Second Profession Brewing plans to open in the former BTU Brasserie brewery space on NE Sandy Boulevard in Portland late this summer. BTU was the 2+ year old brewpub known for its acclaimed Chinese food; it quietly closed its doors for spring cleaning earlier this year and never reopened. The space and all of the equipment has now been sold on a turnkey basis to Charlie Goman, a sales and IT trade show booth specialist who fell in love with homebrewing and decided to pursue opening his own brewery four years ago. Goman has brought on brewery consultant Marc Martin to oversee cleaning up the brewery, making some equipment changes, and helping brew and dial in recipes.
Second Profession Brewing will be a brewpub with a varied mix of influences and styles. Expect Northwest staples like lager, IPA, pale, porter and hefe, but with a fair bit of Goman’s favorite styles to brew–saisons and mixed fermentation brett beers. “I plan on creating as many one off beers as I can. Saison is hands down my favorite clean culture beer style, and I plan on doing something fun, like creating saisons from around the world using regional ingredients,” says Goman. The brewery will be using BTU’s 7 barrel pub system from Portland Kettle Works. Marc Martin says, “I’m planning on replacing all of the cold side hoses, sanitizing the heat exchanger, and going through all of the tanks” ahead of brewing operations.
Goman has worked in sales for the past eight years selling copiers and event space in IT trade shows. Nearly four years ago he realized it was time to reevaluate his career. “One day I was just thinking about the weekend and brewing a beer and it just hit me that I love brewing beer, maybe I should try and do that for a living.”
I first became aware of Second Profession Brewing in December 2016 when Goman launched a Go Fund Me campaign for the brewery to raise 10K. It petered out at $1,230, but Goman found the funds via private investment and an SBA loan. Without any commercial brewing experience, it was hard to find all private investment as originally planned, but Goman did not let that stop him. He recently brewed a batch at The Labrewatory and did a two-day job shadow at a commercial brewery. Hiring Marc Martin and more experienced staff will be a key part of the operation.
What happened to BTU? While the business showed a meager profit, it was always torn between two identities. Chris Bogart, BTU co-owner and chef who ran the food side of the business, told me, “We always struggled with the duality of the space, and as much as we wanted the space to be a real brewpub, the public almost always treated us as a restaurant.” Bogart and his partner, Nate Yovu, who ran the brewery side of the operation, tried different means to balance the two concepts, but ultimately felt they would be better off as separate endeavors. Bogart said, “I remember people walking in and not even realizing that the brewery next door was in fact part of the business as a whole.” It’s entirely likely you will see both Bogart and Yovu at new breweries and restaurants doing their thing again in the near future.
One area of dispute, though, is just how much BTU relied on food, with Goman telling me the beer sales were only 4% of the business, but BTU co-founder Bogart denying that claim, saying it was much higher, around 25% of sales. Another area of contention: was BTU even a brewpub? Of course it was, as a brewery with full food menu and taproom, but Goman argues based on his 4% of beer sales calculation that “this number is extremely low, even by typical restaurant standards. So my overall point here is that BTU is what I would consider a restaurant that had a brewery, but not the other way around, given the actual volume of beer being sold.”
Another area of contention is what makes a good German brewpub and a good beer and a bratwurst. Goman plans to give the pub a “German Folk Art concept” with help realizing that design from Room Service Creative. “The plan is really to stay away from the themes that are popping up in many of the new breweries and create a unique and inviting space.” Part of what makes that unique is brighter colors and lighter themes that Goman calls more “modern Berlin style” with light and dark contrasts instead of a dark wood beer hall. You can see that already in the Second Profession colorful logo. German-inspired restaurants, breweries, and bars are nothing new in PDX, so it should be an interesting challenge. Also interesting, Goman wants to offer the best beer-and-brat combo in town, a challenge for sure, though he says, ” I am always in the mood for a good brat and a beer, which is something that I just don’t think anyone does well in town.” This is a bold statement with Stammtisch not far away, and Burnside Brewing, Zoiglhaus, Wayfinder Beer, Prost!, and Occidental Wursthaus just among of the few others who have been doing it extremely well. When asked how he would make his better than anyone else in town, Goman elaborates,
“Being from Wisconsin, I have a very specific method to cooking a brat. It involves giving the brat a beer and onion bath before and after grilling, which in my humble opinion (they say its hard to be humble when you are from Wisconsin) gives the brat that little extra. On the beer side, I plan on utilizing the two horizontal lager tanks in the brewery for constant production of light lager beer, which always goes down well with a brat. I am not trying to knock anyone’s brats in Portland, as I commend anyone for serving a bratwurst, but just thinking of serving a boiled only bratwurst makes me shiver a little.”
That’s interesting, but hardly a novel concept. Similarly, Wisconsin-themed gastropub Saraveza makes its own brats in the same exact way ,and it’s probably not the only place in town. I look forward to a future beer and a brat showdown wherein I will decide the winner.
“Good luck to him, it’s a tough fucking market. I’ve been in his shoes, but with a niche business model. I’m glad I’m not in those shoes anymore,” added former BTU owner/chef Chris Bogart.
Second Profession Brewing
5846 NE Sandy Blvd.
Portland OR, 97213