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Apex

Not Rated.
ApexApex

Taps: 50 / Bottles: 200
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
BA SCORE
96
world-class

59 Ratings
Ratings: 59
Reviews: 30
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 11.26%
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar ]

1216 SE Division St
Portland, Oregon, 97202-1017
United States
phone: (503) 273-9227

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @apexbar

Notes:
11:30am - 2:30am

Always tons of bike parking.

(Place added by: msubulldog25 on 04-26-2010)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 59 | Reviews: 30 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CapitalGains
CapitalGains

Oregon

4.04/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$

Oh Apex you are quite the enigma. Despite there being some very unorthodox things about your establishment I still manage to come over frequently and enjoy myself. Maybe that's because I live five blocks away, but I digress...on to the actual review.

I'm not a huge fan of the overall atmosphere but it seems to attract a sizable crowd. The music is often a bit too loud at night if you're trying to have a conversation. As many reviewers have pointed out there is one small TV that exclusively streams/plays either (a) a racing event involving a two-wheeled vehicular device or (b) something resemblant of Planet Earth. Not that I go to Apex to watch sporting events or anything in general but the whole TV situation strikes me as odd. Maybe some people like it, shrug. Fairly long bar area with maybe 6-7 indoor tables. Lots of benches for outdoor seating. Lots of room for bikes.

Quality and selection are remarkable. Approximately 40-45 taps on at any time (I've never counted all of them) and a secret tap. On a normal day there is always something on tap worth trying. There are bottles for purchase towards the end of the bar but I have never bothered to check them out since the tap-list is always stellar. On special anniversary nights or "invasion" nights the tap-list is unbelievable. Absolutely worth checking out if you know about it ahead-of-time. Some of the sours and Belgians seem to be a little steeply priced at times (relative to bottles) but the prices are still quite reasonable.

Service has been a mixed bag. I have had some very friendly and helpful bartenders at times while at other times not so much. Service has always been prompt but then again I've never been in there when it has been ridiculously packed. Recently it has improved...maybe that's because I'm in there fairly often.

The cash-only policy isn't that big of a deal but sometimes it's a thorn in my side. I usually don't carry a lot of cash on me so if I head over with some friends I either have to (a) eat the ATM fee or (b) ask them to pick up my tab. A minor inconvenience. I've also been carded at the door about 95% of the time even though the guy probably knows who I am by now. Maybe not. Could be a bummer in the event you forget your ID as they seem to card everyone, regardless. Unlike most good beer spots in Portland Apex does have two advantages: it's open until 2:30 AM and there is a lot of outdoor seating. So if it's late night or you have a desire to sit outside when drinking then, well, this is one of better places to visit. Considering it is right across the street from BeerMongers this combo is a powerful one-two punch if you're visiting SE Portland and definitely worth checking out.

06-06-2011 01:14:21 | More by CapitalGains
Photo of cavemanlawyer
cavemanlawyer

Oregon

4.58/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$$

Apex is a serious beer bar. There are no major league sports on tv here, just cycling. They love cycling. Apparently if you ride up on your bike you get $1.00 off your first beer. Gotta love Portland!

Apex has the highest quality tap selection in Portland. This cannot be challenged. Though places like Green Dragon and Henry's may have MORE taps, the consistent quality and hard to find beers at Apex make it the winner.

No food is served, but you can bring in Mexican food from next door. For me, Mexican food and craft beer does not mix. It would be nice if they offered some basic meat and cheese to go along with the awesome beers.

Bottle wise, they have a nice little collection for sale but it can be pricey. That being said, if you really want that giant bottle of Chimay, Apex is the place.

They have a huge patio so when the weather is nice, ride your bike over and check it out.

05-12-2011 18:10:54 | More by cavemanlawyer
Photo of gkunkle
gkunkle

Oregon

4.03/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$

Visited Apex with a buddy of mine on a wednesday night, so I am sure my impression of the atmosphere isn't perfect. there were a couple people down at the end of the bar, a group of 10 celebrating a birthday, a few smalll groups of 2 or 3 chatting and one lonely guy playing Pinball in the back corner. I am sure it would be more upbeat and happening on a friday evening. The beer they serve is great. I had a lagunitas little sumpin' sumpin' ale and my friend had some amber ale recommended to him by the bartender. The man tending bar the night we were there was a large bearded man who seemed to know his beer. It wasn't too busy, so the service was pretty good. Later on in the evening another guy showed up behind the bar so everybody was really well taken care of. Up on the wall there is a flat screen TV listing all of their beers on tap along with price and ABV. (this is also uploaded to their website so you can find out whats on tap before you go) They had about 30 beers on tap and I believe I saw a refrigerator of bottles down at the end of the bar but did not make any further investigation. Overall, this is a fun place, its a pretty basic bar, but they do beer and do it well.

12-17-2010 02:46:17 | More by gkunkle
Photo of yemenmocha
yemenmocha

Arizona

3.96/5  rDev -9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $

Mixed feelings about this place.

Pros: Great beer selection at very reasonable prices. I found several regional beers that were fantastic, and there were good Belgian & German beers represented as well. The electronic board with the beer listing is a cool idea too. There's abundant seating too *when* the weather is nice.

Cons: Service was horrible. At one point the only bartender there went for a smoke, and nobody could order a beer. Seating is atrocious when it is raining, and they have an ASSININE barricade wall to make you walk all the way around to get the Mexican food next door. Really? No little gate? No lower wall there by the Mexican food door? Music was also obnoxious and loud, and I was sitting outside. I can't imagine the pain when it is raining hard and you have to be inside.

08-08-2010 17:22:51 | More by yemenmocha
Photo of John_M
John_M

Oregon

3.93/5  rDev -9.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | $$$

Have visited Apex many times since they opened back in the Summer of 2010, but will not be returning any more. IMHO, customer service here has deteriorated to the point I really feel as if I need to re-write my original review, something I've never done before.

I think Apex has roughly 40 beers or so on tap and the selection here is generally first rate, running the gamut from Belgian lambics and tripels, to NW IPA's and saisons. Over the years I've enjoyed things like Upright 7, Trip III, Dreadnaught from 3 Floyds, Boneyard notorioiuis and nefarious, and many, many other great beers. If you can overlook some of the weird pricing and service hiccups at Apex, there's no doubt this is the place to come for a great selection of beer.

I noted in my original review that there was just something a bit unfriendly about the Apex, but that the beer selection was so good, I was willing to overlook it. That was back in 5/11. However, it's reached the point now that I'm just not willing to overlook that aspect of the Apex experience.

As others have noted, this place does not take credit cards, and so they accept cash only. That's certainly the owner's prerogative, but it's unusual in Portland, and I just think they need to do a better job making customers aware of the fact. As near as I can tell, there is just the one sign (cash only) behind the bar, and it's not all that obvious. On a number of occasions I've see customers surprised by the cash only policy after ordering a round of drinks. It's an annoying discovery to make, regardless of the nearby ATM machine (In fairness to Apex, they're aware of the ATM service charge, and they deduct that charge from the first round of drinks). I would also add that although the bar area has a couple of good size TV's, the house policy is that they only show non mainstream sport shows. So that means you can watch biking events, mountain climbing and the like, but don't ask the staff to put on a popular baseball, football or basketball game. Again, obviously the owner here can do whatever he wants, but for the life of me I can't figure the point or purpose behind this policy. People hanging out and drinking good beer while watching a baseball game is a bad thing? Another weird, one time policy of Apex, was that they wouldn't list PtE or Blind Pig on their on-line draft list whenever they had it on draft. When I asked the bartender about that policy, his comment was that everyone would just come in and drink it if they listed it online. I gather it finally dawned on the owner that maybe that wasn't such a smart policy to have, so he's now come up with a much better way to make sure customers don't drink up all the PtE whenever they have it on tap (as I'll commnet on in a moment).

In the past, I used to defend Apex's various idiosyncracies (even if I didn't agree with them), because at least their prices were reasonable, and they had a great selection and were always friendly and accommodating to customers there. The selection is as great as ever, but that's the only thing that hasn't changed at Apex.

Over the years, Apex's prices have slowly crept up, and they're now pretty much commensurate with the PDX norm... with a few exceptions. The brilliant idea the owner has come up with to slow down sales of PtE is to price it higher than any other bar in town (at least that I know of). Prices for PtE are $8 a pint, which is easily the highest price I've seen in PDX. When I asked the bartender about the pricing, she said that as they're the only ones who have it in town, the price was justified. That response was such utter BS (I can easily name a half dozen other places where one can find PtE on a regular basis), I was just stunned. Bottle prices here also tend to be very, very high (half bottles of Cantillon for $70 anyone?), and while the selection is outstanding, I've never bought a bottle of anything here (as soon as I hear the price, I suddenly lose all interest in the beer I asked about).

All that aside, the beer selection is very good, and some of the folks working at Apex are great. So I'd chalk up most of the problems at Apex to the owner. In any event, the final straw for me occurred a couple weeks back. I'd ordered a pint of Boneyard RPM, when I noticed that they had the Elysian SuperFuzz on tap. A buddy of mine back East had told me he really liked it, and wanted to know what I thought about it. Having never tried it and having no knowledge of it, I asked if I could try a small sample of the beer, before committing to a pint. In the past the bartenders had always been completely cool about allowing me (and other customers) to try a couple of different new beers, but this time the young lady behind the bar told me she would allow it this time, but their new policy was to not allow free samples, no matter how small, and that she would have to charge me a $1 a taste for anything I wanted to try in the future

I'm done with this place.

07-22-2010 14:23:50 | More by John_M
Photo of aevarela
aevarela

Oregon

4.58/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$$

This is a place that's strictly about beer. No food, no wine, no cocktails, and simple decor so don't bother trying to drag your wife to this place (unless she's a beer geek too).

The tap count is up to 42 and, from the sounds of the first couple of reviews, significantly improved. Kwak (in Kwak glass), Triple Karmaliet, Urthel Saison, Damnation, Aventinus, Racer X, Molten Lava (Double Mtn's dbl IPA), Workhorse, Upright 7 and Upright Pils, and many, many more. Not too many slouches on the list either. Frankly, Horse Brass' selection bores me in comparison (other than the 7 or 8 rotators and special events). I didn't find the prices outrageous either. In fact, I found the Belgian prices typical of this area (I had just paid $9 for a 12 oz pour of Cuvee de Jacobin at the supposedly affordable Beermongers across the street). Belgian kegs are so hard to come by in this town that those prices are a reality for us in PDX. By the way, Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle is no bargain either when it comes to Belgians.

My concern with this place is that its tiny inside. Come this fall when the rains settle in, the huge picnic table area is gonna be useless unless they set up some heated tents.

07-01-2010 19:32:25 | More by aevarela
Photo of squaremile
squaremile

Oregon

4.16/5  rDev -4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$

I am hoping just one of these times that a place in Portland can deliver these qualities in one experience

1) Awesome taplist
2) Outdoor seating
3) Place to watch sports

Apex is the newest place for this and 1-2 are taken care of, I have yet to try for #3 but I'm pessimistic despite the TV. Apex is situated at a relatively busy intersection in SE PDX that is really transforming into a destination. The patio out front leaves some atmosphere to be desired but it's still a good time (unless it is really hot). The service was OK, the taplist was awesome, I liked how accurate the board was to their website. The place is a tad awkward for some reason I can't put my finger on yet, but maybe that will clear up. Also too expensive for the Belgians. Overall I enjoyed both experiences there and will be returning.

05-18-2010 07:03:59 | More by squaremile
Photo of jdense
jdense

Oregon

4.14/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$$

Multiple visits weekend of 5.7-5.9.2010.

Located on one of Beervana's top pubcrawl routes, SE Division, kitty-corner from Beer Mongers, Apex is Portland's attempt to replicate the Toronado. While that is a lofty goal indeed, Apex does succeed on several fronts but needs work on others.

Apex is one of the more bike friendly beer establishments in town ala the Green Dragon and HUB. A number of bike racks and a lack of parking make traveling by bike to this beer oasis the preferred method of transportation. The parking lot has been converted to a beer garden with approximately 15 picnic tables arranged Munich beer hall style, communal seating to promote cross-group chatter. Umbrellas will help temper the hot temperature arising from the asphalt former parking lot. The inside of the converted garage features an approximately 20 seat bar, with a few tables under cover for the proverbial PDX foul weather. A small side room features four vintage pinball machines with small side tables for placing your brew while playing. Cash only and no table service, but an ATM is on-site with a two dollar discount on your first purchase if you have to use the machine.

The beer list of approximately 30 taps is shown on a video monitor, certainly more high tech than the Toronado's mesmerizing beer list. The beers are listed alphabetically, so it takes a bit of time to work through the list. The cost of most of the locally brewed beers are quite reasonable, but IMO the Belgians are fairly highly priced $7-8 for 10-12 oz pours. The quality of the taplist is above average and constantly changing. Not a lot of nuggets re very little Russian River (I did see Consecration, though) no Hair of the Dog (!), but overall an above average list.

The barstaff features some of Beervana's top barkeeps, whose seamless service keeps thing moving. The publician is a quite friendly chap, who on grand opening day found himself besieged by brewers, brewery reps and friends giving best wishes, so he couldn't finish his burrito from next store. Note no on-site food, but you can bring in your grub ala Toronado (though the HUGE burritos from Los Gorditos are no Rosamunde sausages).

I like the concept, but would offer the following observations. Apex is a bit too 'clean' to be compared to the Toronado, while I understand the fresh coat of paint, maybe patrons should be allowed to place their stickers on the wall (:. The taplist could use an upgrade, which I suspect will happen overtime, given the short turnaround from OLCC approval to opening there wasn't much time to procure hard to get brews. On that note, establishing a relationship with hard to get brews would certainly help, re some of the harder to get WA and CA brews (good luck getting a keg of Moonlight Death and Taxes, the backbone of the Toronado taplist) would be a step in the right direction, along with the development of a house beer brewed by one on PDX world-class brewers. While the taplist is pretty good, it's not quite of the quality of the Horse Brass, IMHO.

In summation, though, while I am quite sure this place is going to be very successful, let's be honest-there is only one Toronado (SD doesn't quite count) and to be the first Apex-a bike friendly gathering spot with a top quality beer list-may be a lofty enough goal. Most certainly worth a try, and an essential stop for those doing the Division Street (Victory, Avignon, Hedge House, Beer Mongers, etc) beer crawl.

05-10-2010 15:35:43 | More by jdense
Photo of djbreezy
djbreezy

Washington

4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$$$

After a recommendation from a friend I decided to head out to this place and give the venue a shot. The tap list looked decent.

The outside of the bar has a huge patio area that is non smoking (thank goodness) with tons of picnic tables and umbrellas. It was a nice sunny day. This will be even cooler as the weather warms up.

The interior is amazing. There is a pinball room with 4 tables and some mirrors on the ceiling which add dimension to the room.

The main room has a unique bar with a clean feel and lots of taps. There is a taplist displayed via a webpage which can be accessed on their site. Big pluses for this as I am a web developer and am shocked that so many places do not take such a practical approach to displaying their taps.

The bartender (owner) was down to earth as hell. Super nice guy, super enthusiastic. Just happy to be there. It was a really nice vibe.

There was some underground hip hop and heavy bass reggae playing on the speakers and it lent itself to a great vibe. The bartender was telling me about the metal show he hit at Dante's the night before. Hell yeah!

If i had one complaint, it would be the prices. $8.50 for a belgian? Bailey's would dare dream of that. This place has insane markup. Like unethically large...especially considering that the cheapest bottle store in town, Beermongers, is across the street.

Overall a great experience but the price leaves me on the fence about an otherwise great location.

05-07-2010 05:02:56 | More by djbreezy
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Apex in Portland, OR
96 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.