You won't get to Occidental Brewing by accident, being nearly tucked under the St. John's Bridge and bordered by a rail line. Those familiar with seeking out small, new breweries will find the location familiar - light industrial and marked by small, unobtrusive signage. While you may have seen a couple of their beers around town, to get the full impact of their work it's worth an intentional drive to NoPo.
The brewery, open less than a year and operated by Ben and his uncle, Dan, is producing a somewhat rare breed of beers for Portland. They're not hop bombs. They're not barrel-aged. They are solid, sessionable German-style beers. Five beers were available during our visit and even though I'd had two of them before (at The Beermongers a couple months ago) a sampler try seemed prudent. As we started our way through the beers I tried to recall which of the ones I'd tasted before had been my favorite. Knowing my memory to be faulty I consulted my "external hard drive," Untapped.
After tasting all five offerings: Hefeweizen, Cloudy Summer (Kolsch-style), Altbier, Dunkel and Dunkelweizen, the Kolsch-style remained my favorite. Although not a German-style beer fan in general all of the brews were solid and I had no problem following the samples up with a full pour of Cloudy Summer. Besides, it was a drizzly Portland day and leaving after only a sampler seemed rude. Continuing to enjoy beer while chatting with the friendly staff and other patrons was a much better plan of action.
In case the proceeding description hasn't prompted you to plan a visit, perhaps the event Occidental is hosting next weekend will provide you with the necessary shove in the right direction. Yes, it is being held on St. Patty's Day, but think of it as a way to get started on a nice, solid base for whatever the rest of your day has in store.