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Cork - A Bottle Shop (Eastside)

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Cork - A Bottle Shop (Eastside)Cork - A Bottle Shop (Eastside)
3 Ratings
Cork - A Bottle Shop (Eastside)Cork - A Bottle Shop (Eastside)

Type: Store

2901 NE Alberta Street
Portland, Oregon, 97211
United States

(503) 281-2675 | map

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Added by RedDiamond on 06-29-2008

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Ratings: 3 |  Reviews: 3
Reviews by RedDiamond:
Photo of RedDiamond
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%

I've written over 130 beerflies now and this will be the first I've ever done in direct response to someone else's. But I'm going to respond to johnmichaelson's review below. First, some background.

Cork is primarily a wine store. They also have several small but intriguing selections of olive oil and specialty vinegars, chocolates, and gourmet spices. I don't drink much wine and most of the rest of the place is a little too pricey for me. But they do have a beer section that's worthy of notice.

johnmichaelson writes below that "one can find a far superior selection just a few blocks away at either New Seasons or Concordia." No, John, I don't think so. Oh, I'll grant you that New Seasons does have a "greater" selection. True enough. But only if you count Corona and Miller Chill in your definition of "selection."

Personally, I don't count Henry Weinhard's, or Session, or Drop Top Amber when I consider an establishment's selection. That's the stuff I'm trying to get away from. New Seasons has racks and racks of this stuff, which in my view, only dilutes your choices, not enhances them.

Cork has none of the superfluous "choices" you don't really want. All told, they've got maybe 120 connoisseur beer labels in their lineup. They keep their house at cellar temperatures, they do regular tastings, and the curtains are drawn assuring no sunlight strikes their bottles. No, it isn't a big selection compared to say, John's. But if you weed out all the generic non-choices you don't really care about, Cork has a selection rivaling that of Beaumont Market, Pastaworks, or the original Belmont Station before they moved to Stark Street. At Cork, you'll find La Choulette, La Chouffe, Fantome, Duchesse de Bourgogne, and a fine array of choices from Alesmith, Siletz, Golden Valley, Terminal Gravity and many others that you can't reliably find elsewhere in the neighborhood. Sure, New Seasons has a "selection" of Belgian beers. The trouble is, both bottles have the word Chimay on the label.

I'm not trying to put down johnmichaelson, who I otherwise respect. But he overlooks the quality of the selection Cork offers in favor of the common supermarket brands available down the street, and writes as though having another beer specialty store in the neighborhood is a bad thing. It's a good thing. A very good thing.

 2,338 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of msubulldog25
4/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

The moniker "A Bottle Shop" always made sense for this wine-centric store, opened about 2 years ago along one of my favorite blocks of NE Alberta St. They have hundreds of reasonably-priced wine bottles, a nice selection of oils, balsamic vinegars, even jars of pickled condiments. A fine assortment of exotic chocolates rounds out their arsenal. But it wasn't until Spring 2008, when the owners transformed a storefront corner into the "Beer Shop" that this place became a COMPLETE "bottle shop".

The two previous reviews each have their points, but I'll side with RedDiamond on this one. Yes, Cork is first and foremost focused on the wines they sell. Most of the floor space is dedicated to them, they have weekly tastings/pairings and the staff seems really knowledgeable on most facets of the wine industry. Beer, on the other hand, is new...about 18 months ago I sent the owner, Darryl Joannides, an email asking if he'd consider adding beer to the store (he's a wine expert and former chef/owner of an Italian restaurant) . His nice reply entailed that as much as he'd like to, at the time he didn't have the room in the store nor did he really feel like he knew enough about beer to do it justice. Lo and behold, a year later, a small remodel and - bam - there's a beer department. So something changed and I'm happy it did.

The selection is good: not an expansive collection but one that's well-chosen and broad-reaching. On my latest visit (9/12/08) I counted 100 bottles, mostly singles with a few 4 & 6 packs. I didn't see a single beer I would consider 'mainstream': some Mirror Pond 6-packs would be closest. The US breweries represented are the likes of Stone, Allagash, Ommegang, Avery, Russian River (yes, they had Pliny the Elder) and Alesmith among others. Local brews come from places like Pelican, Terminal Gravity, Hair of the Dog, Laurelwood, Roots, Hales and Deschutes. The international beers are geared mostly toward Belgium, with good representation from Germany and the UK: Styles range from wits to krieks, gueuzes to quadrupels, saisons to stouts, pilsners to dopplebocks. There aren't many to choose from, but the choices are all 'good' to 'outstanding' versions of the styles. Prices seem to match the grocery stores pretty closely, and I noted there's a 10% discount for 'Cork Club' members.

Note #1: In this store, wines are displayed as such: single bottle upright on a shelf; tasting note sheet (straightforward writing, clever) and prices below it; case(s) stacked on the floor for picking from. Beer gets the same treatment - no reach-in coolers. In some ways I don't like this treatment at all (is it getting light-struck? should it be chilled?). The temperature is set constantly in the low-60's and heavy shades shield the front windows from harsh southern sunlight, still I wonder about long-term quality if beers sit for a while.

Note #2: Staff is very friendly here, aiming to be as helpful as possible. When I visited a couple months ago, the two ladies working a weekend afternoon shift professed to knowing very little about beer or the variety of styles they sell. This weekend I was told they do beer tastings most Saturday afternoons for a small fee; I plan to attend one soon and hope that the 'beer education' has improved. As such, I'd give a '5' for friendliness, but only a '3' for knowledge.

All in all, it's a good store and a welcome addition to the neighborhood. I'll still keep shopping my favorites (New Seasons and Beaumont Market) but Cork is a worthy option and, by far, the best beer choice on Alberta...and it's a terrific place for buying oils, chocolates and wine.

 3,637 characters

Photo of John_M
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%

11/08 update. As RedDiamond's review suggests, I really need to update my review.

While once upon a time this was a completely wine oriented store, they have significantly expanded the beer selection and in a very good way. Wine still dominates this store (I'd say 80% to 90% of the store consists of wine sales), but they do have a small area devoted to beer and, lo and behold, the store webiste now actually mentions the fact they sell beer here.

To their credit, Cork's has made a concerted effort to focus on the more esoteric part of the beer trade. Unlike New Seasons, Concordia and Beaumont, there is an interesting focus here on Belgian and Belgian style beers. Also, the last time I was here, there was nice focus on Halloween, Oktoberfest and Winter beers, and I was impressed to see bottles of RR blind pig and Pliny. The selection is still far from huge, but what they have is interesting and well thought out. So you're right Red, this really is a nice addition to a neighborhood already blessed with an abundance of riches. That's not a bad thing at all.

One last observation. The store has a club that you can join for $100. From what I can tell, this will give you a 10% discount on single bottles of beer and wine, and increase the case discount (should you buy a case). It's been my experience that these clubs normally benefit the store owner and not the customer, but it's something to consider if you shop here a lot. It's a lifetime club, so all you have to do is spend a $1000 to break even. Of course this all comes to naught if the store goes under, and obviously you need to buy a lot of wine and beer to make the club work for you. Nevertheless, if you happen to live in the area or nearby, it's something to consider. End of update.

I don't get it. How in the world did this place get added to the database?

While I think it's nice that Cork now sells beer, no one is ever going to mistake them for a destination beer store. Based on my visits to the store, it occurs to me that the only reason they started selling beer is that they noticed they had excess space, and figured why not have a few beers around for those folks who want to grab some beer along with their wine purchase.

As the website makes very clear, the focus here is on wine. Personally, I haven't been all that impressed with the wine selection here, though I have found a few interesting, inexpensive selections. As for the beer selection here, anyone who knows anything about the Alberta Street area will of course know that one can find a far superior selection just a few blocks away at either New Seasons or Concordia Alehouse (who happen to have on off premise sale license).

Why anyone would go here to buy beer is beyond me. How or why this place was added to the BeerFly database is an even bigger mystery. I guess it's only a matter of time before every QFC, Safeway and Fred Meyer gets added to the database as well.

 2,936 characters

Cork - A Bottle Shop (Eastside) in Portland, OR
Place rating: 4 out of 5 with 3 ratings
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