My good buddy Jesse "The Beer Guy" or "Wolverine" has been a fixture in the Portland beer scene for awhile. I first met him when he worked as the local New Belgium brewing rep. Both of us were regulars at the original Green Dragon and I think that Apex is going to be what Green Dragon should have/could have been.
Jesse is a veteran bartender having tended at the great Toronado in San Francisco. He lists that along with Zeitgeist, another great SF bar as his favorites and primary influence in the creation of Apex.
Coincidentally I lived in SF at the same time as him and frequented the same places though we did not know each other. Funny to think we may have been enjoying beers right next to each other but not meeting till years later in Portland.
Jessie has an equal passion for bicycles as beer and that will be a large portion of Apex with a huge bike patio and tons of bike parking. The patio is directly inspired by Zeitgiests huge backyard style patio filled with picnic benches and upright bike parking.
The taps and food (or lack of food) are more Toronado. Apex will not be serving any food. In a master stroke they will focus the energy strictly on their (50!) taps and open up the food to outside providers.
This is a genius move that I think more places in Portland should be taking advantage of. Bailey's Taproom is the only place that has caught on to the fact that if you do not have hard liquor you do not have to provide food. Now I love being able to get food with my brew as much as anyone but I also know the trappings of becoming a restaurant and sacrificing focus, service and even profitability.
Fear not food lovers because you can bring in food from anywhere! I see myself ordering some American Dream Pizza delivered straight to the bar. Or maybe some take-out from Pok Pok just up the street? And lets not forget they share a building with the beloved taco and burrito spot Los Gorditos!
(Jesse showin off the new space)
You can probably expect lots of special beers at Apex that no one else will have from the likes of Russian River, New Belgium and HUB. Jessie is very tight with all of them and I have tried more then a few rare or unreleased beers because of him. Plus Jessie is a man of good taste his favorite things in the world are double ipa's like Pliny and super sour beers like those of Russian River and better offereings from New Belgium like La Folie.
Bar games lovers should be pleased as well. They will have a whole room dedicated to Pinball. And knowing Jessie like I do there will certainly be some Washoe playing and maybe a dartboard or two.
On Friday night we broke in the space a bit with some partying. And the Phillips head brewer was in town to share some of his Hop Circle IPA. We also were joined by Christian Ettinger, Ben Love and Jaime Rodriguez of Hopworks, Abe Goldman-Armstrong of Northwest Brewing News and Angelo and Margaret from Brewpublic. Some rare sour beers were also broken out like Lost Abbey's Cable Car.
I even got to debate the merits of CDA over Black IPA with Ben Love and the original bottled producer of the style. All in all it was a damn good evening and bodes well for things to come at this taphouse.
(the bar will run in front of these sinks with the 50 taps on the walk-in behind)