The muscular clink of the mighty seidel resonates across the beer hall when smashed joyously against that of your comrade. This is not the fragile Kölsch stange, the stilted Pilsner pokal or the snooty snifter. Nor is it the mundane shaker pint. No, this hefty glass tankard – whose name derives from the Latin situla or “bucket” – is proper glassware for the saloon.

And it’s what you’ll get in the recently opened Argenta Brewing Co.: $8 mugs of half-liter seidels. Argenta pitches itself as Portland’s “only lager saloon,” a reinterpretation of the old German beer halls where immigrants hung out, quaffing low-alcohol lagers, surrounded by friends and family. The “salooniness” of this outfit – located in Bayside, in the space previously occupied by Banded Brewing – is amplified by its stylistic references to the Old West. The brewery name itself is a reference to an old silver mine in Nevada, the home state of mustachioed owner and operator Ryan Dunlap.

But really, it is a saloon more in spirit than design (setting aside the double-swinging doors to the latrines). Bright, pleasant and unaffected, it is a fine place to smash seidels of fresh beer amongst friends and family. These were the three lagers on tap when I visited.

Black Lager Photos by Ben Lisle

ABV: 5.9%
NOTES: Its deep brown color signals its intent. Aromas of chocolate and toasty crust are joined by a hint of dried fruit. Flavors of chocolate and toast are carried through this well-balanced, smooth-bodied beer.

Rice Lager

ABV: 5%
NOTES: A robust adjunct lager that dials things up just a bit more than you would expect. Straw colored and a little floral. A little bit of fruitiness and restrained maltiness lead to a clean finish. It comes with a heftier body and more flavor than I anticipated from a rice lager, but overall it’s a crafty version of that traditional American macro-lager.

Mexican Dark Lager

ABV: 4.2%
NOTES: Brown in the glass and cocoa on the nose. Chocolate, caramel and a touch of fruit in the flavor. Medium-bodied and carbonated. It’s light on its toes, but substantial enough to be interesting.

Ben Lisle is an assistant professor of American Studies at Colby College. He lives among the breweries in Portland’s East Bayside, where he writes about cultural history, urban geography, and craft beer culture. Reach him on Twitter at @bdlisle.

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