By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When Waltz Brewing opened in Forest Grove two years ago, owner Adam Zumwalt envisioned arriving after work at his day job, opening the taproom, casually talking with a few friends, filling growlers and closing early in the evening. The first day went pretty much like he imagined, but 60 people showed up the second day and that casual pace he wanted quickly disappeared.
“We didn’t plan for that kind of success,” said Zumwalt. “We didn’t have enough chairs, tables or even glasses. I immediately called my son Noah and asked him to come help.” Noah has been managing the bar ever since.
It’s a familiar story. Zumwalt and partners Karl Glatz and Michael Duron were serious homebrewers working out of Adam’s garage with a 1-barrel system and 60 or more pony kegs. Family and friends agreed: the beer was good. They decided to turn their passion into a commercial brewery.
“Our community has taken it over,” said Zumwalt. “They love it.”
It’s a popular spot, he said. People have family parties here to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, graduations and retirements. They bring food from home and gather friends. There’s even been a women’s fashion show in the cozy, rustic bar.
“We have had bottle shares here. Halloween is always crazy. Fridays are insane. We have regular groups come in. This is the social circle for the town,” said Zumwalt.
“The success turned out to be more than we ever imagined. My motto now is: Let it Happen,” he said. This laissez-faire attitude has limits. Not allowed — TVs, video poker machines, movie nights and kids.
When the three homebrewers decided to take the leap into starting a licensed business, they couldn’t find the right location. Zumwalt, a longtime resident of Forest Grove who lives in his grandparents’ house, wanted to stick close to town. After a couple false starts, they settled on a location. Deep into negotiations and close to finalizing the four-month deal, the owners suddenly decided to sell the building.
Zumwalt said, “I was done.” They were ready to abandon the dream. The same day he met a friend who owned a warehouse and offered it to them. The location turned out to be perfect, right in the heart of town in the industrial district, one block off the main street and three blocks from Pacific University. The building had been used for industrial supply storage and required a near total renovation. It took them two months to empty the building before they could discover what work needed to be done.
“We did all the build-out ourselves. We reclaimed materials that were here, reusing anything we could. We took a bold warehouse and made it into a pub,” he said.
The finished space is definitely informal and comfortable. From the outside, it looks like an old warehouse building, but half of the front wall is an expansive “garage door” that opens, extending the space outside. The 3-barrel brewhouse is set up in an area off to one side, yet it’s still visible to customers.
The mash tun they found at an old dairy and had to help tear down a barn to get it. They are in the process of building a bigger 10-barrel system and rearranging so they can put all the grain and kegs in the storage area to free up interior space. The capacity inside is 49; with the outside seating it’s 91.
Glatz, the head brewer, basically brews when they’re not open on Sunday and Monday. Duron is currently brewing at Vertigo Brewing in Hillsboro.
“Our beer just keeps getting better and better,” said Zumwalt. “I’m proud of everything we serve.” They make beers that customers request. Their current tap list includes several IPAs, a dark rye saison, oatmeal stout, an amber, a kolsch, a porter and a pale ale. They now have 21 taps and seven or eight are theirs. That’s steady growth for a business that opened with five taps, none of which poured their beer.
From the beginning, live music has been a regular part of the Waltz Brewing experience. Acts play 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays, and July is Blues Month. Other genres can be heard different nights of the week, including the occasional bluegrass jam on Wednesdays. Outside of Oregon, musicians have traveled to Waltz from Alaska, Tennessee and New Jersey.
“People want to play here because it’s so intimate,” said Zumwalt. “Right now we have a Facebook campaign going to get Willie Nelson here.”
(a) 1900 A St., Forest Grove
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Love 'em or hate 'em, pumpkin beers are a fall staple that vary widely from pale, sessionable offerings to heavy, hearty brews. One of the best in Oregon falls in the latter camp and comes from 9-year-old Oakshire Brewing in Eugene. Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter gets a rating of 94 out of 100 on RateBeer, so while it might not be everyone's cup of tea there are plenty of people that enjoy the boldly flavored beer.
Oakshire's head brewer, Matt Van Wyk, brought the recipe for Big Black Jack with him when he started there six years ago. The first small batch was brewed the following year and started out as many specialty beers do — being a keg-only offering. Beer drinkers took to it quickly, however, and within a couple of years Oakshire began selling it in 22-ounce bottles as well.
The recipe has basically remained the same since Matt started making it, with only minor malt changes based on availability. He describes it as a hands-on beer due to the spices — nutmeg, dried ginger, whole cloves and cinnamon chips — that go into every batch. Similar in variety and amount to a premixed pumpkin pie spice blend, Matt's hand weighing ensures the beer comes out just the way he intended. After weighing, the spices are put into mesh bags, the equivalent of gigantic tea bags, which are then placed into buckets marked with the time each will be added to the boil. Just as "mise en place" allows a chef's process to flow smoothly, having the "tea bags" ready allows the Oakshire brewers a smoother brew day. Most brew days, the team is juggling three batches, transferring them from tank to tank, one after another. A delay with one batch could throw off the entire brew day. And even when Matt isn't leading the brewing, his process helps grease the wheels for the making of Big Black Jack.
In addition to the spices, each batch of beer gets solid dose of 70 percent dark chocolate and cacao nibs — 10 pounds of each. Unlike spices that might float to the top, these ingredients risk falling to the bottom and scorching the brew kettle. To avoid that problem, hot wort is poured over the chocolate and nibs in a separate bucket to create a sauce of sorts that’s then added to the boil. Lucky for the brewing staff, there’s always plenty of wort-chocolate to spare and Matt traditionally treats everyone to sundaes by bringing in ice cream the days the beer is brewed.
Pumpkin brews are often a point of contention for beer lovers because they tend to hit the shelves and taps before the pumpkins could realistically be harvested most years. But Oakshire plans ahead while using pumpkins from Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis. The team roasts, purees and freezes pumpkin every year, so the puree used in this year's batch of Big Black Jack actually came from last year's pumpkins. It's a method that eliminates the unpredictability of the growing season and allows the beer to be brewed in August, well before any local pumpkins could be harvested and processed, with the finished product reaching craft beer drinkers' lips in early September.
Being a spiced beer, Big Black Jack is one that is best when it’s fresh in order to experience the full spice profile. But the fact that it's also an imperial porter, coming in at 7.5 percent ABV, the beer can hold up to a bit of aging. Its flavor will change after a couple months, with the spice notes retreating, allowing the chocolate and roasty characteristics to become more assertive.
Knowing his beer was suitable for aging, Matt went one step further last year and aged part of the supply in two Heaven Hill bourbon whiskey barrels. A recent sampling confirmed that as it has aged, the spice notes have mellowed out — almost to the point of being absent. In their place is a rich, wood flavor from the barrels that complements the imperial porter. Fans of barrel-aged beers will likely have to visit Oakshire's Public House in Eugene for a sample, although it's possible that a keg or two may escape and surface at a special event in the Portland area.
Big Black Jack joins a host of other pumpkin beers from Oregon breweries with fall availability.
Oakshire’s Big Black Jack Imperial Pumpkin Porter is made using pumpkins from Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis. The squashes are actually roasted, pureed and then frozen the year before in order to eliminate the unpredictability of the growing season. The method also allows the beer to be brewed in August.
Oregon-Brewed Pumpkin Beers
7 Devils Brewing Co. | Winter is Coming Pumpkin Porter | 5.4% ABV | IBUs N/A
Agrarian Ales Brewing Company | Cucurbita | 4.5% ABV | 10 IBUs
Agrarian Ales Brewing Company | Von Tassel | 6% ABV | 15 IBUs
Breakside Brewery | Sweet Potato Mole Mild | 4.2% ABV | 10 IBUs
Burnside Brewing | The Dapper Skeleton | 5.9% ABV | 11 IBUs
Cascade Brewing | Pumpkin Smash Sour Ale | 11.9% ABV | <10 IBUs
Climate City Brewing | Galloping Hessian Pumpkin Ale | 4.5% ABV | 35 IBUs
Ex Novo Brewing Company | Pumpkin Biere de Garde | 8% ABV | 20 IBUs
Fearless Brewing | Smoked Pumpkin Ale | 8.35% ABV | 28 IBUs
Fort George Brewery | Squash Buckler | 6.5% ABV | IBUs N/A
Great Notion Brewing | The Great Blumpkin Ale | ABV/IBUs N/A
Green Dragon Brew Crew | Bring Me Pie | 7% ABV | 25 IBUs
Griess Family Brews | PJ's Pumpkin Pie | 5.4% ABV | 13 IBUs
Ground Breaker Brewing | Squash Ale | 5.7% ABV | 30 IBUs
Hair of the Dog | Greg | 5.5% ABV | IBUs N/A
Laurelwood Public House and Brewery | Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale | 7.5% ABV | 25 IBUs
Lompoc Brewing | Bibbidi Bobbidi Brew | 5% ABV | IBUs N/A
McMenamins Edgefield Brewery | Duskbringer | 6.06% ABV | 14 IBUs
McMenamins Kennedy School | Pumpkin Porter | 6.19% ABV | 12 IBUs
Misty Mountain Brewing | King Under the Pumpkin Russian Imperial Stout | 8.7% ABV | 40 IBUs
Oakshire Brewing | Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter | 7.5% ABV | IBUs N/A
Opposition Brewing Company | Nickabod Cranium | 6.4% ABV | 37.9 IBUs
pFriem Family Brewers | Pumpkin Bier | 6.9% ABV | 15 IBUs
Portland Brewing | Rico Sauvie Pumpkin Ale with Spices | 6.5% ABV | 30 IBUs
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery | Name TBD | 5.5% ABV | 25 IBUs
Rogue Ales | Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale | 6.1% ABV | 25 IBUs
Seven Brides Brewing | Heiser's Pumpkin Ale | 6.7% ABV | 15 IBUs
Silver Moon Brewing | Twisted Gourd | 6.8% ABV | 25 IBUs
Stickmen Brewing Company | Imperial Sour Pumpkin Lager | 9.8% ABV | 11 IBUs
StormBreaker Brewing | Pumpkin Peddler | 7.3% ABV | 13 IBUs
Three Mugs Brewing Company | "A Clever Pumpkin Name" Ale | 7.5% ABV | 35 IBUs
Vagabond Brewing | In Gourd We Trust | 5.1% ABV | 25 IBUs
Vertigo Brewing | We Don't Know Jack III | 6.3% ABV | IBUs N/A
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When 16 Tons Taphouse and Bottle Shop made its first sale on April 22, 2010, the Eugene craft beer scene was quite different from what it would be five years later. Home to only a handful of breweries and brewpubs, most of the area’s craft beer was coming from Portland, Bend or farther afield.
How things have changed.
“We definitely started our business at a good time,” says founder and owner Mike Coplin, “and have been very fortunate to be a hub for the growth of the beer industry in Eugene.”
Coplin recognized that craft beer would only grow. Eugene/Springfield area breweries such as Ninkasi, Oakshire and Hop Valley were making leaps in distribution and offerings, and momentum was gaining locally for more breweries to fire up the brew pot. But what Eugene needed was a neighborhood hub where people could experience the best that craft beer had to offer, whether from a brewery across town or around the world.
When 16 Tons first opened its taphouse doors at East 13th Avenue and High Street in downtown Eugene, its 900-square-foot space was packed with beer, wine, sake and more. Beers from Oregon, California, New England, Germany, Belgium and beyond gleamed on shelves or waited in stacked cases on the floor.
By October the taphouse was selling draft beer, but Coplin knew more was needed. “Customers had told us that additional food options and outdoor seating were high priorities.”
In July 2011, Coplin added a second location, rebranding the former Supreme Bean Coffee Company in south Eugene’s Woodfield Station shopping area as 16 Tons Cafe. That move allowed Coplin to provide extensive outdoor seasonal seating plus a coffee and food menu. Today 16 Tons offers 31 rotating taps and approximately 700 bottles of beer, wine and cider. Each year both locations tap more than 500 different beers and stock 1,500 bottles, with a special focus on limited and seasonal releases.
“We frequently stock beers, ciders and wines that are scarcely available anywhere else,” says Coplin. “We always have barrel-aged sour ales and stouts on tap. Our cider selection is one of the largest in Oregon. We've been very fortunate over the last five years to be embraced by Eugene's beer community, and that has allowed us to build great relationships.”
Coplin also focused on the serving experience. “As far as I know, we were the first non-brewery in Eugene to make growlers popular,” Coplin says. 16 Tons also began serving all its drinks in measured glassware, “ensuring a proper pour.”
Additionally, 16 Tons has been strongly involved in the greater community. In-store events such as Cheese Wars (a beer/wine pair-off), the annual Week of Wild, and the Eugene Winter & Strong Ale Fest help the public approach esoteric beers and discover new ways to appreciate beer. Coplin also established Eugene Beer Week, a now annual celebration that brings together pubs, breweries and other craft beer destinations throughout the local area.
16 Tons continues to be involved in Eugene Beer Week, 2nd Saturday South Willamette Art Walk and other community fundraisers and events. In 2014, 16 Tons also expanded its brewery collaborations. “Each year we make a wild ale for our anniversary,” Coplin says. “In 2014, we also produced two versions of 16 Tons IPA with Vertigo Brewing and Upright Brewing.” Logsdon Farmhouse Ales is brewing this year’s anniversary beer, Sech 'n Brett, a saison fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and lightly infused with peppercorns.
The overall craft beer scene has changed too and 16 Tons is evolving with it, curating its selection as new breweries and beers become available. “We frequently buy beer, wine and cider from very small producers who do not have a distributor,” he explains. “Several new distributors in Oregon — including Bigfoot Beverage, Running Man and Alebriated — have increased the beers available. Many beers that we work hard to stock are extremely limited, so we are only able to source a few cases each year.”
As 16 Tons enters its next five years, Coplin expects craft beer to continue growing and gaining market share and for the Eugene/Springfield area to potentially double its number of breweries. But he will keep focused on what’s guided 16 Tons so far. “We love our customers and try our best to deliver what they want,” says Coplin. “We’ll continue to work toward having the most intriguing selection of beer anywhere.”
Taphouse & Bottle Shop
[a] 265 E. 13th Ave., Eugene
[a] 2864 Willamette St. #500 (in Woodfield Station), Eugene
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