Wall to wall to floor to ceiling beer.
Beaumont Market, Northeast Portland, OR

A few years ago, I took a peek in my friend's fridge and saw something unimaginable. He had a beer that I hadn't been able to find anywhere else. Unfortunately, that was over 1000 beers ago, and while I remember it was definitely unimaginable, I can't remember exactly which beer it was. My friend did catch me with the beer tucked into my coat pocket, trying to sneak out the door. "Oh yeah, " I said, handing his beer back to him, "I wanted to ask you where you got picked this up." As he walked it back to his fridge, he said, "Right down the street, Beaumont Market." I'm now patted down after every event at his house.

In an unassuming building at NE Fremont and 42nd Ave, there is a small market, with a very small cooler. Luckily, at the helm of this small cooler is Justin Nesbitt: "Due to the size of our cooler, I have to be pretty selective about what I am going to carry. There are a lot of really good beers out thereā€”far more than will fit in our walk in. There are mainstays that we will always have on hand, but there is definitely a fluid element to our selection."

Beaumont Market, Northeast Portland, OR
Beaumont Market, NE 42nd and NE Fremont.
For sure, the cooler is tiny. When you're in it alone, it's like your own personal, well-stocked fridge--except that you have to pay when you leave. There are 360 degrees of beer choices: on shelves, in boxes, on the floor. There is a great selection of American, English, German, Scandinavian, Polish, Belgian, Asian, and others from countries that I didn't know existed. If someone else walks in while you're perusing though, it's usually a good idea to take a few seconds and work out a game plan. Should we move clockwise? Counterclockwise? There is an old story about the Beaumont Three, the time that three people were in the cooler who couldn't work out a game plan and were stuck in the cooler for three days. Luckily, they had enough beer to survive, and ran up a $379 tab during their ordeal. UPDATE: I talked to Brendan Rutledge, one of the Beaumont Three, and he corrected the myth and said that although they hadn't planned it, they just decided to hang out and try all the great beer in the cooler--they just didn't know it would take three full days.

So how does all of this great beer get into the cooler? With limited shelf space, Justin has a tough job. But with a solid philosophy, and a great knowledge of beer, he can solve the puzzle. "In choosing beers, I try to balance the selection between what is popular and will sell well with what I think are truly outstanding examples of specific styles. I do my best to have a high percentage of well crafted products. I want customers to feel comfortable trying new beers and not have to worry that I put something on the shelf solely because it has a cool label or a good price point."

Beaumont Market, Northeast Portland, OR
Justin Nesbitt, lord of the cooler.
Justin also makes it simple to see what's new by posting a sheet on both the inside and outside of the cooler, so that you can decide how to fill up your basket. And what does the future hold for Beaumont market? "I am hoping to squeeze in a few more feet of shelf space so we can add more beers into our set. That is going to be desperately needed since the future will also bring us an ever expanding number of beers to choose from. A growing number of smaller breweries are getting into bottling and there seems to be a trend where more beers from abroad are becoming available to us in Oregon. Winter beers are starting to trickle in, which will become a flood within the month." A flood of beer? Hardly a nightmare.

So don't wait any longer, get to Beaumont Market and grab some beer. They're nice, they're local, they know what they're doing, and they're probably open right now!

Beaumont Market
4130 NE Freemont
Portland OR
Open every day from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Open Holidays with abbreviated hours.

Check out the rest of the photos here.