Oregon’s cornucopia of new breweries

Beer cornucopiaWhen it comes to “Oregon beer” the areas that tend to get the most attention are, understandably, Portland (for obvious reasons), Bend (the new hotspot), and Eugene (fueled by the likes of Ninkasi and Oakshire). It’s easy to overlook much of the rest of the state, and particularly when a new, smaller brewing operation opens with little fanfare, easy to miss such openings entirely—you blink and three more breweries have sprouted up! I’ve been observing that happening in Oregon lately, a number of new breweries in the outlier areas of Oregon’s brewing scene that have gone largely unnoticed.

I’m as guilty as the rest of overlooking many of these new breweries, and there seem to be quite a few that I’ve missed—plus, many are so new that they just haven’t shown up on anyone’s radar yet. Let’s take a look.

Here’s a list of new breweries by city, and then a slightly more detailed look at each below.

  • Applegate: Conner Fields Brewing
  • Ashland: Swing Tree Brewing
  • Corvallis: Mazama Brewing, Sky High Brewing
  • Lake Oswego: Stickmen Brewery & Skewery
  • Medford: Apocalypse Brewing, BricktownE Brewing
  • Milton-Freewater: Dragon’s Gate Brewery
  • Newberg: Chehalem Valley Brewing
  • Redmond: Smith Rock Brewing
  • Roseburg: Old 99 Brewing, Two Shy Brewing
  • Salem: Santiam Brewing
  • Seaside: Seaside Brewing
  • Springfield: Plank Town Brewing
  • Toledo: Twisted Snout Brewery

That’s a lot of breweries! I’m tackling them in alphabetical order below:

Apocalypse Brewing, Medford (Facebook)

Apocalypse BrewingEstablished in 2011 by Nick and Erin Ellis, and joined by Dennis Poncia, the brewery and taproom (no restaurant or food other than what is on-hand via food truck) is located at 545 Rossanley Drive, Suite 106 in Medford. Apocalypse “operates on a half-barrel system and is targeting a production level of 6 barrels a month”—basically a 15-gallon nano system. They offer five regular beers and a rotating seasonal: The Tunguska Event (cream ale, 5.5%), Fallow Fields (brown ale, 5.5%), Devastated Sky (stout, 6.1%), The Sixth Seal (IPA, 6.3%), Blast Radius, and Purgatory Pomegranate (Berliner Weisse, 5.5%).

BricktownE Brewing, Medford (Facebook)

BricktownE BrewingOpened in 2011, BricktownE is located at 44 S. Central (or 111 E. 8th as listed on Facebook, which looks the same, just “around the corner”); the brewery is currently closed while undergoing expansion—though they are still filling growlers. They are expanding from a 1-barrel pilot system to a 7-barrel system and plan their grand re-opening on November 23rd (Thanksgiving weekend). BricktownE is owned by father-and-son team Dennis and Craig McPheeters, with Craig being the head brewer and assisted by Chris Pearson. Their current listed line-up of beers is Blue Collar Cream Ale, Siskiyou Pass English Pale Ale (ESB), Applegate Pale Ale, Rogue Trail IPA, Workin’ Gal BrownE, Table Rock Red Ale, Gunslinger Double IPA, and Barrique Black Ale (a porter).

Chehalem Valley Brewing, Newberg (Facebook)

Chehalem Valley BrewingAnother 2011 alum, this is Newberg’s second brewery (after Long Brewing, which opened three years ago)—fun fact, did you know Newberg was a dry town until 2003? The brewery and taproom is located at 2515-B Portland Road, though they don’t have food available (you can order in pizza). Brewers Paul Looney and John Price are turning out a good-sized portfolio of beers for their taproom, including a new gluten free beer, Wheat Free! Other beers include Citra Blonde (4%), Cascade Pale Ale (5.1%), Summit Amber (5%), Hop on Pop Double IPA (6.4%), Broken Bottle IPA (5.3%), Pacifica IPA (5%), Blackridge Stout (5.2%), and Northern Porter (4.3%). (A Chocolate Cream Stout and Hard Apple Cider should be available by mid-December).

Conner Fields Brewing, Applegate

Conner Fields BrewingLocated west of Medford in the Applegate Valley region of southwestern Oregon, Conner Fields Brewing is a small production-style brewery (currently at about 1-barrel capacity, though they are in the process of expanding to 7-8 bbl capacity) that focuses on serving their beers at festivals, fairs and farmers markets around Southern Oregon. The description on their Facebook page is succinct: “Jon Conner and Joshua Fields began homebrewing as a team in 2002. In August of 2011, they packed up their equipment and trekked 3000 miles from their long-time home of Brooklyn, New York, to southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. One step at a time, they’re realizing a small brewery focused on handcrafted, complex, drinkable beers.” They became an official brewery this past spring, and brew a rotating selection of beers anchored by Frank Lloyd Rye, a 6% rye-infused IPA; others include the fancifully-named Cream Master, Bankrupt State, Shark Attack!, Robot Small, and Afterglow.

Dragon’s Gate Brewery, Milton-Freewater (Facebook)

Dragon's Gate BreweryBased in Milton-Freewater and serving the larger Walla Walla Valley (MF is a stone’s throw away from the Oregon-Washington border), Dragon’s Gate was established in 2011 but became a legally-operating brewery this year. Brewer/owner Adam Gregory is brewing Belgian-inspired beers in true nanobrewery style—in 20-gallon batches that are bottle-conditioned which you can find in around the wine shops of Walla Walla (and pouring at festivals). Current beer line-up includes Belgian IPA, Wit, Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Porter, and Le Peitit Dragon Saison. They are located at 52288 Sunquist Road in Milton-Freewater though aren’t open to the public yet (so look for them around the Walla Walla Valley area). And for a little more info on Gregory and the name of the brewery, Brewpublic has an interview from back in May 2011.

Mazama Brewing, Corvallis (Facebook)

Corvallis’ newest brewery isn’t open yet, but is under construction and is planned to open in early 2013. They will be located at 33930A Eastgate Circle, about two miles east of Corvallis in the Eastgate Business Center, and you can watch the progress of the buildout over on their blog. Brewer/c0-owner Jeff Tobin will be crafting beers on a JV Northwest 20-barrel system and “plan to offer a variety of Northwest style ales as well as some of our favorite styles from Belgium, Germany and England.”

Old 99 Brewing, Roseburg (Facebook)

Old 99 BrewingRoseburg seems to be a strong up-and-coming brewing scene: this year’s Umpqua Brewfest included three Roseburg-based participants that were new to me: D’Sabled Brewcrafters (a homebrewer heading up the Umpqua Valley Brewers Guild homebrewing organization), Two Shy Brewing (see below), and Old 99. A partnership between friends and homebrewers AJ Tuter, Matt Hill, and Bryan Ireland, they have decided to go pro and recently purchased a one-barrel system with fermenters, and are starting small and out-of-pocket. The attention they’re bringing to recipe development (beers listed on their website are Billy Bad Add, Night Vision, and Fogline, an espresso stout) speak to their passion and I think they will come out of the gate strong.

Plank Town Brewing, Springfield (Facebook)

Plank Town BrewingThe second brewery for Springfield is set to open this fall, and was pouring beer at the McKenzie Cider and Craft Beer Fest last weekend. Owner Bart Caridio converted the historic Oddfellows building in downtown Springfield—at 346 Main Street—into the new brewery and pub. Plank Town debuted with Little Red Ryder at the McKenzie beerfest (a “Northwest Amber”), and brewmaster Steve Van Rossem (formerly of Block 15 in Corvallis) will have some 12 different beers on tap spanning a variety of styles.

Santiam Brewing, Salem (Facebook)

Santiam BrewingSantiam opened up their nanobrewery and tasting room this summer at 2544 19th Street in Salem, and they’re brewing up a variety of styles—current tap list includes Sgt. Cutter’s English IPA (7.9%), Spitfire ESB (6%), Pirate Stout (rum-barrel aged “Coconut Tropical Stout” 7.9%), Bramble On (Raspberry Honey Wheat, 5.2%), and Edel-Weissbier (Bavarian Wheat, 5.2%)—as well as focusing on some cask-conditioned beers (with a dedicated cask handle). As a production brewery located in an industrial unit they’re tasting room is beer-only, so plan on your own food if you visit.

Seaside Brewing, Seaside (Facebook)

Seaside BrewingI’ve written a bit about Seaside Brewing before; located at 851 Broadway, they opened in June and debuted in the spring at the Pouring at the Coast beer festival, brewed over the summer on a nano/homebrewing-type setup and have currently expanded into a 1-barrel brewing system (and are waiting on a 15-bbl system as well). Their beers include Barrel One (American Strong Ale) and an IPA (going on draft soon). Future beer plans include “a vanilla bean stout, a habanero pale, just some different fun stuff” (from this article).

Sky High Brewing, Corvallis

Sky High BrewingCorvallis’ newest brewery (at least until Mazama opens!) opened up just a couple of months ago at 160 NW Jackson Avenue (within the downtown Corvallis “beer district”—just a few blocks away from Flat Tail Brewing, Block 15, and Oregon Trail Brewery). The location houses a 10-bbl production brewhouse with a small tasting room, and they plan to further expand into the existing building space incrementally. They currently have some 10 beers on tap at the tasting room (crafted by brewmaster Laurence Livingston), and their beers can also be found at each of American Dream Pizza, Crow Bar, and Crow’s Nest in Corvallis.

Smith Rock Brewing, Redmond (Facebook)

Smith Rock BrewingI wrote a bit about Smith Rock Brewing here; this just-opened brewpub in Redmond will be initially brewing their beers in-house on a small (25 gallon) setup before upgrading to a larger off-site system (though I believe they don’t have their own beers on tap yet). Located at 546 NW 7th Street, they are the fourth brewing operation for Redmond (after Cascade Lakes, Phat Matt’s, and Shade Tree Oregon), and brewer Natalie Patterson is looking forward to experimenting with hops and playing with new hop varieties—so I’d expect to see a lot of hop-forward beers in their future.

Stickmen Brewery & Skewery, Lake Oswego (Facebook)

Stickmen BreweryThis new brewpub and eatery is still getting their brewing legs beneath them but have equipment in place and are starting to brew beer—and a weekend tap list update on Facebook showed a Stickmen Berliner Weisse available so the beer is starting to flow (if slowly). The restaurant part of Stickmen is “Japanese inspired skewery” but there looks to be plenty of regular brewpub fare as well. They’re located at 40 North State Street, adjacent to the lake, and expect to see more of their beers on tap in the coming months.

Swing Tree Brewing, Ashland (Facebook)

Swing Tree BrewingAshland seems like a great town to open a brewery in, and I’ve wondered why there aren’t more there (besides the excellent Caldera Brewing and Standing Stone Brewery)—and husband and wife team Brandon and Tonya Overstreet must have thought the same thing and as a result, Swing Tree Brewing will be opening up in Spring of 2013. With a goal of being a “hometown brewery” rather than a large-scale production brewery, the plan is for several anchor beers (Porch Swing Pale Ale™, Two Shilling Ale™, Lonely Trike Red Ale™ and Obligatory IPA™) as well some experimental series including open, spontaneous fermentation. They’ll be located at 300 Hersey Street #7 where they are building out the brewery and tap house; look for interesting things to come from them.

Twisted Snout Brewery, Toledo (Facebook)

Twisted Snout BrewingUntil October of last year, Toledo, a few miles inland of Newport over on the coast, hadn’t had a brewery since Calapooia bought and moved Siletz back in 2008. Doug and Dayle Rider and Stu and Becky Miller opened Twisted Snout at 318 S. Main Street and offer up a line-up of six year-round beers and a good number of seasonals. The standard beers are: Gateway Golden Ale (4.8%), Oops! (4.8%), Wilbur’s White Wheat (5.2%), Twisted Snout IPA (6%), Red Headed Step Hog (5.8%), and Honey Oatmeal Porker (6.9%). Pretty impressive considering they are brewing on (I think) a 25-gallon system.

Two Shy Brewing, Roseburg (Facebook)

Two Shy BrewingWith Roseburg’s brewing scene on the rise, it’s interesting to note that while Two Shy Brewing has brewing space, growlers, and bottles (or at least labels)—all the hallmarks of a commercial production brewery—they aren’t technically licensed to sell their beer yet (or at least as of mid-October)! But they were pouring their beer at the  Umpqua Brewfest and nine beers listed for a lineup (at least four being bottled based on their Facebook photos): Influence American Pale Ale (6.8%), Phat Odd Stout (6.8%), Dead-On Amber (5.5%), Reformation Red (6.6%), Ignition IPA (7.5%), Everlasting ESB (5.8%), TSB Session Ale (4.6%), Picnic Pale (4.5%), and Uberdunkelweizen (6.5%). They can be found at 1308 NW Park Street in Roseburg.

6 Responses to Oregon’s cornucopia of new breweries

  1. Chad says:

    There’s also Solstice Brewing Company in Prineville.

  2. Jon says:

    That’s true, and Bull Ridge Brewpub in Baker City, both deserved a mention on this post, and there are probably others I missed as well—off the top of my head for new breweries I can also think of Solera (Parkdale), PFriem (Hood River), and the possible Elkton brewery (which I haven’t checked into lately).

    Solstice is close to having their brewhouse installed and brewing beer but I don’t know what their timeframe is.

  3. Thanks for the mention, we are so excited to share our passion with Southern Oregon and to join all the other amazing breweries in the area. Cheers from the Swing Tree Team!

  4. Pingback: We Can See the Light! | Swing Tree Brewing Company™

  5. byaeger says:

    I’ll fight the desire to say it’s too many. But it’s too many to keep track of. Then again, Jon, you seem as if you have draft lines directly from every single brewery’s brite tanks into one amazing kegerator/blogerator.

  6. Steve says:

    Also Portal Brewing in Medford Or,