By John Foyston
“That’s not a Black Butte porter,” says John Harris, as he hands over a taster of Ecliptic’s Capella Porter.
He should know. Harris is likely Oregon’s longest serving craft brewer and the man who designed Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, and a score of other beers we all know and love. He was the first McMenamins brewer to make Hammerhead as it’s brewed today using all grain instead of malt extracts; he ran Full Sail’s Brewers Reserve program, formulating the Sunspot series, Slipknot and Hop Pursuit among many others. He’s rarely met a hop he didn’t like.
He’s worked as a professional brewer for three decades, but until Ecliptic opened in mid-October, he’s always worked for someone else: the McMenamin brothers, Deschutes --- he was their first brewer --- and then 20 years at Full Sail’s Portland brewery, which he left in 2012 to start his new brewery, restaurant and taproom on the North edge of the Mississippi District.
“Scary? Yes it was scary,” he said. “I was leaving the womb, leaving a salary, benefits, insurance and all the rest, but I figured that I was going to be 50 soon, and if I ever wanted to do my own place, the time was now. Full Sail is a great place to work, a great employer, but I needed to move on. I could see all the beers I wanted to brew and I knew they weren’t going to get brewed there --- I wanted to get away from production brewing and back to the more creative side.”
Some brewers have a hard time letting go of recipes that have worked well for them, but Harris has his eyes on future, not past, glory. “All the beers at Ecliptic are new,” he says. “They may be inspired by what I’ve done before, but none is a rehash of an old recipe.”
The porter is a good example: it doesn’t have the big roasty notes of Black Butte, he says, but it’s got lots of coffee, toast and chocolate and a nice hit of centennial and cascade hops. The beer is not as black as Black Butte either --- more a dark brown with hints of garnet when held up to the light.
He’s already bottled his first seasonal beer, Filament Winter IPA, a bright orange American IPA --- the color of the sun, Harris says, to celebrate the Winter Solstice with a reminder that the sun will return to our Northern latitudes. Ecliptic is the astronomical term for the plane of the planets’ orbits about the sun, and Harris says the pub’s name is about the seasons --- our journey around the sun --- so seasonal ingredients and beers are the emphasis.
Besides the showpiece 15-barrel brewery, Ecliptic has a taproom and a 130-seat restaurant, because Harris says his beers will bring people to Ecliptic and the food will bring them back. “I want to elevate both,” he says. “I want to serve world-class beer and world-class food.. I sometimes call Ecliptic a foodie’s brewpub, but I think the term brewpub pigeonholes you, that people lower their expectations about the food.” Harris has already said that he wants Ecliptic to be on the list of Portland’s 100 best restaurants, and thanks to Chef Michael Molitor’s efforts, that seems an entirely attainable goal.
As part of the main menu, there’s a smaller seasonal menu that will change about every six weeks and currently has six items, including pale ale braised lamb shank; chicory salad with Oregon bleu cheese, quince and hazelnut vinaigrette; and porcini kibbeh with fall squash, bulgur wheat and yogurt. “I’ll be discussing my next seasonal beers with the chef,” Harris says, “so I can make beers that highlight the dishes and ingredients in the seasonal menu.” He expects that an export-style stout will be one of the next seasonals.
Yes, you can get a pub burger at Ecliptic, a half-pound Northwest beef burger with pancetta, red onion and aged gruyere; you can order fish & chips: beer-battered Pacific cod with celery salad and tarragon aioli; but you can also find a trout po’ boy --- cornmeal crusted Idaho trout with jalapeno mayo on a hoagie roll.
The restaurant is a calm space with dark gray stub walls pierced through with glowing constellations, part of Ecliptic’s astronomical theme that includes beer names --- Filament IPA takes its name from the streams of the sun’s corona, for instance --- and the dining room chandelier. It’s an elongated figure eight called an analemma,which can be seen on some globes: if you plotted the sun’s position at the same time of day every day for a year, its apparent motion through the sky would be the analemma’s figure eight.
Getting the place open was a thrash involving dozens of tradespeople, landscaping and a fair bit of heavy construction. But Ecliptic is already hitting its stride, and people like the place, the beers and the food. Harris hopes lunch business picks up, but that always takes a while to develop. Come the spring, he plans to take advantage of the big parking lot and devote part of it to outdoor seating --- Ecliptic has a wonderful view over the river and downtown Portland, and would be just the place to contemplate rush-hour traffic on the Fremont Bridge with a pint of cold Ecliptic beer in hand.
By Carlos Perez
Crossing over from building to brewing ia Bend’s latest craft brewery, Bridge 99.
Too much is never enough. In the case of breweries in Central Oregon, that much is apparently true. With a total of 24 (and counting) breweries, Bridge 99 Brewery tops off the list as one of Bend’s latest breweries to enter the craft beer scene along with Oblivion Brewing, River Bend Brewing, and the Platypus Pub. Who’s to say we’re stopping there? Well maybe the city, but that’s another story.
Bridge 99 Brewery’s name is born from a beautiful area north of Sisters where the fishing is plenty and the views are breathtaking. Bridge 99 is a bridge just off SW Metolious River Road between Pioneer Ford and Candle Creek Campgrounds in the Willamette National Forest. The name also holds some significance to Trever Hawman brew partner’s wife Terri, who is a USFS Hotshot and is very familiar with that area. With their combined love for the outdoors, the name Bridge 99 just fit.
Originally from Walla Walla, Trever Hawman – head brewer/partner, now calls Bend home. He moved to Bend to pursue a career in building, but in 2006 after taking a home brewing class organized by the Central Oregon Home Brewers Organization (COHO) he was hooked like so many of us are. However the difference with Trever is that, as he puts it, he has a bit of an “obsessive” personality, but in a good way. So what started out as a hobby quickly became a passion project in which Trever would spend countless hours learning about the subtleties of the brewing process and in-turn build a brewing system that he knew could produce beers to his standards.
But the thought of making the leap to a small production brewery didn’t actually happen until about 2011. After several years of fine-tuning his brewing process, tinkering, modifying, and perfecting numerous recipes, Trever with the help of his brew partner Rod, and other home brewers from COHO, namely Tom Brohamer (think The Brew Shop, Platypus Pub), had created more than a home brew set-up. Currently housed within a 400 square-foot space not too far from his home, Trever has a totally customized 1-1/2 barrel system, fermentation room, and special refrigerated area specifically for Lagers. Yep, that’s right, Lagers.
From talking with Trever, it’s clear that no matter what he’s working on at any given moment he’s undoubtedly going to give whatever it is his undivided attention. But he currently has a bit of a juggling act and making the transition from builder to brewer is like having two full time jobs. If all goes as planned, a full transition into brewing should happen sooner than later.
Here’s what’s on tap: Bull Trout Stout (my pick), Candle Creek Pale, Green Ridge Lager, Wizard Falls IPA, and Camp Sherman ISA (my wife’s pick). All good beers named after great locations surrounding Bridge 99. Currently you can find all of Bridge 99 Brewery’s goodness at Wubba’s BBQ Shack, on the North East side of Bend. It’s actually really close to Boneyard Beers new “RPM Factory” – but more about that in next months OBG.
Why Wubba’s BBQ Shack? Well Trever had a part in the build-out of the restaurant space, and in the process cultivated a relationship with the owner who just so happens to like BBQ almost as much as a good pint of beer. And if things work out for the best, there may be a larger dedicated brewery space for Bridge 99 in the not so distant future right up the road. If so, Trever will be in good company with Boneyard and 10 Barrel. How’d ya like to live in that neighborhood?
Your second best bet for a Bridge 99 brew is The Platypus Pub right below The Brew Shop. They occasionally have a Bridge 99 brew on tap, but you have to time it just right – because once it’s on, it’s quickly gone.
So if you plan on cruising to Bend this month I advise a quick stop to Wubba’s BBQ Shack if not just for the beer. It’s a quick stop just off the Parkway. Word is that for the month of December Bridge 99 will be adding two new brews (currently unnamed) to their line-up, a Vanilla Stout and a Red. That sounds good to me!
Cheers and Hoppy Holidays!
By Gail Oberst
You probably haven’t heard of Tiah Edmunson-Morton. She doesn’t brew beer, she doesn’t run in brewing circles, and she hasn’t published anything of note about the beer world.
But someday, if you live and breathe beer, you will want to visit some of Tiah’s work. Tiah and her cohorts at Oregon State University Library’s new Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives (or OHBA) are quietly gathering the artifacts of the drama that has become Oregon’s modern and vibrant brewing Renaissance.
OSU – a land grant university with a long agricultural past – has been keeping records on brewing and hops-growing for at least a century. This summer, Tiah began to hone collections for OSU’s archives in a way that was “more deliberate,” she said. These archives can put an archivist’s stamp of authenticity on Oregon’s brewing Renaissance.
Although she’s been working at OSU for seven years, Tiah’s work on OHBA has just begun, so she’s looking for help. To kick it off this fall, she staged several community events – including a cooking with beer event that featured beer-based foods made from historic recipes gathered and archived in the OSU Libraries. The recipes are now listed online, ranging from a 1914 rye beer gelatin to Depression-era egg beer and dozens of other beer dishes.
Creating an archive dedicated to documenting and preserving Oregon’s brewing past and present is not just an archivist’s work, it’s the community’s work, said Tiah. The more people know about the archives, the better the potential for collecting materials that may now be gathering dust in someone’s attic. Already, supporters have produced photos, event records, coasters, letters, postcards, stories and recordings related to people, places and beers we now see as “historic” in their importance.
And Tiah is moving into a new branch of archiving, born of the digital age.
“How do you preserve a website or a blog?” she said. “People are writing and talking about really amazing stuff at an unheard of level. They’re growing hops, brewing and visiting breweries and writing about it!”
You might mistakenly assume from her enthusiasm for social networking that she is new to this internet thing, but she is not. In addition to web archiving and working in virtual boxes to collect what people are producing, staff at OSU are also digitizing their historical photo collections and putting them online. She’s also blogging about her adventures in archiving Oregon’s beer history at http://thebrewstorian.tumblr.com. Thanks to the recipe event, OHBA now has a collection of old and new beer cookbooks, and her blog adds a few notes about new recipes being added, such as those at Deschutes’ www.deschutesbrewery.com/brews/pub-recipes. And, as a true librarian should, she indexes things to make it easy to access.
But Tiah also said she hopes that beer history events will bring people to the collections, not only so they’ll donate materials, but also so they’ll learn from them. “I’m hoping for a hands-on way to engage people,” Tiah said.
Those who are interested in the archives can start at http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/ohba.html, which has links to photos in Flickr and Tiah’s blog.
How can those of us who love beer help?
“We’re asking people to see their place in this history and see that we didn’t come to this place in history without a connection to the past,” Tiah said. “But we can also ask people to archive right now, so that researchers in the future will get it right about us. Think in the future,” Tiah said.
Beer writers, farmers, brewers and company owners need to consider how their information is being saved. “Think about your place in history, and record it. Be intentional and deliberate.”
That means taking the pictures off your phone and organizing them into accessible files with dates and identifications. That means backing up your files! For writers, it means doing real research, with information gathered from the source, not just repeated from blogs or other publications. For videographers, it means talking to people who have played a part in Oregon’s beer history, no matter what their role was. “Did they have any idea at the time they started that any of this would happen? I don’t think so,” Tiah said.
Tiah can be reached at 541-737-7387, or by e-mailing email@example.com.
By Anthony St. Clair
In Oregon, growlers can be filled with beer, wine, cider and sake (as well as non-alcoholic beverages where available).
The most common growler is a 64-oz. jug, usually made of brown glass. A 32-oz. size (sometimes referred to as a “mini-growler” or “growlette”) is also available. Different materials, sizes and features (such as insulated metal) are increasingly available.
Growlers are available at most fill stations, breweries, brewpubs and speciality beer shops.
To ensure your growler beverage stays at its best, make sure your growler is clean and has a cap with a tight seal. Oxygen is the enemy of freshly poured beer, and specialty caps are available to minimize oxygen leakage. More places are also using special equipment to purge oxygen from growlers before filling; ask when you place your order.
Fresh is still best though. Try to time your growler purchase to the same day the beer will be enjoyed, and keep it cool and out of direct sunlight. Once opened, growler beer is prone to spoilage due to oxygen contact (usually resulting in stale or “wet cardboard” flavors and odors). When you crack that growler, do your best to make sure the beer inside gets enjoyed in a timely (and responsible) manner.
By Anthony St. Clair
With growler fill stations opening throughout Oregon, more people are looking at how the concept can be expanded. Saddled in a 1918 former loading dock near Eugene’s 5th Street Public Market, Steelhead Brewing Company and Cornucopia Bar & Burgers on 5th, the new Tap & Growler seeks to be more than just another fill-and-go.
“Our point was to be the first place to specialize in pushing both beer and wine equally,” says owner Colby Phillips. “We have something for everybody.” The space focuses on being a destination, and is also family-friendly, with minors allowed until 9 p.m.
Only tap beverages are available: no bottles, no cans. Customers can choose from 70 rotating taps, including 40 local, regional, and international beers, and 20 local wines. Ten other taps currently offer two hard ciders, two kombuchas, one mead (Eugene’s Blue Dog Mead), one craft soda (Coburg’s Agrarian Ales), one sake (Forest Grove’s Sakeone), one sangria, one root beer, and one tap of cold water extract espresso (Eugene’s Caffe Pacori).
Storage conditions, appropriate glassware and ongoing training ensure all personnel serve each type of beverage correctly, says Phillips. “We have a lookup reference menu that we can all use to make sure we’re serving in the right glass,” he adds. “It’s a challenge to find someone equally versed in, say beer and wine. So we all cross-train each other with our respective expertise.”
While seeking to distinguish itself in the local market, the Tap & Growler does join a growing list of taprooms and growler fill stations opening in the Eugene/Springfield area, including Growler Nation, The Growler Guys and Steel Pail.
Future plans include expanding the number of wine taps and the variety of wines available, says Phillips. “We’ll also look to add more cider and kombucha.” He pauses. “And there’s always room for more beer.”
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