A Beloved East Portland Dive Bar Is Being Forced to End One of the City’s Cheapest Beer Deals

The Standard will no longer sell Hamm’s for a buck after the bar’s insurance provider refused to renew their policy.

It's the end of an era for fans of ultra-cheap domestic lagers.

Longstanding Southeast Portland bar the Standard will no longer sell pints of Hamm's for a buck—and not by their choice, either.

Owner Reed Lamb shared the news on the bar's Facebook page last week that the Standard would not be able to continue its decade-old deal—which offers cans of Hamm's for $1 during happy hour and all day on Wednesdays—after the bar's insurance provider refused to renew their policy because of it.

"After over 11 years with no claims, zero OLCC violations, & a spotless payment history, they chose not to do business with us anymore," he wrote. "It's unfortunate that these giant insurance companies seek to penalize a responsibly run local business merely for offering value to our customers, but here we are."

While scrambling to get affordable coverage through an agent who shopped the bar to different underwriters, Lamb managed to find a new provider that would allow the bar to keep selling Hamm's for $1—but only with a significant added cost to the business.

According to Lamb, his premium would've jumped somewhere between $5,000-$9,000 per year. Despite allegedly selling more Hamm's than any other bar in the country—a claim Lamb says has been verified by the company—he couldn't justify the increase.

"It puts us in a different risk category if we sell it for under $1," Lamb says. "It's not a death blow, but we don't make enough money on Hamm's to warrant it."

The sudden coverage hurdle tied to $1 beer on the menu caught Reed by surprise, since the Standard has always been transparent about what they charge customers. But he says insurers told him that charging dirt-cheap prices for alcohol increases the chances something bad might happen since patrons may be inclined to over-consume.

"This is the very first time I've heard that $1 is a problem," Lamb says. "They always ask about pricing. They ask you if you have darts!"

(WW reached out to the Standard's former agent who said she was not allowed to comment on matters related to insurance.)

Lamb learned that yet a different insurance company had a more reasonable, but still painful, proposal—$2 Hamm's for a 20 percent hike in his premium.

The new deal will be in place for at least the next year, the length of the current policy. But Lamb says he's concerned the new insurance company might change its mind about the arrangement and drop the agreement.

"When I first moved here, every single bar in this town had $2 beer," Lamb says. "Two people could have a fun night out for $20. That's not the case anymore."

Related: The Standard is One of Portland's Last True Neighborhood Bars.

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