up to me as the visitor. I always try and see what gluten-free options are out there since Portland can have some crazy ones (and new ones since the last time I visited)!
In one of my searches I came across a 100% gluten-free brewery (the first in the world actually) in SE Portland- Harvester Brewing (although it just changed to Ground Breaker Brewing for legal reasons). That in itself really doesn’t interest me a ton since I don’t have a yearning for beer really at all (even putting aside the gluten aspect). One time my friend got my a six pack of Omission beer for me and I felt terrible, because I really had no desire to drink any after the first couple sips. I think that mostly is that beer is an acquired taste for almost anyone and I have very little experience drinking any kind of beer (although I started young- mistaking beer for my apple juice when I was like 4 at the beach house). I did however see that they also have a 100% gluten-free gastropub and there was definitely some good stuff on the menu that interested me there.
I had one friend who was my major partner-in-crime in terms of meals this last Portland trip and she lived within walking distance of the brewery, so we went for an early dinner/happy hour one Friday. She’s been noticing she feels a lot better not eating gluten so she was happy to join (I mean besides for the absolute pleasure of my company of course!).
We took a seat inside next to one of the big windows and I had a nice view looking out at the beautiful Portland day. Looking over the menu I fixated first on the sourdough cornbread. Cornbread in itself would have interested me, but the sourdough part just made me seem more “sexy” for some reason. Sourdough is just such a non-gluten-free word. Adding it is like talking dirty to a gluten-free. So I definitely had to get that. I also wanted to get one of their sandwiches and the Cubano seemed perfect to embrace my Miami side.
On the beer side I was really unsure of what to get since I have zero expertise on the matter. Given my affinity to cider I thought maybe the more fruity ones would be a good call. My friend suggested the pale ale or the IPA as a good start for a new beer drinker since they’re lighter. I asked the waitress and probably posed it as a really difficult question, along the lines of “what would you recommend for someone who really hasn’t drank beer in their life?” She was a bit unsure as to how to answer, but did say they have their samplers. Unsure with exactly what to go with I decided to get all 8 of their beers in a sampler (with my friend agreeing to share of course). I also got the sourdough cornbread and the Cubano sandwich for food.
The sampler came out and they were pretty big glasses for a sampler. We got prepared to go to work and I went for the Peaches and Cream one first. It definitely was not a fruity, refreshing drink like a cider (although I wasn’t expecting that). I’m not going to lie I was having my doubts about how much beer there was. The Peaches and Cream was probably not crazy “hoppy”, but it seemed like it to me and wasn’t totally feeling that. My friend tried the Pale Ale first and thought it was pretty good. I gave it a sip and could tell it was lighter, but still hoppy to me. At that point I tried to have more of an open mind and tried the Stone Fruit Ale. I was having trouble really detecting a fruit taste to it, but I do think I remember it being a little sweeter. That was similar to the IPA No. 3 Caliente Dry-Hop, although I could somewhat tell the lemon zest/pine additions that were mentioned in the description. We then tried the IPA No. 2 and in my amateur beer tasting it seemed sort of like the Pale Ale.
I then moved to the darker beers and I was kind of worried. I feel like a lot of my super serious beer drinking friends like the darker beers and that they’d be hoppier than the lighter ones. Just way too far down the beer spectrum for me as a beginner. However I was surprised that they were probably my favorite. I think that the darker, richer taste hid the hoppy taste that was sort of bothering me. I especially remember the Dark Ale and it’s chestnut flavor, but Timwit and Cascadian Brown Ale also had rich flavors. We were able to finish the entire sampler (I’ll take at least 2/3rds credit as well!). I was proud of myself for trying them all and trying to keep an open mind. I don’t know though if it’s converted me really to a beer drinker. It was an interesting experience, but just not that refreshing and “enjoyable” in the sense of being relaxing. I felt more pressure to finish the drink. As compared to a cider or wine or a mixed drink where I actually feel they are refreshing and enjoy the taste. That is definitely just due to my preference and lack of beer drinking than any comment on Ground Breaking Brewery’s beer. It’s an awesome option for gluten-frees to have!
On the food end I really liked the Cubano sandwich. The bread (from New Cascadia Bakery) was awesome and very nicely grilled. The pork, ham, swiss, relish, arugula, pickles, and beer mustard were substantial and filling and also had a bit of a kick to it. I enjoyed the sourdough cornbread for the experience. This was one of my few times having cornbread since I never really would cheat to try the regular version. It was a little bit more crunchy and harder than I was expecting from a sourdough and a cornbread (which I always imagine as more fluffy). However it was good and and the warm honey butter that it came with was delicious. If you’re a big sweet butter kind of a person I think you would love this. If I returned I would look more into the pizzas they were offering that day or their burger.
I enjoyed my experience at Ground Breaker Brewery and love that it’s there as an option- 100% gluten-free brewery and gastropub. It was quality food and delicious. The experience of just being able to do the beer sampler and having so many options was really really cool. I loved being able to text that picture to some of my big beer drinking friends and be like “LOOK!” It was also a beautiful day and so sitting there in Portland with a beer sampler and the sun just was just awesome! If you’re gluten-free and liked/drank a lot of beer before you were diagnosed, then you should really check this out. I think anyone that is gluten-free would enjoy the experience of a 100% gluten-free brewery and gastropub. Check out the cool pics below!
Ground Breaker Brewing- 2030 SE 7th Ave Portland, OR