Burnside Brewing Co. Has Closed

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.

Jason McAdam

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.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

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

Discussion

  • Nolando
    Nolando
    Wed Feb 6, 2019 7:40 PM

    Damn. Does this somsignal the end of the Fruit Beer Fest as well?

    • Samurai Artist
      Samurai Artist
      Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:01 PM

      hopefully not. But a new location will be necessary.

      • Bee
        Bee
        Thu Feb 7, 2019 4:56 PM

        Ezra, do you think a place like Salmon on Redd would work for the fest? I think that plus a few carts could hold the size of the event well.

    • Cesar
      Cesar
      Wed Feb 6, 2019 7:59 PM

      I’m a little confused by your points on this. You say it is a redevelopment/lease/landlord issue, but then you go on to say that the brewery is evidence that breweries are closing because of lots more choice and “promiscuous drinkers” (great line, btw). Which is it?

      • Samurai Artist
        Samurai Artist
        Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:00 PM

        its both. In the short term it’s ultimately about selling the building, but also cash flow/profitability isnt what it used to be.

      • maccoinnich
        maccoinnich
        Wed Feb 6, 2019 8:22 PM

        The claim that “Burnside Brewing Co. is a victim of Portland redevelopment” doesn’t add up. While the site certainly could be redeveloped, there have been no steps taken in the approval process necessary for that to happen. It would take year, or more likely two, to get through the design review and building permit approval process before construction could start. Why would that necessitate the sudden and unannounced closure of the business?

        • Samurai Artist
          Samurai Artist
          Wed Feb 6, 2019 8:58 PM

          I understand your confusion but I know more than I can write. There is a reason for that but I have been told this in private, off the record and it’s really a legal matter that cant be disclosed.

          • maccoinnich
            maccoinnich
            Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:06 PM

            I’m not confused. I’m saying that the potential for another building to go there, years in the future, isn’t a reason for an existing business to close with no warning. Even if it were to be redeveloped, it’s not in the property owner’s interests to forego rent until the building needs to be demolished.

        • Rewfer
          Rewfer
          Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:19 PM

          Yeah. Mercury is reporting that they hadn’t paid rent in months so the landlord changed the locks and THAT’s when they decided to tell employees that they were laid off. But yeah, let’s blame ‘development.’ No excuse for not giving workers a heads up.

          • Dylan
            Dylan
            Wed Feb 6, 2019 9:37 PM

            Wow. What about Alameda or Widmer? They were pretty sudden closures in the last year, and were pretty well established. (Understatement)

            I am really interested in the issues Burnside had with cashflow. It seems, as other commenters have pointed out, that the redevelopment issue shouldn’t have caused such a sudden demise.

            • Samurai Artist
              Samurai Artist
              Wed Feb 6, 2019 11:04 PM

              yeah maybe Alameda, Widmer just closed the taproom, not the brewery. There is a lot of speculation here about Burnside Brewing, I actually do know most of the true story but it’s all in legal non-disclosure stuff and it cant be written about. Suffice it to say none of these theories are totally accurate.

            • David
              David
              Wed Feb 6, 2019 11:02 PM

              “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.”

              what are you talking about? the notice posted on their door say “as you know, no payments have been made to Landlord in months”

              that doesn’t sound quick to me

              • Samurai Artist
                Samurai Artist
                Wed Feb 6, 2019 11:19 PM

                sorry but there is a lot more to the story that cant be talked about. Nothing to stop all the speculation.

                • Leroy
                  Leroy
                  Thu Feb 7, 2019 9:35 PM

                  Can you report on why the tenant (Burnside Brewing) hadn’t been paid their rent in months?

              • BurgerBoi89
                BurgerBoi89
                Thu Feb 7, 2019 1:04 AM

                I’m going to miss that burger soo much…. also where will I get my chili beer fix….

                • david
                  david
                  Thu Feb 7, 2019 1:55 AM

                  So…the brewery is closed, and the entire story of why cannot be fully told and explained yet. If ever.

                  I get that people want more info…
                  but it is hardly odd that a privately-owned business doesn’t reveal everything to the public —- least of all, details of the reasons for its demise. In fact, it’s quite normal.

                  It is pretty unique to the very ‘clubby’ Portland beer scene that people can dig up backstories/dirt this readily. (….which may be why people expect the whole tale to be provided in almost real time….)
                  And it’s all really interesting to know, so thx for whatever pieces you can and do provide.

                  • Aestro
                    Aestro
                    Thu Feb 7, 2019 3:07 AM

                    Yeah I’m not buying the “redevelopment” either. It could be in the plans for the owner, but that isn’t cause for a tenant to not pay rent or especially to not pay its employees.

                    • Beerly 1 kanobe
                      Beerly 1 kanobe
                      Thu Feb 7, 2019 3:13 AM

                      He is trying to inform the public. No need to pick apart the story

                      • Alex
                        Alex
                        Thu Feb 7, 2019 3:15 AM

                        I see Samurai Shill, keeping it real, as always.

                        • Branden
                          Branden
                          Thu Feb 7, 2019 7:16 PM

                          By speculating in the article then mentioning you received information off the record, you technically went on the record for them. It sounds like the owners were ranting to you when things were getting tough, and you printed that information.

                          “It seems Burnside Brewing Co. is a victim of Portland redevelopment.” Where are your facts? Even a quote, anything to support this outside of your opinion (or worse, Burnside’s owners’ opinions said after a couple of pints “off the record”).

                          Either say this story is an opinion piece or leave speculation out of it. Maybe bring a fact or two into the conversation, like how the brewery produced 1,825 taxable bbl YTD in Sept 2013, and saw that number drop to 1,489 taxable bbl YTD in Sept 2018 (per OLCC Beer and Wine Reports). Talk to the many industry pros about what they’ve seen with Burnside over the years. You’re close with John Foyston, he was there for the opening and closing, why not ask him what he’s seen?

                          Increased competition around the city could be a culprit (you did touch on this), but you didn’t find a source.

                          I hope you start bringing facts into the conversation rather than publishing a conversation over pints as speculation.

                          • Samurai Artist
                            Samurai Artist
                            Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:00 AM

                            none of this was speculation or a rant or an opinion piece. No one is talking on the record, not even the landlord.

                            • Samurai Artist
                              Samurai Artist
                              Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:04 AM

                              BTW I dont know why you would post this comment because its your own speculation. None of this conversation was over pints and I have first hand knowledge. I was there before the brewery opened through the last day, it’s first hand business knowledge and some of it cant be printed because of legal settlements.