There are a lot of strange places to get drunk in Portland, and absolutely none of them are your living room. But one of the city’s most flamboyant hotspots opened in the Argay Terrace neighborhood late this June. It’s called Level Beer, and it currently operates a 20-barrel brewing system inside an aging barn—former site of The Barn, east Portland’s go-to place for fresh fruit and produce for decades — with an adjoining greenhouse, which will serve as a beer hall. The barrel brewing system includes two 20-barrel and two 40-barrel fermenters along with two 40-barrel brite tanks.

Level’s founder, Geoff Phillips, has long since pitched his stake in the local brew scene. He is the owner of both The Upper Lip and Bailey’s Taproom off Southwest Broadway, the supposed center of the universe—or at least, the part of town with the highest concentration of hotels. He’s also the head honcho over at BrewedOregon.

Phillips moved to Oregon from California to open a beer bar about 10 years ago.

“I was looking in the Bay area, and I came up to Portland a couple times. The beer culture was there, and so I thought, ‘Why not?’ Portland was cool. I was in city planning, so Portland’s mixed-use development made it attractive. I married an Oregonian and produced two Oregonians.”

For Phillips and his two business partners—Shane Watterson and Jason Barbee—it was about time the men high-tailed their bottle slinging eastward. “I was looking for another property after Bailey’s, and then The Upper Lip became available, and I worked on that,” says Phillips. “A couple years went by, and I was looking to do something again. I have two kids now and wanted a bigger property to let the kids run around. Bailey’s is 21-and-over only, and we wanted a family-friendly place.”

Watterson and Barbee are also pros. Watterson has been in the brew scene for six years, the last two of which he’s spent as brewmaster at Laurelwood Brewing Co. Barbee was the head brewer at Ex Novo for two years. He is revered for his Peach Slap, which was voted by Willamette Week as their No. 2 beer of 2015. Both men are Oregon natives with ties to the local Deschutes Brewery. “I bring the taproom tasting room knowledge,” says Phillips, breaking down the three men’s roles. “Shane and Jason are the brains behind the delicious beer. We’re overlapping responsibilities for sure.”

Barbee adds, “We also have experience with the production side, which is important when it comes to pricing.”

The Barn also comes with some rich history. Previously run by Trapold Farms, its owners have retired, retreating to their home base on Sauvie Island, where they grew their colorful inventory of local produce and flowers. Eventually, Level Beer would like to host some farmer’s markets of its own.

Yet, somehow, a greenhouse seems better suited for beer. The Level Beer guys have transformed the room into an inviting cement courtyard with bouncing light, glossy wood tables and solemn echoes.

They initially intended to begin checking IDs around March, but what was meant to be a 10-week construction process ended up taking five months for a permit. Other setbacks included nasty weather—do you remember all that springtime rain?—and laughably horrific plumbing within the facility after having frozen over as a side effect of an inhospitable winter.

“We’re planning on growing our own hops, and we’ll have event spaces,” says Barbee. The Barn’s property offers up two acres of fertile soil.

The men plan to center their product line on low-alcohol, English-style pale ales and lighter beers.

One thing you should not expect to find at The Barn: a kitchen. However, in true Oregon fashion, there will be a string of food trucks, including one that serves tacos. This is a likely throwback to Phillips’s roots: he once lived in Encinitas in North County, San Diego.

In addition, really, one must admit that the men behind Level Beer are doing Argay Terrace a large service. There is no other beer spot past the I-205 besides Gateway Brewing and a few disgruntled bars, said the partners. “We looked into it, and it’s about seven miles in any direction,” says Barbee.

Ultimately, Level Beer is about cracking open a cold one with the boys—with “boys” meaning one’s literal spawn.

“The OLCC gave us an all-hours minors’ permit since we have the food carts,” says Phillips. “We’ll have some kid’s games, a play area and board games and card games for the adults, too.”

Because if there’s one thing we can all agree on: We need our kids at work. “We want to have a lawn with picnic tables; there’s so much around here to upgrade. How many places have a beer hall?” explains Phillips. “So, in the winter we should have heating, and it should be comfortable all year round.”

Go get yourself a pale ale at 5211 N.E. 148th Avenue, visit their Facebook page or call Level Beer at 503-253-5103.  n