I love it when a plan comes together, like Little Beast Brewing opening a Beer Garden and Barrel House in the former Lompoc Brewing Hedge House on Southeast Division in Portland. Little Beast Brewing is one of the most talked about and critically acclaimed new Oregon breweries of the time, and yet it has not had a real taproom to showcase its superb farmhouse ales until now.
Portland staple Lompoc Brewing closed its great Hedge House satellite pub just this past November. Housed in a Craftsman Bungalow-style home with a grassy front yard, covered and uncovered beer garden areas, and a cozy wood-paneled indoor space, the Hedge House was a neighborhood institution. Little Beast Brewing will bring farmhouse-style saisons, table beers, and brettanomyces-, mixed culture-, and foeder-fermented sours to Portland hopefully in time for better weather in April 2018.
Lompoc Hedge House © The New School
Little Beast will undertake a cosmetic remodel of the Hedge House space to brighten up the interior while keeping the natural old Portland warmth of the building. One of the significant changes is to remove the booths in exchange for a real bar. The plan is to retain and build upon the nods to Oregon’s past, and don’t worry, says co-owner Brenda Crow, “We’ll absolutely maintain the same front yard, patio and covered deck area. We’re thrilled and very grateful to have landed in a space that embodies the old spirit of Portland in the middle of a rapidly changing commercial neighborhood. We aim to nourish those qualities that make the place so special.”
With a full kitchen but limited equipment, the Little Beast Beer Garden & Barrel House will offer a simple menu of approachable bar food that pairs well with its beers. As a culinary industry veteran with a recent stint at Olympia Provisions, I expect Brenda Crow will make sure the menu is stocked with great meats and cheeses, small plates, and perhaps even some tinned meats. Crow is still working on a menu but discusses her love of French and European updates to classic American bar food elevated to a fun and exciting showcase of individual, high quality, ingredients.
As for beers, natually we can expect the full lineup of Little Beast Brewing beers, which is about to get its third year-round offering in a Flemish-style sour ale. Brewmaster/co-owner Charles Porter says he plans to throw future bottle release parties and pairing events at the Beer Garden & Barrel House and will have exclusive limited beers on draft and from the bottle that are available only there. Some of the upcoming special releases in 375ml bottles include a tart dry-hopped wild ale brewed in collaboration with Modern Times Beer, Pomme Sour ale brewed with quince fruit, Black Cap ,a foeder-aged ale with black cap raspberries, and Golden Stone, a oak-aged ale with peaches, nectarines and apricots.
One of the small casualties of the Hedge House to Little Beast transition will be the full-service restaurant, though the bar/counter service will be a welcome change to those who fought for service in Hedge Houses tight quarters. The bar will remain open and inviting to all-ages with an indoor area that caters to small or single parties stopping in for a beer and a snack or large parties outside on the outdoor picnic benches and heated covered deck.
Little Beast Brewing owners Charles Porter and Brenda Crow
“Warm hospitality is very important to us and it’s fitting of the location in an old home! We also take pride in proper beer service.” – Brenda Crow, Little Beast co-owner.
For those lamenting the late, great Hedge House, the Little Beast team is quick to give props where due. “Let’s give a shout out to Jerry Fechter of Lompoc Brewing, who, for many years, cultivated a friendly place and solid business in this location that was appreciated by many. Of course, they have multiple other locations that customers can still visit!” says Crow. Lower southeast Division has become a busy street full of trendy restaurants and condos with some of the best restaurants in the city. It’s a competitive corridor, though, where many have not succeeded, as exemplified by Lompoc opting not to renew the lease on the Hedge House. Still, the opportunity is ripe for a new tasting room, and inner southeast is the home of Portland’s craft beer scene.
“We’re fortunate to set up shop in the very unique setting of an old home with an enchanting outdoor space, porch and cozy interior,” adds Crow. “As well, the beers we craft are unique, even in the context of craft beer. With many years combined experience and perspective in brewing and specialty food, we’re confident we can create a space that people want to come to. ”
Little Beast Brewing is the new startup brewery founded by Charles Porter, who was formerly the head brewer at Hood River’s acclaimed Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. Brenda Crow is his wife and business partner with experience in the food and hospitality industries and recently of Olympia Provisions and Marin French Cheese. Little Beast operates out of the former Brannon’s Brewpub space in Beaverton without a real taproom, though they clear space in the production brewery ever Friday for tasting hours and bottle sales. Little Beast’s beers start with approachable food friendly saisons and extend out to wilder and bolder brettanomyces fresh hop ales to fruited wild sour ales, and at less than a year old, they are just getting started.
Little Beast Brewing Beer Garden & Barrel House will be located at 3412 SE Division St. Portland, OR 97202