McMinnville’s breweries may soon rival its wineries as a destination attraction, thanks to the opening of the Grain Station Brew Works, owned by Kelly McDonald with Mark Vickery as brewer. The Grain Station opened last month during the Oregon Brews & BBQs event on the Granary District grounds that surround the brewery. The brewery at 755 NE Alpine St. is now open every day of the week except Tuesdays.
Vickery, Golden Valley Brewery’s former brewer, and McDonald, a fifth-generation Oregonian whose mission for the past 13 years has been to revitalize the Granary District buildings, offer a unique twist to the brewing business. The pair said they took a page from the Community Supported Agriculture playbook and applied it their brewery. “We're Oregon's first Community Supported Brewery,” said Vickery.
Grain Station has defined the concept thus: Beer lovers are not required to purchase beer in advance of brewing, but they may if they choose, gaining a variety of perks, the most important of which, McDonald said, is the opportunity to be part of the brewery’s community. “Pubscribers” can join for as little as $50 a year. Pubscriptions can include guaranteed growler and pint fills, invitations to events and swag.
The bar is not a private club, however. Visitors are welcome to come, drink and eat without paying for “pubscriptions,” or even without making reservations. The huge barn-like structure has seating for 120 inside, with 60 extra seats on the patio. The building since 2009 had been home to McMinnville’s Public Market, a Saturday event that filled most of the building. Using local barnwood and expert help, McDonald restored and remodeled the 1890s-era grain station building for the brewery and other small businesses. Other buildings surrounding the Grain Station in the Granary District are home a bakery, several wineries, a health club, a garden store, coffee shop, meat and produce markets and other businesses.
McDonald purchased his 7-barrel system from Lucky Lab Brewery and by September had two of its own beers on tap: Bet the Farm IPA, a 8.0 ABV with 85 IBU beer; and the Harvester Golden Ale, which was 4.5 ABV with 18 IBUs. McDonald said that the brewery will always have at least two of its own beers among its 12 taps. Local wines, pizza baked in a wood-fired cob oven and other food fare are available on the brewery’s expanding menu.
The CSB philosophy applies to the brewery’s purchases too, according Vickery: “We’re one hundred percent local, buying only from local farmers and producers,” he said.
Plans for the future include more events like the Brews & BBQ fundraiser, which last month filled the district with live music, beer tasters and the smoke from many barbecues. “We’ve got a great venue here,” said McDonald. “We can have a lot more of these events.”
Grain Station Brew Works
755 NE Alpine, McMinville
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.