Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bailey's Taproom

Bailey's Taproom had been open for more than a year when I finally made my first visit there this past January. For evenings out I tend to stay on my side of the river; I sometimes branch out a little further at lunchtime or on weekend days, but the Taproom is closed Sundays and never opens until 4 PM. If it fit my schedule better I'd be there a lot more often, because Bailey's hit its stride very quickly to become one of the best beer bars in Portland. So when Geoff -- the proprietor -- put out the word that he was going to open at noon last Friday, I knew I had to show up.

The atmosphere is hip but comfortable, with a great selection of 20 rotating taps, one cask beer engine, and a few elite bottles. What's surprising is how inexpensive an outing to Bailey's can be. Most beers are served in imperial pints at lower prices than smaller servings at places like Henry's or the Green Dragon -- that snifter Geoff is filling is for a 9% old ale. But the real economy is because you can bring food in to Bailey's, now that the cheese and chocolate snack menu has been scrapped-- frankly, that menu was a ridiculous idea anyway. At most pubs in town you'd be looking at a $9 hamburger or $12 fish and chips; around the corner from Bailey's you have your pick of international street food at the $5 food carts at SW 5th and Oak. Heck, you can bring your own food from home if you want.

When you go to Bailey's you'll likely see Geoff behind the counter. He's a little on the quiet side, but he'll discuss any of the beers with you. The couple of times I've been there, he's been amazingly candid about what's on tap: if he thinks one of the beers isn't so great, he tells you straight out, or gives you a sample to let you make that decision yourself. That kind of personal touch bodes well for the business. By the way, his last name isn't Bailey -- I'm not sure how the bar got its name.

That beer in the snifter was a delicious dessert on Friday. It was Pappy's Dark from Block 15 in Corvallis. It was a heavenly, dense, malty elixir... wait, let me see if my review generator can do better. Here we go: Intense maple aroma, punctuated with toffee and strawberry. Sexy boozy flavor, accompanied by vanilla and raisin. Well, if you don't believe that, just believe me when I say it was awesome. And check out the lacing that Ninkasi Spring Reign left on Dave's glass in the background!

Like a lot of places, Bailey's keeps their online taplist current almost daily. For up-to-the-minute info, follow Geoff on Twitter: he tweets the change whenever one keg is switched with another.


  1. Probably my favorite beer bar in the area. I've never had a bad experience there and the taps are always interesting. Bailey's deserves every ounce of praise it earns.

  2. Is this place open in June?

  3. Sorry, Geoff's taking June off… something about "the calm before the storm?" :P

    That Pappy's Dark had me back at Bailey's 3 times this past week… I was there when it blew (Tuesday night), and I shed a solitary tear… from each eye… in sequence, not simultaneously. *starts welling up*

    Here's my stab at a review:

    "Smooth vanilla-oakey bourbon awesomeness! Similar in bourbon flavor to Walking Man's Old Kentucky Homo, but much stronger on the bourbon, and lighter on the hops (Homo being of the Erectus variety)… the kind of beer about which when someone asks, you'd say, "No, that shit's horrible, stay away!" while you ordered yourself another glass. (I say this now because it's already gone…) I suppose that says more about the bourbon than it does the beer, but I don't care… whole and entire, I loved it… I love it still… it will haunt me well into my dementia."

    And that, as they say, is a ringing endorsement.


  4. Having just checked your profile, Po, I see that you are not a local, and might not get that "calm before the storm" reference… suffice it to say, I was joking - barring any unforseen financial collapse (I'm doing my part, damn it!), Bailey's will be open this June should you choose to visit us at such a fine second-half-of-the-month time of year.


  5. Po: don't worry, when you're here we'll swing by the Norwegian food cart and then settle in at Bailey's for a few pints.

  6. I really like the Pappy's 15. One of my favorite beers in recent memory.


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