Sunday, June 30 marked Sam Bond’s Brewing’s last day of operation. The 10-barrel brewery began producing in December of 2013 in the historic, early 1900s Gross Brothers Foundry & Machine Shop building at E 8th Ave and Ferry St. in Eugene. Brewer and co-owner Jim Montgomery produced what he initially described as “working class beers,” including the locally popular Filbert Brown Ale.
The unanimous decision by the owners to close the business and sell the equipment was practical and based on finances. The conversation began in December of 2018, and it didn’t take long to find a buyer.
A 5% share of the business was sold to a silent partner a couple years ago in order to begin canning Filbert Brown and Crankshaft IPA and enter the Portland market. However, saturated shelves and a lack of marketing power did not produce the sales necessary to keep going. The alternative to closing was to keep investing money into the brewery.
The Practical Fusion brew house and other equipment was sold at “fair market value,” according to Montgomery, to a new locally owned brewing company that plans to take over the space. Due to legality, the new owners could not disclose any more information yet – The New School will have the story when further details are available.
The location of the brewery and associated restaurant is on the verge of being great. The old Eugene Water & Electric Board steam plant along the river nearby is slated for renovation and repurposing in the coming years, and should provide more traffic to the area. However, a big new apartment building across the street is mostly occupied by underage University of Oregon students, according to Montgomery, and thus did not give the brewery a built-in audience. An additional challenge was the name of the brewery itself. The fact that it referenced an established bar made it tough to get beer on tap at other bars.
Sam Bond’s Garage, the staple bar and music venue of Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood, will remain open, business as usual. It had switched from serving a variety of craft beer to only serving Sam Bond’s beer when the brewery opened, but will now go back to buying from distributors and other local breweries.
Montgomery, though wistful about leaving his post, said he’s also looking forward to a simpler life as a brewer rather than an owner.
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.