Photo by Gail Oberst
Jerry Miller was convinced when he started commercial brewing in 1993 that there couldn’t possibly be room left in the local market for more craft beer. Wild River was already operating in Grants Pass, and then Caldera came to Ashland (1997). “I thought this was the last cresting wave,” said Miller of the ’90s flourish.
He was wrong. New breweries have continued to thrive in the past 20 years in the Rogue Valley, leading to the latest small brewery boom including Griess Family, Chinook Brewing, Conner Fields, Opposition, Portal, JD’s Sports Bar and Brewery and others. Miller has been JD’s brewer for more than a year.
Miller claims he started one of Grants Pass’ first post-prohibition brew pubs. From 1993 to 2001, Miller worked at the Blue Pine Brew Pub, a favorite haunt of many in the Rogue Valley, some of whom are commercial and home-brewing today.
Miller was a machinist who in 1990 had just moved back to Grants Pass when he decided to take a homebrew class at Rogue Community College. After winning homebrew competitions, Miller was inspired to brew for Blue Pine Brew Pub.
“I loved the sound of fermenting beer,” Miller said. “It’s music to my ears.”
After Blue Pine’s owner passed away, Miller joined up with Ross Linton, the owner of Walkabout Brewery in Medford, where he brewed until last year.
A few years ago, Jack DiMatteo, owner of JD’s Sports Bar and a former Blue Pine customer, began making plans to brew at his place. Last year, Miller took him up on the challenge.
Miller said JD’s is closer to his home than Walkabout. The man with kids and grandkids at home said he needed to stay close, and DiMatteo’s offer made that possible. Today, the 8-barrel system puts at least 10 beers on tap at the bar: three are rotating seasonals.
At JD’s, Miller and crew are brewing up a surprising variety of beers, all offered on tap at the bar and at a few other locations in the Rogue Valley. This fall look for an Oktoberfest beer, MidSommar Ale, Paisan Porter and Knock Out Stout, to name a few.
JD’s Sports Pub & Brewery
[a] 690 Redwood Highway, Grants Pass
[h] Open: 7 days a week
Owner: Jack DiMatteo
Brewer: Jerry Miller