Belmont Station is my first stop whenever I go to Portland, so I thought I should ask Carl Singmaster, the “Chief Bottle Opener” as he is called on the Beer O’Clock radio show 5 questions about the bottle shop and bier cafe.
1. Since Belmont Station is such an institution, do you get a lot of beer tourists ?
Belmont Station has been around since 1997 so we fortunately seem to have developed a reputation as one of the key beer stops for any beer-interested tourist coming to Portland. And of course for anyone keenly interested in American craft beer and its history Portland is a must visit.
2. Have you ever put a beer on tap that surprised you with its popularity?
I am more often surprised by beers we would expect to be popular, (for our place “popular” means in demand or intriguing to craft beer aficianados), but get virtually ignored. As my Belmont Station founder Don Younger says “don’t listen to what people say they want, watch what they do.” By now we have a pretty good idea of what our customers prefer.
Having said that, at this year’s Puckerfest (an annual Sour Beer Festival we hold) I was pleasantly surprised by the number of young folk (twenty-somethings) that came out for sours.
3 . What beer style do you think is under appreciated at the moment?
Brown ales and pale ales are very often overlooked here. I have been pleased to see the increased attention given to craft lagers, something that did not get the same level of interest 4 or 5 years ago.
4. Do more people buy to go beers or tap? Or is the majority of customers having one of each?
The majority of our business is beer to go. But many people do have one or two here and buy a few to go. It’s nice to enjoy a pint while you shop!
5. Do you get beer geeks coming in looking for the latest and greatest rare beers?
Constantly. People always want most what they can’t get!