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December 31st, 2013 MARTIN CIZMAR | Bar Reviews
 

Bodega Beer

clublist_clintonstmarket_4009CLINTON STREET MARKET - IMAGE: rosnaps.com
I passed the cracked yellow sign hanging above Clinton Street Market (3400 SE Clinton St., 234-0372) a thousand times without once considering whether the store might carry something I wanted. From the outside, this beaten-in little bodega looks like the sort of place that makes its bones on energy shots, beef jerky, lottery tickets and smokes—mostly smokes. And it is indeed the sort of place where a mustachioed man buys yellow packs of American Spirits by telling the cashier, “Two.” But inside this surprisingly large store turns out to be perhaps the largest collection of beer bottles south of Division Street and east of the river, including semi-rare imports like Brasserie d’ Achouffe and Pinkus situated above Camo Black Extra malt liquor. And behind the camo bandannas, cigarette lighters and iPad register, there are five taps for growler fills, including one keg from Baker City’s Barley Brown’s and Breakside’s Big Country Winter Ale, all $12 per 64 ounces or $6 for 32 ounces. I was even more impressed by the whistle-clean lines at 39th Mini Mart (935 SE Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., 234-1411), which pump 64 ounces of Boneyard RPM for $10. That comparatively antiseptic shop trafficks in tandoori chicken, cellphone chargers and copies of Busted magazine, but also schedules special Bridgeport tastings and offers Pfriem’s single-hop Mosaic pale ale. This might sound weird, but to me these shops are the ultimate testament to Portland’s beer culture. In most of the country, these tap lists would draw beer geeks from all over. Here, incredible beer is available next to Swisher’s new e-cigarettes.
 
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