BTU Brasserie Chinese Food & Brewery Coming to NE Sandy
It’s refreshing to find an interesting new Portland startup brewery like BTU Brasserie, a combination brewery and Chinese restaurant coming to Portland this summer. BTU may be the first Chinese restaurant/brewery combo I have heard of in the U.S. (though Wyoming has the Thai Me Up Brewery). However, BTU does adhere to the longstanding tradition of hyped local Asian restaurants and breweries that are run entirely by white people.
Opening up at 5846 NE Sandy, the BTU Brasserie (which stands for “British Thermal Units,” a nod to brewing and Chinese heritage) and comes from experienced culinary professionals, if not familiar names to the brewing industry. Co-owner and brewer Nate Yovu is known best for his recent stint as the head chef at Burnside Brewing Co., but he also has experience as a brewer, with a degree from The American Brewers Guild and experience at well-respected Captain Lawrence Brewing in New York. Nate’s partners include former Burnside Brewing sous chef Chris Bogart, who comes from a well known culinary family known for its two Chinese restaurants, A Single Pebble, in Burlington, Vermont.
Nate Yovu, along with his homebrewing brother Jay Yovu, will head up brewing on a brand new and just delivered 7bbl brewhouse from Portland Kettleworks. Like any good chef or brewer, the crew will be brewing with food and drinkability in mind and an eye, or a mouthful, I should say, for lighter, more quaffable beers. The flagship is the brewery’s own version of a pre-Prohibition style lager. For those not familiar, this style would often use some corn and would be unfiltered and possibly not fully lagered, or lagered at cold temperatures for a short period. Nate and BTU Brasserie plan to make the style their own by using corn, but also plan to filter the lager for crispness. Future recipes call for more lagers with Asian jasmine or even black rice as ingredients. Nate is partial to dark Asian lagers like Asahi Black. Of course, the brewers know they must come equipped to brew a hoppy beer, and although that recipe is not dialed in, they know they want to concentrate on using hops with a lower Alpha Acid measurement and more flavorful and aroma varieties, unlike what has been popular lately.
BTU takes over the former home of a handful of unsuccessful Asian restaurants in the already Asian-packed upper Sandy neighborhood, which is also home to nearby Laurelwood Brewing. The refurbished building has more space for what’s going on behind-the-scenes than for customers, with a single room for public eating and drinking built around a brand new bar. With a small event room that can also add some spillover space and a few seats outside, BTU can still only seat around 60. BTU hopes to have amazing, upscale Chinese food on display, but with a casual atmosphere and vibe. Cocktails–and, yes, beer cocktails–are also scheduled to be added to the menu.
If all goes according to plan, the 7bbl brewhouse at BTU will be able to supply the restaurant and have a few kegs leftover for local accounts. The modest brewery space has little room for production or distribution at this point, but the brewery does have a cellar to store oak barrels for aging beers. BTU Brasserie hopes to be open in 3-4 weeks before the end of July.