By Gail Oberst
On the day I visited Opposition Brewing, currently a 1.5-barrel brewery in Medford, Nick Ellis was brewing a fine-smelling batch of Ramsey’s Brindle Blonde, so named in honor of the brewery’s late chocolate-orange-blonde colored dog. The small brewhouse was just a few feet away from the end of the bar – a long metal surface with an assortment of mismatched chairs and stools.
I barged in on a Tuesday/brews day. The taproom and brewery in an industrial building on the north end of town near the railroad tracks is usually open afternoons and evenings Thursday through Monday. On the other days, Nick and his partner/head brewer, Dennis Poncia, brew beer. Their wives, Erin and Penni, respectively, are partners in the nano brewery business.
The brewery was launched in 2012 under the name of Apocalypse, after which followed a series of beers that drew on the images of total annihilation: The unfiltered, big beers had names like Tunguska Event, Blast Radius, Fallow Fields, The Sixth Seal, Devastated Sky, Purgatory Pomegranate.
And then the brewery experienced a bit of its own dark medicine. Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewery threatened legal action if the brewery continued to use the name Apocalypse, claiming it already had dibs on the name. The owners enjoined the battle, but lacked the resources to continue the challenge. Apocalypse changed its name in 2013 to Opposition Brewing Company — an equally feisty name. The gas mask logo, and the death-and-destruction inferences remain. That said, according to the company’s website, their beer is not about doom and gloom. “It’s about good friends, good times, and knowing that we should always live for the moment because it may all be over tomorrow.”
Ellis had been a bookkeeper for many years, until several economic downturns in Southern Oregon forced him to consider beer – a seemingly recession-proof commodity.
Local support has proved his choice a good one. Today, thanks to appreciative and thirsty patrons, you would be hard-pressed to find the beers anywhere but at the brewery (they call it the bunker), with a few kegs going out to favored bars. But that may change soon. A 7-barrel brewhouse was delivered in July and will be online by 2015. Ellis said the brewery will most likely expand in the complex where they currently brew and serve beer.
(a) 545 Rossanley Dr., Suite C, Medford
(w) www.oppositionbrewing.com, www.facebook.com/oppositionbrewing
(h) Thursday – Friday, 4 - 9 p.m. Saturday, noon - 9 p.m. Sunday, noon - 7 p.m. Monday, 5 - 10 p.m.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.