By Gail Obest
When the “big one” hits, Mike Dimon and Theresa Delaney of Portal Brewing
Company in Medford will be ready. The ”big one” refers to the legendary earthquake that will send western California into the ocean and bring the Pacific to Medford’s front door. Surfboards are parked above the brewery’s taphouse bar, “just in case the ocean comes up,” Theresa said.
The beer and food menu reflects the owners’ love for the surf: Wave Watcher Pale Ale, Undertow IPA and Donegal’s Break Oat Stout, to name a few.
It is an example of the Portal experience, served up by Theresa, whose daily regimen includes “nap, surf, eat and drink beer.” When I visited the brewery in May, Mike was working on “The Great Misadventures of Jezaniah Kline, a Big Black Stout – Whispers of Aged Whiskey Barrels & French Licorice,” and Theresa was assisting him. Theresa brushed off her work clothes to the Portal brewing taproom in Medford’s quaint downtown is located in an historic city fire station the old jailhouse is also part of the structure pour me a taster tray of several samples from the brewery’s 3-barrel system brewed offsite.
If you visit the taproom – open Wednesday through Saturday — there are always at least 10 Portal brews on tap, and a cider. You’ll also find an extensive menu of gyros, sandwiches, snacks and full meals made with local ingredients and prepared by Theresa and her son. Theresa has been cooking professionally since she was a teenager. Her gyros are so famous in Southern Oregon they attracted the attention of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who visited Portal Brewing twice recently.
Mike’s brews reflect his dedication to the best ingredients, sourced locally, where possible. Maris Otter malts and non-GMO grains are at the base of Portal’s beers, but you might also find something like brown rice and dried organic coconut, realvanilla beans, or slow-roasted organic buckwheat in your beer — the beer Theresa chose to sip while she talked to me and served me samples. Mike takes no shortcuts on quality ingredients, Theresa said.
Attributing it to his Irish-Italian upbringing, Mike makes beer like a winemaker, Theresa said. “It has body and balance. It’s complex.” Mike learned to brew from his grandfather, Ray, a home brewer, back in the ’70s, when Jimmy Carter legalized home brewing.
The brewery is offsite and the taphouse is small, with seating for about 50 people. The brewery sells all of its beers at festivals and in the 1906 building that was once a part of the Medford Fire Hall where hoses were stored in the days when they were hauled by horse-drawn carts. There was once a jail in the back of the building. The building has housed various businesses in the past 100 years but was vacant when Mike and Theresa found it. They opened in 2013.
Look for Portal’s mobile unit — a VW bus equipped with taps — during Medford celebrations.
Portal Brewing Company
[a] 100 E 6th St, Medford
[h] Wednesday – Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday - Saturday Noon to 10 p.m.
Owners/Brewers: Mike Dimon & Theresa Delaney
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.