By Brian Yeager
There are at least 45 breweries in planning in the state of Oregon. By the end of 2014, it’s quite likely we’ll support over 200 breweries. Some open large, some go nano, but they open at a rapid pace all across the state.
Here are some of the last ones to squeak in while the calendar still reads 2013.
Bunsenbrewer in Sandy
Let’s start with Bunsenbrewer in Sandy, which has proven to be something of a jinx for breweries. Lucky for brewer/owner Aaron Hanson, he’s a man of science and doesn’t believe in curses. The nanobrewery, “fermentation laboratory” as Hanson prefers to think of it, was conceived in 2011, was slated to open by Labor Day 2013, and is finally getting a soft-opening this month with beers that began fermenting in November. Billed as “OMSI plus beer” since it’s set up like a middle school science lab, there will be actual science experiments for kids and adults alike. The beers, too, will have a chem lab feel since each batch will be conducted a bit differently and can be sampled in 150ml beakers.
Deluxe Brewing in Albany
Albany got its second brewery but first “brewstillery” courtesy of Eric “Howie” Howard and his wife Jamie having launched Deluxe Brewing and Sinister Distilling simultaneously, separated only by a suite number (well, letter). The first keg of Deluxe beer sold in late September, but are holding their “grand opening” this month because, as Jamie put it, “We just wanted to have a party.” Deluxe is that rare brewery focusing exclusively on German-style lagers and their location near OSU makes their Wild Beaver Amber Lager a local smash.
1188 in John Day
Eastern Oregon doesn’t see many breweries open, but next time you head out hunting and make your last stop in civilization, visit 1188 Brewing Company in John Day. Co-owner Ken Brown said their mission was to create something “small, with excellent beer, great food and a fun atmosphere. Somewhere that you can bring the whole family and have a great time and really enjoy your meal.” It’s definitely a family spot. The brewmaster, Jeremy, is Ken’s brother-in-law. The headscratcher of a name is an homage to Ken’s dad as well as his wife Jen’s dad, who were best friends (yes, Ken and Jen were childhood friends) who raced snowmobiles together and whose bib numbers were 11 and 88.
More information about 1188 here.
Griess Family Brewery in Grants Pass
Farther south, Griess Family Brewery is now live in Grants Pass after initially filing in April. The first beer, Little Orphan Amber, was sold to an individual, not a bar, and the Griess family (yes, it really is a family business with Travis Griess in the brew house, his folks are co-owners, and his brother handling IT) is contemplating opening a taproom in downtown Grants Pass. For now, that brew house is housed in an out building in Travis’s backyard.
Swing Tree in Ashland
Swing Tree Brewing is the newest brewery in Ashland. Husband and wife Brandon and Tanya Overstreet held the grand opening mid-November with easy-drinking Porch Swing Pale and my favorite named beer, Obligatory IPA. It’s not that Brandon isn’t into making hoppy beers, but his passion is in spontaneously fermented ales, so stay tuned once he builds a koelschip to do just that and discover how much Oregon’s Rogue Valley’s microfauna resembles Belgium’s Senne Valley.
Awesome Ales in the Portland Area
Unlike our good friends in California and around New England, Oregon had only dabbled here and there in the type of production alternately referred to as “tenant,” “contract,” or “gypsy” brewing. (See: MillerCoors contracting with Full Sail to make the Henry Weinhard brands). Awesome Ales is currently contracting with Seven Brides in Silverton to make the initial three awesome ales. The brainchild of David Lederfine who had brewed at McMenamins and now works in real estate, said, “In a few years, when we start approaching the sixteen hundred barrel mark, I would like to build a brewery, one that will have excess capacity that I can offer to somebody else so they can get their start.” As such, 32 new breweries opened in all of Oregon in 2013, but we got 33 brewing companies.
More information about Awesome Ales is here.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.