With red vinyl chairs and a wood bar, the Beer Temple’s taproom looks something like a humble neighborhood bar. But rather than Budweiser or Miller, the custom-made neon signs hanging on the walls represent a few breweries that appear frequently on the beer list, which is a lineup unlike any at your typical corner spot: Half Acre, Transient, Scratch, Marz, and Stockholm’s Omnipollo. Behind the bar is a wall of empty “whales”—rare beers like Westvleteren XII, Dark Lord and Bourbon County Stout variants, and Bell’s Batch 1500.
Chris Quinn, who opened the Beer Temple in early 2013 at Belmont and California, has built his store’s reputation on providing a curated selection of the freshest beer possible and emphasizing customer education. In the process he’s managed to create an atmosphere that’s welcoming and unpretentious. All of that now extends to the taproom, which opened in August after the Beer Temple moved a few doors down from its original location to a much larger space, allowing it to expand the bottle shop and build a walk-in cooler. Like the store, the bar has a small selection of spirits and wine, but the emphasis is squarely on the beer.
The 20 taps and one cask line turn over so frequently that the beer selection could be completely different from one week to the next, but there are breweries that regularly show up on the menu—many of them hard to find elsewhere, such Mikerphone and 18th Street. The one beer that’s almost always available is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is ubiquitous but rarely as fresh in the wild as what you’ll find at the Beer Temple (it’s sometimes the same batch being served at the brewery’s California taproom). Here, the date the beer was kegged is listed on the menu alongside information like ABV and the temperature at which the beer is served.
That’s another feature you won’t find at most bars: the draft system allows beer to be stored (and poured) at its optimum serving temperature, so a stout will be served a little warmer than a saison or pale ale. When I was there the selection ranged from classics such as Founders Harvest Ale and Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale to the bizarre-sounding Omnipollo Hilma Vanilla Burger & Fries IIPA, described as a “hazy imperial ‘hoppy meal’ IPA.” When I asked about that one, the bartender described it but also poured me a sample, which let me determine that it was a well-executed beer I didn’t want to order. Later in the evening, he cracked a bomber from his personal collection—18th Street Devil’s Conclave, a double milk stout brewed with sea salt and cinnamon—and shared it with the handful of people in the bar. The Beer Temple’s bottle shop has always been a good place to try something new (several bottles are often open for sampling). With the taproom, the options have expanded exponentially.
The Beer Temple Taproom 3173 N. Elston, 773-754-0907, craftbeertemple.com