The people of Tualatin have it pretty good these days when it comes to local craft beer options. Once a something of a beer desert, the rapidly expanding suburb and its surroundings are now home to a slew of breweries and brewpubs including Ancestry, G-Man, Smockville, FlyBoy and more. That’s one of the reasons why, when Lake Oswego-based Stickmen Brewing decided it was time for a major expansion, they set the high gear for Tualatin. Having started as a yakitori-inspired (hence the name) brewpub, founder Tim Schoenheit and head brewer Cobi Brothers were ready to do something with a much larger footprint than their 7-barrel space in Lake Oswego.
In addition to their original pub, Stickman now occupies a massive 26,000 square foot warehouse located in a non-descript industrial area just off SW Herman Rd. Though their taproom has been open since December 2016, they didn’t get their brewing operations up and running until April of this year. In its current state, the brewing equipment in Tualatin only takes up a fraction of the warehouse space. This is intentional as the they plan to eventually fill the space with a canning and bottling line, plenty of cooler space, barrels, foeders and more. At the moment there are more fermenters and a bright tank on the way and they would like to install some kind of packaging line in the near future, most likely cans.
“There’s a lot of open space right now. The goal is that in 4 or 5 years we will be kind of in our prime as far as space taken up versus utilization. We didn’t want to move to a place and then 5 years down the road have to think about moving somewhere else or get capped out,” says Cobi.
The equipment on hand now can crank our about 3,000 barrels a year, but with so much space at their disposal, the Stickmen team project a brewing capability of around 45,000 barrels per year, which may not be immediately doable but is a goal they are aiming to reach within a handful of years. Clearly, they are thinking well beyond Portland. They recently started distributing in the Bay Area and as they grow their Tualatin facility, they will only continue working to expand their reach.
“We’re thinking ahead about having that flexibility,” says Tim.
Step into the taproom and you’ll find an array of beers on tap. On a recent visit the offerings that a hibiscus saison, Cloudy with a Chance of El Dorado hazy IPA, a sour brown ale call Infinite Jest brimming with flavors of tart cherries and oranges, and a boozy and tart Belgian trippel called Abricotdabra. While IPAs anchor their beer roster, we’ll be seeing more hazy ipas, barrel-aged stouts and porters, and experimental sours in the next few years. They also have an array of different barrels; on this visit an Aquavit barrel was aging a black rye saison, a Belgian dark strong, and a foeder with a Belgian blonde ale, among others. As Tim and Cobi describe it, the beauty of their setup is that they can use the Tualatin facility for brewing large batches of flagships and favorites while they can tinker with new recipes and experiment in Lake Oswego, testing beers out in smaller batches before committing to them on a mass scale.
One could argue that Stickmen’s increasing output of hazy double IPAs, sours and big barrel-aged stouts is simply another brewery staying on trend, but the team is enthusiastic about thinking outside the box and having fun with it. Cobi’s main brewer’s background was at a production facility and at Stickmen he gets to embrace the spirit of creativity. “We did five beers 365 days a year and that’s all we did. That’s what kept the lights on and paid our salaries. [Stickmen owner] Tim is pretty much the opposite.”
Separating the brewing area and the taproom is a makeshift kitchen setup with a pizza oven. The staff cooks up a surprisingly large and diverse menu of pies, such as potato rosemary, pear gorgonzola and the Saltimbocca special with olive oil, mozzarella, chicken,
pancetta, fresh sage, and fontina. The decision to do pizza was partially driven by Tim’s time spent in Italy, so there is a mix of traditional styles alongside weirder offerings and he likes to add pizzas with difficult to pronounce Italian names such as Capricciosa, Affumicata and Nido dell’Aquila (the Eagle’s Nest).
The taproom itself is spacious with massively high ceilings and surprisingly few sound issues that houses a smattering of tables and couches. There are TVs, projectors, and plenty of beer to go in bottles and crowlers. Trains pass by the patio, which is surprisingly comfortable considering it literally occupies a handful of parking spaces.
“The community has been great. The chamber of commerce has been super supportive of us,” says Tim. Adding that the taproom is a popular place for people in the area to come after work. “It’s one of those places you can have 20 people and be like, let’s go there because we can probably get a seat.”
With an inviting taproom, delicious pizza, and massive growth projected, Stickmen Brewing is right at home in Tualatin and a worthy stop if you’re in the area.
Stickmen Brewing – Tualatin Beer Hall
19475 SW 118th Ave, Tualatin, OR 97062