The westside suburbs of Portland to Beaverton and Hillsboro often go unrecognized with a scattering of beer options that are proven more difficult by the Coronavirus shutdown. Enter Uptown Beer Co. (formerly Uptown Market) and their brewery operation Binary Brewing which caters to the entire westside region (and all of PDX) from their SW Scholls Ferry location. The bottle shop/beer bar/brewery in-one has been in operation since 2011 and is now doing home delivery from Lake Oswego to Hillsboro and everything in-between.
“The support from the community has been overwhelming,” says Uptown Beer and Binary Brewing co-owner Joshua Johnson. “We’ve been able to move all of our products over into our online store, with pictures, categories and staff picks, it actually does a decent job replicating the experience of walking around Uptown.”
Uptown’s location on SW Scholls Ferry road puts them in an excellent position for convenient pick-ups or delivery to Lake Oswego, Tigard, Beaverton and Hillsboro. The 36 taps and selection of thousands of bottles/cans, kegs of beer, cider, wine, kombucha and even mead makes for perhaps the broadest selection of any delivery service in Oregon. The convenient online store filters the offerings in broad categories like darkside, hoppyness, sour power and even what’s new in each week with a regularly updated selection.
Having Binary Brewing in-house also offers a flexibility of fresh crowlered draft beer from a small local brewery. Home kegerator and homebrew customers can drop off a corny to have it cleaned and filled or get a crowlered 16 or 32oz can of Binary beer. A slew of recent releases like a Storm Rye’der Hazy Pale collaboration with Mt Tabor Brewing and a new West Coast IPA called Ducking Autocorrect. For lighter beers they have the 8 Bitte Helles, Big Lebrewkski Kolsch, Hack the Planet Pale, and Boss Key Hazy IPA. Want something heavier or maltier? How about 404 Nut Brown, Motherboard Milk Stout and Control Alt Del Dry Stout.
Necessity is the mother of invention or so they say, in that spirit Uptown Beer Co. has launched their “Mystery Beer Pack.” Customers choose an option like “Oregon’s Bounty” or a “Dark 6 Pack” and uptown fills six 8oz numbered but unnamed cans. The mystery pack comes with a sealed envelope with the identities of 5 of the beers but asks you to guess on what the 6th beer. After 2 weeks Uptown announces the unnamed beer and everyone who guessed correctly wins an Uptown T-shirt and bragging rights. The 8oz flights of 6 may change and rotate with options for both guest beers and Binary beer mystery packs.
While many businesses are contracting during the pandemic, Uptown Beer Co. is actually expanding their offerings with six more cooler doors of bottles and cans being installed soon. Sadly, even that comes at a cost in these difficult times. Uptown’s Lake Oswego location that opened in 2015 has been shuttered for good.
“We were not prepared for the shutdown. We were not entirely surprised, but it is hard to prepare for something that changes the core of your business,” says Johnson.
At the beginning of the mandated shutdown of on-premise consumption the Uptown team was forced to lay off 80% of their staff. Like other taprooms they began to-go sales and found growler fills to be too risky and the numbers weren’t looking great. At first the Uptown crew expected a 2 month shutdown, but when it became clear it would be more like 3 months and the building owner was unresponsive, the writing was on the wall.
“Coincidentally with this whole pandemic shut down, our lease was set to renew for another term,” says Uptown’s other owner Stuart Faris. “After trying the food orders for pickup/delivery services, and with the ongoing uncertainty for the restaurant industry particularly, we needed to consolidate our people to the original Scholls Ferry operation where we can still service all our customers stuck at home, and hunker down better to keep Uptown Beer Co and Binary Brewing in business.”
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.