At Wayfinder Beer, founders of Double Mountain, Sizzle Pie, Podnah’s Pit join forces – http://bit.ly/1Qbkd13
Later this year, a former Central Eastside Industrial District warehouse will roar back to life with a new brewery and wood-fired restaurant joining three of Portland’s most respected food and drink professionals.
The project, Wayfinder Beer, comes from Charlie Devereux, the co-founder of Double Mountain Brewery; Rodney Muirhead, the barbecue master at Northeast Portland’s Podnah’s Pit; and Matt Jacobson, the force behind late-night pizza sensation Sizzle Pie and hard-charging rock label Relapse Records.
Come spring, the new brewery and restaurant will open in nearly 8,000 square feet of space in the City Sign Building, with a brick-walled beer hall up front and a 10-barrel brewing system round back. Found about half a block from Produce Row Cafe, the brewery will pour two dozen taps of house and guest beer to more than 100 seats inside and 100 more on an expansive deck overlooking Second Avenue.
Double Mountain co-founder Devereux, who left the popular Hood River brewery in 2013, plans to brew a mix of ales and lagers, the slower-fermenting style he fell in love with on a recent trip to Germany and the Czech Republic. Joining him in the four-vessel brewery is Kevin Davey, a brewer with experience at Washignton’s Chuckanut Brewery, California’s Firestone Walker and Seattle’s Gordon Biersch, where he took home a 2014 Great American Beer Festival gold medal for his Munich-style Helles.
“Brewers here have always felt that lagers were something that people liked, but from a business perspective, they’re a little more difficult, a little more complicated to make and, well, take more time,” Devereux told The Oregonian Monday. “But some of those things have evened out. It’s funny, but hoppy beers have gotten so hoppy, and so in demand, that making lagers isn’t necessarily more expensive than making ales. If you’re making IPAs with 2-3 pounds of hops in them as your mainstay, the cost isn’t so different.”
Food is courtesy of Podnah’s Pit barbecue king Rodney Muirhead, who is currently building a wood-fired grill similar to the ones you might have seen at Portland restaurants Ox, Ava Gene’s or Imperial. The all-day menu will focus on fresh-baked pretzels, sandwiches made on house-made bread (including a version of the prime rib cheesesteak Muirhead and Aaron Franklin made for the Feast Portland food festival) plus classic brew pub dishes such as fish and chips.
“I never feel like I have to reinvent anything,” Muirhead says. “Just make it right.”
Wayfinder will feature fresh-baked pretzels from Podnah’s Pit owner Rodney Muirhead.
Courtesy of Wayfinder Beer
At night, the grill will fire up with steaks, chops, baby-back ribs, a no-nonsense burger and plenty of vegetables, including several vegetarian and vegan dishes. Look for Muirhead to lean on nearby Nicky USA for game meats. If we’re lucky, Muirhead might park the custom smoker Franklin built for him outside the brewery for special events.
For Muirhead, the project offers an opportunity for him and his team — including managers Jeff Rain and Ryan Day — to move beyond barbecue.
“We were thinking about what to do next, not necessarily something this big, but I couldn’t turn down the chance to work with Charlie,” Muirhead said. “I threw out the idea, ‘What if I do the food, you do the beer?'”
Portland’s top ten barbecue pits
Portland’s top ten barbecue pits
The Portland-area’s 10 best barbecue pits.
The third principle in the project is Matt Jacobson, the beer-loving entrepreneur behind Relapse Records and Sizzle Pie, who brings a wealth of experience in branding, marketing and back-of-house systems. Jacobson founded the rock- and metal-focused Relapse Records 25 years ago in his parents basement. Since then, the independent label has since released some 750 albums. In addition to his pizzerias in Portland and Eugene, Jacobson formerly owned Southeast Portland’s White Owl Social Club, home to Lagerfest, a lager-focused beer festival.
Jacobson first crossed paths with Devereux several years ago, after Sizzle Pie produced a poster celebrating a Double Mountain bottle release that was “better than anything we had ever done ourselves,” Devereux says. Jacobson’s longtime art director Orion Landau will help craft the new brewery’s look. Beer release collaborations with Portland artists or musicians could be in the mix.
“I’m super excited to be working with these guys,” Jacobson says. “Long brefore I got to know Charlie I was a huge fan of Double Mountain. It’s definitely one of my favorite breweries in the state. And I love Rodney’s simple, authentic approach to food.”
Two more familiar faces should be popping up behind the bar. Jonathan Carmean, a familiar presence behind beer bars including Saraveza and, more recently, Belmont Station’s Biercafe, will manage the bar, while Jacob Grier, the Aquavit-loving bartender who wrote the book on beer cocktails, is crafting Wayfinder’s spirits menu and cocktails.
Wayfinder Beer is a new brewery and restaurant project from Charlie Devereux (Double Mountain), Rodney Muirhead (Podnah’s Pit) and Matt Jacobson (Sizzle Pie). Photo courtesy of Wayfinder Beer.
Courtesy of Wayfinder Beer
The brewery’s classic-meets-contemporary design comes courtesy of Works Parnership Architecture, including mod white-box skylights and a massive deck built out from the bar all the way to Second Avenue, with notches for a staircase, ramp and bike parking. Construction on the project is already underway.
For Devereux, draws inspiration from his beer-world mentor, Ecliptic Brewing’s John Harris, Wayfinder Beer is the culmination of nearly three years of wandering and planning after leaving Double Mountain.
“When I left, I thought I might open a bar, something smaller, Devereux says. “I took a big deep breath, did a little traveling, went to Europe and got re-inspired by beer, especially lager beer.
“Then when John opened Ecliptic, I had so much fun watching him brew the first batches. It reminded me that brewing is a special career.”
Wayfinder Beer is shooting for a spring, 2016 opening at 304 S.E Second Ave. For more information, visit wayfinder.beer.
— Michael Russell
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