It is not rare to report the opening of a new beer bar, but the return of a long-closed old one is exceedingly special, so we are happy to announce the return of the Stein Haus to the craft beer desert of SE 82nd Avenue in Portland. From the owners of Roscoe’s, Jeremy Lewis and Quyen Nguyen, the SteinHaus was once an outer southeast haven for good beer and live music; later it became Agenda, and finally closed before Roscoe’s became the beer destination it is now. The Stein Haus has not just reopened, but is also a different beast than the original incarnation. As co-owner Jeremy Lewis explains it,“The business will be different from what it was in the past because we have a vision for what we want it to be. We are focused on a great German beer line-up, which will also embrace the great Oregon brewed German-style beers that are available right here in our own back yard.”
One of the chief reasons that the Stein Haus will hopefully prove a success this time around is the growing Montavilla neighborhood already home to Roscoe’s and Beer Bunker, with Montavilla Brew Works slated to open this fall. You could credit some of the neighborhood’s new renaissance to Jeremy and Quyen.“I think that neighborhood is changing rapidly and has lots of great residents that are ready to embrace great craft beer. I think that they are also ready for a friendly bar with a vibe that is unique for the area. As a member of the neighborhood association, I also wanted to help bring new and different food choices to the mix. Offering up something different for the students at the ever-expanding PCC campus across the street is also a bonus,” said Jeremy Lewis.
Now refurbished, the Stein Haus still looks mostly like an American pub, but with German stylistic flourishes. A large communal beer hall like table in the opening room gives a German vibe with smaller tables scattered around. The second room is more of a local pub, with a pool table, a couple of pinball machines, and a window that looks onto the space’s best selling point, its beer garden/patio.
Now furnished with brand new picnic tables, and with a covered area for shelter from the rain, outdoor dartboard, and some much needed plant foliage, it has a lot of potential. A good outdoor picnic table is underrated, and to be fair, maybe these should not even be called that. Instead, they are large, thick slabs of finished wood that can easily sit 3 or even 4 people per side without cramming them in. The bench is not attached so you can push it back for plenty of room to get in and out; ever tried to get out of a cramped picnic table when you’re squeezed in with 2 other people and can’t push the seat back? The other big plus for this patio/beer garden is there are no residents to disturb nearby, so you can be outdoors drinking until 2am. There is even talk of expanding the patio into the yard of the house behind, which the bar also owns and is unoccupied.
The Stein Haus has an interesting German-esque menu that really showcases the overall spirit of the place with a playful, not-too-serious take on German fare. This sensibility is best summed up in the “Brat Burrito,” which includes house-made spatzle, house made kraut, mustard aioli, and, of course, a bratwurst sausage, or sauerbraten, and it’s all wrapped up in a tortilla. This is actually better than it sounds–the tanginess of the kraut and tenderness of the brat combined with a dill-tinged mustard aioli ended up reminding me more of a Greek feta sandwich than anything German.
The rest of the food menu (which is still taking shape) is a little more inclined towards bar food, with German nods like the German Sausage Mini Corn Dogs served with fries and a house-made creamy/rich mustard dipping sauce. You can upgrade those dogs to Double Smoked Bacon Sausage for some extra savory and fatty snacking. Add onto that a handful more items I have not tried, like Beer Cheese Soup and spaetzle served with a variety of side options.
As I said before, the menu is still taking shape and could use some less meat centric and lighter options; even some German potato salad would be welcome, and luckily Jeremy Lewis also thinks that would be a good idea.“The Montavilla neighborhood is super-varied and I believe that the challenge is to find your niche and embrace it. It all comes back to not trying to be everything to everyone. We need to trust our vision for what Stein Haus can be.”
The 13 tap beer list at Stein Haus is split nearly evenly between true German beers and local interpretations of German styles. Traditional German classics like Hofbrau Lager and Weihenstephaner Hefeweiss and Spaten Optimator are poured next to pFriem Helles and Breakside Passionfruit Sour. Beer geeks also take note that there is an official house beer made by Rock Bottom Brewery in Portand. A merging of styles just like Stein Haus itself, the “India Steinhaus Lager” is light and bready with a generous dose of spicy German hop flavor.
The Steinhaus is now open for lunch at 11:30am until 2am, 7 days a week with a Grand Opening planned for this Friday, August 8th.
SteinHaus Grand Opening Party
Friday August 8th
2366 SE 82nd Ave
Portland, OR 97216