By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s the start of a new year, so time to brace yourself and get up to speed on some of the upcoming developments in the craft beer scene from Eugene to Roseburg to McMinnville.
Alesong Tasting Room and Beer Club
Currently the newest brewery in the Eugene/Springfield area, Alesong Brewing & Blending starts 2017 with additional developments: the opening of a rural tasting room and inclusion in a beer club.
Located on 4.5 acres bordering a winery about 20 miles southwest of downtown Eugene, the 3,500-square-foot facility will house a barrel room, production facility and tasting room. Co-founder Matt Van Wyk expects a spring opening.
Meanwhile, Alesong beers will be among the offerings in the Rare Beer Club, one of the memberships offered by monthlyclubs.com. “We were so happy to have connected with Alesong,” says Kris Calef, monthlyclubs.com president. “I can honestly say that I haven’t been as excited about working with a brewery as I was after tasting Gin Hop Farm. Outstanding beers.”
New Name for Mancave
After a year of ups and downs, including the loss of its brewery space, Mancave Brewing Company has established an alternating proprietorship arrangement with Elk Horn Brewery. To further mark the brewery’s new chapter, founder Brandon Woodruff has also renamed the business. With limited production of less than 25 barrels per month, Manifest Beer Company plans to release a beer per month, with limited keg distribution in the Eugene and Portland areas. The first release will be Exalted IPA.
“We wanted to give up more often than not, so many things piled against us at once,” said Woodruff on the brewery’s Facebook page. “Only two things kept us going: an insatiable search for beers unlike any other, and our family of followers.”
Oakshire Takes It Back to the Brewery
While visitors to Oakshire Brewing now come to its Public House in the Whiteaker area, the 10-year-old establishment wanted to take things back to its roots. The public will once again be welcomed into its production brewery, complete with a small tasting room — a tradition that had been abandoned for some time.
During the summer of 2017, Oakshire plans to resume Friday tastings “that were once a staple of the Oakshire beer experience,” says co-founder Jeff Althouse. “Beer, brewery tours, music and food carts will showcase the roots of our small company and allow our old and new friends to enjoy a beer at the location where it all happens.” More details will be announced in spring.
Oakshire will also bump up its CORE seasonal line: Sun Made Raspberry Berliner Weisse, with real raspberries, will be released in February 2017, followed by the original Sun Made Cucumber Berliner Weisse in May. Oakshire has added dedicated equipment for kettle souring and plans to release more sour beers.
Ninkasi’s Three Bs
Ninkasi goes into 2017 with a new distribution partnership with Bigfoot Beverages, a new director of brewing process development and a return of their popular Believer Double Red Ale.
Beginning this month, Eugene-based Bigfoot will distribute bottled Ninkasi beers to off-premise accounts in Eugene. This change will allow Ninkasi’s local distribution team to focus on sales to area bars and restaurants.
While completing his doctorate in Brewing Science at Oregon State University, Daniel Sharp interned at Ninkasi. Now with his completed Ph.D., Sharp returns to Ninkasi — but as the brewery’s new director of brewing process development. Drawing on his research on hop utilization and impacts to flavor and aroma in brewing, Sharp will focus on improving Ninkasi’s brewing capabilities as well as leading educational and research efforts.
And did you believe that Believer could come back? Originally released as a winter seasonal in 2006, the popular double red ale returns through April as part of Ninkasi’s Seasonal Release Series. A portion of all Believer sales will be contributed to three national nonprofits.
Lookingglass Looks Ahead
Lookingglass Brewing, located outside of Roseburg, aims to expand its brew system and Winston-based taproom, as well as add a bottling line, says founder Mark Nunnelee. “Ideally, we would like to expand to a 7-barrel system and increase the number of our sales accounts,” explains Nunnelee. “The number of accounts we can have currently is limited due to the size of our brew system.” Nunnelee is also exploring a partnership with Winston Donuts Cafe to bring food into the Lookingglass tasting room.
Backside Brewing Co. in Roseburg recently began bottling and self-distributing its popular flagship Axeman Red. Backside’s 22-ounce bottles initially will be available at the tasting room and in select locations in Southern Oregon.
“We’re really excited for bottles,” says owner K.C. Mckillip. “Getting beer on draft is great, but you only have one tap handle. The bottle gets our logo and image on the shelf. Axeman is one of our top-sellers, and there are so many more potential places for us to see beer now.”
Mckillip plans to extend distribution gradually, with the hope to have four packaged beers by summer.
Expansion/New Brewmaster for Salud
Roseburg’s Latin-inspired Salud Restaurant & Brewery is expanding. After naming a new brewmaster, Chad Northcraft, owner Manny Anaya has announced that Salud will be moving their brewery to an off-site facility. The new brewery will be walking distance from the restaurant, allowing more dedicated space for brewing, conditioning, packaging and distribution.
New Brewery Planned
A gluten-free brewery in McMinnville is in the works. Doppelganger Brewing applied for Oregon Liquor Control Commission licensure in October 2016. Its current address is on Northeast Riverside Drive in an industrial part of town.
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Oregon’s craft beer boom isn’t limited to larger urban areas. An hour south of Eugene, the approximately 22,000 people of Roseburg have taken notice of the beer world beyond standard American lagers. One of their own, K.C. Mckillip, has been behind the bar and hovering over the brew kettle since 2012 as founder of Backside Brewing Co. Just as the community shows its growing support for craft beers such as Backside’s, Mckillip has also got the community’s back.
“We could’ve gone to Portland or Bend where there’s more support. But being from here, I love it,” says Mckillip, 27. “Any brewer that’s born and raised in the place where they open their brewery, what gets that small business off the ground is that support.”
Growing up southwest of Roseburg in Tenmile, Mckillip is newer to brewing but no stranger to business. After graduating Douglas High School, Mckillip moved to Arizona to pursue a dream of motocross racing. Spending part of the year in Oregon, he also started pest control and asphalt businesses.
The businesses were doing well, but “I was not passionate about what I was doing,” he explains. “I enjoy business, but it was getting stale. I wanted to do something different.” At 22, Mckillip had begun homebrewing and at 24 realized he wanted to go pro. He sold the pest control business and has used the proceeds to help fund startup costs. “My business background helped me a lot, especially with networking,” says Mckillip. “I had a good support team of business owners that I could fall back on. From there it took off and I focused, and I’m still passionate about it. Working behind the bar, brewing, being at the events — it’s fun. It’s long days and a lot of hours, but it’s worth it.”
As for the name, Backside is about anything but butts. “I was originally going to run something out from my parents’ property outside of Roseburg,” says Mckillip. “‘Backside’ came from backside of the mountain, backside of town.” But he realizes that if he has the name, then someday he might as well do something cheeky. “We haven’t done a play on it yet, but eventually we’re going to with logos or something."
Acting on advice to start in a larger space, however, Mckillip was able to set up shop in the former home of Gerretsen Building Supply, an 18,000-square-foot property on a full acre. A bike shop occupies 3,300 square feet. Backside takes up the remainder with the brewery, a public bar and restaurant space, a wood-fired brick oven (for pizzas and toasted sandwiches) and a 10,000 square-foot warehouse that gives Backside ample room to grow.
Inside the brewery, Mckillip has help from a business partner and various family and friends. Backside currently has seven employees, with plans to increase staff to 10–12 for the restaurant and brewery, as well as for a full-time bottling line employee and a full-time salesperson to grow distribution beyond the Roseburg area.
In addition to a recent bottling line purchase, Mckillip has been upgrading equipment for the 7-barrel system. In 2015, Backside produced 200 barrels, and Mckillip estimates that 2016 production will be 350–400 barrels.
With 12 house beers pouring — such as Axeman Red Ale, The Bitter Truth Imperial IPA, and OSP (a nod to the Oregon State Police) — Mckillip wants to increase that to 20 by fall. A house root beer provides an option for kids and customers who don’t drink alcohol. Mckillip also realizes that he is a craft brewer in an area where standard American lagers are the mainstay. In addition to having some of those available, Backside produces a German-style “middle of the road, basic lager” that Mckillip sees as a good introductory beer. “It gets them into the craft beer world with something light, and then they realize they’re having a great time.”
Inside the brewpub, a stage accommodates a regular schedule of live music. People enjoy beer and wood-fired pizzas under the glow of bare light bulbs suspended from the ceiling in angled mason jars. Outside, a large parking lot and covered area provides space for the events that have been Backside’s way of showing it has the community’s back. “What goes around comes around. When you focus more on getting people in for their event, as opposed to getting people into your place, people appreciate that a lot.”
Backside supports local causes through various events, such as the recent Hops for K9 Cops open house. Officers with the Roseburg Police Department and deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department brought in their K9 partners to the brewery so the public could meet and better understand the law enforcement, investigative and search-and-rescue functions that the dogs perform.
Backside has also done fundraisers for local schools, such as Douglas High School, and the Taylor/Hatfield Memorial Fund, which helps disabled children and adults in Douglas County. In the aftermath of the October 2015 shooting at Umpqua Community College, Backside held raffles and auctions. To raise funds for the UCC Relief Fund, Backside brewed Umpqua Strong Ale with four other Roseburg breweries and Eugene’s Hop Valley Brewing, raising approximately $30,000 to aid victims and loved ones.
Breweries have a unique way to appeal to the public. “We can easily market to a broader demographic, and that helps them even more. It brings more awareness of their cause.”
For Mckillip, giving back to the community is both good business and the right thing to do. “The biggest hurdle is getting people to realize how much breweries support the local area,” says Mckillip, who talks with people every week who seek Backside’s support. “We are trying to shift people’s mindsets. We try to educate and influence people and get them to come back. We want to maintain what we’ve got going, keep the momentum going and make sure that things continue to be fun and enjoyable for everyone who works here and who comes in for a beer.”
Backside Brewing Co.
[a] 1640 NE Odell Ave., Roseburg
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