By Daniel Perez-Crouse
Housed in the homey, former Tabor Bread space on SE Hawthorne Blvd., TPK Brewing Co. is a new family-friendly craft brewery and public house with a “geeky twist.” It touts itself as a local tavern with a full-time staff of professional Game Masters running various tabletop roleplaying games for their patrons, whether they are seasoned veterans or new players.
TPK was founded by Jess Hardie (Head Brewer), Elliott Kaplan (CEO) and Dana Ebert (Creative Director). Kaplan and Hardie met while working in the video game industry and Kaplan got Hardie hooked on tabletop gaming. They both developed a passion for home brewing and went to Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago in 2018 to hone their skills. Hardie, specifically, brewed beers inspired by her group’s roleplaying games; she also learned a lot from working at companies like Von Ebert. This, as stated on their website, is what “planted the seeds for what would eventually become TPK Brewing Co.” Ebert joined up as their Creative Director in the summer of 2021 while they were researching buildings.
The main area of the tavern has subtle touches that allude to fantasy and gaming, but not so much where it feels like an overtly themed space. Kaplan said the intention was for most people to feel welcomed and not think, “Oh, I’m in a dungeon with dragons everywhere.” However, there’s a separate area primarily for gaming where it leans more heavily on the fantasy imagery and vibe. “We really agonized over every decision. We liked our architect a lot—who understood the vision,” said Kaplan.
That vision was a brewery with a dedicated focus on tabletop gaming and fostering that community, while still being an accessible bar and restaurant for anyone. As their website states, “For the non-gamers out there, the best way to think about it is as a place where the weekly events are focused on tabletop roleplaying instead of karaoke or trivia. We’d love for you to be part of the adventure, but you will have a great time even if that’s not your thing!”
Kaplan loves gaming in all forms and has an extensive history of playing games online and working with companies based around multiplayer games (where large amounts of people play online). “As I’ve gotten older, and through the pandemic, it has solidified that the thing I’m most passionate about is bringing those communities together in person.” Kaplan has seen and met people who’d primarily played D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) online and got to enjoy the connection of doing it with others and forming new friendships at TPK. “That’s been rewarding.”
Kaplan noted that the games he’d worked on touched millions of customers, but he could only name around 10 of them over 10 years of working on those games—which is why getting to have one-on-one interactions with people is so important to him at TPK. Moreover, the companies referenced would make games for “most people” and have concessions to gain broad appeal. The joy for him in something like tabletop gaming at TPK is that the role-playing campaigns can help develop more personal and unique stories. “It’s pretty freeing,” he said.
The tap list features a series of year-round beers like their stout called “The Ashbringer” (Kaplan’s favorite) and an American wheat called “Improvised Weapon,” in addition to rotating, seasonal brews. Naturally, they also have cider, wine and cocktails (with plenty of zero-proof options). They also collaborate with En Vida PDX who has an in-house kitchen for food.
In addition to tabletop gaming sessions, there are a variety of events throughout the month that can feature a social hour for game masters to network, miniatures painting and opportunities for people to learn how to tabletop role-play.
“We are super thankful to the community. The response from everybody and the neighborhood has been great,” said Kaplan.
TPK Brewing is located at 5051 SE Hawthorne Blvd. and is open Wednesday-Monday, 11 am-11 pm. For more information on booking games, their events and more, head over to tpkbrewing.com.
Co-owners Elliott Kaplan, Jess Hardie and Dana Ebert. Photo by Lindsey Shea.