By Kris McDowell
As the name suggests, Bunsenbrewer is part brewery, part laboratory for owner/brewer Aaron Hanson. The brewery opened in the final days of 2013, on December 30, followed by an official grand opening Jan. 25.
The science-themed brewery has a 1.5-barrel system and is located a short drive east of Portland in Sandy. Aaron and his wife relocated to Oregon from Minnesota seeking a more temperate climate and deliberately chose a location that would allow easy access to a large metro area as well as a more spacious, less hectic home for their family.
Prior to embarking on a brewing career Aaron obtained a degree in biochemistry, along the way making friends with a home brewer and catching the brewing bug. The degree has aided him on the technical side of brewing and he's used that background to give a scientific look to his operation. Taproom staff wear white lab coats, the sample glasses look as though they'd be just as useful in the laboratory and there are plans to have simple science kits on the taproom tables.
The logo, in stark black and white, looks like it could have been pulled directly the Periodic Table of Elements, yet there is more to it than meets the eye. The "31" in the left corner is Aaron's age when the idea for the brewery was formed and the "1.042" in the right corner is the starting gravity of beer. Aaron also noted, with a smile that shows the personality just below his scientific outer shell, that those familiar with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe (ITALICIZE) will recognize "42" as being the answer to everything.
While Aaron doesn't claim to have the answer to everything he is trying to provide the answer to the question of where to find craft beer in Sandy. Upon opening he had six house-brewed beers available: a Belgian triple, a Belgian white, an oatmeal brown, an amber, a CDA and an IPA. Those proved popular enough that by February he was down to three brews - Pasteur milk stout, De Duve Belgian wit and Verbeek imperial IPA. His preference for Belgian-style ales comes through in his commercial brews to date although he is conscious of providing a well-rounded tap list for the 12 lines, currently a combination of house and guest beers.
Bunsenbrewer recently added another employee which will allow Aaron to spend more time in the brewery while allowing them to remain open seven days a week. He is planning on adding a small food menu that will include slow-cooked shredded pork and beef sandwiches, soft pretzels with cheese and mustard and a hummus plate. In addition to providing inexpensive, filling food to accompany the beer Aaron hopes that adding food will allow them to tap into the lunch crowd.
The young brewery is keeping things modest for now. Aaron's beer is kegged and served from taps that are spitting distance from where they are brewed and near future distribution would be contained to the Sandy area. That means those interested in trying out Bunsenbrewer beers will need to make the drive to Sandy. One exception is Bunsenbrewer's planned participation in the Spring Beer and Wine Fest taking place mid-April at the Oregon Convention Center.
( a ) 16506 SE 362nd Drive, Sandy
( p ) 503-308-8109
(h) Open daily at 11:00 am
Owner and Brewer: Aaron Hanson
Kris McDowell is a long time craft beer lover and Marketing Director for BREWVANA Brewery Tours. She also does social media/PR work and authors a beer blog.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.