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May 7th, 2014 WW Staff | Market Guide
 

Market Guide 2014: Drinks

marketguide_2014(drinks-smith-tea)STEVEN SMITH TEAMAKER - IMAG: Natalie Behring
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BEER AND CIDER

Belmont Station & Biercafe

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

Kind of like Mary Tyler Moore to Dick Van Dyke, Belmont Station is a now wholly independent spinoff of the legendary Horse Brass Pub. The little bar and huge bottle shop is always cramped with some of the city’s most avid beer hounds. Prices are reasonable, and the staff maintains its baseline brews while showcasing seriously esoteric taste, from experimentally aged barleywines to foraged-yeast beers. But the real show is the 1,200 bottles. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Check what’s new on the website, whether Nectar Creek mead, Dogfish Head experiments, unfiltered Ecliptic or Cascade Brewing sours.


Bushwhacker Cider

1212 SE Powell Blvd., Suite D, 445-0577, bushwhackercider.com.

Nothing will stop Bushwhacker’s Jeff Smith from maintaining his encyclopedic cider collection. Last year, Square Mile Cider, owned by the largest craft beer companies in the Pacific Northwest, cut a deal with Safeway, the second-largest supermarket chain in the country, to exclusively offer its new line of cranberry apple cider. And yet, a few bottles found their way to this shop on Southeast Powell. Such efforts are secret to this unremarkable plaza-bound bar’s success. Bushwhacker is to Portland cider today what the Horse Brass must have been to beer in 1982, with nigh on 300 bottles of cider and mead. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Shopping list: Sarasola Basque cider, Cider Riot new releases, Danish meads.


F.H. Steinbart Co.

234 SE 12th Ave., 232-8793, fhsteinbart.com.

The oldest homebrew store in the country, inner Southeast’s F.H. Steinbart has been in business for nearly a century. Today, it’s a destination for the most and least experienced brewers. The regular retail space—well-stocked with books and kombucha kits—isn’t especially large, and there’s no keg to congregate around. However, you get a great view of the massive stockroom housing pieces and parts for the pros. It’s quite a sight, though not especially romantic. As the clerk says: “At a certain level, brewing becomes plumbing.” MARTIN CIZMAR.

Shopping list: Beer kits, wine kits, kombucha kits.


NEW! Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom

3090 SE Division St., 971-302-6899, imperialbottleshop.com. 

Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom is the first place I’ve seen use a grocery store-style Wine Well bottle chiller. That’s good, because this concrete-roofed bunker on Southeast Division needs innovation to stand out in the neighborhood’s very beery blocks. This innovation extends to the ability to fill 16-ounce bottles from tap lines that employ a homebrewer’s narrow, carbonation-saving wands, and a bartender who’ll answer questions by researching what he doesn’t already know on the iPad/cash register. I’m not sure how many new beer bars Portland needs, but it always needs new ideas, and Imperial has a few. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Shopping list: The bottles on the shelves are nice, but even nicer is the chance to fill keg-only beers like Crux or Lompoc into not just growlers but pint bottles.


John’s Market

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

Oh, man: John’s is a store, but it’s also a tradition bordering on familial. Hell, it’s also the state fair. Boasting the city’s largest selection—there’s no reason not to believe this—the store is a beautifully ramshackle flea market for beer. With relationships that go deep, the store usually stocks the hardest-to-find beers in town; sometimes, arcane filing systems mean it also carries the oldest. Luckily, among serious beer shops, it also has some of the cheapest. What a place. Ask the guy on hand what he’s excited about in the store, and he’ll excitedly tell you. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Dig deep, man. The shop hosts an Easter Pliny hunt, and for all you know, you’ll still find a hidden egg.


Portland U-Brew & Pub

6237 SE Milwaukie Ave., 943-2727, portlandubrewandpub.com. Closed Monday.

If you want to make your own beer, you want to start here. There have been a couple of staff changes over the past year: One Matt moved to New Mexico while another Matt stepped in to help steward greenhorns brewing in the U-Brew’s onsite brewery, where staff offer an extra set of eyeballs as you measure out ingredients and turn your mash into beer using the shop’s cute copper kettles on the shop’s small-batch brewing days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). More advanced or adventurous brewers will find the scalable supplies they need to do it at home—from glass carboys to Cornelius kegs—and an impressive selection of raw ingredients. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Shopping list: Brewing onsite runs $175 to $220 per 15-gallon kettle batch. That’s 120 pints, folks.


Uptown Market

6620 SW Scholls Ferry Road, 336-4783, uptownmarketpdx.com.

Nestled against an auto shop, Uptown Market has all the exterior appeal of a quickie mart that sells whip-its. But like Doctor Who’s TARDIS, the brew store and newly instated brewery is bigger on the inside. Within, the cozy shop houses homebrew equipment, Water Avenue coffee, a bar with 18 taps that include a few of its own house brews, and a keg selection that’s broader than many shops’ stock of 22-ouncers. Meanwhile, the shelves are crammed with bottles local to national. If we lived in Beaverton, we wouldn’t buy a home. We’d just move in here. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: A keg to go.


NEW! Tin Bucket

3520 N Williams Ave., 477-7689.

Tin Bucket, a bottle shop, taproom and growler-filling station, is a gleaming monument to Oregon brewing. A bank of coolers holds a respectable range of bottles, but the taps are the stars. The row of proprietary pressurizing nozzles, which fill both pints and growlers, are spread across a long counter, each looking more like a spaceship’s stasis chamber than a standard row of tap handles. Tin Bucket’s pourers spend most of their time hovering around the clear chambers, which seem to run slowly. It’s hypnotic to watch, so have a pint while you wait. The payoff? Once pressurized, these growlers will stay as fresh as a bottle or can. The 40-tap selection featured a wide array of styles—a steal at $5 to $7 for 32-ounce pours, considering bombers 10 ounces lighter cost at least that much. JORDAN GREEN.

Shopping list: A growler of the latest.


WINE

Barrique Barrel

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  and gluten-free beer. She selects her inventory for good value—few wines cost more than $25—with a focus on Northwest and Continental, with a smattering of New Zealand and Argentine bottles. Several large coolers mean you can pick up something that’s chilled and ready for a picnic in Cathedral Park, but lately you can also pour yourself a glass in-store. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: Logsdon Peche ’n’ Brett, Finnriver Farm Saffron cider, wine from Division or other urban wineries, a Spanish Cigarrera Manzanita sherry.


Blackbird Wine Shop

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

Wine and cheese are such natural co-conspirators it’s a wonder every wine shop doesn’t have a cheesemonger attached to it. Blackbird’s Atomic Cheese counter definitely gives it a leg up in this regard. Blackbird has also expanded its menu of vino-friendly sandwiches and other bites, and as the weather improves, customers are lingering at the tables up front and outside. Even if all you want is to buy wine, owner Andy Diaz and clerks Abby and Molly are eager to help you navigate their collection of moderately priced reds, whites, bubblies and fortified wines. It’s great to see their expansive selection of rosés, too. ANGIE JABINE. 

Shopping list: A creamy wedge of Wisconsin Amish Gorgonzola, some garlic-and-black pepper salami from Chop, a couple of baguettes, a fistful of Marcona almonds, a few tiny chilled bottles of prosecco; now all you need is a blanket and a Swiss Army knife.


CorksCru

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

As with all of Portland’s better wine shops, the air inside CorksCru is decidedly cool, the better to protect its choice array of small-production wines from the West Coast and Mediterranean regions. “We look for the story,” says owner Dan Beekley about the wines he carries, such as the ones made by Portland’s Jan-Marc Baker in his 350-square-foot Overlook garage. CorksCru’s weekly Friday tastings are usually free, with the occasional “five for $5 at 5 pm” tastings of less-available wines. If the browsing and tasting whets your appetite, you can scuttle conveniently around the corner of Northwest Broadway and Everett Street to Remedy Wine Bar for dinner and more wine; Beekley is a partner in Remedy and selected its wine list. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: 2011 Viña Ilusión ($19), an unoaked tempranillo from one of the few certified organic estates in Spain’s Rioja region.


Division Wines

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

Will Prouty tends bar at Southpark, wife Danyelle Prouty is a server at Bernie’s Southern Bistro, and Division Wines is their passion project, a place where they can introduce their latest discoveries to adventurous consumers. The enthusiasm in their hand-written wine notes is infectious, and you may just walk out with a wine from Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia or Greece that you had no idea existed. The better-known wine regions are well represented too, as well as an impressive assortment of $13-and-under reds and whites. Also appreciated are the artisan bitters in multiple flavors, Pok Pok’s drinking vinegars, and other cocktail amenities. Division Wines’ tastings on first and third Wednesdays are lively preludes to dining in the neighborhood. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: 2013 Renegade Wine Co. Columbia Valley rosé ($11), a blend of 79 percent syrah, 14 percent cinsault and 7 percent counoise, from Walla Walla’s up-and-coming Sleight of Hand Cellars.


E&R Wine Shop

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

E&R remains the most meticulously arranged wine shop in Portland. Its walls of Italian and French wines, for instance, are labeled according to dozens of regions and appellations, educating novice wine drinkers while making it easy for connoisseurs to zero in on their choices. On Saturdays, the owners (Ed Paladino, Richard Elden and Stephanie Sprinkle) pour complimentary tastes of wines they find interesting, such as an organic 2012 riesling from Weingut Köfererhof, at the base of Italy’s Dolomite Alps. Longtime customers will be happy to learn this is the year E&R will finally launch its website for online shopping. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: 2010 Domaine de la Guicharde Cuvée Genest ($15), a fruity red Côtes du Rhône to drink within a year or two; Croft Fine Tawny Port ($13.50), because there should always be some port on hand.


Hollywood Fred Meyer

3030 NE Weidler St., 280-1300, fredmeyer.com.

Much as we want to champion the indie merchants, we have to hand it to the Hollywood Freddy’s: Wine steward Leslie Boom offers a superbly organized assortment of wines from around the world at every price point, from box wines and cheap bubbles to collectible older vintages that are segregated in a chilled case under a closed-circuit camera (insult to honest shoppers or brilliant marketing?). One of the categories is “90-point wines under $20,” a handy feature for those who go by ratings. Incidentally, there’s also a growler station with beer taps for Fort George, Hopworks and other Northwest brews. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: 2012 Librandi Ciro Bianco ($10.99), a Calabrian “steward selection” that got 93 points from Decanter; an $18.99 half-bottle of Sineann’s rare 2012 Pines Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel.


Liner & Elsen Wine Merchants

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

They say good fences make good neighbors, but apparently good wines do the same thing. We consider it unaccountable good luck that Liner & Elsen is downstairs from our offices. The 24-year-old shop has amassed an estimable selection of rare wines in its walk-in cold room, but for our nigh-on hilarious journalists’ budgets, Bob Scherb’s store offers a breadth of teen-priced wines at the front of the store and occasional steep discounts on Italian Chiantis or grand reserve tempranillos from Rioja. More than that, though, the shop offers the advice and sensibilities of a staff that’s as excited about what it sells as a 21-year-old record-store geek, but without any of the snout. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: 2011 St. Innocent Pinot Noir ($24.99), Teutonic Rose ($16.99)


NEW! Oso Market and Bar

726 SE Grand Ave., 232-6400, osomarket.com.

Just down the road from Hawks PDX sex club and My Father’s Place, Oso Market and Bar joins Enso, Clay Pigeon and Sauvage wine bars at the frontier of gentrification. But unlike those locally focused wine haunts, former House Spirits distiller Colin Howard takes his bottle bar on a discriminating tour of old Europe, with a rotating selection of mostly continental wine served in the generous stemware favored by home tipplers who down half a bottle with dinner. The bar’s train-car space is a brightly lit, neutral-toned version of upmarket Portland—right down to the ubiquitous interior light-bulby “OSO” sign. The beer cases are along the side, by market shelves packed with three brands of local salumi, high-end vermouths and raw-milk cheese. In the back, a table is nested among shelves of bottles from the old and new worlds. What’s more, they offer home delivery for orders of $60 or more, and have wine and beer clubs that bring carefully selected vintages or seasonals straight to your doorstep. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: The easiest way to shop is to order a $15 merchant’s choice wine flight with a cheese plate. There’s little chance you won’t walk out with a bottle under your arm and rose in your cheeks.


Pairings Portland Wine Shop

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

Strategically located across the street from the Ocean micro-restaurant cluster on Northeast Glisan Street, Pairings is the place to bring your takeout tacos from Uno Mas and find precisely the right wine to go with them. 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. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: Your shopping list will helpfully follow what’s on your dinner menu. Having pasta with red sauce? Buy the wine they’ve paired with pasta and red sauce. 


NEW! Storyteller Wine Co. 

5511-B SW Hood Ave., 206-7029, storytellerwine.com. Open Friday and Saturday.

Open just two days a week, this shop in a nondescript suite adjacent to John’s Landing offers a modest assortment of wines, mostly from the Northern Hemisphere, each one hand-picked by proprietor Michael Alberty. “Storyteller” is an apt name; Alberty is the Scheherazade of Portland wine merchants. His exegesis of the 2012 “Cuvée Daena” chardonnay that he commissioned from Crowley Wines (his first-ever custom wine) to commemorate 25 years with his wife, Daena Goldsmith, would make a grown man cry. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: How about a couple of the so-called “New California” wines? These are from small-scale vintners swimming against California’s tide of monster fruit-bomb vintages. Consider the 2012 Anthill Farms Sonoma Coast pinot noir ($34); or a Forlorn Hope “Que Saudade” verdelho, a “flipping brilliant” white wine at $25.


Vinopolis

1610 NW Glisan St., 223-6002, vinopoliswineshop.com.

Does Portland even have any 1 percenters? If so, this is probably where they’re getting their wine. Big, well-lighted and temperature-controlled, Vinopolis boasts aisle upon aisle of midprice and high-end wines, including grand cru Burgundy and Bordeaux the likes of which most of us will never see outside of a James Bond movie. Vinopolis is fairly well staffed, and descriptive shelf notes from The Wine Advocate to Wine Spectator are posted all over the store. Even the spendiest wines feature price-slash postings that show the discount you’ll be getting, although for bottles above $100, is anyone even counting? Note: As this is being written, Vinopolis is moving from its longtime spot at 1025 SW Washington St. to 1610 NW Glisan St. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: 2011 Montepeloso A Quo ($16.60), a super-value Super Tuscan red blend that has won critical raves; 2012 Domaine de Triennes rosé ($11.90), a pale peach-colored wine from Provence made with cinsault grapes.


WineUp on Williams

3037 N Williams Ave., 236-3377, wineuponwilliams.com. Closed Monday.

Many a would-be wino has toured the Willamette Valley’s tasting rooms in affable Wayne Oppenheimer’s big purple bus. When not playing chauffeur, the self-styled “wizard of wine” rules the roost at his increasingly busy wine shop/wine bar. Tastings, classes and private parties take place below stairs in the Cellar Dwellers Lounge. The street-level bar can be a bit of a madhouse between 3 and 9 pm on Tightwad Tuesdays, when wine flights are $5. On the retail side, the onsite wine inventory is comparatively small, with largely familiar labels, primarily from France, Italy, California and the Northwest; you can buy bottles off the shelf and enjoy them on the spot for a $10 corkage fee. ANGIE JABINE.

Shopping list: Sure, you could buy a bottle of wine…but on Whiskey Wednesdays, you could also taste three interesting whiskeys and get a beer back (your choice), all for $15.


LIQUOR

Pearl Specialty Market & Spirits

900 NW Lovejoy St., No. 140, 477-8604, pearlspecialty.com.

The terribly neat rows of beer lining Pearl’s shelves are comforting in their variety, and almost disorienting in their dedication to order: This is a booze shop for a man who shaves every day. One of the few shops in town licensed to sell liquor that also takes its beer and wine extraordinarily seriously, they take it a step further with celery root bitters, Pok Pok drinking vinegars and Dolin Blanc. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Fee Brothers bitters collection ($99), Upright Flora Rustica, Jack Rudy small-batch grenadine, gin, whiskey, vodka.


Uptown Liquor

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

Luxury cloaked in a Nob Hill minimall, near the confusing byways of the Uptown shopping center, Uptown Liquor is a firmly unpretentious place to get pretentious about booze, from bitter Italian liqueurs like Aperol to a dizzying selection of grappas to tangerine bitters. In particular, Uptown makes it a point of pride to carry and support all of Oregon’s local distillers, so it’s always the waiting response at the end of a liquor search on the OLCC website. But if Kentucky bourbon’s your thing, they’ve got that, too. A lot of it. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Moonstruck chocolate distillers box, Hood River marionberry liqueur, bitters, bitter liqueurs, bourbon.


TEA

Foxfire Teas

2505 SE 11th Ave., No. 105, 288-6869, foxfireteas.myshopify.com. Closed Sunday-Thursday.

Going to Foxfire, in the back of the Ford Building, feels like being let into the innermost sanctum of a Mormon temple, or the secret final room in a Miami nightclub. Open an ever-dwindling number of days, now just Friday and Saturday, the hidden tea shop and one-time warehouse contains a wealth of teas unavailable even on Foxfire’s online store, sold with handcrafted mugs, cotton filters and tea-seed oil for cooking. MATTHEW KORFHAGE. 

Shopping list: Tea-seed oil. Hairy Crab oolong.


Red Robe Tea House & Cafe

310 NW Davis St., Suite A, 227-8855, redrobeteahouse.com. Closed Sunday.

Red Robe Tea House is a lovely little Chinese teahouse and restaurant run with eminent graciousness by owner Pearl Zhang. The selection of teas is small but extremely well-curated, and despite the westside location and sumptuous décor, the loose-leaf, vintage oolongs, greens and pu-erhs cost no more than at any other specialty tea shop in town. The difference is in the hospitality, which Zhang has a special knack for during her tea ceremonies, and in the deep knowledge that comes from specialization. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Tea bricks, loose-leaf 2007 Dayi Menghai Yun Xiang pu-erh. Gold-award Da Hong Pao.


Steven Smith Teamaker

1626 NW Thurman St., 719-8752, smithtea.com.

Steven Smith isn’t just the dean of Portland tea. He’s also the ex-president and the professor emeritus. After founding both Stash and Tazo teas—which grew to become two of the largest brands in the U.S.—Smith sold and left each company in turn. But he always ends up holding the teabags again.

For the past seven years he’s been back making tea under his own name, in a Zen little shop in Northwest Portland. His team blends and bags teas behind an indoor window located behind the cash register, while the backyard plays host to tea tastings; recently, customers sampled the very first Darjeelings of the season. Smith personally hosts a lot of these tastings, with his trademark spoon that he brings everywhere; tasters are encouraged to slurp obnoxiously to bring out aromatics, like a toddler trying to piss off Mom. 

But just as often he’s out traveling, tasting leaves, picking up flavors you couldn’t detect even if you snorted the damn tea. The guy imagines tea flavors for his blends like a young girl dreams of unicorns, then runs around trying to find leaves to match. Which is to say, you’re in good hands here.  And so you can say you’d like something earthy, and be taken on an odyssey of smells in little canisters before settling on a honeybush (No. 16), a South African relative of rooibus. A lover of nuts might end up with the bai mu dan (No. 88), while a lover of sweet fruit in their tea might get a 1st Flush Darjeeling (No. 71), not to be confused with the 2nd Flush (No. 17). You want your socks knocked back onto your feet, go with the hearty Brahmin (No. 18). It’s the most relaxing math you’ll ever  do. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: It’s kinda personal, like a Serta sleep number. But that variable-temperature kettle is kinda awesome if you’ve got $145 to spare.


The Tao of Tea

3430 SE Belmont St., 736-0119, taooftea.com.

The Tao of Tea’s leaf room is indeed a bower, where tea experts will happily fill you in on anything from the right tea set for your sencha to the different characteristics of tea types. Its location on Belmont, next to Tao’s cafe, gets plenty of lookie-loos, which means whatever question you might think is stupid, they’ve probably heard it three times today. So fire away. Look for the small-batch tea specials and shamelessly ask to smell them. Otherwise, stop by for free regional tea tastings from 1 to 5 pm Friday through Sunday. Check their Facebook page for details. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Shopping list: Ceylon silver striped tea, Nepali oolong, Japanese matcha tea bowls.

 
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