After a short delay from its anticipated opening late last week, yesterday Vagabond Brewing Portland opened to the public. Located in The Dairy Building, a renovated industrial, mixed-use space is now open daily at 11:00am.
Vagabond Brewing is locally owned brewery based in Salem. The brewery was founded in 2012 by three longtime friends and Marine Corps combat veterans Dean Howes, Alvin Klausen, and James Cardwell. The brewery served its first pint in 2014.
Upon leaving the Marines, the three traveled the world beginning with driving a van down to South America. This led to other excursions around the globe. Hence, how the trio came up with the name Vagabond and its tagline; Beer. Love. Adventure.
Currently Vagabond is operating sans any on site brewery in Portland. It will operate as a restaurant/taproom for the foreseeable future until the space is ready to install its new 7-barrel brewhouse being fabricated by Practical Fusion. Currently the Vagabond brewed beer is brewed in Salem, Oregon on its 10-barrel system by James.
The beers that are brewed by Vagabond cover a wide spectrum and find their inspiration from their worldly travels. After a recent feisty owl that was known to attack people in a Salem park, the brewery found the perfect name for one of its core IPAs with Attack Owl IPA. Other popular year-round beers include Victory Pilsner, Into the Wild IPA, On the Road Red, and NW Passage Stout.
When the three owners decided to bring Vagabond Brewing to Portland, we were a bit surprised that they’d want to add a brewery in this highly competitive market. They did a fine job in finding a building that has a lot of promise that looms underneath the Darigold tower in the Ford District of the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood.
The 5,000 square foot space is home to a full-service restaurant that features two levels of dining. Upon entering Vagabond one will quickly notice its featured attraction, a 1958 Cessna 310B airplane overhead. This decommissioned airplane had been abandoned in a field in far north British Columbia. The story that Dean, Alvin and James shared on bringing this plane back into the states is an entertaining one, especially trying to enter back into the United States with a disassembled airplane on your towing trailer!
Another intriguing area of the new location to check out is the Greetings from Vagabond artwork that leads you to the restrooms. This wall mural was created by local artist Ben Woodcock. He is best known for the phenomenal chalk art that he creates at Deschutes Brewery in Portland’s Pearl District. This wall mural features eight painted letters of V-A-G-A-B-O-N-D all filled with various memories from the three owners. Many of these memories are from their travels.
The capacity of the all ages restaurant and over 21 bar area is 125. This includes a full-service restaurant seating area on the main floor and additional seating up near the old Cessna. Eventually the plan is to also add 7-barrel brewhouse in the coming year. As of now the brewing will be handled by James when the brewery comes online.
When it comes to the kitchen, the team at Vagabond along with its General Manager, Kyle Jensen found the needle in the haystack with the hiring of its head chef, Victor Deras. He has used his experience at Olympia Provisions to put together a great food menu that is diverse yet very affordable. Victor’s focus is on comfort foods with smoked, preserved, or fermented options all designed to enhance the beer experience at Vagabond. A 5oz a la cart burger is $9.00, add fries, soup or salad for an additional $2.00, not too bad.
The bar program is led by David Belcher. You may recognize him from his time manning the taps at The Commons Brewery or Breakside Brewery. David, with the assistance of Mark Kujat has created a nice specialty cocktail menu. These drinks are all inspired by the brewery’s owners favorite travel destinations. During our preview visit a few weeks back we were served the Nomad and Scallywag and were very impressed. If beer is not your thing, a cocktail will keep you intrigued.
And if you arrive for Happy Hour that’s offered Monday through Friday from 3:00-6:00 there will be some discounted beers. Vagabond’s normal price of $5.00 pints will only be $3.50 during this three hour period!
Speaking of the bar, this very long bar that is the focal point of the main level is constructed from a salvaged shipping container. After some major cutting and grinding the base of the bar is solid steel. For the bar top they went to Salem Salvage to acquire an 80-year-old piece of wood that was once made up a grain silo.
In addition to the new Portland outpost and its brewery in Salem, Vagabond Brewing also operates the Victory Club in Downtown Salem, Oregon. The trio also operates the Vagabond Outpost that’s located in Albany, Oregon.
Vagabond Brewing Portland offers an on-site, paid parking lot along with free short-term street parking along SE 8th Avenue. It is also located near the MAX Orange Line in between the OMSI and the Clinton St./12th Ave. stops.
Vagabond Brewing – Portland is open Sunday-Thursday from 11am-10pm and Friday-Saturday from 11am-11pm. Follow Vagabond Brewing Portland on its website, Instagram, and Facebook Page.
Vagabond Brewing Portland 2715 SE 8th Ave. Portland, OR 97202
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.