Taps: 50 / Bottles: 200
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 59 | Reviews: 30 | Display Reviews Only:
4.31/5 rDev -0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5 | $$
We all dined at this fancy restaurant called Roe and as we were driving down Division, it turns out that Apex is about a mile away! So let's check it out...
Apex reminds me of some of the best beer joints in Austin, with that big patio and chairs outside and the low-lying shack-like building behind it. Breweriana inside, music not too loud and not crowded on a Saturday night. It's all good, particularly after reading so many bad reviews about this place and the employees. The place is small, though, and there are one or two employees only, so I can see how it could get crowded and slow (in fact, as the night progressed, music got louder and service slower).
Their beer selection is outstanding indeed. So many rare, strong and barrel-aged beers! On tap, I tried Banished Double Cross ($4, 6-oz), Against the Grain Attila Hen ($1 taste), Mikkeller Frederiksen ($5, 6-oz). And beyond, they had Black Albert, Pliny, Evil Twin Ashtray, John Barleycorn'10, Midnight Sun Moscow, Beer Geek Mus, Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti, De Garde Spears Gin Barrel Wild Ale... you get the picture. This is my kind of tap list.
I love the different servings and small portions, and how the bartender warned me about the flatness of Bourbon Fred.
Don't miss the bottle list. One of the best I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot). I had a Hair of the Dog Bourbon Fred'11 for eighteen bucks, and they have Fifty Fifty Eclipse, Firestone PNC ($50), Cherry Adam'08 (sixty bucks).... browse and be amazed.
I would say the only negatives here are the silly cash-only policy (although they do give you a one-dollar discount if you show your ATM receipt) and the fact that is is a smallish place with not much atmosphere. But the beer more than makes up for that!
02-18-2014 23:42:06 | More by DoubleSimcoe
3.93/5 rDev -9.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | $$$
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
4.29/5 rDev -1.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$$$
A: Walked across the street from BeerMongers and landed here. Inside Old Metallica, Motorhead and some Poison the Well loudly blared. Outside is rather quiet, peaceful patio with lots of outdoor seating. The place is a garagefront and the garage doors come up when the weather is nice. Upfront, inside is seating upfront with a long narrow area with bar extending the length of the establishment. Cash only.
Q: All beer here is top notch and I know these lines are clean. My Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux was simply amazing
S: Nothing to complain about. Forget trying to make small talk with servers lol.
S: Out of this world. Nice big list of rare, vintage bottles but be willing to pay the markup. Fifty Fifty Eclipse, FW14, Old 3l Samiclaus. The works. 50 handles of well chosen craft. Among the best draft lineup I have ever seen.
F: No food, oh an no growlers either
04-14-2012 13:25:22 | More by barleywinefiend
4.35/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | $$
Very cool spot - right across from Beermongers, adjacent to a quality taco-slinger.
Huge picnic tables out front, decent sized interior with lots of light. Pinball machines, ~50 taps and a huge bottle list. It would be pretty impossible not to be happy here - went after the RR Blind Pig and Commons Myrtle on this stop. There was also a 5 or 6 year draft vertical of Celebration Ale on. I need to incorporate this into the PDX routine going forward.
04-22-2013 20:59:00 | More by dirtylou
4.21/5 rDev -3.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
Stopped in here briefly to examine the take out selection, and I'm kind of sorry I didn't have more time to explore the tap list as well. Basic layout, simple decor, kinda pleasantly grungy. There's a long bar with plenty of room, and ample table seating, including an outside area. There are even a few arcades / pinball machines in the foyer, which is always nice to see. Service was on the ball, knowledgeable and friendly, though it was very non-busy when we visited. There was really nothing to complain about as far as selection goes. With 50 beers on tap, there's bound to be something for everyone, including lots of good local stuff. The fridges contained a great bottled selection including lots of stuff we couldn't find anywhere else, including such venerable spots as Belmont Station and Beermongers (right across the street BTW). Prices were reasonable, though obviously for some of the higher end / rare bottles, you're going to be dropping some coin. But buying such beers is a personal choice, after all.
01-12-2012 04:04:25 | More by Rifugium
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
4.27/5 rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Beware- CASH ONLY here so come prepared. They do have a cash machine though too.
Probably my favorite bar of our whole trip to the Pacific Northwest. Larger indoor bar with garage doors opening up to a massive patio with umbrella covered tables. A little side room with pinball machines available for play too. The decor is unique and cool. Interesting things to peer at and read while imbibing. On this particular day, they had old school gangsta rap like Snoop and Dre playing with F-bombs on the blaring speakers. Not my thing, but interesting none the less.
Amazing selection of top notch brews from the west coast and beyond. Firestone Walker PNC and Parabola, Evil Twin Biscotti Break to name a few. Several solid local options as well. Just a wide variety with something for everyone. I even tried a Habanero Golden form El Toro which was very unique and hot!
For food, go straight across the street to Double Dragon which has the most amazing Vietnamese sandwiches or get delivery from the El Gorditos place right next door.
We were there around 11 am and the bartender seemed like she just woke up from a late night bender. She was kind, but just didn't go out of her way in any shape or form to help. She would answer questions, but just kind of stood there and waited for us, rather than asking to help or offering up advice or suggestions. Her demeanor could have been more positive in my opinion. Regardless, outstanding place in Portland and a "do not miss".
06-22-2013 03:14:15 | More by jera1350
Apex in Portland, OR
96 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.