Remember when the taproom wasn't yet an established genre of bar? Just a few years ago, the only spartan, snob-friendly pubs were destinations like Bailey's. Now it feels like every neighborhood has a place that bought its bartop from a metaphorical IKEA and uses the TVs primarily to broadcast the beer list. A well-connected beer buyer makes the place; everything else is an afterthought.

(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)

Now, even the West End has a cookie-cutter taproom, the brand-new Beer Belly (1205 SW Washington St., beerbellypdx.com). Lardo owner Rick Gencarelli has turned the former Ración space next to his sandwich shop into a minimalist taproom with a few group-friendly booths and a couple of large screens displaying the Taplister feed on the wall.

(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)

The selection leans hard on established classics like Boneyard Notorious and Upright Engelberg Pilsner, and the closest thing to a whale was a keg of Block 15's Figgy Pudding aged in brandy barrels. The one notable twist is an artisanal vending machine, stocked with Olympia Provisions pepperoni sticks ($7) and Woodblock chocolate bars ($4). The other nice touch was a malfunctioning sales system, which insisted on giving us happy-hour pricing for 10 minutes after the bartender declared it over. Once he made peace with the powerlessness of existence in the digimodernist postindustrial milieu, and once I had my $3 pint of Fremont IPA, all was good.