A couple of the BS crew visited the new Laurelwood location on Sandy last night. I arrived around 5:45, thinking that with my intimate brewing industry knowledge (okay, I read a few blogs), I might be among the first to know the new location was open, thus allowing me to easily score a table for seven at an otherwise untenable hour. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. The place was (pun intended) hopping! I was told there would be a 30-minute wait, and after my name was added to a very long list, the hosts handed me a vibrating, blinking device that looked like it belonged in an Austin Applebee’s. “The device will tell you when your table’s ready.” Whoa..
When Bruce showed up, he used his well-honed table-spotting skills to locate a table in the bar that was opening up. Designed for four, we soon had the seven of us squeezed around it, after overcoming some confusion over whether or not children could be in the bar area. One host said no, while a waitress said yes. I felt confused. And thirsty.
The new place, with its significantly larger brewing facilities, and significantly larger bar, allows for several more beer selections than the old place (soon to become Laurelwood Pizza). Last night, they had four IPAs on tap: Boss IPA, Workhorse IPA, Imperial IPA no. 7 and IPA no. 9, as well as the usual complement of beers. I was in hop heaven. Unfortunately, they still serve in those cheesy small pints, which contributed to my feeling like a kid again, especially since the new location has two (2!) giant playrooms. And no, Dr. Wort, they are not hermetically-sealed.
The new space is much more “mixed use” than the old location, due to its larger size, but also its floor plan, which includes several walls between the bar and the playpens. The exposed rafters break up the sound, but contribute to a background hum that drowned out the vintage Aerosmith, Rolling Stones and at times, our conversation. There are lots of booths designed to seat two beer geeks (or four Clinton Street hipsters), which seems to be a de facto way of keeping families out of that area.
The upstairs patio is very near completion (and looks very awesome), and that will also be a good space for the older crowd. Still, families are well accounted for, with a very large dining room that contains immensely long tables, perfect for Junior’s Swilly Seventh Birthday.
The location, I think, couldn’t be better. Granted, I live less than 5 minutes from 50th and Sandy, so take that into consideration, but there’s not a lot in Northeast Portland for the beer geek, and I think this will really take off for Laurelwood. The old location had reached capacity, and this will serve as a new and improved (and much-needed) overflow. The killer daily beer specials aren’t going to hurt, either.