Industry News

First Look at Beer Belly – the New Taphouse from Lardo

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We had it on our most anticipated openings of 2016 list, and Rick Gencarelli’s Beer Belly taphouse/beer bar has snuck in just under the wire by opening today, Friday, December 9th. The new space is not quite the same as initially reported; instead of three rows of coolers for bottles, there are thirty taps and a cellar bottle list to enjoy on-site. The space is the former home of Ración and the third restaurant connected through a shared hallway and bathrooms at the corner of SW 12th and Washington. The other tenants are Rick’s famous Lardo Sandwiches westside outpost, and the first location of his handmade affordable pasta joint, Grassa.

Beer Belly interior

Initially planning for more bottled beer to-go, Beer Belly realized it was running out of space so it changed tracks, though it may still fit a cooler or two into the corner down the line. This smallish space is set up like so many modern day taproom/growler fill shops, with a row of thirty draft lines below two Digital Pour screens and three more flatscreens above those for sports. Ten bar stools out of about 40-50 total seats fill out the space.

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Those thirty taps are smartly chosen, with the first screen consisting of nearly all IPAs or hoppy beers, and the second a mix of Belgian styles, sour & wild ales, barrel-aged and darker beers, and just randomly interesting stuff. Out of the thirty taps, twenty-six of them are dedicated to standard drafts, two of them are for nitro beers, and two taps for hard ciders.

Beers are served in three sizes and to-go in growlers or crowlers. Beer Belly is trying out the interesting model of keeping all glass pours the same price across the board, except during happy hour. All taps are $5.50, but that could be a 16oz pint, a 10oz glass, or an 8oz pour. Sadly, those are generic nonic pint glasses. Beer Belly will fill your growlers, but it does not sell empty growlers and instead fills crowlers. The 32oz hand-canned crowlers are also simply priced at either $8 or $15, depending on the cost of the beer. Best of all, there will be a 3-6pm happy hour and all beer is $3 during those times, whatever size it comes in.

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What makes Beer Belly stand out from other beer hall style taprooms without a lot of frills? Three things: #1: An upscale vending machine by the door slings premium product like Jacobsen Salty Caramels, Olympia Provisions sausages, Moonstruck chocolate bars, Bee Local honey sticks, Quin candies, and some more affordable options like Tim’s Cascade Potato Chips and beer nuts made with wheat ale or IPA. #2: Big, comfy seating in leather booths, which are much more comfortable and welcoming than your standard growler fill shop. #3: Last, but also the best reason, is you can bring in food from anywhere, and it’s attached to Lardo and Grassa, so you will be able to make an order and then go sit down for a beer, or vice versa. You can get a beer from any of Beer Belly’s taps and sit down in Lardo or Grassa, too. That makes this an awesome spot for affordable but high quality beers and eats.

Beer Belly is open 7 days a week from 11am to 10pm at 1205 SW Washington St. in Portland. Minors are not allowed, but they can sit in either restaurant next door.

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Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

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