Eric “Howie” and Jamie Howard are the owners of a new kind of Oregon business —a “brewstillery” (combination brewery and distillery), just a few blocks from Albany’s Calapooia Brewery. Deluxe Brewery lagers are online now. They only brew lagers — pre-Prohibition pilsner, amber lager, Schwarzbier and seasonals, including a Helles, Bock and Dunkel. These are all on tap now at about 30 places around the valley and at the quaint Albany brewery. The brewery’s tasting room is in a corner of the 1920s-era Borden Building on Water Avenue. The long-vacant building, once a hub of Willamette Valley’s milk industry, had gone through several owners before the Howards leased it. The 30,000 square foot building was among several in Albany’s riverfront industrial district that has been part of the city’s urban renewal efforts.
The Howards have filled a portion of their space in the building with a 15-barrel brewery and a 40-gallon still. Later this year, Howie will release his first gin and whiskey, now aging in barrels, under the Sinister Distilling label.
Although the couple sold the first keg of Deluxe beer on their 11th wedding anniversary, Sept. 21, 2013, the story began years earlier. Jamie is native to Albany, a 1991 West Albany High School graduate. Howie lived a more nomadic life, moving around Oregon’s mill towns with his father, who worked for the former Willamette Industries. The couple met, married, and settled in Jamie’s hometown. They have two children – Mackenna, 9, and Adelynn, 7.
But the beer story began in 2005, the year Howie started homebrewing. “I wanted to do some home distilling,” Howie said. “But I found out it was illegal.” He embraced brewing with a passion, and joined the Heart of the Valley Homebrewers based in Corvallis. Award-winning and active in his club, Howie was elected president of the HOTV. He spent some time working in a Corvallis brewery with an eye to opening his own. In 2011, the family filed its intentions. Late last year, they opened. Jamie helps out at the taproom when she’s not working in marketing at a local medical center. She’s also in charge of marketing for the Deluxe/ Sinister business.
[a] 635 NE Water Ave. Suites B & D, Albany
[h] Open Tuesday-Thursday 4-7 p.m., Friday 4-8 p.m. & Saturday 12-6 p.m.
Owners: Eric “Howie” and Jamie Howard