Monday, July 29, 2013

Imperial Bottleshop and Taproom

Fill'er up!
I must admit that when I heard a new taproom opened up in SE Portland, my first thought was that there's already quite a number of well-established beer drinking spots in that part of town. You've got Belmont Station, Beermongers, Apex and a whole mess of bars on SE Division that have fairly robust taplists. "What could a newcomer bring to the table that the others don't already have a handle on?" I posited to the Wonder Beagle perched above me on the back of the sofa. (Yes, the dog is more or less the co-author and head editor of this blog. Can't you tell?)

I looked up Imperial Bottleshop and Taproom on Google. It's located at 3090 SE Division Street, Portland, OR 97202. My wife tells me the place is located in the old Wild Oats building. She's the Oregon semi-native in this household, so I'll take her word for it. (She's usually right about everything, anyway.) We piled into the Family Truckster and weaved our way on over to SE Division.

Upon arrival, it's clear that the building is in the midst of a major renovation. Apparently, the taproom just opened this weekend. The inside furnishings, bar and picnic tables out on the sidewalk look brand-spanking new and the smell of fresh paint greeted us when we walked inside. There are some nifty light fixtures made from wine carboys hanging from the ceiling. The tables appear to be made from giant wire spools. Cool.

There's a big screen behind the bar that displays a taplist of 16 beers. There's also a nice, big cold case filled with craft beer bombers and six packs. A shelf filled with non-chilled bottles lines the far back wall. I immediately noticed a bottle drying tree and a bottle capper on the counter--equipment most homebrewers would be familiar with--and wondered what purpose they served behind the bar. I soon found out the answer, and it's the deal maker that will set Imperial apart from most of the other taprooms in the area--and keep me coming back.

Not only can you get a cold, frosty glass or pint of beer to drink on premises at Imperial, they will gladly cap up a 16 oz. bottle for you! (There's a $1.00 deposit on the bottle. Bring it back and get your buck returned.) How awesome is that? Pretty dang awesome. Of course, you can get a growler of anything they pour, too.

Rob, the friendly beertender, told us that the owners will try to keep beers on tap that you won't typically find in bottles at the market or elsewhere. Fantastic! I'm always looking for a new beer to try and, truthfully, I prefer to do most of my drinking from the safety and comfort of my own couch. Hey, don't get me wrong. I love rubbing elbows with my fellow beer lovers...just not every day.

Additionally, although my beer drinking is pretty much at a professional level when it comes to capacity, I just can't drink a whole growler by myself. It's so sad when half the beer in a growler goes flat. I feel so guilty. I won't have that problem at Imperial Bottleshop and Taproom!

I'll have to go back sometime in the evening when the joint is jumping, just to check out the vibe. I'm already impressed. The taplist was quite eclectic, with something for everyone. They had a couple on the screen that I hadn't heard about yet. That's pretty cool.

I didn't see any food, but there are dozens of restaurants within walking distance. Imperial is clearly dog friendly with a number of big picnic tables outside and water dishes set out for our furry lil' friends. I'll bring the Wonder Beagle along next time. Looking forward to it!

Just one suggestion for the folks at Imperial: Please get that taplist posted online and get a Twitter feed for keg changes. I plan my beer outings online, as do many of my beer drinking buds.

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