By Ezra Johnson-Greenough
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Even at 218 or so breweries, Oregon has yet to reach peak status. True, industry growth is slowing and real estate in popular places like Portland and Bend are harder to come by. But there is still room for the local brewpub. Some large towns — like La Grande — don’t even have a brewery yet, but 2017 looks to change that. Here are our top 10 major breweries scheduled to open this year.
Bodega Beer - Portland
This 15-barrel brewery and taproom will open on the corner of Southeast 14th Avenue and Stark Street right across the street from Meat Cheese Bread and their taproom/bottleshop called Beer. Ex-Laurelwood brewer Steven Balzer will be on board to focus on hop-forward beers with a lager and some international styles represented. They won’t have food, but will have a food cart on site.
Breakside Brewery Slabtown - Portland
Breakside Brewery’s third location was scheduled to open in the Slabtown neighborhood of Northwest Portland last summer, but it’s now on track for a spring 2017 launch. The space will feature a full restaurant, event room mezzanine and outdoor seating on both a patio and rooftop. Best of all — the 10-barrel brewhouse is going to pump out completely new, experimental hop-centric beers.
Crooked River Brewing – Prineville
The 4-barrel startup is taking over a 7,000-square-foot industrial space that used to house an antique shop. Prineville’s second brewery will favor IPAs and pizzas in a setting that will include outdoor seating, a conference room and pool tables. Brewing is still a good six months out or more due to city and federal permitting. (Read more on page 14).
Ferment - Portland and Hood River
Daniel Peterson moved to Hood River to work at Full Sail and then pFriem after experience with microbiology at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery. In 2015 he set out to open his own project with a brewery in Hood River and a taproom/restaurant in Portland, originally slated for the Yard development on the east side of the Burnside Bridge. Peterson said he’ll now look for a nearby ground-floor location that will be more accessible to foot traffic.
The Horn Public House & Brewery - Depoe Bay
Chris Jennings, one of the Hillsboro Brew Brothers before leaving to join the team at Alameda, now takes on the role of head brewer at this upcoming coastal establishment. From the owners of Gracie’s Sea Hag comes this 10-barrel, two-floor brewpub that is already open and should have its own beer on tap sometime after January. Jennings plans to make a variety of styles, with 10 house beers — plus guest offerings — on tap. (Read more on page 18).
Level Beer - Portland
A trio of all-stars came together to launch Level Beer: Bailey’s Taproom owner Geoff Phillips along with brewer/partners Jason Barbee (formerly of Ex Novo) and Shane Watterson (formerly of Laurelwood). Making its home on garden/farmland in outer Northeast Portland off I-84, there will be a tasting room (but don’t expect farmhouse beers).
Little Beast Brewing - Beaverton
When Charles Porter left Logsdon in 2015, he sought a warehouse space to open his own sour blendery, with a brewery off-site. But in late 2016, he found the defunct Brannon’s Pub & Brewery in Beaverton where he’ll start his business before eventually relocating to a space in Portland with more room for barrels. For now, he shares the building with The Westgate Bourbon Bar & Taphouse, which opened in December.
Reach Break Brewing – Astoria
This new 7-barrel brewery and taproom will focus on barrel-aged sour and wild beers, but will also pour clean East Coast-style IPAs and farmhouse brews. Customers can enjoy a covered outdoor beer garden with food carts and to-go menus from local establishments. If there aren’t any holdups, Reach Break could be open by the time you read this with non-wild yeast/bacteria beers and barrel-aged styles debuting as they are ready.
Ross Island Brewing - Portland
Ex-Alameda brewer Carston Haney’s inner Southeast Portland project has been hit with numerous delays by the City of Portland. After waiting more than a year, he hopes to open the taproom in January while work continues on the brewery. Expect big and sessionable English, German and American styles of beer in a cozy neighborhood pub with an outdoorsman's touch.
Side A Brewing - La Grande
When Eastern Oregon University professor Scott McConnell realized that La Grande was the only city in Oregon with a population of more than 7,000 that didn’t have a brewery, he knew he had to do something. Along with two partners, one with brewery experience and the other food and beverage, they are slated to open Side A Brewing in the historic Eastern Oregon Fire Museum this spring.
By Branden Andersen
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Prineville gets a bad rap. Sitting just more than 35 miles northeast of Bend, most people would rather take that time to visit nearby Redmond, Sisters or Sunriver. But the city wasn’t always the least glamorous of the Central Oregon children. Until the early 1900s, it was the economic hub of the region. In fact, according to Jon Abernathy’s research for his book “Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon,” the small town had the region’s first brewery, which stood from 1882 to 1890.
The city lost popularity as railroads were built around Prineville and not through it. The two breweries in town closed by the early 1900s and industry moved southwest, where large mills were built across from each other along the Deschutes River in what was then the small town of Bend. However, Prineville remained economically stable as a logging town.
But Prineville doesn’t have the mountains just a short jaunt away like Bend does. There’s not a lazy river flowing right through the middle of the city. It’s not nearly as close to other Central Oregon cities and activities. So with the decline of timber came the decline of Prineville.
Joseph Barker saw the people living in his town and realized they needed something to rally around — a place for Prineville citizens who are proud to be part of the community. That’s when he opened Solstice Brewing in 2009.
“After a few years it was clear that Prineville had enough craft beer enthusiasts to keep a brewpub alive,” Barker said.
Solstice largely kept its presence in Prineville, aside from some brew fests and specialty accounts. But with names that poke a little fun at its outsider status, like Prinetucky Pale or Crook Lite, Barker has given Prineville an identity they can be proud of.
Last year, Barker decided to rename Solstice to Ochoco Brewing, to honor both the natural forest near Prineville and the first brewery in the city, which shared the name. The rebrand seems to have reignited the brewery, which got a lot of media attention and a boost in tourism, a bartender at the pub said.
“As our brewery and pub began to grow, we discovered a lot of other Solstice-related businesses in the state and we did not feel like we really stood out,” Barker said. “(After the rebrand) We had a lot of fans tell us that they really thought we had earned the right to use (Ochoco Brewing). It really does root us locally and we plan to brew beer here forever.”
The restaurant space is very different from most Prineville restaurants and bars. The bright dining area is accented with lightly stained wood with bright exposed metal, and an enlarged topical map covers one wall. Live music plays in the corner every Tuesday and Wednesday, and for a more casual dining experience, there are couches near the large window looking out toward North Main Street.
“This building has a deep history here in historic downtown Prineville. It was previously the home of several ‘knife-and-gun club’ type establishments. It has a lot of natural historical elements and themes throughout,” Barker said. “That gave us a lot to work with from the get-go.”
The brewery holds most of the 16 taps, but reserved a few for Central Oregon-brewed guest beer. The brewers seem to be having all the fun, with styles across the spectrum. Also, the brewery bottled its first beer this past year: the Winter Schnocker that had been aged in Oregon Spirit Distillers CW Irwin bourbon barrels. The 22-ounce containers received wax caps.
“We are a very nuts-and-bolts brewpub,” Barker said. “Our goal is to provide an array of beers that appeal to a broad audience all at once — partly because we have to in our size market; partly also because we have limited capacity.”
The locals, Barker said, have been more than receptive. There is now a Facebook data plant in Prineville, which helped boost the local economy, and being a well-rounded food-and-beer spot, Ochoco has become a top destination for the industry growing there.
Point Blank Distributing gets Ochoco’s product to three nearby counties — Deschutes, Jackson and Crook. The business will have even more beer to send out to customers with its new brewing facility. Barker is happy with the company’s growth as well as his ability to brew his own beer according to his own philosophy.
“Our company mission statement is: ‘Love God, Work Hard, Drink Beer’” he said. “If we do these things well we will surely love our neighbors as ourselves.”
[a] 380 N. Main St., Prineville
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