1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Apex

Not Rated.
ApexApex
BA SCORE
96
world-class

71 Ratings
Ratings: 71
Reviews: 31
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 10.55%
Taps: 50
Bottles: 200
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 71 | Reviews: 31 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.31/5  rDev -1.1%

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!

DoubleSimcoe, Feb 18, 2014
Photo of Billolick
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Billolick, Aug 27, 2014
Photo of John_M
3.93/5  rDev -9.9%

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.

John_M, Jul 22, 2010
Photo of barleywinefiend
4.29/5  rDev -1.6%

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

barleywinefiend, Apr 14, 2012
Photo of dirtylou
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%

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.

dirtylou, Apr 22, 2013
Photo of Rifugium
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%

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.

Rifugium, Jan 12, 2012
Photo of yemenmocha
3.96/5  rDev -9.2%

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.

yemenmocha, Aug 08, 2010
Photo of bulldogg915
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

bulldogg915, Nov 10, 2013
Photo of jaydoc
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

jaydoc, Oct 12, 2013
Photo of jera1350
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%

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".

jera1350, Jun 22, 2013
Photo of claspada
3.75/5  rDev -14%

claspada, Oct 18, 2013
Photo of jdense
4.14/5  rDev -5%

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.

jdense, May 10, 2010
Photo of atpca
3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

atpca, Jul 18, 2014
Photo of Gobzilla
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Gobzilla, Mar 10, 2014
Photo of tylerstravis
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

tylerstravis, Feb 24, 2014
Photo of DCLAguy11
3.75/5  rDev -14%

DCLAguy11, Nov 14, 2014
Photo of DrBier
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

DrBier, Jul 04, 2014
Photo of MaximumYuks
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

MaximumYuks, Aug 12, 2014
Photo of Hobbit
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Hobbit, Mar 14, 2014
Photo of strongaf
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

strongaf, Jul 10, 2014
Photo of djbreezy
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

djbreezy, May 07, 2010
Photo of Fluffheady
4.82/5  rDev +10.6%

Somehow every time I go to Portland we end up here until close. They have an insane selection, both in draft and in bottles. They supposedly always have a secret Pliny tap, but they were out last week. Some people think the place is a little snotty, but I don’t get that vibe. Every bartender I’ve interacted with has been nothing but nice. Don’t listen to any of it. They have a huge outdoor space and I guess a lot of people try to sneak in. If you’re visiting Portland, you should go here. (If you need a cab, they have a button beneath the bar they can push for you. Try it!)

Fluffheady, Aug 05, 2013
Photo of Kurmaraja
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Kurmaraja, Dec 20, 2013
Photo of anteater
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

anteater, Oct 14, 2014
Photo of duceswild
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

duceswild, May 03, 2014
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Apex in Portland, OR
96 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.