Industry News

Opening a Startup Portland Brewery – Part 2

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West Coast Grocery Company is one of Portland’s upcoming new 2018 breweries scheduled to open as early as this May. Co-Owner Charlie Hyde was gracious enough to chronicle his long journey getting a brewery off the ground in “Trials and Tribulations of an Upcoming Startup Portland Brewery – Part 1” last week and today we bring you chapter 2 of 2. Stay tuned for info on West Coast Grocery’s opening and look for new collaboration beers with them from Breakside and Laurelwood that are available now.


By Charlie Hyde, West Coast Grocery Company

Tap Room Design

A lot of hard work and planning went into our tap room layout and design. We couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out. Our space is extremely unique in that it spans over four different levels. We have two different levels of tasting rooms, both of which look down upon our basement brewery. We also have a tucked away barrel-aging room which I consider the hidden gem of the brewery.

West Coast Grocery’s tasting room bar will have a produce/bodega cooler

I credit a lot of the success of the brewery design to surrounding ourselves with amazingly bright people who are familiar with the brewery industry. Koble Creative, our architects, did a great job designing the bones of our brewery, and Shelter NW has taken the interior to the next level. Koble is currently working on the Migration expansion and Shelter NW just recently finished revamping the Block 15 tap room.

One unique aspect of our interior is the use of reclaimed wood from the original building. In order to make head room for our fermentors, we were forced to remove the original wood floor. Luckily we were able to reclaim 100% of it for tables, chairs, stools, and coffee tables for the tasting room. With the exception of our bar and shuffleboard table, every piece of wood in the brewery is the original wood from when the building was built.

The tap room will also feature some amazing art from two truly talented artists. Installation artist Allison Hyde has created a one of a kind installation using antique shopping carts which hang from the ceiling and cascade over our bathrooms and the lower tasting room. We also commissioned our friend Martha Rich to curate a custom mural for our back wall which tells some of the WCGCo. story mixed with some local Buckman flavor.

Construction

An important decision for us was partnering with the right general contractor. Although we have completed a lot of construction ourselves (my fiance can be credited for plumbing most of our glycol lines), we knew that the bulk of the construction was over our heads. We hired Skyward Construction because owner Bryan Ward is a fellow brewery owner (Victor 23 in Vancouver) and was fresh off of building out his own brewery.

With the exception of waiting on the shell of the building, our construction has gone smoothly. The biggest hiccup for us was a change we made to facilitate more seating in our upper tasting room. Midway through construction we realized the upper room felt cramped. The remedy was cutting into our cold storage to free up space. Any brewer will tell you the cold room is a sacred area and the more room the better. However, Steve and I both agreed that the additional seating was important and if we out grew the cold room that would be a good problem to have! In order to make the change we were forced to order completely new refrigeration panels and re-frame a wall that had already been constructed. The whole process was a pain. It added additional costs and a slight delay to our schedule, but we’re content with the decision and happy with the new layout.

Collaborations & Grand Opening

If you’ve been following us on social media you’ve seen that we’ve been busy brewing collaboration beers with some of our favorite breweries. Brewing collaborations has been a great way to stay connected with other local breweries and also gives us a chance to showcase the quality of beer we plan on producing. To date, our collaborations include beers with Laurelwood, Buoy, Baerlic, Level, Victor 23 and Breakside. The WCGCo/Breakside collaboration IPA “Bo de ga” was just recently tapped at Breakside’s slabtown location. It tastes delicious.

West Coast Grocery and Breakside Brewery after collabo

The feedback we’ve received from our collaboration brews has been outstanding.

The collabs have not only helped get our name into the marketplace but they are also providing the beer for our grand opening. Our inaugural brew on the WCGCo system should be right around opening day, so unfortunately we’ll have to wait a few weeks to taste the first brew on the new system. Give it a month or two and we will be slowly transitioning to 100% West Coast Grocery Beer.

As I write this we are currently on track for an early May opening! Thank you for listening to our start-up story and we’ll see you in the tap room soon! Cheers!

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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: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

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