By Holly Amlin
For the Oregon Beer Growler
After opening their brewery at Southeast 10th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard last fall, the idea of adding a second tap house wasn’t even a blip on the horizon for Scout Beer owners Joe St. Martin and Sean Oeding.
When an opportunity presented itself, though, they decided to take over an old insurance agency at the corner of Southeast 50th Avenue and Division Street. The new venture, to be called The Lot at Scout Tap House, will preserve part of the existing neighborhood.
“The new location includes space for food cart vendors and is focused on collaborative partnerships,” St. Martin said. “The ability to sell beer and provide a home to five vendors allows us to grow, but it also sets up a long-term home for at least five other businesses.”
That area of Southeast Division Street has changed dramatically during the last couple years. Empty lots that included food carts, businesses and homes have been scooped up by developers who put multi-story apartments in their place.
One of the few buildings left standing was part residence, part insurance office. When it came up for sale, St. Martin and Oeding saw the potential right away. They quickly developed plans for The Lot. Improvements to the 80-year-old structure started in June and will be complete soon.
Not unlike their brewery location, the interior of the tap house will include a bar, seating and a gateway garage door to an outdoor patio. They’re even planning ahead for the cool nights to come, adding a fire pit space to complement the outdoorsy, camping theme.
“Ultimately, it comes down to creating a welcoming space,” St. Martin explained. “We know how important it is to be able to take your family out to enjoy a quality meal and a beer in a good atmosphere at a reasonable price. That’s the big idea with The Lot.”
Scout started brewing its own beer on a 5-barrel system in May of this year. Not having had the ability to produce a lot of their own product in the past, the founders shared their taps with other breweries in town. That’s changing.
“The new tap house will be different,” says St. Martin, “We envision The Lot to be a satellite brewpub that will focus almost exclusively on Scout beers, including new recipes that will complement the styles of food being offered.”
They’ve been consistent at making creative, food-centric beers from the beginning. Two of their most popular brews are Anaphylactic, a peanut butter porter, and Porridge, an oatmeal pale featuring cinnamon, raisins and vanilla.
“I once owned a small bakery and have a passion for cooking,” St. Martin explains of the beer style origins. “I enjoy the science of things like baking and brewing, but love the ability to manipulate the details into flavors people might not be expecting in a beer.”
St. Martin and Oeding arrived in Portland from the Bay Area in 2014. They launched their business selling beer through a food cart in the established Tidbit pod off Southeast 28th Place and Division Street. Even though they’ve only lived in Portland for a few years, they understand the importance of building community and creating good relationships with those around them.
1516 SE 10th Ave., Portland
Scout Beer Garden
2880 SE Division St., Portland
By Peter Korchnak
For the Oregon Beer Growler
In pursuit of their dream of opening a brewery, Joe St. Martin and Sean Oeding took the road less traveled: they opened a beer cart. And then another one.
When St. Martin moved from San Francisco -- where he sold his beer at small events — to Portland, he bought a food cart and refurbished it to serve beer. In the summer of 2014, the first Scout Beer Garden opened at the Good Food Here pod at Southeast 43rd Avenue and Belmont Street, and shortly thereafter the second one became the anchor for the Tidbit Food Farm and Garden pod at Southeast 28th Place and Division Street. Each cart serves up to 12 brews, including St. Martin's own craft beer and a cider.
Adventures in Brewing
“It was a bit of an adventure,” St. Martin says. While he has acted as the brewer and day-to-day manager, Oeding has provided financial backing. The duo's dream of brewing came true last February, when St. Martin poured his first two creations: a peanut butter porter and a marionberry red ale. He says, “You could serve them separately or as a black and tan to make a liquid PBJ.”
The following month Scout Beer Garden introduced the Pretty in Pink IPA, with grapefruit and pink peppercorns. And on April 13 they launched their fourth brew, the Kentucky Coffee Stout, with bourbon and hazelnut.
Pod Bar Blazes the Way
As unique as Scout Beer Garden may be, it isn't the first beer cart to open in Portland. Captured by Porches Brewing Company’s Mobile Public Haus beer bus launched the phenomenon in 2010. While successful, it was an extension of the brewery, operating with a brewery license. Strictly speaking, it was not a food cart, says Brett Burmeister, editor of the Food Carts Portland blog.
The first dedicated beer cart with a full liquor license was Pod Bar, at the Carts on Foster pod at Southeast 52nd Avenue and Foster Road. The pod and bar owner Steve Woolard today laughs about the now-notorious episode, when the City of Portland fought the Oregon Liquor Control Commission's award of the license, but eventually backed down in 2012. “They're out of office, we're still in business,” he quips.
To get the license Woolard had to add a covered, enclosed seating area to the 1956 Aloha trailer made in Beaverton. On a March Saturday, during a lull between lunch and happy hour, a family with small children enjoyed a late lunch and brews, and a steady stream of craft brew aficionados kept the barkeep, Larry Walters, busy with filling growlers.
The beer cart was a natural extension of food carts, says Woolard, who used to brew at Yamhill Brewing Company and now runs the Spring Beer and Wine Fest. “If the food is so good, why not serve beer too?” he thought. Pod Bar scratched his beer itch, Woolard says, and the constantly changing beer list makes it so “you never know what you're gonna get.”
Beer Carts as Community Hubs
Though he knew the neighborhood needed a place with good food and good beer at a reasonable price point, Woolard says, “I didn't expect it to become such a family destination and a neighborhood hub.”
According to Burmeister, beer carts contribute to creating community spaces. The Tidbit pod buzzes with activity, with families, groups of friends, couples, and tourists alike crowding picnic tables, noshing on various world cuisines and quaffing pints to live music. St. Martin says, “I love being able to be a part of the local community.”
The Future of Beer Carts
Burmeister forecasts that, rather than each pod featuring a dedicated beer cart, regular cart vendors will offer drinks that are unique to their cuisine -- e.g., a Vietnamese food cart serving Vietnamese beer — and that beer carts will expand their offerings by including cider and wine.
For St. Martin, the future lies in brewing. For now, he makes beer at Portland U-Brew. He is seeking contract breweries to increase production of the IPA and the red to keep them on tap permanently and make them available elsewhere.
“I am lucky,” he says. “I get to make a living with a unique little business and share it with people.”
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