Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saraveza Bottle Shop and Pasty Tavern

It's already been open for a year, but last week I finally made my first visit to Saraveza. Sarah Pederson's bar is a much-needed outpost of good beer in that part of North Portland. The smallish space has an atmosphere something like a coffeeshop, with 10 taps of quality draft beer, and hundreds of snob-worthy bottles in stand-up coolers. There's a nice food menu, and kids are allowed in the place until 9 PM.

The decor is over-the-top Wisconsin, to the point of all the tap handles representing various flavors of wimpy downstream beer, from Bud to Schlitz. Hey wait a minute, I ordered a Russian River, not an Old Milwaukee -- oh, okay, it's just the handle. In fact, it's a Cascade Fall Gose that was served to me in that Coors goblet (and sitting next to a tiny snifter of 21% Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA). I've never been to Wisconsin -- despite a lifelong love for the 1880's-era Milwaukee antics of Peck's Bad Boy -- so I can't judge whether Saraveza authentically captures the Sconnie bar vibe. For me it's a little disorienting for a place to serve mostly craft beer, yet decorate with factory lager memorabilia. But it's definitely a unique approach, and probably bothers me less than it would any poor Schlitz drinker that happens to step up to the bar.

Saraveza's kitchen focuses on pasties, little fried pies made from scratch, with some cheeky junk-food options like Rice Krispie treats and a Ritz Cracker plate. When I stopped in with my friend Bill, we had just eaten a big lunch, so the only thing we tried was the jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and bacon, very tasty. Any of the bottles of beer at Saraveza are available to go at a discount from the drink-here price.

It's interesting how quickly Saraveza worked its way into the hearts of Portland beer folk. It's one of only two bars in town to have a live webcam on its tap list at Taplister (East Burn is the other). When Brewpublic celebrated its one-year anniversary, one of the parties was at Saraveza (the other one being at Bailey's Taproom, itself a relative newcomer). Sarah says she plans to put in a beer engine and start serving a cask-conditioned beer, but apart from that no big changes are planned. It's been a great first year, why change anything?


  1. Wow — no matter how good a beer is, I'm afraid drinking from a Coors goblet might ruin it for me. I'd have to drink with my eyes closed.

  2. As a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin, it is my secret shame that I've never made it to Saraveza, either. Terrible!

    But the kitsch is totally accurate. In order to understand it, you have to recall that Wisconsin is the home of great regional breweries, and that brewing kitsch is a part of the fabric of life there. Badgers drink a lot of beer, and they're not fussy about IBUs.

  3. Lee,

    I think you need to look at it another way...

    The goblet started with meager beginnings; destined to live out it's lfe holding Coors.

    Instead, it fought hard. It staved of falls from the bar and dishwasher abuse. It truly rose to the occasion; now proudly cradling whatever fantastic liquid is currently on-tap.

    It's like Rudy.


  4. I love Saraveza, especially the giant green refrigerators they store their beer in. Nice to know they're doing well after a year.

  5. The one thing I hate is being called a Sconnie! I do not know what the hell that is...Never used or heard the term in my life til the past few years...

  6. Corey: yeah, who thought that up? Taking a syllable from the middle of the word... would you call someone from Washington a "Shingie", or from Mississippi a "Sissie"?

    My very opinionated grandmother always said "I'm not an Okie, I'm an Oklahom-ian".