10 Barrel Brewing’s Portland pub is finally ready to open its doors to the public this week. As we’ve written about here a number of times during its long build-out process, 10 Barrel is excited to add a Portland location to its empire,which already includes a production facility in Bend and brewpubs in Bend and Boise. The 10 Barrel crew, including co-founder Jeremy Cox, brewmaster Jimmy Seifrit, and Portland brewer Whitney Burnside, welcomed us to the new space for a media preview of the pub, including food and beer.
It has taken nearly a year for the 10 Barrel team to renovate and build out the old Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers space on NW 14th and Flanders, and the results are stunning. The old tie-dye hippie theme has been jettisoned in favor of a sleek, modern minimalist look akin to that in 10 Barrel’s other pubs. Angles and black and white decor match the 10 Barrel label art theme, and heavy wood block tables and benches provide the seating in the high-ceilinged, airy space. Not much art adorns the walls yet, and it will probably stay that way; instead, the visual focus is on the brewhouse, which is completely out in the open and adjacent to the main seating area. The bar area has a few TVs for showing games and other distractions, but that’s about it inside.
Although not yet built out, the unique draw for 10 Barrel is definitely going to be the large rooftop deck. The crew hopes to get it finished and open for seating by mid-summer, at which time it will definitely become a new Pearl District hot spot. Early renderings depict plenty of seating, an outdoor grill and hop trellises lining the frontage along both 14th and Flanders. The location will offer views of both the West Hills and the eastside towards Mt. Hood, and a good chunk of the downtown skyline. There’s also the potential for epic water balloon fights with folks at the Rogue pub across the street (aerial assaults against nearby Deschutes and Fat Head’s may take a bit more strategy to avoid the buildings in between).
When it comes to beer, 10 Barrel isn’t cutting any corners. New brewer Whitney Burnside brings an impressive pedigree. with a culinary school background and stints brewing at Pelican, Elysian, Upright, and Laurelwood. 10 Barrel Brewmaster Jimmy Seifrit is excited to have her on board and welcomes her creative use of ingredients and innovative recipes. Burnside will have a 20 barrel brewery–fabricated by MCF (aka Metalcraft)–to play on, and has more or less been given carte blanche to brew what she desires. Seifrit says that given hopmaster Shawn Kelso runs the Boise brewpub and Tanya Cornett is somewhat focused on sour beers in Bend, he wanted the Portland brewer to bring a different X-factor, and Burnside’s creativity shone through in the application process, where she came out ahead of several more experienced finalists.
Only one beer from the new brewhouse is available so far–Pearl IPA. It is a full-bodied, juicy IPA brewed with Cascade, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops that can hold its own with some of the heavy hitters in town, a la Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack, Gigantic IPA, and Laurelwood’s Workhorse. Seifrit says that when Burnside shared the recipe with Shawn Kelso, his response was, “Wow, that’s a shitload of hops!” If you’re impressing Shawn Kelso with your hop bill, you must be doing something right.
Once the system is dialed in, 10 Barrel plans to be brewing about 1,800 barrels a year in the Portland pub. Most will be sold in house, with some being sent to the other 10 Barrel locations and to select accounts around Portland. The 10 Barrel team aims to have ten taps at the pub dedicated to house beers, four or five for the mainline production beers, and several for beers from the company’s other brewpubs. The aim is for the Portland brew system to always be experimental; if a recipe really takes off and 10 Barrel wants to sell more of it, production will move to the Bend facility to free up Burnside’s time to keep experimenting.
As for food, the menu is squarely focused on pizzas and pub grub. There’s a fairly broad selection of pizza toppings, and sauce options include traditional tomato sauce, garlic cream, and simple olive oil. We tried a pie with an assortment of vegetables and ricotta cheese and thought it hit the spot. A broad selection of salads will also satisfy veg-heads; the farro and kale salad was nice and toothsome, with a bit of a sweet pop from pomegranate seeds and a savory smoky undertone. There’s a variety of burgers and sandwiches, an excellent plate of fish and chips, and a spicy chipotle mac and cheese. Appetizers include oyster shooters, a hummus plate, and 10 Barrel’s somewhat famous steak and gorgonzola nachos. Nothing is going to break culinary ground, but the kitchen seems to be handling things well just a week in.
In addition to food and beer, Cox and Seifrit spent a bit of our time discussing the business climate, and addressed the “change in ownership,” although–like Lord Sauron or Yahweh–never by name. They lamented a few changes in company culture (new safety and HR regulations, lots more conference calls, etc.), but for the most part are very positive. Dub, the brewery’s amped-up imperial IPA, has been in limited production due to difficulty obtaining enough hops to brew it. Cox says that A-B has been able to secure any ingredients they need and has given almost no pushback, and as a result Dub will be available more often, including an occasional bottling run. Cox is also very excited about opening up in Portland, which he stressed is the most educated and competitive beer market around. He recognizes that 10 Barrel won’t be able to fool anyone with beer or food; quality has to be high and consistent to make it in this market. Granted it’s not even fully open yet, but it looks like the pub is on the right track towards becoming an important part of the Portland scene.
10 Barrel Portland Pub
1411 NW Flanders
Portland, OR 97209