The successful urban Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom has been open for four years on southeast Division in Portland and sometime this week will quietly open their second location on northeast Alberta St. We previewed the new location here, but finally got to see it open to and serving with the pictures (and a few pints of beer) to prove it.
Imperial’s NE Alberta location trades the concrete and glass of their urban mixed use space on Division for a dimmer, wood paneled and more modern bar lounge atmosphere more art gallery than new cold development. A big open/closed glass wall will soon have seating on the street and the brick walls still show where developers knocked out areas to expand the space which gives it a more lived in-feel than the pristine new construction of the original taproom.
You could say that nearly every aspect of Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom’s original location is improved on here, except for open windows for light and people watching (if that’s your thing.) Owners Alex Kurnellas and Shawn Stackpoole have poured their own sweat and tears into the space from salvaging lumber for the back wall to building the wood stools, barrel top tables and copper bar top.
The space is larger and more open than the original with large mirrors hung along one side and a matte black wall on the other for displaying temporary and rotating art and a projected beer list. The taplist, controlled from powerpoint ran on a laptop is projected with just basic info like style and abv onto the black wall behind the bar. It might not seem like a big deal but for me it really changed the vibe of the place and draws a clear line of where Kurnellas and Stackpoole wish to not become cookie cutter by adding just another digital tapboard. The original Imperial does utilize a DigitalPour tapboard but as Kurnellas told me, he’s tired of staring at screens and it’s become generic and expected. Rather than stare at a tv screen, the wall projection is a bit more classy and subtle yet reads clear, printed menu’s with full description and specs of the beers are also available.
The new draft system has twenty-eight draft lines (including one cask engine), up eight more lines from the original spot. Sick of pouring out stale wine that was served by the glass at their other location, this Imperial has a red and white wine on tap from Cooper’s Hall. As a Sake fan, Kurnellas is excited to be keeping one on tap and for the first time have a cask engine for real a (though it’s not installed yet.) Like the original location, eighteen of the tap lines are from hand installed Blichmann Beer Guns that can pressurize and purge a growler or container before filling with beer or cider to keep it fresher and more carbonated.
The bottle section of the bottle shop is behind a knocked out brick wall to a back room with both dry and cold storage and a larger selection than the first spot. But the major improvement is not selection, it’s that the back room is noticeably cooler when you walk in, that’s because it’s kept at cooler cellar temperatures so the beer that are not refrigerated are still staying fresh.
Adding a bit of style and fun to the new Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom is a heat sensitive retro-psychedelic mural near the entrance with color changing lights and two (soon to be three) retro arcade games from Quarterworld. No food is made on site but there are tons of local options to bring in, including Via Chicago, Bunk Sandwiches, Bollywood Theater and Salt & Straw just across the street.
Imperial Bottleshop & Taproom’s northeast Alberta location will open sometime this week to the public after passing inspection at 2006 NE Alberta St. Portland, Oregon.