When friends get together, they often drink beers. In the case of Snow Peak Brewing, the first brewery to open in Stayton, Oregon, a group of friends got together and decided to make beer and sell it.
The husband and wife team—and brewers—Crystal and Matt Spenner have the chops to prove it. Matt won second place in the 2016 Oregon Brew Crew Classic while Crystal won first place for her Haybox Amber at Portland’s SheBrew in 2017. They’ve both been brewing for years.
On the back-end, Doug Naugle handles the logistics and distribution while his wife Cari is “The Budget Boss.” Brittany Klein (who comes from the Goschie Farms hops family) is the tasting room manager and handles all merchandising, while husband Chris will drive sales and marketing and handle outside keg sales and food truck schedules.
During the day, the owners have various jobs that range from welding inspector to teacher, and in Chris’ case, Sales Manager for Cascade Floors, known for installing flooring in breweries across the country.
Stayton, Oregon sits between Oregon Route 22 and the Santiam River east of Salem. It was named after Drury Smith Stayton, one of the town’s first settlers, who built a sawmill there in 1870. Through the early 20th century, Stayton transitioned to more of an agricultural town and benefited from the timber industry. According to the city’s website, “a decline in the timber industry during the 1980’s pushed Stayton toward becoming the diverse economy and community that it is today.”
So, why open a brewery in Stayton?
“We’re all mostly from here and pretty much work locally here,” says Chris Klein. “We graduated from here, were baptized here, still live here, and wanted to make the brewery local.”
Officially kicking open the doors over the summer, the transition to home brewing to setting up a physical location was fairly seamless.
They launched a Kickstarter campaign to see if people were really interested in bringing a brewery into Stayton and exceeded their goal. “And then we were like, well I guess we need to plug forward and actually make this happen,” Klein says.
The next steps, naturally, involved looking for the right space.
Lucky for them, the city of Stayton had recently changed the zoning laws in downtown to allow for light manufacturing and retail space to help revitalize downtown Stayton. That meant they didn’t have to do a conditional use and, in fact, the city encouraged them, helping them find just the right space.
They ended up choosing the old Santiam Water Control District building. It’s the classic older brick building with two huge open doors they retrofitted into glass doors that open to the street. The space sits in downtown Stayton, “right before it hits the water, so we’ve got a pretty good location. Everything else just kind of fell into place,” says Klein.
Their brewing system comes from Colorado Brewing Systems out of Wellington, Colorado and is technically considered a 150 gallon Nano Brewer Down Under Single Vessel.
For now, they’re keeping the beer hyperlocal, manufacturing about 80 gallons per batch, but will soon start distributing kegs around town, starting with Wolfgang’s Thirst Parlor Tap House, Brewski’s, and “a couple of pizza parlors.”
Currently on tap are a smoked IPA, smoked chocolate porter, two fresh-hopped beers, one with Strata and one with Mosaic, an amber, three pales from light to malt forward, and the award-winning Citra Lee and Haybox Amber.
If the successful Kickstarter campaign is any indication, or the fact that Revitalize Downtown Stayton was recently awarded a $200,00 Main Street Revitalization Grant from the State of Oregon, or, as CBRE once said that breweries serve as “beachheads for neighborhood development,” downtown Stayton can now claim its own brewery, a place to hang out, and may eventually spark more growth in its re-emerging downtown.
“Even if it’s little small businesses that bring even more people to the town, it’s going to benefit the rest of the town,” says Klein.
John Chilson writes about Portland history and architecture at Lost Oregon. He's also written for Neighborhood Notes, Travel Oregon, Portland Architecture, Askmen.org, San Diego Reader, and Portland Food and Drink. Follow him on twitter at @LostOregon for local history nerdism; for beer tweets he's at @Hopfrenzy. Shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch.