Talk about starting off strong: When The Bier Stein reopened at 16th and Willamette on Tax Day, it was inevitable that the beloved beer bar would have a good day, but owner Chip Hardy says that the new location has overwhelmingly exceeded expectations. “Our best day ever at the other location we doubled on our opening day, and by Friday it tripled,” he says. “I was completely blown away by so many customers.”
The Midtown building that’s now home to The Bier Stein is roughly six times bigger than the old location, and seating has gone from 49 chairs to about 170. The old 10-door cooler has grown to 18 doors strong, the bar pours from 30 beers on tap instead of 12, and the parking lot increased to 37 spaces from six.
Other brew-fabulousness includes build-your-own taster flights and pitchers, which were introduced to prevent the lines from building up. On the artistic side, take a look upward to see beer-bottle-shaped light fixtures made by Daniel Water-Buffalo of Cornerstone Glass.
Rather than an old-style menu of beers on tap, the new Bier Stein has television screen display boards that show the kegs’ fill levels in addition to the location of the brewery, ABV and IBU levels. But with lines stretching nearly to the door, Hardy says The Bier Stein will have to make some adjustments. “The display boards have been a really big hit other than with the people who can’t read them,” Hardy says, “so we’re in the process right now of buying new televisions and reinstalling those.” He’s also ordered three additional cash registers and is planning on installing acoustic ceiling tiles to keep the noise down.
The “back bar,” a six-tap bar behind the main seating area, is an area Hardy plans to rent out for birthday parties and corporate functions, and he also plans to host tap takeovers by breweries. “Having the extra space is going to allow us to do a whole bunch of things now that we couldn’t do before just because we don’t have the space limitations,” he says.
That includes food, too. While the menu hasn’t changed yet, Hardy says that the new kitchen is about six times the size of the old one, complete with fryers, a grill and a very large prep kitchen. “We started with the same menu just because we knew we were going to be overwhelmed, and we didn’t want to add a whole bunch of new things right off the bat,” he says. Future plans include brewers’ dinners and a revamped menu.
Starting in June or July, The Bier Stein will expand a little more, via the internet, and allow people in other states to purchase beer on the website. Nationally, 43 states have regulations that allow this sort of purchasing. Why only 43? “It’s all about tax money and tax revenue,” Hardy says.
The Bier Stein is open 11 am to midnight Monday through Saturday and noon to 10 pm Sunday at 1591 Willamette St., 485-2437 and thebierstein.com.