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Friday, December 26, 2014

Beer Invades the Metroplex

Note: Because it's apparently not clear in the post, Portland has had beer in theaters since at least the late 1980s.  The McMenamins may well have had the first theater-pub in the US when it opened The Mission in 1987.  Now probably 80% of the indies and local chains serve draft beer.  It is Regal, the Tennessee-owned chain, that has finally--at least in one location--decided to get on board.


I abandoned movie theater chains a decade ago. They had become too abusive: a high-volume onslaught of TV-style ads in the theater before the movie, sky-rocketing ticket prices, and concessions that were as bad as they were over-priced. Meanwhile, the proliferating indies offered ad-free viewing, low prices and--now almost uniformly throughout the city 4-8 handles of great beer and cider. I could go to the St Johns Cinema on opening day, grab a slice of pizza and a beer for barely more than it cost to go to a Regal metroplex. I was not alone. I watched as the traffic abandoned the Regal experience (a deliciously ironic name) and came over to the indies. 

Yesterday Sally and I decided to catch a Christmas Day matinee of the latest spectacular spectacular, but the indies were not available. (Good for them, giving the employees the day off.) So off we went to the Lloyd Center Regal and: ho!, what is this?

They haven't yet gotten to installing draft lines, but you can actually get a decent bottle of beer now. 

(1) This illustrates an interesting fact about the rise of drinking culture in the US. We no longer drink as much beer as we used to, but we like good beer when we go out to get a bite or catch a movie. This was never going to happen before craft beer came along. (2) Is this a thing everywhere, or just beery Portland, Oregon? My dataset is way out of date. 


  1. The list reminds me of the growler fill stations at Freddy's...not exactly a geek's list. Still, baby steps are good.

  2. Saint Louis has quite a few small, cozy theaters that have a great beer selection, and we've started to see our chains embrace the dine-in, beer-serving model popularized by Alamo Drafthouse.

  3. Moving to NC a while back I was pleasantly surprised how many theaters offered good beer options at the movies. While the indy theaters do have a lead, there are a number of larger theaters in the Raleigh area offering beer. Not the South I expect when I moved here for sure.

  4. The Regal in Eugene now carries Ninkasi for $6/12oz. Screw that, I'm sneaking a Plank Town Hobbit's Little Helper when I go see The Hobbit!

  5. As noted above, the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin has done this for years and years. We've had an indie theater that's served beer and wine here for a while too--actually if anything, I'm surprised it took this long for portland to do it.

  6. Just to be clear, we've had theater-pubs since the late 80s (and maybe mid-80s). Something like 80% of the non-chain theaters serve beer on draft. What shocked me was that Tennessee-owned Regal, which has a near-monopoly metroplexes in the city, has finally come around. They were very slow to realize what a big deal beer was, but finally have tumbled to the reality.

  7. Now, I don't get to the mega plex often, but in the places I've been, it's still the same story: $6 for a small popcorn and $7 for soda. No beer, no wine. Even the best new mega just barely has anything but the old school movie junk at the counter.

    This has been in: Jacksonville, FL, Albuquerque, NM and Cedar Rapids, IA (live in all 3 locs over the last 4 years). Even ABQ has something like ~20 local breweries and a very robust culture, lots of super-chill beer gardens - like PDX except without the rain.

    Given that I'm currently debating my next town of residence, PDX sounds more and more worth a look...