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Backwoods Brewing expanding with brewpub in Ridgefield, bigger plans for Carson

Backwoods Brewing, which the Waters family founded in the Columbia River Gorge town of Carson in 2012, has come out of the pandemic hitting its stride.

For starters, it will soon begin construction on a third location, a brewpub in Ridgefield. Co-owner Tom Waters said the new location will be just west of Interstate 5, near where a new Costco is planned, as well. It will be on nearly an acre and include ground and mezzanine dining spaces plus an outdoors drinking and dining area.

The food menu will be a bit of a mash-up of the two current Backwoods locations — the pizza from the Carson pub and the burgers, wraps and salads from the Pearl District in Portland. The tentatively named Backwoods Brew Lab will also include a pilot brewhouse — something the brewery has been in need of to develop recipes and small-batch brews it can’t do now in at its big production brewery in Stevenson, Washington.

Tom Waters and his brother, fellow co-owner Chris Waters, said they hope the brewery’s third location will be open by the end of next year, but mid-2024 is probably more realistic. The brothers’ founded the brewery with their parents after their father, homebrewer Jim Waters, taught them how to make beer.

The Waters have also bought 18 acres cater-corner to the original Carson pub, and they plan an eventual new Backwoods pub and production brewery there. That’s a bit down the road, maybe in a couple of years, but the first part of the development — eight rental cabins on the property — is expected to be up and running this spring.

Additionally, Backwoods in December began distributing in Idaho through Scout Distribution.

So it’s full steam ahead for the brewery. On the beer front, Backwoods just released a late winter ale, Comfy Womfy. It’s Backwoods’ classic winter brown ale but with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla added, and while it’s a winter ale, it’s a crisp and light one. It delivers hints of chocolate, caramel and a nutty, malty sweetness with subtle hopping. On a recent visit to the Pearl location, I also really enjoyed the Off-Grid IPA, which is light and bright and citrusy but still delivers just the right amount of malt, pine and dankness.

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Editor’s note: This is a re-publication of Oregon Brews and News, a weekly newsletter rounding up Portland and Oregon beer and brewery news. It is sent to subscriber’s emails at noon every Thursday. To subscribe, go to and sign up for Oregon Brews and News.

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Already popular Grand Fir Brewing adds brunch

A man in a baseball cap and overalls and a woman with long blond hair holding a beer are shown in a pub.

The wife-and-husband Grand Fir Brewing ownership team of Whitney Burnside and Doug Adams greet industry friends Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, during a preview night of their new brewery and restaurant, which opens Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.Andre Meunier/Staff

Grand Fir Brewing — Whitney Burnside and Doug Adams’ new Southeast Portland brewery and restaurant — is off and running.

That is a candidate for Understatement of the Year. The place is consistently hopping with great energy, and the wife and husband team is delivering on the promise of outstanding beers and food.

The latest development: Grand Fir on Friday, Jan. 20, will start brunch service and will pour Burnside’s beers alongside brunch cocktails paired with a menu full of smoky instant classics from Adams, the renowned Portland chef. How does a griddled breakfast sandwich with pimento cheese, East Texas barbecue pork belly, and soft scrambled eggs sound? That’s among the highlights, plus an egg on Fir’s alpine potatoes or granola made from brewers malt.

Look for brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays through Sundays at Grand Fir, 1403 S.E. Stark St.

Wolves & People among prestigious award finalists

Wolves & People brewery

Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery is in Newberg, Oregon.Brooke Herbert/The Oregonian

The Good Food Awards are a prized competition focused on responsibility and sustainability, spanning all manner of food and beverages. For the first time the awards ceremony this April will be held in Portland, and the competition announced its finalists this week, with Newberg’s Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery the only Oregon brewery to make the cut.

Instinctive Travels, a dry-hopped saison-brett, and Pesca, a barrel-aged wild ale with peaches, will face off against 30 other beers, including two from Washington’s Reuben’s Brews: Crikey IPA and Hazealicious IPA.

The 13th annual awards showcase companies leading their industries and communities toward “a tastier and more responsible future.” You can see the full list of finalists here.

Beer of the Week

Dead Guy IPA from Rogue Ales & Spirits

Dead Guy IPA is being elaborately marketed — in a mock coffin with the can buried in dirt.Andre Meunier/Staff

Dead Guy IPA, Rogue Ales & Spirits (7.0% ABV; 69 IBU). “IPAs are Dead,” says Rogue, but by that the globally recognized Oregon brand doesn’t mean the style is kaput, but rather, that 30 years after Rogue created its massively popular Dead Guy Ale, the Newport brewery has released Dead Guy IPA, a bigger, hoppier version of the ubiquitous pale ale. I asked Rogue spokesperson Amanda Zessin why they made Dead Guy an IPA now after three decades, and she said it’s because people love the pale ale and the brewery’s Dead Guy Whiskey offering and have been asking what’s next. “We wanted to create a Dead Guy-worthy IPA for all of those Dead Guy fans out there. It took us years to perfect this recipe and we didn’t want to introduce it until it was an IPA to die for. Our production team crushed this liquid and we’re super proud to introduce Dead Guy IPA.” The release party is being held at 5 p.m. tomorrow, Friday the 13th (see what they did there?), at the Rogue Eastside Pub, 928 S.E. Ninth Ave. You can also join the party on Rogue’s Instagram or at satellite events in Newport and Astoria. Brewery notes: “Dead Guy IPA weaves Citra and Mosaic hops into a subtle malt body to create a bold, complex IPA worthy of the Dead.”

In Case You Missed It

Here are stories published late last week to OregonLive’s beer webpage:

What to do?

De Garde Brewing’s 10th anniversary festival: This one is several months out, but hey, it’s de Garde, so it’s worth getting on your calendar now so you can have an immediate reason to decline that wine-tasting invite that will inevitably land on your doorstep in April. The Tillamook making of wild ales — and, as I’ve said before here, one of my favorite breweries on the planet — is turning 10, which is hard to believe but apparently true. Few details are available except that on May 6 the brewery will throw its “largest celebration yet” and will be “sharing beer from a large selection of the friends we’ve made along the way, along with a whole lot of our own,” it said. So X out Saturday, May 6, on your calendar and I’ll see you there.

New Releases of Note

Bourbon Fred From the Wood, Hair of the Dog Brewery (12% ABV). The brewery that closed last summer continues to sell beer online from its deep inventory, and last week it added two vintages of this beer, an American strong ale aged in bourbon barrels. Brewery notes: “Butterscotch aroma with no carbonation. Gentle bourbon flavor with clean finish. Best drunk in the next few years.”

Suitcase Full of Cash West Coast IPA, Vice Beer collab with La Mere Brewing (7% ABV). The newish Vancouver brewery (Vice) pairs with the small startup from Vancouver (La Mere) for this IPA that features Warrior, Cascade and Mosaic in the kettle and Cashmere dry hopping. Brewery notes: “Super well-balanced and smooth.” Available at Vice Beer’s location in east Vancouver, 705 S.E. Park Crest Ave D430.

STARPM IPA, Ecliptic Brewing collab with Boneyard Beer (7.2% ABV). The Portland and Bend breweries are making a mashup of Ecliptic’s Starburst IPA and Boneyard’s RPM IPA. Both of the original beers are heavily hopped, and the mashup is no exception, featuring Citra, Simcoe, Centennial, Azacca and Amarillo hops for a citrusy and tropical flavor. Brewery notes: “A unified force of citrusy and tropical hop aromas all against a classic malt profile with a dry finish.” STARPM IPA will be released Feb. 22 in 16-ounce cans and draft and will be the second beer in Ecliptic’s 2023 Cosmic Collaboration series.

Jerry Cherry Berry Sour, Montavilla Brew Works (5.7% ABV). This iteration of MBW’s classic kettle sour uses German-grown pilsner malt, Canadian white wheat malt and a touch of German acidulated malt. Live Lactobacillus is added to the kettle for a “souring” effect, and toward the end of fermentation the brewers added over 80 pounds of fresh, Oregon-grown marionberry and dark sweet cherry. Brewery notes: “Tart, dry (read: drinkable!) and chockful of bright, ripe and jammy fruit overtones.” On draft now in the taproom, 7805 S.E. Stark St., with cans coming in February.

Barleywine, Chuckanut Brewery/North Fork Brewery (10.3% ABV). Chuckanut and the Whatcom County brewery got together last year on this barleywine, the first Chuckanut has ever brewed. Made with Vienna malts aged for about a year, it is a smooth reddish-gold Barleywine, a mash-up between British and American styles. It’s on draft at Chuckanut’s P. Nut Beer Hall in Southeast Portland, and on Friday, Jan. 13, Chuckanut will also release a limited supply of 500ml bottles starting at noon. Brewery notes: “A whimsical balance of sweetness from the malt and a slight bitterness from noble hops mingles with a warming palate and dry finish.” 920 S.E. Caruthers St.

Pearl Coffee Stout, Living Haus Beer Co. collab with Stigbergets Bryggeri (6.5% ABV). The Living Haus brewers got together with their brewing compatriots at Stigbergets Bryggeri, a brewery in Gothenburg, Sweden, to make the latest batch of Living Haus’s coffee stout. It features new coffee from Puff Coffee of Portland and slightly less vanilla, so less sweet as the inaugural brew. Brewery notes: “We blended a complex array of crystal, chocolate, and roasted malts with malted and golden naked oats to create a full bodied yet quaffable base stout and then we layered in the Spirit Lifter blend of coffee from Puff Coffee and a touch of Madagascar vanilla to top it off.” Available at the taproom, 628 S.E. Belmont St., and select stores and retailers where Living Haus is distributed.

— Andre Meunier; sign up for my weekly newsletter Oregon Brews and News, and follow me on Instagram, where I’m @oregonianbeerguy.

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