Wednesday July 11, 2012 | 08:00 AM

The Portland area is home to an abundance of breweries. Some have been in business for decades, have several brew pub locations and sell their products to beer fans across the country.

But despite the local focus on brews, Greg and Katie Norton felt like beer was still somewhat the forgotten middle child what with all the wine shops in the city. Their answer is Bier Cellar, which opened in June at 299 Forest Ave.

"Basically, we felt that with beer, while some places have good selections, it wasn't being treated like wine was as far as the knowledge or pairing with foods and different products, and that one-on-one customer service," Greg said. The husband and wife team held their grand opening celebration on July 7 and Greg said, "so far the reception's been humbling."

Bier Cellar stocks craft beer, wine, cider and mead. In the beer section alone there are 400 options. The website offers a list of products with domestic brews coming from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii and imports from Belgium, Ireland and Scotland, to name a few.

An option that's already been popular is the Mix & Match plan, allowing customers to create their own six-packs or four-packs of beer, no matter the size or brewery.

There is also the Cellar Pack Club, which comes with a monthly fee, but allows customers to leverage the knowledge of the store owners as they stretch their palettes.

"We go over what they've had before what they like and we put together a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles, a 22-ounce and 750-mililiter bottle that will both confirm that flavor profile they like and challenge them to kind of branch out and try new things." The personalized pack is available for pickup the first of each month or whenever the customer chooses.

Service is key for the Nortons so customers can call ahead to make an order and pay over the phone and it will be packaged and ready to go when they drive in. Greg said there is also the possibility of deliveries in the future.

"Our philosophy is we'll bring in any product we'll drink ourselves," Greg said, and that means you'll find no mass-produced beers here.

Bier Cellar plans to have three tastings each month, which will be listed on the website. Greg expects to have a wine tasting at the store next week.

Bier Cellar is open Tuesday through Friday noon to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

 

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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