By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
All year we’ve examined the breweries in the Roseburg area. But before these relative newcomers were around, there was the McMenamins Roseburg Station Pub & Brewery, established in April 1999. At the time, Roseburg was home to two other microbreweries: Umpqua Brewing (1991-2001) and Hawks Brewing (1996-2006). McMenamins has hung on — though the Roseburg location hadn’t even been planned.
Before it was a brewery, Roseburg Station served as the Southern Pacific train depot dating all the way back to 1872, linking the then-thriving timber town to the nation’s rail network. A bar seat places you near the site where the depot operator oversaw the telegraph. Trains coming through area carried Civil War Gen. William T. Sherman, frontier scout and performer Buffalo Bill Cody, musician Sammy Davis Jr., and even a dying President Warren G. Harding. During the 1980s the timber industry declined, and the station fell into disuse.
“A friend of my cousin owned the Roseburg train station property. When we heard he wanted to sell it, we all flew down to Roseburg to see it and take a tour,” says McMenamins co-founder Mike McMenamin. “We knew we wanted to buy the building right away. It was love at first sight.”
Renovation preserved the station’s vaulted, 16-foot-high ceilings, tongue-and-groove fir wainscoting and marble molding. Period photos and art provide a visual timeline of Roseburg’s history. Today, head brewer Tom Johnson makes 700 barrels of beer a year — both McMenamins standards and his own creations on a 6-barrel system.
“We had a core crowd from the beginning,” says Johnson, who came to Roseburg Station in 2001. “When Umpqua Brewing closed, a lot of their regulars started coming to our place, but growth was pretty slow for the first five or so years.”
Johnson’s own beer journey began with imported beers at a shop in Eugene in the 1980s, which was followed by his first taste of McMenamins in 1988 and a homebrewing class. His homebrews began performing well in competitions, and he went through the Master Brewers Program at the University of California, Davis. While pursuing various brewer positions around western Oregon, Johnson connected with Steve van Rossem (now brewmaster at Springfield’s Plank Town), who was brewing at now-closed Eugene City Brewery. A couple of days later, van Rossem told Johnson that McMenamins was looking for someone to brew at their new Roseburg location.
“I had been hoping to get involved with a startup or a small brewing operation,” says Johnson. “I wanted a lot of say in recipe development, brewing different things that I wanted to brew.”
Today Johnson enjoys that creative freedom, making beers such as You've Made Me So Very Hoppy (“dedicated to the woman I'm marrying”), a Northwest pale brewed with, aptly enough, Golden Promise malt. Lately he’s been brewing fresh-hop beers, such as Hopqua, which is a nod to the Umpqua River Valley where Roseburg is located. “Most hops come from a couple who lives here in Roseburg and have a sizable hop garden in their backyard,” explains Johnson. “A lot of people help us pick those, get them to the brewery that night and brew a beer the next day.” This year’s Hopqua was brewed with 54 pounds of fresh cones — “The hoppiest beer we’ve made here.”
Local hops star in another new release: Hubbard Creek Red Ale, brewed with Centennials from Melrose Vineyards. Winemaker Cody Parker planted three acres in 2012 to bring more local hops to the area’s growing craft beer scene.
Roseburg Station also supports different community organizations, such as the popular 600-acre animal park Wildlife Safari in nearby Winston. To support this year’s Tiger Oasis fundraising project, which will provide additional living space for the facility’s two Sumatran tigers, Johnson brewed Tiger Tales American Wheat Ale. The beer featured special ingredients like blood orange and a 48-ounce box of Tony the Tiger’s own Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.
The experimentation and variety reflects the area’s changing palate. The local homebrew club, the Umpqua Valley Brewers Guild, has grown. Seven breweries are now in Roseburg and nearby towns such as Winston and Tenmile. “Brewburg” now has a vibrant Beer Week.
“More craft beer has become available, and more and more people are interested in craft beer and seeking it out,” says Johnson. “They bring their friends along and find out that they like it too. It all helps to promote craft beer and bring interest to other places as well as ours.”
McMenamins Roseburg Station Pub & Brewery
[a] 700 SE Sheridan St., Roseburg
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s happened to just about anyone who homebrews: that 5-gallon batch came out a little short of its expected bottle yield. But for Paul Singleton and Lyle Hruda of Roseburg, batch after batch kept coming up about two bottles shy of two cases. The neighbors began homebrewing together in 2009 and in 2010 they decided to start pursuing a commercial brewery. That “two shy” label stuck with them throughout setting up a website, securing a location and doing their Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau paperwork. Licensed since 2012, Two-Shy Brewing is now a growing brewery in the Umpqua Valley city of 22,000.
“Everyone asks about the name,” says Singleton. “There’s a little self-deprecation in there, but then again, our tagline on our T-shirts is ‘not so shy.’”
The economic downturn got both men thinking of different ways they could be in business. “Every batch we brewed — we had a couple of loser batches — but the overwhelming feedback we got from friends and family for our beers was so positive, that we decided maybe we wanted to head in the direction of opening a brewery,” explains Singleton.
His parents were born and raised in Roseburg, and his family goes back six generations to the days of the Oregon Trail. Now 46, Singleton grew up in California but returned to Roseburg at 16. Hruda, 39, grew up in California, went to tech school in Arizona, and has lived in Seattle, Portland and Eugene. His professional background includes equipment maintenance for breweries such as Widmer Brothers Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing Company and Oakshire Brewing. He married and moved to Roseburg in 2009.
Together he and Hruda “bootstrapped” Two-Shy, incrementally expanding the brewery as time and capital allowed. During its lead-up to licensure, Two-Shy kept brewing, developing recipes and used events such as weddings and downtown wine walks to do “some real grassroots marketing, giving away beer all over the place,” says Singleton. “By the time we were really setting up, people had some recognition.”
Once licensed and officially able to open their doors — and taps — to the public, Two-Shy began opening for growler fills, says Singleton. “A few months later, we started having open hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Over time, we’ve built out and grown the taproom to be a pretty nice setup.” Currently, the co-founders keep the brewery as a side project, balanced with careers and families.
Inaugural beers such as Influence IPA, Dead-On Amber, Phat Odd Stout, Toby's Best English Session Ale and Reformation Red are still in production. Summer releases will include Everything Is Awesome (summer session rye ale), Ignition Double IPA, Island Hop Red and Permission Pale (featuring Mosaic hops). They’ll also bring out Oregon Rebel Stout, their first barrel-aged beer, which comes in at 11% ABV and exhibits “notable bourbon notes” from barrels sourced from Oregon Spirit Distillers in Bend.
Being in a smaller urban area, Singleton and Hruda also realized it would help to have an introductory beer for people branching out from mass-market American lagers. Singleton calls Ignition IPA “unsettlingly drinkable,” and made for people who are new to craft beer.
Hruda manages mechanical operations and equipment build-outs. Singleton focuses on sales and marketing, including social media, graphic design and self-distributed beer deliveries to local accounts. “We shared and continue to share the brewmaster title,” says Singleton. “We all do recipe development and we are the brewers.”
Two-Shy currently uses a 3-barrel fermenter and a 7-barrel fermenter, giving some flexibility for brite tank space and brewing single or double batches. With 200 barrels in 2015 and 300 barrels estimated for 2016, Two-Shy plans to scale up production to 2,400 barrels a year within the next three years.
In addition to two taproom employees, Lyle’s wife Danielle manages the taproom and helps organize private events. Jason Mecham has also come on board as “our production guy, and he has been brewing with and for us for several months,” says Singleton. “He does cellar work, brewing and kegging. He's a great guy with a lot of mechanical and fabrication background, and he's sharp.”
Located a few minutes north of downtown, Two-Shy’s production brewery and tasting room opened a new outdoor area last summer and opened up more indoor seating space after a brewery expansion into the rear section of their building. In lieu of having an in-house kitchen, Two-Shy welcomes local food trucks to the property. The tasting room hosts live music, and Two-Shy supports other local functions and events based in the arts. During Roseburg Beer Week+ in May, Two-Shy unveiled its first pilsner, Ella, which is named for Hruda’s daughter and based on a recipe they enjoyed from their homebrew days.
Currently, Two-Shy focuses on taproom and dock sales, along with limited accounts in the local area. “Our taproom is pretty busy now, so we actually had to scale back distribution because we needed the beer in-house,” says Singleton. “It’s been essential to maintain taproom volume.” Two-Shy beers can also be found in Grants Pass, Bend, Eugene, Salem and Portland.
Through events such as Roseburg Beer Week+, breweries and the public are also doing more to raise the profile of local craft beer. “It’s a close-knit community. Being a timber town, we really hadn’t had anything defining us, in terms of a product or industry, since the timber industry,” explains Singleton. “Wine has helped Roseburg show up pretty well in food and drink culture, but beer is really putting us on the map.”
[a] 1380 NW Park St., Roseburg
[h] Thursdays 5–8 p.m., Fridays 4–8 p.m., Saturdays 2–8 p.m.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.