1591 Willamette St, Eugene, OR 97401
*Disclosure: I’m totally biased because I worked there for six years.*
The Bier Stein was the best idea for its place and time. Originally located on E. 11th Ave, the 10 beer taplist and 10 door cooler of bottles from around the world became the first beer geek spot in town, and quickly gained respect as one of the best beer bars in the country. The model is unique: restaurant and taproom and off-premise sales in one.
Back in the day, when Cantillon still sat on shelves, The Stein ran on a small, more-or-less functional family of staff, headed up by founders Chip and Kristina Hardy. Brewers and homebrewers and a gang of wonderfully surly regulars filled the handful of bar seats, and at night the place would be SRO, elbow room only. The place had a vibe (and a smell), and supported all of the new local breweries as they opened. The list of “first invoices” is a long one.
After too many stories to relate here, the Hardys made a leap of faith by purchasing the Midtown building at 16th and Willamette, and moving The Bier Stein over there. The new space was about 5 times bigger, and enabled the expansion of the taplist to 25 taps and the cooler to 18 doors (at any given point, there are around 1000 bottles of beer, cider, mead, wine, and N/A bevs for sale). Any worries that the move wouldn’t be successful were assuaged on the first day (April 15, 2013), as a deluge of friends and people who wouldn’t go to the “old Stein” because of the crowds came flooding in.
I started there in 2010, at the old location, and worked as a stocker until late 2011. When the beer buyer, Dave, asked me to help set up the cooler and work with him at the new location, I readily accepted. With the increase in staff came an increased need for education; Dave and I took (and passed) the Cicerone exam, and I started doing classes for the staff. With the increase in volume of new beer available came the need for tight quality control and draught maintenance. We started checking dates on cases and kegs religiously, and developed tight standards. Working with distributors became a big part of the job, as we essentially trained the delivery drivers and developed in-depth relationships with the salespeople.
In 2017, Chip and Kristina sold the business to Troy Potter, one of the original employees of Ninkasi Brewing. The Stein continues on, evolving along with the craft beer world, ever a model of the pub life.