With over 5,300 breweries currently active in the United States (and I seem to recall seeing that number quoted as 5,700 recently), it’s unfortunate but a fact of business that not all of them will be successful. Official word came down this month that two of Oregon’s smaller breweries, Juniper Brewing of Redmond and Plough Monday Organic Brewing of Veneta, are closing.
For Juniper Brewing, in my backyard, this had been looming; they had previously posted on the local homebrew clubs’ Facebook groups pages about the possibility of equipment and ingredients for sale after they brewed their last batch. And then yesterday the local newspaper had an in-depth article about it:
The owners of the small Redmond brewery are disposing of their equipment and selling what beer remains in the taproom.
“When that sells out, we’re done,” co-owner Curtis Endicott said.
He said the demands of full-time jobs did not pair well with running the brewery and taproom, which demanded as many as 60 hours a week during busy times. Endicott works as database maintainer for Jeld-Wen, the window manufacturer in Bend, and Juniper co-founder Scott Lesmeister is a warehouse manager for a plumbing wholesaler, Endicott said.
“There’s not enough time or money,” Endicott said. “We couldn’t quite get free from our day jobs to make this a full-time priority.”
Endicott and Lesmeister were homebrewers when they opened Juniper Brewing on SW 19th Street, adjacent to the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, in March 2014. Juniper’s 2-barrel brewing system turned out 24 different beers over the last three years, Endicott said, but it developed four mainstays: Tap Root Red, Old Roy IPA, Jolly Black and Kesseler Kolsch.
This one is a shame because—besides being local to me—Curtis and Scott are great guys who have worked really hard to make Juniper successful. I enjoyed their beers and always liked visiting their taproom (which was, frankly, rare for us for a number of reasons). I’m glad they were able to open Juniper if even for a short while and hope their equipment gets put to good use.
For Plough Monday, located in Veneta which is west of Eugene on Highway 126, it sounds like they had a rough go of it. Here’s the Facebook post they published on June 6:
With an unbearably heavy heart I am closing the doors and selling equipment. I’d like to thank everyone who bought my beer and put it on their shelves. I feel I did everything with authenticity to my best ability. I left everything on the floor. I still believe in farmer direct and Organic. I regret not being able to open a tasting room and meet some of those who enjoyed my beer. Relationships have died. Hearts have been broken, and unfortunately the worst is likely yet to come. There is a price for doing what one believes, if you don’t have wealth. The world has a cruelty we cover up with marketing, slogans and beliefs that disguise reality. The reality that if you don’t have the money or access you can’t see a doctor, get a tooth pulled, take care of your child or have a home. Meanwhile, the ultra wealthy have more than they can consume, and invest in making the commodities the poor and working class need to live inflated and often unattainable to them. We throw our retirement funds and savings in those investments too. Local economic relationships at least offer somewhat of an answer to that I feel; Investing our dollars in our own community. Its much harder to see your neighbor suffering than a number on a screen. I guess that’s what I wanted to do; take a closed fist swing at the cruelty I see the only way I knew how. Unfortunately, I failed. For that, I apologise. Thank you for letting me try.
Back in 2013, the New School posted a profile of the up-and-coming brewery which is a good read for some additional background.
I’ve only had one beer from Plough Monday (twice, apparently), their Imperial Breakfast Porter, which I thought was average (and certainly didn’t drink like it has nearly 10% alcohol by volume). And unfortunately I rarely saw any of their other beers available, except on occasion at specialty bottle shops. (Belmont Station was one.) And the last mention of them in the OLCC barrelage sales reports are for May 2016.
No mention on whether they will continue to grow organic hops, and if so, if they will be available for sale. In the meantime, if you can find any of their last bottles, grab them up.