Our annual look back at the top 10 stories of 2018 (by number of views) on The New School is always an interesting peek into what captured readers attentions last year. As usual, it’s full of openings, awards, and breaking news, aka what The New School has become known for. You can bet there will be a lot more of the same in 2019.
We were honored to be among the first to visit the new Grains of Wrath Brewing across the river in Camas, Washington. Brewer/co-owner Mike Hunsaker made a name for himself as the award-winning and always hoppy brewer at Fat Head’s Brewing PDX and spun off his success with other local beer personalities like Brendan Greenen, Jackson Wyatt, and Fabiola Ponce Wyatt. Grains of Wrath may technically be in Washington, but its heart (and many of its fans) are in Oregon. This brewpub and production facility will likely be known for Hunsaker’s west coast IPAs like Overkill, but he is expressing a broader range here, with everything from lagers to Belgians and fruited sours. The restaurant/pub is top notch elevated Americana, with occasional Spanish and Asian influences, the atmosphere is dark but light, punk and metal yet family friendly, and there is a great outdoor seating area, too.
We unveiled the winners of the quickly growing nationwide competition based out of Bend, the Best of Craft Beer Awards. As a judge two years running, I had an intimate perspective on the behind-the-scenes of the judging and on who won top awards in 2018. The judging weekend is always a fun time, with a great mix of professional brewers and homebrewers coming together to debate and agree on great beers.
We provided an early look and the soft opening date for Modern Times Beer’s much anticipated Portland location just a handful of days before it opened. Formerly The Commons Brewery, the building was leased to Modern Times, which did a great job redecorating the space with its signature retro 80’s eclectic pop art sensibilities and filling the space up with even more tanks for production, though the bones of the space are still recognizably The Commons. Now as we approach the Belmont Fermentorium’s one year anniversary, I wonder what’s next for the San Diego-based brewery, which had said it would expand into the neighboring building to the west after the first year of operation.
The New School dropped the scoop that farmhouse-inspired Little Beast Brewing would turn the former Lompoc Hedge House into a taproom called the Little Beast Brewing Beer Garden. Little Beast was previously operating out of the former Brannon’s Brewpub in Beaverton without a real taproom, and had always expressed an interest to open a Portland taproom. That wish came true, and it also saved a beloved inner southeast watering hole. The now complete and opened Little Beast Beer Garden still has the same charm of Hedge House, with the raised grassy front lawn, vintage craftsman style bungalow, and a covered and heated patio area. Owners Charles Porter and Brenda Crow have added classy subtle updates like a small bar inside and more open seating. The kitchen is upgraded and serves a great small menu of food that goes terrifically with the wild and sour ales and other rustic Belgian styles.
Although the company had just opened the first Von Ebert Brewing location in the NW Pearl District last spring, owner Tom Cook announced a second location in far outer east Portland just a little more than a month later. Of course, Von Ebert Brewing may have been new, but already had its feet on the ground after operating for three years as Fat Head’s Brewing PDX. The new Von Ebert focuses on a more balanced lineup, with more German-styles of beer, lagers and farmhouse/wild ales in addition to enough IPAs for the hopheads. The new Eastside location at Glendoveer Golf Course is now open and offers a respite from the busy inner Portland pubs, but is not yet brewing on-site. Eastside brewer Sean Burke recently received his new brewhouse, foeders and a coolship that are currently being installed so that he can produce a top notch oak-fermented wild/sour program, perhaps similar to the one he operated before at the late lamented The Commons Brewery.
Ex Novo Brewing’s upcoming Beaverton location
The New School was excited to break the news on Ex Novo Brewing’s expansion to Beaverton with a new Detroit-style pizza pub. So far the new outpost is only a little behind schedule and should open in early 2019. Ex Novo is one of the first (following Migration Brewing’s Gresham location) to tap the suburbs as an underserved market, and we are especially stoked to have the hard-to-find but increasingly well-loved Detroit-style pizzas with its own showcase alongside the great beers by brewer Ryan Buxton. The Beaverton pub calls for 14 taps of Ex Novo beer, a family-friendly atmosphere, and bottles/cans to-go. The project comes with a grant from the city of Beaverton to remodel the 100+ year old Historic Cady Building at 4505 SW Watson Avenue for the new pizza pub.
2018 was the year of the brewery taproom, both with successful satellite locations opening and others closing. Baerlic Brewing opened its second location at the “Barley Pod” on NE Halsey in Portland, an underserved neighborhood location that was quickly embraced. I am actually quite surprised that our first looks at Stormbreaker Brewing’s new St. Johns location and Ruse Brewing’s taproom opening did not make the top 10 for the year. Read the full story here.
pFriem Family Brewers again wins Large Brewery of the Year at the 2018 Oregon Beer Awards
One of our favorite events of the year, the Oregon Beer Awards is always a great time, and since I personally am an organizer and presenter, I get the special opportunity to present the winners and an inside look the day after. Last year’s recap is full of behind the scenes photos of a jubilant (and often inebriated) crowd and one of the best guides to great Oregon beer that you can find.
Before you get too concerned about the title of this article, you have to read the date: April 1st, 2018. It’s hilarious and shocking to me that our April Fool’s article by Eugene correspondent Aaron Brussat was the second most-viewed article of the year. I am guessing a lot of people took it dead serious, like hop shortage serious, like no more hazy or double IPA serious. Much credit to Brussat for keeping the article grounded in reality so well that its tongue in cheek nature has been tricking people into thinking it was a reality all year long.
Our perennial favorite rundown of the Oregon breweries we are most looking forward to opening later in the year is always popular, and last year’s had it all. In a rare turn of events, only two of the breweries on last year’s most anticipated list have still not yet opened but both (Threshold Brewing and Assembly Brewing) should open in the next few weeks or months. First published on January 3rd, 2018, the rundown of our most anticipated of 2019 will hit in a few days on January 2nd, 2019.