Although I never stepped inside the original Belmont Station bottle shop I've heard plenty of stories about the legendary tiny location next to the Horse Brass on Southeast Belmont. A friend of a friend used to work there when the bottle list was usually around 450-strong but there was only space for one bottle of each beer to represent on the floor. If you wanted more an employee would disappear for awhile and find what you wanted in the back.
The new location -- just a few blocks north on Southeast Stark -- generally has about 1,200 types of beer available and a lot are available first grab from the beer coolers and aisles of all things ale. In addition to beer Belmont sells hard cider, mead, sake, wine, soda and more. If you like hard cider you can find just about every local variety here.
I met up with owner Carl Singmaster (he owns Belmont Station and Biercafe with Horse Brass owner and beer god Don Younger) last week. After talking to him about his musical past -- he owned seven record shops in the Carolinas for nearly two decades -- and his long seated love of beer my friend showed up and the three of us did what you're supposed to do at Belmont Station's Biercafe -- we drank.
Carl really likes cask-conditioned beer (less harsh, more flavor) so we started with an IPA showdown -- a taste of Alameda Brewhouse's IPA (delicious) and a taste of cask-conditioned Double Mountain IPA (delicious). It was interesting to compare the two and the pluses (longer shelf life...) and minuses (debatably less interesting flavor...) of force-carbonated beer. They were both tasty. Jury's out for me but we weren't exactly comparing apples to apples with two very different, fine IPAs.
The most interesting beer that we tasted without a doubt was the Mouton Rouge -- a sour beer from Cascade Brewery. This was my first ever sour beer so it was quite a shocker. This locally brewed version of a traditional Belgian style sour beer is injected with very particular yeasts to give it a winky full flavor with the lingering aftertaste of in Carl's words Sweet Tarts. It's true.
This is the kind of beer you'll find at Belmont Station proper and the adjoining Biercafe. They've got all the regular hoppy beers that Portlanders love (right now the top seller in shop is Sierra Nevada's Torpedo) in addition to heaps of other interesting quality craft local and international beers that you can't find anywhere else in town.
Belmont Station and Biercafe 4500 SE Stark St. 503.232.8538 www.belmont-station.com