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May 22nd, 2013 WW Staff | Market Guide 2013
 

Market Guide 2013: Alcohol

Wine, beer and high spirits.

market_guide_2013(alcohol)PAIRINGS PORTLAND WINE SHOP - IMAGE: Natalie Behring
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BEER

The Beer Mongers

1125 SE Division St., 234-6012, thebeermongers.com. 

At Beer Mongers, man is not so far removed from his ancestors. Huddled in a dark cave, hairy men drink and grunt mostly undisturbed by the fairer sex. Has some guy ever brought a date to Beer Mongers? It’s theoretically possible—there’s no formal “No Girlz Aloud” sign—yet implausible given the bottle shop’s brutish simplicity and paucity of décor. This is fine: We like beer, and the Mongers have much. Organizing brews by style is a great touch, and the guys who run the place can answer any question you can possibly dream up. If you’d prefer more of a scene, Apex is catty-corner. MC.

Shopping list: Hit the Oregon-only case to the right as you walk in.


Belmont Station & Biercafe

4500 SE Stark St., 232-8538, belmont-station.com.

Once upon a time, Belmont Station was basically a glorified storage room for the legendary Horse Brass Pub. After an impressive expansion followed by a four-block move to Stark Street (remember: Belmont Station is not on Belmont Street), it’s now one of Portland’s largest beer shops. It also has a bar, which closes oddly early and doesn’t sell fish or chips, but is otherwise pretty pleasant. Shoppers can find all the American craft brews available in the state and a decent selection of European imports, but there’s also fierce competition for rare bottles, which disappear as soon as they hit shelves. The staff’s helpfulness varies, but you’ll definitely stumble onto something worth drinking. MC.

Shopping list: Hit the Belgian cooler by the door to the cafe, which has some gems.


Bottles NW

5015 NE Fremont St., 287-7022, bottlesnw.com.

Depending on what time you visit, Bottles is a relaxed beer shop that invites you to sit and slurp your purchases along with a bite of house barbecue, or, as the evening passes, a lively bar that invites you to leave with an extra bottle of whatever you’ve been drinking. Either way, it works. More than a dozen cases of beers (400 labels and counting) from the Northwest and beyond line the walls, from pretty pints of Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA to sour Upright Brewing ales and random lambics and dunkels. A tip: The price tag on top of each bottle is actually the in-house price; they knock one or two bucks off if you take your purchase home. The taps change nightly or, ahem, “sometimes hourly,” so you can always sip something new and good as you ponder what you want to buy this time. KC.

Shopping list: A “mixer sixer” to go is $10; the store also stocks all Fort George in cans and Double Mountain in bottles.


Bridgetown Beerhouse

915 N Shaver St., 477-8763. 

This dimly lit North Mississippi ’hood beer shop’s business cards proudly read: “The second best beer shop in Portland.” Who wouldn’t want to buy Belgian and German suds, sixers of PBR and beloved micros from owner Mike Waite, with a sense of humor like that? Waite, who worked as a kitchen manager for McMenamins for years before opening Bridgetown on President Obama’s Inauguration Day, is pretty much at the shop 24/7, so take advantage of his gregarious nature and knowledgeable palate to figure out which of his 500 highbrow and lowbrow beers is right for you. Don’t see what you want? He digs special orders. KC.

Shopping list: Recently? Firestone Walker’s Parabola Imperial Stout and a host of Double Mountain Belgians.


The Hop & Vine Bottle Shop

1914 N Killingsworth St., 954-3322, thehopandvine.com.

Offering more hop than vine, this bottle shop stocks a plethora of international and domestic microbrews, as well as some lesser-known gems, including bottles from Southern Oregon Brewing Co. and Corvallis’ Block 15, and at least three brands of gluten-free, sorghum-based beer. The wine selection is a bit slimmer, but the Northwest is well-represented, of course, and a rack in the back adds vermouth, sake, cider and mead to the mix. One cooler by the counter holds a small selection of individual drinks, but if you want your wine or beer chilled, you’re better off heading to the bar next door. Check out the calendar on the website for frequent wine tastings and “meet the brewer” events. MHW.

Shopping list: Recent additions include Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout and Coalition Dunkel Rye.


The Hop Haven Beer Bar and Bottle Shop

2130 NE Broadway, 287-0244. 

The best part about the Hop Haven is its one-price-fits-all deal. Mix and match any six-pack of 12-ounce bottles for $10.70 or any 22-ounce bottle for $4.95 to go. The 100-plus beers in the coolers are mostly domestic, with a lot of West Coast pales and IPAs. If you want to drink in-house, grab a bottle from the cooler and hand it to the bartender—he pops it, you drink it. Easy enough. If you’re sticking around, there are also four rotating taps, booze and pretty good hand pies, pizzas and sandwiches. There’s even a Ms. Pac-Man hungry for quarters. LC.

Shopping list: A crisp, cool six-pack of Gigantic IPA or 10 Barrel ISA.


John’s Market

3535 SW Multnomah Blvd., 244-2617, johnsmarketplace.com.

This Multnomah Village icon is dim and dingy with shelves that seem to shift around like the rooms in Cube. It also has probably the largest stock of beer in Portland. John’s Market is a must-visit, if only to see all that beer in one place, all precariously stacked, with total disaster one tectonic quiver away. The staff can find anything you need, but stumbling across stuff you won’t find anywhere else is part of the fun. Various vintages of barrel-aged stouts and sours often sit unnoticed within the maze of shelves, ready for you to grab. We suspect some other beer bars may actually buy things here to sell at their own shops. Who could blame them? 

Shopping list: Pick your way into the cooler room hidden behind the glass display case in the back left, and browse the extensive collection of obscure European brews. And keep your eyes open: You never know what those less thorough than you have left behind.


The Portland Bottle Shop

7960 SE 13th Ave., 232-5202, pdxbottleshop.com. Closed Mondays.

Precious few bottle shops give beer and wine equal attention. More often, one child is favored, the other languishing on a rickety shelf back by the storage room. Sellwood’s Portland Bottle Shop is run by a wine guy—owner Travis Motter is the sommelier who developed Laurelhurst Market’s wine program—but he’s thrown himself into suds, touring breweries, lining up special kegs and curating an excellent selection of brews. Housed in a warm nook of Sellwood’s strip of antique shops, this boutique feels a lot like a small-town specialty shop. The chatty service and dainty snacks further that impression. When it comes to special beer releases, the trek through the cold, dark woods separating the isolated outpost of Sellwood from the rest of town means this shop will have something long after other shops’ shelves have been picked clean. MC.

Shopping list: Bottles of beer, bottles of wine and maybe a cheese plate.


Saraveza 

1004 N Killingsworth St., 206-4252, saraveza.com.

What could be more Portland than a cozy neighborhood pub serving locally sourced eats, decorated with old-school Pabst signs and offering more than 250 microbrews stored in vintage coolers? How about that same pub hosting a monthly “Free Bacon Night”? At Saraveza, that’s the second Monday of the month from 6 to 10 pm, when every pint sold comes with free smoked bacon. Saraveza does double duty as a bar and bottle shop: Walk in and put together a six-pack to go, or, more likely, sit down and have a pint to help you decide. The only good reason to take your beer home first is the to-go prices, which claim to be practically as good as those at the supermarket. But how many supermarkets offer cans of Fort George Vortex IPA? MHW.

Shopping list: To-go 32-ounce jars filled from the tap ($1 more than the pint price), take-and-bake pasties, cans by Caldera Brewing and Anderson Valley.


WINE

Barrique Barrel (NEW!)

7401 N Burlington Ave., 208-3164, barrelpdx.wordpress.com. Closed Monday.

Owner Lisa Lavochkin deserves props, not just for opening the only wine shop in St. Johns, but also for courting gluten-free imbibers with an impressive assortment of Northwest hard cider, mead (the fermented honey drink that kept Robin Hood’s men merry) and gluten-free beer. She selects her inventory for good value—few of the wines cost more than $25—with a focus on Oregon, Washington, France, Italy, Spain, and a smattering of New Zealand and Argentine bottles. Several large coolers under the giant dried-hop vine mean you can pick up something that’s chilled and ready for a picnic in Cathedral Park. AJ.

Shopping list: A to Z 2012 Oregon rosé ($10.95); Torre Oria cava brut rosado, a dry Spanish sparkler from Garnacha grapes ($9.95).


Blackbird Wine Shop

4323 NE Fremont St., 282-1887, blackbirdwine.com. Closed Monday.

Picnicking? You supply the baguettes and Blackbird Wine Shop will supply the rest. A look inside Blackbird’s “Atomic Cheese” case yields all sorts of temptations, including Portland Creamery artisan goat cheese. Another case holds pâtés, finocchiona salami (with fennel seeds) and other cured meats from Olympic Provisions. As for the wine, proprietor Andy Diaz is skillful at drawing out customers’ preferences and leading them to their heart’s desire. He is also the rare Portland wine dealer who genuinely likes rosé and carries more than a token selection. In his experience, the Beaumont neighborhood isn’t big on trophy wines, so he isn’t either—what you’ll find here are high-quality wines from lesser-known producers at affordable, clearly marked prices. AJ.

Shopping list: 2007 Z’ivo pinot noir ($23) from Eola-Amity tastes like salted caramel, says the owner.


Cork

2901 NE Alberta St., 281-2675, corkwineshop.com.

My vote for Portland’s most exuberant wine shop, Cork adds value with an impressive assortment of fine chocolates, fancy salts, olive oils, and balsamic vinegar from Modena (which you can pour into refillable containers—nice!). At the other end of this sunny space sits a clawfoot bathtub filled with Champagne and other bubbles. Proprietors Darryl and Sarah Joannides (of Sellwood’s late, lamented Assaggio restaurant) and assistant Hilary Olson have written detailed wine descriptions to help you home in on new favorites. If Cork were my neighborhood wine shop, I’d join its membership program in a flash. Besides discounts on wine, the $100 annual fee gets you and a friend into a year’s worth of Cork’s $10-$15 Friday tastings for free. AJ.

Shopping list: The shop is excited about an upcoming influx of Basque-country txakolinas.


CorksCru

339 NW Broadway, 226-9463, corkscru.biz. Closed Sunday-Monday.

Just as he did at the former Square Deal Wine, manager Dan Beekley keeps CorksCru at a nippy 57 degrees, the better to protect his choice, 290-bottle array of small-production wines from the West Coast and the Mediterranean. Most are in the $20 to $30 range. If you come in looking for what he calls a “big-boy Burgundy” or a Veuve Clicquot, he can put you onto a lesser-known wine that will probably be equally delicious and a far better value. Between his regular Friday tastings (“five wines at 5 pm for $5”) and his wine-list consulting, Beekley stays busy. AJ.

Shopping list: Estate-bottled Quinta de la Rosa Tawny Porto makes a good sipping companion on cold nights.


Division Wines

3564 SE Division St., 234-7281, divisionwines.com. Closed Monday.

If you’ve been to Southpark, you’ve probably seen Will Prouty behind the bar. Prouty and his wife, Danyelle, started Division Wines just in time for the restaurant revolution that now surrounds it. Will Prouty is all about introducing people to lesser-known, often self-distributing wineries. Years of restaurant work have honed his empathy for wine drinkers of all stripes. “People don’t want to be made to feel stupid,” he says. “They want people to listen and not lecture them.” Like the customer who recently whispered to him, “Don’t tell my husband, but what I really like are those oaky California chardonnays.” AJ.

Shopping list: Biodynamic Côtes du Rhône from the old vines at a young estate called Domaine Rouge-Bleu, imported by Portland-based Estelle Imports.


E&R Wine Shop

6141 SW Macadam Ave., 246-6101. Closed Sunday-Monday.

This might be the most meticulously organized wine shop in Portland. Its wall of Italian wines, for instance, is labeled according to Italy’s 20 wine regions, and any of E&R’s three partners will gladly help you sort the Barolos from the Barbarescos and the Tuscans from the Super Tuscans. Owners Ed Paladino, Richard Elden and Stephanie Sprinkle taste 80 to 90 wines a week, and only two or three make it into their inventory. On Saturdays, they’re always pouring something interesting, like an unusually grippy rosé of cabernet franc from Bourgueil, France. AJ.

Shopping list: If you’re lucky, a Sottimano Barbaresco will still be around when this guide drops. Otherwise ask the owners: They’re enthusiastic about their newest Old World favorites.


Great Wine Buys

1515 NE Broadway, 287-2897, greatwinebuys.com.

By “Great Wine Buys” I suspect they mean “It’s great that we got these highly allocated wines, isn’t it?” All the Northwest icons are here, from Washington’s Woodward Canyon, Betz, and DeLille to Oregon’s Patricia Green and Beaux Frères. Top California vintners occupy a central display, surrounded by German rieslings, Italy’s killer “B’s” (Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera), dessert wines and Champagne. Or you could take $108 of that and buy the shop’s very eclectic “case of the month”—now that’s an education. AJ.

Shopping list: Too impatient to age your own pinot? Great Wine Buys’ cellared selections are old and fine.


Hollywood Fred Meyer

3030 NE Weidler St., 280-1300.

For dirt-cheap pricing and a wide, deep selection of labels from around the globe, it’s the wine department at the Hollywood outpost of local big-box Fred Meyer that gets high marks from oenophiles. Each Fred Meyer is in charge of its own wine program (the Hawthorne store’s is also pretty great), and at Hollywood, head steward Leslie Boom and her crew are friendly, crazy-knowledgeable and willing to pretty much special-order cases of anything a customer desires—at 10 percent over wholesale cost. Really like a wine at a restaurant? Snap a camera-phone photo of the bottle and they’ll track it down for you. For everyday shoppers, a six-pack of mixed bottles will nab you 10 percent off at the register. KC.

Shopping list: Nice-priced Northwest, Greek, Portuguese, Italian, French and Spanish wines.


Liner & Elsen Wine Merchants

2222 NW Quimby St., 241-9463, linerandelsen.com. Closed Sunday.

Close to our hearts, and not just because it’s downstairs from our office, 20-year-old Liner & Elsen has a remarkable selection of old and rare vintages (1991 Cayrou, anyone?), but the enormous, wide-ranging stock includes just as many amazing deals as it does luxury bottles. Check the monthly specials at the front of the store, where you’ll find a dozen cases priced at under $15 per bottle. The store stocks plenty of small Oregon winemakers (Ken Wright Cellars, Teutonic Wine Company) and esoteric imports (Greece, Georgia). For a special occasion, you can’t go wrong with Liner & Elsen’s stock of rare and single-grower Champagnes. BW.

Shopping list: They’re quite excited about a 2011 viognier ($16.99) from local mark Edwin Dyer; look out also for a selection of well-priced rieslings, cavas and rosés.


Mt. Tabor Fine Wines

4316 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 235-4444, mttaborfinewines.com. Closed Sunday-Monday. 

You can’t be a wine retailer as long as Sandy Thompson has been without doing something right. Vintage to vintage and region to region, the man has the gustatory equivalent of a photographic memory, and his particular specialty is hard-to-get pinot noir from uncompromising Oregon producers such as John Thomas Winery, Arterberry Maresh, and Cameron Winery. In fact, 40 percent of his business is shipping top-quality Oregon pinots all over the U.S. Not that Thompson neglects other regions. His Friday wine flights (4–7:30pm, $15–$18) are a great way to get acquainted with Rhone reds, Italian whites or whatever is currently floating his boat. AJ.

Shopping list: Solid-value blended wines from two Oregon wineries: Abacela Vintners Blend No. 12 (red, Southern Oregon, $14) and Brooks Amycas (white, Willamette Valley, $13).


Pairings Portland Wine Shop (NEW!)

455 NE 24th Ave., 541-531-7653, pairingsportland.com. Closed Sunday-Monday. 

Strategically located across the street from the Ocean micro-restaurant cluster on Northeast Glisan Street, the recently opened Pairings is the place to bring your take-out chicken wings from Basa Basa or your tacos from Uno Mas and find precisely the right wine to go with them—and maybe even sit and enjoy your meal (seating is limited). Wine seller Jeff Weissler looks for “conscious wines” made sustainably and naturally (no added yeasts) from organic grapes. Fulfilling this criterion can be a tightrope walk when you’re also looking for affordability (who isn’t?), so you’ll see sections devoted to “Stuff too good for the price” as well as “Shit too good not to carry.” Weissler offers not one but two wine clubs with special discounts to encourage case-buying and repeat business. Look for upcoming classes and guided tastings, too. AJ.

Shopping list: A pair of value whites: Pratsch 2011 Grüner Veltliner ($14) and Domaine Duffour 2011 Côtes de Gascogne ($9).


Southeast Wine Collective (NEW!)

2425 SE 35th Place, 208-2061, sewinecollective.com. Closed Monday-Tuesday.

Several local wineries, including Division Winemaking, Helioterra, and Vincent Wine Co., coexist with a private event space and a bustling wine bar in this 1923 warehouse, redesigned by architect Joe Karman. In addition to the regular Sunday brunches and guest chef dinners, this is a handy place to sample small bites (try the lamb sausage with red beans, parsley and feta) and taste wines from about 50 wineries in Oregon and Europe. Sips can be stingy—I paid $5 for what amounted to a thimble of Division’s unremarkable 2010 “Deux” pinot noir—so you should probably spring for a glass if you actually want a decent taste. AJ.

Shopping list: Enjoy a delicious and wine-friendly happy-hour plate and take home a bottle of what suits you. Ask for the retail list; all wines are in the $25-to-$50 range.


Vinopolis

1025 SW Washington St., 223-6002, vinopoliswineshop.com. 

This West End wine store easily has the largest range of vino in town. The warehouselike space is a maze of boxes and crates filled with bottles from all over the world (albeit with a heavy bent toward France), as well as a decent range of local labels. Don’t be fooled by the unpretentious surrounds. There’s some seriously spendy juice here—you can lay down $1,650 for futures of an ’09 Lafite-Rothschild. But even though Vinopolis isn’t the place to go for Two-Buck Chuck, there are plenty of good buys around the $20-to-$40 mark. Service is very hands-off (some find it cold, others refreshingly unobtrusive), but the staff knows its pinot from its primitivo, and will happily guide you through the liquid labyrinth to something matching your tastes and budget if prompted. RB.

Shopping list: Old World wines, good deals on wine by the case.


LIQUOR SHOPS

Pearl Specialty Market and Spirits

900 NW Lovejoy St., 477-8604, pearlspecialty.com.

One of the few liquor stores in Portland that doesn’t make you feel like a degenerate, Pearl Specialty is about as swish as spirit shops are allowed to get in our Soviet-style control state: You can actually touch the bottles, and many of the bottles you can touch are very good. There are plenty of special-order spirits and top-shelf tipples in stock, but what really sets this store apart is that it’s the only place in Oregon you can buy liquor, wine and beer in the one spot. The store almost doubled in size recently, vastly expanding its beer department to one of the best on the west side of the river (John’s, of course, excepted). The wine selection skews more to the cheap and quaffable. RB.

Shopping list: Vodka, tequila, beer—all can be bought.


Uptown Liquor

1 NW 23rd Place, 227-0338. Closed Sunday.

Dedicated cocktailians know this unassuming shop in a mini-mall just up the hill from the Northwest 23rd Avenue Gap store carries the broadest range of unusual spirits in town. Here you’re guaranteed to find bottles from all the local distillers, plus mysteriously named liquors like Farigoule (made from thyme), Zirbenz (pine) and Aperol (bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona). The bourbon selection is good, too; check out the Vintage Collection from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. BW.

Shopping list: The shop is chock-a-block with local liquors, including the recent bumper crop of Oregon-made whiskeys.


Portland Distilleries

Portland distilleries have become not only a place to make liquor, but a place to shop for it: In particular, a number of local distilleries have tasting hours that allow buyers to sample wares and take home limited-edition spirits. Here are a few favorites with some deep catalogs.

Clear Creek Distillery

2389 NW Wilson St., 248-9470, clearcreekdistillery.com. Closed Sunday.

Steve McCarthy ranks among the top craft distillers in the country, laying the foundation for Oregon’s current micro-distillery explosion. The variety of spirits birthed from Clear Creek’s four copper-pot stills is mind-boggling: a half-dozen fruit brandies, just as many liqueurs, seven grappas and one amazing whiskey. The tasting room offers no discounts, but you can sample the full range of McCarthy’s genius. 

Shopping list: Barrel-aged eau de vie de pomme, cranberry liqueur.


House Spirits Distillery

2025 SE 7th Ave., 235-3174, housespirits.com. Closed Monday-Tuesday.

The most renowned of Portland’s new generation of craft distilleries also has the best tasting room, a fragrant beige-hued bar decorated with barrels and racks of House’s signature labels—Aviation Gin, Krogstad Aquavit—and limited releases of rum, ouzo, coffee liqueur and whiskey in medicinal-looking bottles. One wall is devoted to the art of the cocktail, stocked with fine mixers (Fever-Tree tonic, Sanbitter soda), a dozen varieties of bitters, several cocktail manuals, and tools (shakers, bar spoons, mixing glasses) of the finest quality. 

Shopping list: Limited-edition spirits—whether coffee liqueur or whiskey experiments—are available.


New Deal Distillery (NEW!)

900 SE Salmon St., 234-2513, newdealdistillery.com.

A big, shiny still takes pride of place at New Deal Distillery’s new location on Southeast Salmon Street. This little artisanal outfit helped make Oregon a leader in the micro-distilling movement. It started out with an unflavored vodka in 2004 and now produces an award-winning pepper-flavored vodka, a ginger liqueur, a coffee liqueur, and two styles of gin. Want a tour? Large groups should make reservations (especially on the weekend), but small groups can usually just drop in. 

Shopping list:  A rotating cast of “distiller’s workshop” liquors from white rum to vodka made from wine.


Stone Barn Brandyworks

3315 SE 19th Ave., 775-6747, www.stonebarnbrandyworks.com.

Sebastian and Erika Degens have skipped the usual vodka-to-gin-to-whiskey business model of most of our small distilleries and jumped straight into the fun stuff: quince liqueur, rye whiskey (made from Bob’s Red Mill rye flour), several varieties of pear liqueur and brandy, and a truly amazing strawberry liqueur. They distill in tiny batches and sell almost exclusively from the distillery, so watch the website for new releases. 

Shopping list: Quince liqueur, unoaked rye whiskey, apple brandy.

 
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