With a prime location in a building with more big wood than one can shake a stick at, Long Timber Brewing in Monroe, Ore., one of The New School’s most anticipated breweries of the year, will quietly open its doors to the public in the next week or so. To be clear, when they say Long Timber, they mean it. Over a year and a half in construction, the sizable brewpub is supported by numerous large single-log beams, and the walls sport the founding family’s treasury of memorabilia and real equipment from the area’s logging and milling history. The 10-barrel brewery from Practical Fusion, with three 10-barrel and one 20-barrel fermentors and brite tanks, has already set sail.
Brewer Matt Maller, who cut his teeth at Calapooia Brewing in Albany and Sky High Brewing in Corvallis, is getting his sea legs on the new system with well-crafted versions of mostly standard styles. Right now, he’s sort of brewing “on the fly,” but prefers to reverse engineer his recipes to fit an idea. “I try to think of the flavor profile I want, and work backwards from there.”
My flight consisted of Pickaroon Pilsner (quite light, clean, and spicy hops), Day Faller American Pale Ale (with classic floral and citrusy hops, pretty bitter), Night Rabbit Oatmeal Stout (roasty but smooth), and Butt Rigging Brut IPA (very crisp, tea-like hops). All of the beer names are logging-themed, so don’t be surprised to see Tally Whacker Wheat on the menu!
As Long Timber is the first commercial brewery in Monroe (pop. ~742), Maller expects to develop some flagship beers, but is still in recipe development mode. However, there is a Belgian pale ale with cinnamon and vanilla in the brite tank; a preliminary taste showed the special ingredients as complementary to the yeast profile, subdued but present, and refreshing as only a Belgian cream soda could be.
The full-service, two level restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. The menus consist of large portions of food, some of which comes from local farms. The lunch menu boasts a good selection of appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as a “Carving Board” selection of house-smoked meats and hearty sides. Dinner is heavy on the meat, maxing out with a 14oz ribeye but still catering to the veg- or pescatarian.
There is a full bar with seating; a separate room dedicated to serving Sweet Earth Vineyards estate pinot noir, gris, and rosé, and a room called The Back Forty that can be rented for special occasions and company meetings; it is equipped with a large television screen and full A/V capability. On the ground floor, restrooms are gender specific, but upstairs are gender neutral; all are equipped with changing tables.
The lodge-style building, set on the west side of Highway 99 in downtown Monroe, cost around $3.5 million, and is the newest project from Hull-Oakes Lumber Mill owners Todd and Amy Nystrom (pronounced “NEE-strum”). In the breezeway from the front door, a large saw blade has been embedded into the floor; it looks painted on, but it’s not. Once inside, one is greeted with solid timber in every direction. To the left, a stairway leads to balcony seating and a second-story patio. To the right is the bar. Through the main seating area to the back is the wine bar and a ground floor patio with a gas fire pit. There are several TVs set around the space and behind the bar, and they can all show different channels; though Long Timber is in no way a sports bar, having the game on can be essential to a profitable Saturday afternoon. There is also a small stage under the stairway for live music.
The details, from the metal Doug fir silhouettes on the balcony railing to the clipboards the servers use, is all custom work. The Nystroms have been in the area for a long time, and Monroe is the kind of town where everybody knows everybody. The 30-ish employees are mostly local as well. One friend likes to ride his horse into town and has been lobbying for a hitching post; occasionally the horse is treated to some spent grain.
Long Timber’s aesthetic is part Timberline Lodge, part country BBQ, 100% Oregon; it’s the sort of place the Stamper family would dream about drinking in. The decor is authentic, down to the cowhide seat backs on the benches, and is displayed so that it’s not chintzy. Some of it is still functional; an old telephone on the stairs still rings with the turn of a handle, and the cable logging whistle above the bar could cause some spilled beers if pulled at the right time.
Monroe may be small, but it is situated halfway between Eugene and Corvallis, and sees about 4,500 cars pass through every day. My drive from Eugene took 30 minutes; about the same time it takes to get to Alesong. There are wineries nearby that draw summer tourists, and a decent population in small communities nearby.
The project was in the works for a long time, and the Nystroms were relatively quiet about it, wanting to wait until it looked good and could operate smoothly before unveiling it. It has been on soft-open mode for a week or so now, and the doors will be officially, quietly open soon to let the staff and kitchen adjust without an onslaught. The grand opening ceremony is scheduled for later in the summer.
Aaron Brussat is a complex living organism with an interest in all things fermented. He started writing about and working in the beer industry in 2010. His experience stems primarily from spending six years at The Bier Stein as a beer steward, homebrewing since 2005, and passing the BJCP and Certified Cicerone exams. Highlights along the way include numerous collaborations with local brewers, curating beer dinners at The Bier Stein, and traveling to Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Peru, and New Zealand (as well as many parts of the U.S.) for a chance to drink beer at the source.
Really Donovan? Best you just stay in Portland with that attitude!
Thu Jun 6, 2019 8:37 AM
My wife was inquiring about the opening date and I was simply sharing the response we received. That isn’t an attitude, it is sharing the lack of professionalism and customer service we received. With Monroe having a population of only 642, I hope for the sake of the brewery that others have a better experience, as I am sure they are counting on people from out of town.
Sat Jun 8, 2019 6:59 PM
Dont get your feeling hurt. it’s open and worth the drive.
Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:24 PM
Sure would like to see a menu before several of us caravan out to Monroe. Not all people use facebook.
Sat Jun 29, 2019 11:03 PM
Do you have an outdoor seating area? If so, Is it dog friendly?
Mon Jul 8, 2019 8:22 AM
Will you have a real website, not a FarceBook site? Many of us don’t ever dare using Fakebook.