Not even the fastest bartender can keep up with a packed house full of thirsty customers, which has given rise to self-serve beer walls—and the Portland area is about to get its first, at least that we know of.
It comes from Barlow's Public House, the latest business to launch within the Vancouver Waterfront's new open-air mall-style development. Drinkers who want to pour their own beer—there are also handles for wine and cider—must first show their ID to an employee in order to receive a key card. You then simply insert the card in the screen above the tap you'd like and then let the beer flow. It's like buying a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven.
Barlow's also doubles as a brewery and will have a taproom and production facility on Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver, which will be operated by Eric Van Tassel and Bryan Hochrine, who came from Fat Head's and Von Ebert, respectively. When the waterfront space opens, expect to find several collaboration beers developed with area producers like 54°40′ in Washougal and Northeast Portland's Level Beer. You'll soon find more Barlow's beer on tap.
Named after Sam Barlow, the pioneer who led his wagon train through Mount Hood's foothills in search of an alternate route along the Oregon Trail, owners Brian and Alicia Rummer—along with Brian's father Brad—also found themselves moving west from Louisiana to Texas, and eventually Southwest Washington to be near family. They previously were invested in Ghost Runners, also in Vancouver, but that venture didn't work out.
The restaurant, bar and a private space for events or overflow seats 180, with room for an additional 95 on the patio overlooking the Columbia River. Food will be influenced by the Rummers' past and current homes—a mashup of Southwest and Northwest fare. There will be a soft opening this coming Labor Day weekend.