Yesterday the highly anticipated APEX beer bar opened its doors to the thirsty masses without warning. Well, without warning except for my dramatic twitter announcement.
It should be noted that I am now officially a part-time employee of APEX, so my tone here will reflect that. This will be an insiders perspective and guide to what to expect from APEX. However, I don't speak for the establishment in any way.
Apex is located at SE 12th and Division, across from The Beermongers.
APEX cares about only 3 things: Beer, all things with 2 wheels, and Pinball.
Without a doubt APEX will not be for everyone. A few things that make it stand out from the pack:
1. There is NO food. Bring your own in. But various restaurants are nearby and some will provide delivery and special options for the bar.
2. There is no motor vehicle parking, but plenty of bike parking. It shouldn't be too hard to park your car in front of the building or on a side street, though.
3. No minors at any time. Not even during the day or on the patio.
4. No animals of any kind. Even on the patio.
5. No big league sports on the TVs. Unless the Blazers make the Finals, you will never see them playing. TVs are reserved for bike racing, both motorcycles and bicycles. Look for lots of Tour De France. Also, you can expect to see the World Cup.
6. Cash only. There will be a credit card machine for purchases of $100 or more only, mainly for large bottles like the Duvel jeroboam-sized bottle in stock now.
There is an ATM. It has a $3 charge, but you can use your receipt to get $2 off your first drink.
7. No table service. Order at the bar.
Interestingly, APEX has taken the exact opposite approach as new places like Breakside Brewing who are all about what the customer wants (not saying either approach is better than the other). APEX is what it is, and the philosophy is that if you don't like it, go somewhere else.
I find it refreshing to see someone with such a specific and uncompromising vision like owner Jesse McCann, who is not afraid to do unpopular things. I have already heard complaints about the policies - no kids, no dogs and cash only. In Portland there are a million options of breweries and brewpubs where you can bring kids, pay with a card and even sometimes bring your dog in. They don't all have to have this. Calm down people, Green Dragon is just down the street.
Things APEX does have:
1. 30 taps as of now. Soon to be 50.
2. When stocked up, eventually about 200 bottles will be available.
3. Pinball. Top-of-the-line pinball.
4. Loud rock and dub music.
5. The cleanest beer lines in town. The co2 even has an in-line air filter. You don't see that ANYWHERE.
6. Huge beer garden.
7. Bring your own food. Lots of options around like Los Gorditos, Pok Pok, Tastebud, Genie's, New Seasons and soon to be Portabello. Soon there will even be delivery options from some of these places.
8. Some of the best beer bartenders in town. In addition to myself of course, New School columnist King C. of Staggering Toward Berhalla will also be in residence. Jaime Rodriguez of Hopworks, Abe Goldman-Armstrong beer writer extraordinaire and even more representatives from the Horse Brass and Hopworks are on staff, not to mention Jesse McCann himself, a long-time bartender and rep for New Belgium Brewing.
9. Extremely bike friendly. Tons of bike racks and even options to work on your bicycle wheels at the bar with equipment. The entire parking lot will be devoted to bicycle and motorcycle parking in addition to the beer garden. There are even bike helmet shelves, and if you ride a bike there will be a discount off of your first beer.
10. Rare taps. I would bet on seeing some of the most exclusive beers here.
Here are a few that were rounded up in only a days notice on tap right now:
Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux
New Belgium Eric's Ale (sour peach beer)
Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet
and plenty of options for the hop heads like, Firestone Union Jack, Racer 5, HUB Galactic Imperial Red and more.
Another cool feature of APEX is the cool/cheesy photo mural of a forest with a ledge going across the wall for glasses at the end of the bar. The ledge and the bar top are all salvaged from a defunct bowling alley.
Coming soon, one of the large flat screen TVs will display the taplist, which will always be up to date. It will be easily changed from a special program being designed for the office computer. This will also be displayed constantly up to date on the website when it is finished.
Huge hand blown glass light fixtures in the shape of hops will soon be installed in the main room. I saw one of these and it is really cool and very detailed - a hop cone with a green tint inside. These will add a lot of character to the bar. By the way, pretty much everything is green in the whole place.
The Pinball Room is painted black and illuminated just from the lights of the machines and a tabletop in between each machine for your beers is lighted from within so you can see your beer. Each machine also has a mirror hung above it so others can see exactly what you're playing and how you're scoring. I could even see the games from the bar in a separate room through a little window.
So there you have it. APEX immediately puts itself into the Top 3 Portland beer bars, in my opinion. Look for me working late night Thursdays, evening through late night Saturdays, and closing shift on Sundays. At least for now.
APEX is located at:
1216 SE Division St. Portland, Oregon 97202 United States
OPEN 1130am-230am every day of the week.
Most of the photos are by "SNOB" Ritch with a few of the less quality grainier pics from my cell phone.