Industry News

First Look at The Labrewatory: Portland Craft Beer Lab and Brewery

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The Labrewatory, a craft beer lab and aspiring brewer’s playground in North Portland, opened its doors under a temporary permit last weekend, another one of the 12 new breweries we reported on that were scheduled to open this year. The much-delayed Labrewatory is a new concept brewery from the folks behind tank and brewery manufacturer Portland Kettle Works.

The idea¬†behind The Labrewatory is a taproom built around a brewer’s small batch playground, a pilot sized 3.5bbl brewery that will welcome guest brewers from all over the world. Though the brewhouse is small, it’s more like a miniaturized, high-tech, tricked out state of the art brewery than a nano setup. After all, it was built by Portland Kettle Works to showcase what the company’s systems can do. In some ways The Labrewatory is both a showcase floor for what Portland Kettle Works can build (even the beautiful buildout of salvaged wood and brushed and polished steel was hand done by them), from the brewhouse to the lighting fixtures. The brewhouse can welcome some Kettleworks’ more than 100 brewery clients to come brew, trying the wares out for themselves while the taproom pours the bounty, minus a few kegs the brewers may want to take back to their home brewery.


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The Labrewatory won’t have its own brewer, but instead will have someone overseeing the guest brewing program. I suspect there may even be room for the occasional homebrewer or business owner who wants to make their own branded brews for their restaurant or bar. Also, you will be able to try your beer out with the crowd that The Labrewatory hopes to cater towards. The location is in a busy day-time industrial district off Interstate Avenue, a few blocks between Widmer Brothers Brewing and Ex Novo Brewing, which is up the street and around the corner. The neighborhood has lots of people working in the day and is a ghost town at night thanks to the lack of housing, though it’s not too far down the hill from the busy Mississippi Avenue area. I imagine The Labrewatory could get a good lunch crowd and definitely a good after work happy hour crowd, and the owners hope it’s another step towards building up the area with new developments.

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This old shop is replete with old lumber that these guys have restored into everything from the wood benches to overhead hangs and tables. It’s a stylish space, with the wood wall arced back behind the open booths, underlit tiles and glass shelves behind the bar, and illuminated photography or beer art depicting beer bubbles, malt, and hops. The crew has used their metalworking skills for laser-cut benches with call-backs to elements of the Labrewatory’s logo, and metal hoop-circled hanging lights are reminiscent of the hoops around a barrel, as well as an atomic particle–especially the huge example hanging in the front window over a salvaged cement block used for a table. There are tons of power outlets under both the outside bar top and open booth seats, encouraging patrons to cozy up with a pint and a laptop. Notable features include the handmade sixteen tap draft tower that is built out of a large polished steel pipe and a centerpiece showcase.

The Labrewatory features

The brewery is visible at the back of the building down a few short steps. The 3.5bbl brewhouse is a nice small piece of equipment, automated and with 7bbl fermenters. The guys at The Labrewatory hope to be able to produce lagers even with the limited production space.

The Labrewatory soft opened last weekend with 16 guest taps and nothing brewed in-house yet. There is also no food available as of yet, but a little birdy tells me that Tamale Boy is likely to open a new brick and mortar location in the same building just outside the door and across the hall from Labrewatory. For now you can bring in your own food, and there is a wonderful guest tap selection.

The Labrewatory
664 N Russell St
Portland, Oregon
(503) 236-4500
http://thelabrewatory.com/

Tap Room Hours
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 12p-9p
Wednesday: 12p-9p
Thursday: 12p-9p
Friday: 12p-11p
Saturday: 12p-11p
Sunday: 12p-8p

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]

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