Holy hell 2015 has just begun but is already looking mind-numbingly crazy, I can scarcely wrap my head around the shear volume of huge and interesting new craft beer projects slated for this year. Our Portland centric Top 10 Most Anticipated Openings of 2015 features everything from new breweries: Culmination, Montavilla Brew Works, Wolves & People and 10 Barrel Brewing PDX. To two new cider tap rooms opening across town. To new beer halls and restaurants: The Legacy Legion beer hall and Paul Kasten’s (of Wildwood fame) unnamed new beer pairing and cooking focused restaurant and Steve Jones new Cheese Annex. That’s just the tip of the iceberg and though you may have heard about some of these we have new info about nearly all of them.
Cheese Annex and Chizu
Steve Jones, cheesemonger extroardinaire has been the go-to guy for cheese pairings wether it be for restaurant menus or with wine, chocolate, cider or his favorite – beer. Steve owns the popular Cheese Bar of SE Belmont which offers a nice selection of bottles and tap beer already. Steve also is a co-founder of the Portland Beer and Cheese Fest. A couple weeks ago news of Steve’s new venture “Chizu” opening downtown that combines a cheese bar concept with sushi style serving and ordering and while that new spot is certainly one to look forward to it will not be a beer destination with just 10 bottles and no drafts.
HOWEVER, The New School has recently learned that Steve will also be opening the Cheese Annex inside the relocated The Commons Brewery on SE 7th and Belmont. The Cheese Annex will be operated through a window in The Commons tasting room and naturally be focused on pairing cheeses with Commons beers offering a special pairing board plate of cheeses. “We will have a small kitchen serving a beer friendly, cheese centric menu similar to Cheese Bars ie cheese boards, meat boards, fondue, simple grilled sandwiches” said Steve Jones. Could there be a more ideal option from a brewery tasting room?
The Commons Brewery Relocation
It’s not often you hear about a brewery relocating, especially not for a second time but that’s exactly what Portland’s The Commons Brewery is doing as they move from 10th and SE Stephens to 7th and SE Belmont. It’s not just the move that’s important but their new vastly expanded warehouse space with a brand new 15bbl 3 vessel JVNW brewhouse that wont replace their current 7bbl brewery but will be in addition to it. That makes the 7bbl “effectivley becomes a pilot/play system (we are excited about that)” says owner Mike Wright.Even with the new space The Commons still needs more off site space to grow their barrel program.
The new Commons tasting room will have 12 taps and will have small bites from Steve Jones of Cheese Bar fame. However the tasting room will continue to be intimate and right between brewing operations, similar to the setup they have now. The Commons Brewery will be opened by the time of the Craft Brewers Conference in April if not by March of 2015.
The Legacy Legion
The recently announced Legacy Legion beer hall by noted restauranteur and head of the Chef Stable Group – Kurt Huffman will take over the former Portland Police Athletic Association building at 618 SE Alder Street across the street from the Melody Ballroom. More than just another beer bar The Legacy Legion will offer 99 taps of only Oregon beer and sausages and meats from Olympic Provisions. Kurt Huffman is known for backing such popular food destinations as Gruner, Oven and Shaker and Lardo and recently took on the wine version of a beer hall with Coopers Wine Hall that is located just a few blocks away from Legacy Legion. Huffman, got his start in beer before making his fortune so this is a bit of a return to form for him. Will The Legacy Legion be a destination for beer geeks or just another Henry’s Tavern with a lot of taps but with little interesting and a lot of stale beers? Time will tell but regardless this may be the most ambitious new project of the year.
10 Barrel Brewing – PDX
Despite all the anger, and despite the larger implications regarding 10 Barrel selling out to Anheuser-Busch, I am still excited about the 10 Barrel Brewing PDX location. Say what you will about ownership and boycotts but I know my friend Whitney Burnside will be creating great beers at the upcoming Pearl District location and I cannot wait to see her cut loose on her own. The 10 Barrel PDX brewery will differentiate itself from the rest of the 10 Barrel line with a lot of Belgian inspired beers including a new Belgian Imperial IPA that I tried an early homebrewed version of just last night. The new brewpub at 1411 NW Flanders has finally received their 20bbl brewhouse and tanks from Metalcraft Fabrication and Whitney is anxious to begin brewing soon but the restaurant portion is a little behind. A March of 2015 opening is still possible.
New Beer centric Wood Fired Restaurant from Chef Paul Kasten & Founders of Breakside & Commons
Paul Kasten has steadily built a reputation as one of the premiere “beer chef’s” (if that’s a thing) in the country with his carefully crafted and sometimes mind blowing brewers dinners at the recently dearly departed Wildwood Restaurant in NW Portland. Along with cooking at the Great American Beer Festival’s Farm to Table Pavilion he is also known in the community as the consummate beer geek and bottle collector.
This summer Paul along with new business partners Scott Lawrence owner of Breakside Brewery, Mike Wright the owner of The Commons and Brian Carrick will open a not yet named new restaurant and taphouse next door to the newly relocated Commons Brewery. The new restaurant immediately jumps to the top of the list of premiere food and beer destinations in the Northwest if not the country and will showcase a farm-to-table menu utilizing a wood-fired oven and beer in the cooking process as well as pairing. The TBA titled restaurant will have around 30 draft beers as well as offering Paul Kasten’s extensive bottle cellar of untold riches. Higgins Restaurant just got put on notice.
Bushwhacker Cider – Woodlawn
Portland’s first cidery and perhaps the nation’s first cider taphouse – Bushwhacker Cider will open a 2nd tasting room location in the Woodlawn neighborhood of northeast Portland, right across the street from Breakside Brewing. Jeff and Erin Smith opened Bushwhacker in 2010 and have basically been maxed out ever since by limitations of a small space. Bushwhacker – Woodlawn as the new location will be called is a LEED platinum certified building and is twice as large at 2200 Sq. Ft.. The new pub will feature an expanded food menu, lots of pub games like darts and shuffleboard as well as an outdoor beer cider garden with living walls to give it an outside neighborhood patio feel. Owner Jeff Smith tells us they plan for 15 taps, 12 ciders, one beer, one Mead that will almost always be a fizzy wine or mead from their neighbors at Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead. They also are planning to make their own house made mineral water and soda. Keep an eye on 901 NE Oneonta St. for Bushwhacker – Woodlawn’s opening in February, 2015.
2015 looks to be packed full of new brewery openings as per usual but Culmination Brewing is one of our most anticipated. Perhaps it’s because we were expecting Culmination Brewing all the way back in 2013 but after some tragic run-ins with building inspectors and investors their previous location in Southwest Portland did not pan out. It’s all good though because they found a prime space in the new Bindery Annex building at 2117 NE Oregon St. right off os Sandy blvd. What makes Culmination unique is their 5bbl Five Vessel gravity fed brewhouse that is practically unheard of around here, it’s also a fully automated system allowing for almost round the clock brewing and unique experiments. Another unique aspect of Culmination is that they will also be doing Sake brewing. Brewery Consultant/owner/brewer Tomas Sluiter has a unique vision for the brewery and 50-seat tasting room that is set to open any day now.
Montavilla Brew Works
Meanwhile in my neck of the woods, award-winning homebrewer Michael Kora is getting close to opening Montavilla Brew Works at 78th and SE Stark near the Academy Theater and Roscoe’s with a 10bbl brewery and tasting room. Though Montavilla Brew Works was supposed to open by last summer they have finally received their building permits, accepted delivery of the brewhouse and are currently building out the bar, walk-in cooler and brand new windows and doors. Early pilot batches from MBW have been promising and I cant wait to have a brewery walking distance from my house.
Portland Cider House
Meanwhile across town on SE Hawthorne Blvd. the Portland Cider Co. aims to open another cider destination in the Portland Cider House that will feature 24 taps of the best ciders in the region. Portland Cider Co. started a few years ago in Oregon City and has been stretching to meet demand like most cideries in this booming market that’s growing even faster than the craft beer industry. The Portland Cider House won’t be all about their own ciders with just one-third of the 24 taps devoted to their own ciders and experiments while the majority of taps rotate through guest offerings. Full story on the upcoming Portland Cider House here.
Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery
Already named by us the “most anticipated new brewery opening of 2015″ and fresh off a successful Crowd Brewed campaign and Founders Club membership drive the sour and barrel-age focused brewery Wolves & People is hoping to be open mid year. Founded by beer journalist Christian de Benedetti with an assist from Head Brewer Jordan Keeper formerly of the well loved Jester King Brewing, Wolves & People will focus on brewing saisons and wild ales using a yeast cultivated from a historic plum tree on the brewery grounds. A true farmhouse brewery in that it’s located on a historic farm in Newberg, Oregon the pristine location with it’s own pond, barn, hops and fruit rife for utilizing in their extensive barrel-fermented beer program. Look for Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery beers by mid 2015 and bottles available through Shelton Brothers importers.