By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
All year we’ve examined the breweries in the Roseburg area. But before these relative newcomers were around, there was the McMenamins Roseburg Station Pub & Brewery, established in April 1999. At the time, Roseburg was home to two other microbreweries: Umpqua Brewing (1991-2001) and Hawks Brewing (1996-2006). McMenamins has hung on — though the Roseburg location hadn’t even been planned.
Before it was a brewery, Roseburg Station served as the Southern Pacific train depot dating all the way back to 1872, linking the then-thriving timber town to the nation’s rail network. A bar seat places you near the site where the depot operator oversaw the telegraph. Trains coming through area carried Civil War Gen. William T. Sherman, frontier scout and performer Buffalo Bill Cody, musician Sammy Davis Jr., and even a dying President Warren G. Harding. During the 1980s the timber industry declined, and the station fell into disuse.
“A friend of my cousin owned the Roseburg train station property. When we heard he wanted to sell it, we all flew down to Roseburg to see it and take a tour,” says McMenamins co-founder Mike McMenamin. “We knew we wanted to buy the building right away. It was love at first sight.”
Renovation preserved the station’s vaulted, 16-foot-high ceilings, tongue-and-groove fir wainscoting and marble molding. Period photos and art provide a visual timeline of Roseburg’s history. Today, head brewer Tom Johnson makes 700 barrels of beer a year — both McMenamins standards and his own creations on a 6-barrel system.
“We had a core crowd from the beginning,” says Johnson, who came to Roseburg Station in 2001. “When Umpqua Brewing closed, a lot of their regulars started coming to our place, but growth was pretty slow for the first five or so years.”
Johnson’s own beer journey began with imported beers at a shop in Eugene in the 1980s, which was followed by his first taste of McMenamins in 1988 and a homebrewing class. His homebrews began performing well in competitions, and he went through the Master Brewers Program at the University of California, Davis. While pursuing various brewer positions around western Oregon, Johnson connected with Steve van Rossem (now brewmaster at Springfield’s Plank Town), who was brewing at now-closed Eugene City Brewery. A couple of days later, van Rossem told Johnson that McMenamins was looking for someone to brew at their new Roseburg location.
“I had been hoping to get involved with a startup or a small brewing operation,” says Johnson. “I wanted a lot of say in recipe development, brewing different things that I wanted to brew.”
Today Johnson enjoys that creative freedom, making beers such as You've Made Me So Very Hoppy (“dedicated to the woman I'm marrying”), a Northwest pale brewed with, aptly enough, Golden Promise malt. Lately he’s been brewing fresh-hop beers, such as Hopqua, which is a nod to the Umpqua River Valley where Roseburg is located. “Most hops come from a couple who lives here in Roseburg and have a sizable hop garden in their backyard,” explains Johnson. “A lot of people help us pick those, get them to the brewery that night and brew a beer the next day.” This year’s Hopqua was brewed with 54 pounds of fresh cones — “The hoppiest beer we’ve made here.”
Local hops star in another new release: Hubbard Creek Red Ale, brewed with Centennials from Melrose Vineyards. Winemaker Cody Parker planted three acres in 2012 to bring more local hops to the area’s growing craft beer scene.
Roseburg Station also supports different community organizations, such as the popular 600-acre animal park Wildlife Safari in nearby Winston. To support this year’s Tiger Oasis fundraising project, which will provide additional living space for the facility’s two Sumatran tigers, Johnson brewed Tiger Tales American Wheat Ale. The beer featured special ingredients like blood orange and a 48-ounce box of Tony the Tiger’s own Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.
The experimentation and variety reflects the area’s changing palate. The local homebrew club, the Umpqua Valley Brewers Guild, has grown. Seven breweries are now in Roseburg and nearby towns such as Winston and Tenmile. “Brewburg” now has a vibrant Beer Week.
“More craft beer has become available, and more and more people are interested in craft beer and seeking it out,” says Johnson. “They bring their friends along and find out that they like it too. It all helps to promote craft beer and bring interest to other places as well as ours.”
McMenamins Roseburg Station Pub & Brewery
[a] 700 SE Sheridan St., Roseburg
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Sam Draper Eslinger’s grandmother passed away in 2004 and he was supposed to follow family tradition and pass down his middle name, which was his grandmother’s maiden name. However, he didn’t have any kids. After relocating from California to Oregon’s Umpqua Valley in 2010 to start a brewery, he realized what to do.
“I could pass on the name by naming the brewery after her,” says Eslinger. From there, Draper Brewing opened its doors to the public on July 1, 2012. It was a different time in the city of about 22,000. While many breweries now call Roseburg home, when Draper opened the only major craft beer presence in town was the McMenamins Roseburg Station Pub & Brewery.
With flagships Chocolate Porter, Cream Ale and IPA, Draper also focuses on sours and barrel-aged beers. Eslinger sees Roseburg’s citizens and tourists as ready for beers inspired by brewing traditions from all over the world, but bringing palate-pushing beers to a small city is the latest bend in the road for Eslinger’s brewing journey.
Growing up in Northern California, he was working in construction in Sacramento, Calif. at the start of the 21st century when he “started enjoying beers I couldn’t afford.” A co-worker homebrewed and shared advice. “I decided to start making hefeweizens and such that I enjoyed but couldn’t really afford,” says Eslinger. “So I got into homebrewing, started reading books, got really passionate about it.”
During 2002–2003, an injury and rehab forced Eslinger to consider big life changes.
“I realized I wanted to make beer.”
Still working construction during the day, Eslinger attended night school for classes that would help him qualify for the American Brewers Guild. He also started doing cellar work at BJs, who hired him as a brewer after he completed his training.
“I was fresh out of school, a beer nerd. They knew I was frothing at the bit to brew something I could put my name on,” says Eslinger. “They were already barrel aging, so they got some in, gave me seven beers, some barrels and some fruit, and told me to blend and age and run with it.”
After a stint at Lost Coast Brewery, Eslinger was ready to go out on his own. His family had acquired 30 acres in Tenmile, and he could set up shop there. Despite being a California boy who was moving to Oregon, he saw opportunity. “The town I grew up in was an old logging town, and Roseburg is an old logging town, so it wasn’t a stretch.”
There was also an untapped market. “Everyone else has come after me. It’s crazy how many we have here now compared to when I started.”
Earlier in his homebrewing journey, Eslinger had dabbled in barrel aging but had to give it up while living in the Humboldt County area. Relocating to Umpqua Valley’s wine country restored access to wine barrels. With much interest in the brew-it-if-you-got-it traditions of Belgian farmhouse ales, Eslinger was also inspired by the 25 plum, apple and pear trees that had been planted by the original homesteaders in 1949. “Forty feet from the brewery are all these fruit trees,” he concluded. “Made sense not to waste it.”
In addition to the flagships, Eslinger brews seasonal beers, such as summery Blueberry Wheat Ale. He prides himself on brewing any style, but Eslinger’s heart is with Draper’s Renaissance Series of barrel-aged and sour beers. He consults local winemakers for suggestions on using fruits and barrels for limited-release beers. Many Renaissance beers also are fermented with Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and/or Brettanomyces, and barrel condition for at least one year.
Eslinger’s tastes lean toward “more esoteric beers,” and he knows that can be a challenge. “When I opened, I didn’t intend on making an IPA,” he explains. “First account I got said I was crazy if I didn’t make an IPA. Now that pale ale is one of my biggest sellers. You can’t walk away from it.”
Draper’s flagship beers provide a gateway into other offerings. “If you just have esoteric, it’s harder to tell if the brewer can make good beer. But if they have a regular pale ale or cream ale, and it’s good and clean, that proves to people that I can make good, clean beer. It gives the customer a barometer of trust, and they can work their way up to trying the different, more esoteric stuff.”
The inaugural 1-barrel system is now a 7-barrel system, but Eslinger jokes that “my brewery’s not modern by any standard.” Equipment in the 2,400-square-foot brewery includes open primary fermenters and closed conditioning tanks, a mix of gear from a now-defunct area brewery and even a repurposed dairy tank from 1956. Draper’s 2015 production was approximately 200 barrels, and the same is expected for 2016. Current distribution is primarily local, with some accounts in Eugene and Portland.
Draper’s 3,500-square-foot tasting room is located in a registered historic building constructed in 1908. With seating for up to 40 people, there is live music and other events throughout the month. In addition to Draper bottled and draft beers, the tasting room curates a selection of 60 sour ales and European imports. “We go out of our way to educate — help people try beers they haven’t tried.”
To increase Draper’s sour production — and protect flagship beers from potential cross-contamination — Eslinger recently constructed a new 480-square-foot sauerhouse at the Tenmile brewery for blending and barrel storage. The two facilities also help him plan Draper’s future and increased distribution.
Eslinger knows his tastes can be a challenge for the market, but he looks ahead with the same confidence that brought him to believe he could start an esoteric craft brewery in a small city. “I’d like to see the market go more and more in that direction. I go to San Diego, Sacramento, Portland … I see it going that way.” And he’ll have Draper at that forefront, pushing the public’s palate.
[a] 640 SE Jackson St., Roseburg
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s happened to just about anyone who homebrews: that 5-gallon batch came out a little short of its expected bottle yield. But for Paul Singleton and Lyle Hruda of Roseburg, batch after batch kept coming up about two bottles shy of two cases. The neighbors began homebrewing together in 2009 and in 2010 they decided to start pursuing a commercial brewery. That “two shy” label stuck with them throughout setting up a website, securing a location and doing their Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau paperwork. Licensed since 2012, Two-Shy Brewing is now a growing brewery in the Umpqua Valley city of 22,000.
“Everyone asks about the name,” says Singleton. “There’s a little self-deprecation in there, but then again, our tagline on our T-shirts is ‘not so shy.’”
The economic downturn got both men thinking of different ways they could be in business. “Every batch we brewed — we had a couple of loser batches — but the overwhelming feedback we got from friends and family for our beers was so positive, that we decided maybe we wanted to head in the direction of opening a brewery,” explains Singleton.
His parents were born and raised in Roseburg, and his family goes back six generations to the days of the Oregon Trail. Now 46, Singleton grew up in California but returned to Roseburg at 16. Hruda, 39, grew up in California, went to tech school in Arizona, and has lived in Seattle, Portland and Eugene. His professional background includes equipment maintenance for breweries such as Widmer Brothers Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing Company and Oakshire Brewing. He married and moved to Roseburg in 2009.
Together he and Hruda “bootstrapped” Two-Shy, incrementally expanding the brewery as time and capital allowed. During its lead-up to licensure, Two-Shy kept brewing, developing recipes and used events such as weddings and downtown wine walks to do “some real grassroots marketing, giving away beer all over the place,” says Singleton. “By the time we were really setting up, people had some recognition.”
Once licensed and officially able to open their doors — and taps — to the public, Two-Shy began opening for growler fills, says Singleton. “A few months later, we started having open hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Over time, we’ve built out and grown the taproom to be a pretty nice setup.” Currently, the co-founders keep the brewery as a side project, balanced with careers and families.
Inaugural beers such as Influence IPA, Dead-On Amber, Phat Odd Stout, Toby's Best English Session Ale and Reformation Red are still in production. Summer releases will include Everything Is Awesome (summer session rye ale), Ignition Double IPA, Island Hop Red and Permission Pale (featuring Mosaic hops). They’ll also bring out Oregon Rebel Stout, their first barrel-aged beer, which comes in at 11% ABV and exhibits “notable bourbon notes” from barrels sourced from Oregon Spirit Distillers in Bend.
Being in a smaller urban area, Singleton and Hruda also realized it would help to have an introductory beer for people branching out from mass-market American lagers. Singleton calls Ignition IPA “unsettlingly drinkable,” and made for people who are new to craft beer.
Hruda manages mechanical operations and equipment build-outs. Singleton focuses on sales and marketing, including social media, graphic design and self-distributed beer deliveries to local accounts. “We shared and continue to share the brewmaster title,” says Singleton. “We all do recipe development and we are the brewers.”
Two-Shy currently uses a 3-barrel fermenter and a 7-barrel fermenter, giving some flexibility for brite tank space and brewing single or double batches. With 200 barrels in 2015 and 300 barrels estimated for 2016, Two-Shy plans to scale up production to 2,400 barrels a year within the next three years.
In addition to two taproom employees, Lyle’s wife Danielle manages the taproom and helps organize private events. Jason Mecham has also come on board as “our production guy, and he has been brewing with and for us for several months,” says Singleton. “He does cellar work, brewing and kegging. He's a great guy with a lot of mechanical and fabrication background, and he's sharp.”
Located a few minutes north of downtown, Two-Shy’s production brewery and tasting room opened a new outdoor area last summer and opened up more indoor seating space after a brewery expansion into the rear section of their building. In lieu of having an in-house kitchen, Two-Shy welcomes local food trucks to the property. The tasting room hosts live music, and Two-Shy supports other local functions and events based in the arts. During Roseburg Beer Week+ in May, Two-Shy unveiled its first pilsner, Ella, which is named for Hruda’s daughter and based on a recipe they enjoyed from their homebrew days.
Currently, Two-Shy focuses on taproom and dock sales, along with limited accounts in the local area. “Our taproom is pretty busy now, so we actually had to scale back distribution because we needed the beer in-house,” says Singleton. “It’s been essential to maintain taproom volume.” Two-Shy beers can also be found in Grants Pass, Bend, Eugene, Salem and Portland.
Through events such as Roseburg Beer Week+, breweries and the public are also doing more to raise the profile of local craft beer. “It’s a close-knit community. Being a timber town, we really hadn’t had anything defining us, in terms of a product or industry, since the timber industry,” explains Singleton. “Wine has helped Roseburg show up pretty well in food and drink culture, but beer is really putting us on the map.”
[a] 1380 NW Park St., Roseburg
[h] Thursdays 5–8 p.m., Fridays 4–8 p.m., Saturdays 2–8 p.m.
OBG Blog Archives
Welcome to our archive pages! Read stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler from June 2012 to January 2018. For newer stories, please visit our new website at: