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Friday, March 18, 2011

The Bottle-Shop Pub: A Portland Phenomenon?

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....

22 comments:

Sean Murphy said...

They are all about! Here is a very fine shop I go when visiting a customer of mine. Very friendly owner, staff and cliental. Good selection both in the bottle and on the tap.

http://www.marcellars.blogspot.com/

Kaplan said...

Jeff, these things exist in the SF Bay Area as well, for example City Beer Store in SF: http://www.citybeerstore.com/ and Beer Revolution in Oakland: http://www.beer-revolution.com/

They are a relatively new phenomenon, although unlike the place you mentioned they don't really serve food. I think City Beer Store has cheese and stuff, and Beer Revolution occasionally features food from other places for special events.

Kaplan said...

Oh and I forgot to mention we even have places that specialize in certain beer styles, like Le Trappe: http://latrappecafe.com/ which has a huge selection of Belgian beers on tap and in bottles. They even have the correct glassware for each brew

Fowl Birdwatcher said...

Pizza Port has a Pizza Port Bottle Shop next to it in Carlsbad

Anonymous said...

I hope more places drop the corkage fee for drinking bottles on site. Beermongers does this and now gets all my business.

Skubic said...

KnB Wine Cellars is a great operation similar to what you are talking about here in San Diego.

http://knbwinecellars.com/

Also Wine Steals has a nice beer bottle selection and great Pizza. A little wine-centric but you can purchase and open some good beers too.

http://www.winestealssd.com/

And like Birdwatcher said, Pizza Port Bottle Shop is awesome.

http://www.pizzaport.com/locations/bottle-shop/

Anonymous said...

We have several of them here in Philadelphia currently (e.g. Foodery Northern Liberties, Brew/Ultimo, Hawthornes Beer Boutique and Gourmet Eater), and it's a growing phenomenon. It stems, in part, from our wacky beer laws.

Jeff Alworth said...

I'm really glad to hear it--it's a great business model (at least from the customer's side).

Anon, on corkage fees. As long as these are low, I'm cool with them. Included in the price of a bottled beer at a place like Bottles or Beermongers are the expenses for operating a pub. It's reasonable to pay a little more for that.

what we’re drinking said...

There is at least one good bar like this in Dayton, OH, which is South Park Tavern. While the bottle selection is not extensive, it is pretty darn good. Regionally, the Beer Store in Louisville, KY is top notch, although it is more a retail outlet with beer on tap, like City Beer in SF or Bottleworks in Seattle.

Jon said...

Well, there's the Bierstein in Eugene which is a beer bar (with small kitchen) but also has hundreds of bottled beers, which definitely qualifies I think. And the Abbey Pub here in Bend, which Geoff modeled after the Bierstein, is angling that way.

Brian Yaeger said...

As Kaplan noted, there's City Beer in SF which I believe is celebrating their 5th anniversary. And what's that super famous one in Coppenhagen?

BTW, what was that side you had? Looked good.

Kerry Finsand said...

Jeff,

It was nice seeing you at Bottles last night. Wow back to back nights of beer events. Anyways I really like the concept of bottle shop and bar. I find it very inviting and have seen these types of concepts in Washington and California as well.

Thanks

Kerry

Jack R. said...

World of Beer is a chain of craft bottle- and tap-rooms in Florida which fits your criteria / paradigm.

Currently, there are 12 outlets: Coconut Creek, Lake Mary, Land O' Lakes, Melbourne, Orlando [02], St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Tampa [04].
===
btw, I just drove across this great nation and enjoyed craft beer in Austin, Tex.; Las Cruces, N.Mex.; Palmdale, Sunnyvale, and San Francisco, Calif. Gulfport, Miss., did not participate.

I was voting with my wallet; I recommend the roadtrips and quests for 'merica's craft beer.

Anonymous said...

The Bier Stein in Eugene will be celebrating it's sixth birthday this summer and has been written about in the New York Times. 10 taps, 1000 bottles, an owner who won a Gold medal at GABF when he was a brewer. Not sure what else you could ask for!

dr wort said...

Sounds like you need to get out more, Jeff. ;-p

Jack R. said...

"The Monk's Kettle" in the Mission District of San Francisco has 20+ beers on tap and a four page list of 40+ bottled beers; all craft or import; some extraordinary [eg, $50 USD bottles of beer].

I visited last week; I was spoilt for choice.

pqjulie said...

Funny you post this as I've been in Portland for the weekend (from San Diego) and was thinking that you guys do have a lot of these bottle shop-beer bar options. As some other folks mentioned, we have a couple in San Diego but not nearly as many. Then again, beer bars are still a relatively new phenomenon in most places as well. I've got to also recommend Craft Beer Outlet on the outskirts of Philly, happened upon it accidentally on a bike ride - what a find!

ASG said...

Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ is the prototypical pub/bottleshop. 2 of their own taps and 10ish of OR, Wa, CA and CO offerings along with 6 coolers of bottles from around the world.

Soggy Coaster said...

I wish we had some in Colorado. The Phoenix area, where I visit occasionally, has several. I love them; they really provide a nice experience. My favorite is Papago Brewing, which brews its own beers, has a ton of guest taps and several fridges full of well-chosen bottles:

http://www.papagobrewing.com/

Pfarrell said...

Even way out in Charlottesville, VA, we have a great place called Beer Run (http://www.beerrun.com) It's a combo bottle shop/cafe/pub serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with 14 taps and it works!

Devlin said...

The Seattle area has four places with taps and significant bottles to be consumed onsite or taken to go: Bottleworks, Malt & Vine, Super Deli Mart and Uber Tavern.

antsaint said...

Eugene has some of the bottle shop/pub thing going. Bier Stein is best known for it. 16 Tons started as bottle shop, but now that they've added taps there's a bit of a "mini-pub" aspect to the shop. In Cornucopia they have coolers for on-premises, but I don't know if you can buy booze there and take home.

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