When Tyler Staples took over the brewing at Uptown Market in June he “skyrocketed our beer production,” said marketing director Liz Soucie. The former McMenamins Highland Pub brewer is seen here pouring beer at the original Southwest Scholls Ferry location. It’s marking its fourth anniversary this month. Photos courtesy of Uptown Market
By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Uptown Market had a very exceptional beginning; in fact, you might call it backwards. Unlike the majority of craft beer establishments that begin with an idea and progress to a place, this one started with an empty space and progressed with an idea.
Uptown Market started out as a real estate opportunity for three guys. They bought an empty convenience store, and then figured out what to put in it.
Brothers AJ and Chris Shepard and their friend Stuart Faris independently came up with the same answer to the question of what to do with their Southwest Scholls Ferry Road location — they all wanted a place where they would hang out and drink beer.
Four years ago this December, the Portland Uptown Market opened as a bottle shop with six taps. Since then, it has expanded. There are now more than 30 different brews on tap, including its own beers, a vast selection of bottled beers and wine as well as homebrew supplies. Almost from the beginning, the casual market developed a loyal following — a dedicated group who wanted to … what else? Hang out and drink beer. With the recent opening this spring of its new location in Lake Oswego, complete with a kitchen and new chef, Uptown Market is branching into brewpub territory.
The business model for the relative newcomer is certainly unique. “Uptown Market is a very expensive hobby that makes them [the owners] money and brings them together. It’s also a showroom for the kind of work they can do,” said Liz Soucie, director of marketing.
AJ and Chris Shepard also own and operate a successful property management company, Uptown Properties. AJ Shepard is a licensed contractor, both commercial and residential, and Chris Shepard is a licensed broker. Faris is the director of marketing for an engineering company. They did much of the design and renovation of the Lake Oswego space themselves, with help from Soucie. In contrast to other startup businesses that often operate on a lean budget, Uptown Market has plenty of capital, said Soucie.
Once the first location was up and going with steady business, the three owners decided to add their own brewery. Actually it was their manager’s idea. Herb Apon, who is now manager for Portland beer hall Loyal Legion, pushed them to brew on-site. “Apon thought it would be a cool idea for Uptown Market to make use of its extra storage space in back and brew its own beer,” said Soucie.
They set up a 7-barrel system purchased from Two Kilts Brewing Co. When empty, the space looked fairly large. But with the brewing equipment installed, the 800-square-foot area filled up quickly.
“The original brewer helped create the brand,” said Soucie. “But Tyler Staples, our new brewer, has really grown the production and reputation of the beer.” Staples came from McMenamins Highland Pub and Brewery in Gresham at the beginning of summer 2015. “He’s skyrocketed our production,” said Soucie.
Staples is focusing on six production beers — from a pale ale developed for Portland Golf Club to a stout, along with seasonals and apple ciders. His two fresh-hop selections were very popular at this fall’s Portland Fresh Hops Fest held at Oaks Park. Soucie said they sell one-third of their fresh-hop kegged beer to other locations, and Staples’ relationship with distributor Willamette Valley Hops is a huge plus when it comes to ensuring seasonal supply.
Both Uptown Market locations feature special events and create a festive atmosphere by having something special “on tap” every weekend. During the summer, the shops often host tastings. “We enjoy bringing in guest brewers. One of their reps comes in. We put up to three or four of their beers on tap. They pour samples for our clientele to promote bottle sales,” said Soucie.
Once the Lake Oswego location opened, the chef started creating food specials to pair with the beer. The menu includes snacks, salads, sandwiches and sausages from Otto’s in Portland, along with burgers and daily specials/happy hour food. The Oktoberfest pork shank was such a hit, it continues be featured on the menu. “We did a special for Baerlic of a pineapple salsa and avocado burger and a beer brat with beer cheese and crispy shallots, using Baerlic beer,” added Soucie. Since the cozy pub is located in the midst of small businesses and professional offices, they also offer catered meals and boxed lunches. The Southwest Scholls Ferry Road location also has a food cart with a similar menu.
Recently, Uptown Market started a mug club for loyal customers. For a $10 monthly fee, members receive in-store discounts on pints, growlers, bottles, food and merchandise. Plus, they have the opportunity to purchase the hand-selected monthly 12-packs of hard-to-find beers and ciders. An optional benefit is your very own personalized mug.
Meanwhile, big plans are in the works for the fourth anniversary celebration of the original Uptown Market on Dec. 12. The fun will come in fours. Four bands, four guest tastings, four food specials, four variations of Uptown’s beer, four firkins and more.
Although the news this summer of a possible partnership with Logsdon Farmhouse Ales appears to be off the table, at least for now, the owners are on the lookout for a large scale production facility, most likely on the east side. As Soucie explained about the Logsdon deal: “The opportunity was brought to the ownership of Uptown Market and at this time it appears there are no plans to move forward with it.” Meanwhile future plans include finding a warehouse facility that’s around 4,000 square feet or so. The space would allow the brewery to can or bottle, build a large-scale pub and store an ample amount of supplies. Additionally, Uptown would like to buy a home and not lease, according to Soucie.
[a] 6620 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Portland
[a] 3970 Mercantile Drive #110, Lake Oswego
By Gail Oberst
It’s no secret that a new brewery is popping up in Oregon every few days. Some of those breweries are expanding from already-established beer-related businesses.
Like their clients, the owners of homebrew stores, bottle shops, and restaurants aim to tap into Oregon’s passion for craft brews by opening brewing operations on site.
Among the first to make the leap from homebrew shop to brewery was Falling Sky, in Eugene. Jason Carriere bought the failing Willamette Street Homebrew Shop in 2002, changing it to Valley Vitner and doubling its size at its new location on 13th Avenue. In 2005, employees Scott Sieber and Mark Zarkesh proposed adding a brewery and pub in the warehouse behind the homebrew shop, and the seed was sown. “I agreed to pitch my lot in with them and help work on the plan,” said Carriere. A few years later, Rob Cohen, a former Ithaca, N.Y., restaurateur joined the business and created, what is now, the Falling Sky brand. The homebrew shop was renamed Falling Sky Fermentation Supply Shop. An additional deli and taphouse opened in last year in the Whiteaker district. The Pour House & Delicatessen is on Blair Street.
Portland U-Brew has been a homebrew shop since 2010 with quality brewing equipment available for use by the brewing public. Owner Jason (Jay) Webb had a 20-year history of brewing in the Northwest, so it was no accident that the homebrew shop had an attached brewery and pub. “From day one we began serving what was brewed here. Our business model always included drinking beer as well as making it and selling supplies for it,” Webb said. Dozens of people each week attend workshops and make their own beer on Portland U-Brew’s equipment. Recently, Portland U-Brew has added a new dimension: contract brewing. The company has added three new 55-gallon fermenters with an aim to brew beer for hotels or restaurants wanting to feature their own label or recipe. When I visited the shop, Jay was working on a special brew that would be served at a Portland wedding, with a recipe developed to the bride and groom’s tastes. To accommodate their growing business, Portland U-Brew improvements have included digitally-monitored electronics that control temperatures, designed by Cliff Webb, Jay’s dad to maintain control of the brews in the special rooms for fermenting lagers or ales.
In Hillsboro, Brew Brothers’ partner Chris Jennings leans on his new bar and talks about his brewery, Three Mugs, attached to the back of the family’s homebrew shop.
“A brewery was always in the master plan,” said Chris. “We started the homebrew shop because we were already buying grain for our own brews.”
The long-time home-brewers father and son Chris and Jay Jennings began selling extra supplies to friends and then in 2010 opened a homebrew shop that was supposed to transition quickly to a brewery and taphouse. But the shop’s business grew and expanded into another building, delaying the brewery. But the wait is over. Today, Three Mugs is on tap in the bar, where guests can get beer from the brewery at six of the 19 taps. The other taps are for guest beers and rotating beers, mostly from the Northwest. The new taproom also has a walk-in cooler, where kegs and corny kegs from Three Mugs and other breweries can be purchased.
As if the current expansion is not enough, Chris said he hopes to expand to a 10-barrel system and add food service within a year. Already, the family is looking for an additional location.
About 9 miles southeast of Brew Brothers on the edge of Beaverton is Uptown Market, in a building that until 2011 had housed a 7-Eleven store. AJ Shepard, his brother Chris, and their partner Stuart Faris upscaled the store to feature a bottle shop and tap house, with homebrew supplies and classes. In November, the store expanded to 18 taps to meet neighborhood demands for craft beer. This year, the company hired brewer Jason Rowley, a young gun with a long homebrew history who had worked for a time with Two Kilts Brewery in Sherwood. Uptown bought a used system and began practicing on it in November last year. They offered first tastes from the 7-barrel system at the Zwicklemania tour in February.
The company had brewed an Irish dry stout, an imperial red ale, an ESB and a U.S. session ale. In the future, Uptown Market Brewery’s partners plan to expand the brewery area to accommodate a larger fermenter and add more Uptown beers to their taps. Most of the beer is designated to be sold on site, either from the taps or by kegs, but who knows what the future holds, AJ Shepard said.
“The market will direct us. I’m just excited to see what happens,” he said.
Across the Cascades to Bend, where new breweries are as thick as rattlesnakes, The Brew Shop in Bend opened in 2011 in a former church on busy Third Street, AKA Highway 97. In addition to homebrew supplies, the shop has an extensive bottle collection, offering more than 600 beers. The downstairs floor of the building features Platypus Pub, a taphouse and a popular restaurant, home of tastings, live music and beer events every week. Recently, the pub began featuring a few of its own beers, brewed offsite. It brewed its first beer in September last year. In February, it released its second beer, the Platypus Pub Flat Tail Pale Ale, available on tap.
In Roseburg, Dogbarrel Homebrew Shop opened in January last year, but its owners immediately began making preparations for a brewery and tasting room, attached to the shop near the busy intersection of Roseburg’s Stephens Street and Garden Valley Boulevard. Thomas Anderson and his brother, Russ, are starting out with a 1.5-barrel pilot system before expanding to a 7.5-barrel system once recipes are perfected. There have been a few delays, but the brothers are intent on opening the brewery later this year.
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