By Gail Oberst
Mazama Brewing’s grand opening celebration from 2 to 6 p.m. July 13 will feature live music, food and of course, beer from the taps of Corvallis’ newest brewery. The new brewery and tasting room is at 33930 S.E. Eastgate Circle, east of Corvallis on Highway 34, in the Eastgate Center, also home to 2 Towns Ciderhouse and Nectar Creek Honeywine, a meadery.
The brewery’s opening marks a new phase in the brewing lives of owners Jeff and Kathy Tobin. The couple fell in love over a batch of homebrew in Vermont, as Jeff tells it. Both have been homebrewers since 1984.
It took this long, however, for the couple to act on plans to become professional brewers – not for lack of passion, but for lack of time. Both were professional engineers who came to Oregon to work for Hewlett-Packard in 1989. Kathy continues to work for HP as Vice President and General Manager of Specialty Printing Systems. Jeff left HP a few years ago to work for Marvell Semi-Conductor, where he worked until the day in March that he turned his complete attention to construction on the 20-barrel Mazama Brewing. “It’s quite a leap,” he said, referring to his move to commercial brewing. With engineering enthusiasm, he points to his brewhouse and brite tanks, all built by JBNW in Canby. “There’s 3,000 man hours of labor in those machines,” he wondered.
Why give up engineering for the murky world of brewing?
“The appeal of brewing is the near-instant gratification,” Jeff said. As an engineer, it took him years to see his ideas turned into products on the market.
The leap from homebrewing to professional brewing was not taken with eyes closed. The Tobins began in the mid-1990s investigating commercial brewing, researching everything from equipment to marketing. Both considered Corvallis and ideal location, not just because it was their home.
“We believe there’s a sophisticated population of beer drinkers in Corvallis,” Jeff said. “We’ve made lots of friends here, and it’s the center of the valley.” Shipments of grains and hops can be delivered overnight.
But two things happened to kick their dreams into the realm of reality: Two summers ago, the couple brewed a beer for a relative’s wedding, to rave reviews, followed by a trip to Belgium. “That sort of sealed the deal,” Jeff said of Belgium. Although Jeff brews other types, Mazama Brewing is home an array of Belgian styles. On tap when I visited was an IPA, and a Belgian-style blond, grand cru, dubbel, and a saison. You will most likely find some new additions when you visit. Taproom hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays.
If those hours don’t suit you, there are approximately 20 locations in Corvallis and Albany that now carry Mazama’s beer, with planned deliveries to Eugene and Portland in the near future.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.