Last night, I finally made it down to Bottles at 51st and Fremont. It is exactly the kind of place I love--a cozy place with a long, wooden bar. It's the kind of neighborhood pub where people literally greet you when you walk in. They have eight well-selected, mostly local taps and a barbecue out front ("usually done by five, usually out by eight"). It's Carolina barbecue, if that means anything to you. Although this is no time to be dining out of doors, they have a beautiful little tree-shaded patio that I intend to enjoy come about July 5. My love seems to be reflected elsewhere--they're getting the very rare five stars on Yelp.
Oh, they also have a few hundred bottles of beer in coolers scattered around the pub.
Until three or four years ago, you had bottle shops and you had pubs. Then Belmont Station put in the Bier Cafe next to the bottle shop in their swank new digs, and the two started to come together. Lickety-split, now we have a bunch: Saraveza, Hop and Vine, Beermongers, Hop Haven, Bailey's and probably others I'm forgetting.
For a consumer, it's a pretty good set-up. Last night, I was meeting an out-of-towner, and it was nice to be able to peruse some of the state's finest, knowing that I had dozens of choices to offer. This goes double if you want to sample foreign beers. Even pubs like the Horse Brass can't match the selection of a bottle shop. But there's also draft beer and a nice pub environment. (You pay a slight premium for drinking the bottle in situ, but it's offset by the fact that a lot of bottles are cheaper than taps.)
So I'm wondering--is this mainly just a Portland thing? One of those deals where once the example is out there, everyone sees its genius? Folks from other cities/states--do you have these things, too? If not, I've got a new business model to suggest to you....
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