The Saga Continues...[Portland, OR Part 1]
What the heck? I thought you said the lease would be signed months ago…
Hmmm…and so we thought…
Turns out Cambridge real estate is a rather elusive beast, but we’ve got a location in our sights, and have a feeling this one isn’t going to slip from our grasp. Its been an arduous process, but we’re still optimistic that Lamplighter will materialize in Cambridge sometime before 2016. But more on that later!
In our ample spare time as we wait for the brewery gods to grant us a building, we’ve taken a trip to a mecca of craft beer and hipsters, also known as Portland, OR. The trip served two purposes; first and foremost, to see Mark’s Design and Metalworks, the equipment manufacturer who we hope will be constructing our brewhouse and brewery tanks, and just as importantly… to do some prolific market research.
Portland, OR is home to 58 breweries (the most of any city in the world), and ranks number one in the U.S. for breweries per capita. A brochure on the airplane boasted that a whopping 53% of all draft beer that’s consumed in Oregon is from Oregon breweries (sorry AB-Inbev – looks like cute puppies and draft horses don’t have a huge effect on these folks), and the total economic impact from the craft beer industry is over $2.8 billion for Oregon (we contributed!). When compared to the 4 breweries in Boston (grouping all the Beer Works into one) and the 2 brewpubs in Cambridge, these numbers seem a bit extreme. Even the Massachusetts craft market share at 15% is well above average, but it pales in comparison to those beer obsessed Oregonians, who lead the U.S. in dollars spent on craft beer with a market share hovering around a staggering 40%.
It makes us feel pretty good about opening up in Cambridge, especially since many of the dominant demographics of Portland are similar to our hometown. But enough statistics! Let’s talk breweries!
Out of 221 breweries in Oregon, we hit 9, with best intentions to make a trip back there to explore the remaining 212. The lucky winners were:
- Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, OR (http://hopworksbeer.com/)
- Lompoc Brewing, Portland, OR (http://www.lompocbrewing.com/)
- Baerlic Brewing, Portland, OR (http://baerlicbrewing.com/)
- Deschutes Brewery Public House, Portland, OR (http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/)
- Breakside Brewery, Milwaukie, OR (http://www.breakside.com/)
- Pfriem Family Brewery, Hood River, OR (http://www.pfriembeer.com/)
- Double Mountain Brewery, Hood River, OR (http://www.doublemountainbrewery.com/)
- Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, OR (http://www.fullsailbrewing.com/)
- Thunder Island Brewing, Cascade Locks, OR (http://thunderislandbrewing.com/)
In all honesty, we thoroughly appreciated beers from each place, and enjoyed seeing the layouts of various taprooms and brew setups. However, the far and away winner of brewery MVP for the trip goes to Breakside Brewery in Milwaukie, OR.
Holy smokes. This stuff was incredible. Head brewer Ben Edmunds is nothing less than a hop and malt savant, and we’re counting down the days until he decides to distribute his product to the east (we may or may not have smuggled a bottle or three home with us for the time being…). His flagship IPA is incredible, which comes as no surprise since it boasts the gold medal in IPA’s from this year’s GABF. However it doesn’t stop at hops; where Breakside really shines is in their sour program, where Ben creates things like Bellwether, a sour double wit aged in gin barrels with kaffir lime leaves, or La Tormenta, an experimental sour ale hopped with citra and mosaic hops. The incredible depth of flavors and styles left us exceedingly inspired (and more than a bit tipsy) upon exit of the brewery, with hopes to bring similar complexity and range of tastes to Cambridge upon opening.
Though it may sound like it, we didn’t just taste beer in Portland. The main purpose of the trip was to check out Mark’s Metal Works and learn more about their brewery equipment manufacturing. And for that explanation, I hand the reins to AC, who will have Part 2 of this post up tomorrow…stay tuned!