Sunday, September 15, 2013

1856 - Specialty Bottle Shop and Bar

The best seat in the
neighborhood.
Before 1856, mankind had already been brewing delicious beer and making fine wine for centuries. They had those recipes down, yes indeed, but nobody knew HOW the fermentation process worked--scientifically, on a microbiological level. People just kind of kept their fingers crossed and hoped everything turned out okay. Then along came Louis Pasteur, a true scientific rockstar of his time. That dude had some brain power.

Among his long list of accomplishments, Pasteur was the first person to figure out that lactic fermentation is caused by microorganisms. That knowledge was the nexus of fermentation science and has brought us to where we are today, with refined techniques and processes that are enjoyed by beer and wine lovers around the world.

1856 is a specialty bottle shop and bar in NE Portland. The name, I believe,  pays homage to the year that Pasteur made his breakthrough discovery, which is fitting. The owners of this shop have a thorough understanding and appreciation of the wares they sell and it shows.

1856 sells beer, cider and wine, and you can drink those beverages inside at the bar or outside on the patio. There's not a lot of space at 1856. It's a small shop, but the expertly handpicked selections more than make up for the lack of elbow room. There is a friendly neighborhood vibe. Folks stopping in for a quick beer on the way home from work. Getting a growler filled. Picking up a bottle of fine craft beer or wine to go with a carry home dinner from Whole Foods. They remember regulars by name at 1856, too. I like that.
The jam-packed cold case at 1856.

Truthfully, I don't know anything about wine. I never drink the stuff. Gives me a headache. Thus, I'm limiting my review to the beer and cider selection. However, when I've been in for a beer, I've seen many happy wine consumers purchasing bottles of vino, so I assume the wine picks are as good as the beer.

The tap list is short at 1856, but sometimes less really is more. It's the quality, not the quantity that counts at this shop. The proprietors know beer and they stock their shop with awesomeness. I'm not kidding. If you search my reviews, you will see that I have found many, many fantastic brews on tap at 1856: Oakshire Brewing's Big Black Jack, Occidental Brewing's Lucubrator Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doppelbock, Block 15 Brewing Company's Cuvee Rouge, Fort George Brewery's 3-Way IPA and Wild Turkey Barrel-Aged Vortex IPA, and more! I haven't even reviewed them all. As you can see, these aren't the regular beer suspects that you'll find at any other bar or tap room in town. These picks are rare, special and always a delightful surprise.

The shop is bright and very clean. The decor is modern industrial, with a touch of vintage rustic. Cool. They spin real vinyl behind the counter, too. A very well-curated selection of music from classic R&B to Johnny Cash to Neil Young. Very cool.
Snacks for our bottle share event.

The bottle selection is just as superb as the tap list. An eclectic, thoughtful mix of beer and cider that keeps me coming back, just to see what treasures they've stocked since the last time I was in. I recently purchased a bottle of Block 15 Sticky Hands at 1856. It's calling my name from the fridge. We'll see if it stays there until I finish this post. Might not!

They have special tasting events at 1856 on occasion and I recommend checking their website regularly for updates. Most recently, they allowed a group of Portland beer geeks to take over the shop a hour before opening for a bottle sharing event. Yes, I was one of those geeks. The bottle share had a great turn out and was a fantastic success, in no small part due to the friendly hosting of Matt, co-owner of the 1856. It was a great time for all in attendance. 

Every neighborhood should have a bottle shop like 1856, and I'm damn grateful to have this one in mine. 1856 is located at 1465 NE Prescott, Unit A, in the best beer city in the USA, Portland, Oregon. It's right off the Number 8 bus line, if you happen to be traveling by TriMet.

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