The original Bitter End Pub (1981 W Burnside St., 432-8326, bitterendpdx.com) was more a bitter beginning. It was a dim, dirty, piss-and-vinegar-fry dive that germinated a drunken army of Portland Timbers soccer fans largely by its proximity to Civic Stadium—I mean PGE Park, er, Jeld-Wen Field, oh, right, Providence Park. When the Timbers Army's home bar closed at the beginning of 2013, some fans keened deeply for bygone days of no-pity minor-league soccer and half-remembered overnight stays during overseas World Cup matches. Others remembered that it always kind of smelled like a septic tank.
Well, the Bitter End is back, revived not by the original owners but by a squad of soccer fans alongside former Violetta owner Dwayne Beliakoff. The new bar is a theme-park version of a Portland soccer pub: The softwood barâs underside is wrapped in corrugated aluminum, the walls are tiled with fake woodpiles and flat-screen TVs (where thereâs not a creepily NSA surveillance photo of the soccer stadium visible across the street), and the space between the restrooms contains a faux wall of player lockers. A battery of clocks tells the time, with varying accuracy, at the sites of historical World Cups.
Meanwhile, more than 20 beer taps crowd the space behind the bar, with an extremely strong preference for IPAs, lagers and pilsners, and a weird antipathy toward anything darker than a Brachâs caramel. Beliakoff has also installed a raw-oyster bar and fancy hamburgers on puffy buns. The menâs room contains a chalkboard on which fans scrawl game-day predictions and ask the important questions of the day: âWhere is Richie Marquez?â Another chalk enthusiast scrawled the words âABE MAKES GOOD CIDER,â referring to Cider Riotâs Abram Goldman-Armstrong.
The barâs resurgent popularity among superfans paradoxically makes it a relaxing place to watch soccer on home-match days. Ten minutes before the game, the entire overcrowding Timbers Army departs for the stadium, leaving behind an equally formidable army of service staff with nothing to do but ask you what youâd like.