Pi Bar opens at 3:14 every day. That’s dedication to the name. By the time I arrived at four, People were already in the weeds. The beer app on a new friend’s iPhone was telling him to “take it easy.” These drinkers had started from the bottom of the Deschutes tap list instead of the top. Beer before liquor—fine, but no old saying sings the dangers of imperial stouts before hefeweizens.
We love Deschutes, especially their Black Butte porter. This version, XXI, was partially aged in Stranahan’s whiskey barrels and topped off with Theo’s cocoa nibs. They gave the beer some sharp, roasted flavors and a little bit of oily sweetness. That, mixed with the woody vanilla of the barrels, made the whole thing taste kind of like balsamic vinegar. That’s a lot to say about one beer. The others were not as remarkable, but no one noticed.
Heart is a stuck-up wine bar down the street. They were tapping a half dozen firkins (old-school kegs that dispense beer via gravity, not CO2) and I came in, mid-tap, to a spray of foam and a soaked bartender. He posed with his heavy-looking, firkin-tapping wooden mallet for some cell-phone pictures, taken by the only employee of 6 or 7 there wearing an apron. Apron guy and his camera had avoided the spray.
I tried the Black and Blue, a dark beer from Linden Street brewed with Blue Bottle coffee. We like Blue Bottle, but it’s too expensive. It’s also usually acidic, but in this beer it tasted charred and very old. It was not good. Most people there were drinking the Ballast Point Sculpin, an IPA that one guy told me smelled like apricots. Instead of ordering another, I went back to Pi Bar. Apricot guy did too.