Burnside Brewing Co. photo from koperski.com
9-year-old Portland brewery Burnside Brewing Co. has closed. Founded in 2010 by Jason Mcadam, Jay Gilbert and Adam Cassie, the popular brewpub and production brewery canned staples like Couch Lager and the recently released Smooth Premium Pale Ale, and even won a gold medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival for the apricot-habanero wheat ale, Sweet Heat. The central location on East Burnside has also been the home of the Portland Fruit Beer Festival and Fresh Hop Pop-Up Beer Fest, both of which may relocate elsewhere.
The closure of Burnside Brewing Co. came as a shock to many, including the staff who received notice on Tuesday that the brewing company was “no longer operational” and that they should file for unemployment. The notice also suggested paychecks may be delayed but fulfilled as soon as possible. As of Wednesday a sign was posted by the landlord that the tenant was locked out of the building for “failure to pay amounts due therunder.”
Jay Gilbert and Jason McAdam in the bones of Burnside Brewing Co. construction
It seems Burnside Brewing Co. is a victim of Portland redevelopment. Where once there were dreams of owning the building and perhaps even turning the parking lot into a full beer garden, the reality is that the owner can get much more money to turn it into a new condo building. With leases running out Burnside Brewing likely decided to cut their losses while the management then terminated the leasing agreement that sources tell me moved so quickly they did not see it coming until it was too late. There are still many legal wranglings going on behind-the-scenes with leases and ownership so the full story may not be told for awhile but we may see some Burnside Brewing in the future with ownership pledging to clear the record up after the settlements.
Though breweries are still opening across America and in Portland, there is no doubt that many breweries are struggling amidst increased competition and promiscuous drinkers. Burnside Brewing’s closure is the latest evidence that 5+ year old breweries especially are struggling and a lot of it is consumers obsession with what is new and the realities of the quickly changing landscape where new trends come and go every year. Burnside Brewing Co. is still the first major Portland brewery closure since The Commons closed in Nov. 2017. Lesser known brewers and satellite pub locations have shut down more recently, but such well known and successful breweries like Burnside Brewing Co. closing is still relatively unheard of in Oregon. For an idea of which breweries have closed recently, check out our 2018 Oregon industry closure report.