On May 9, friends, investors, and Reed neighbors gathered around a somewhat-nondescript blue steel building at the corner of S.E. 26th Avenue and S.E. Steele Street in the growing and diversifying industrial area south of Holgate Boulevard.
On the door was painted 'Gigantic Brewing Company' - and, at 3 pm, the small crowd outside soon became the first customers of the new business.
'We're all here,' said Gabe Headrick of Steelhead Architecture, who in his 'spare time' is President of the Reed Neighborhood Association. Noting that Reed has been a neighborhood nearly devoid of retail-oriented businesses, he mused, 'I think the 'industrial' portion of our neighborhood has a ton of potential; and can draw a lot of businesses like this.'
Headrick said that folks who live in the area have long complained of not having a 'walkable' neighborhood. 'We're not Woodstock; we're not Sellwood - we're somewhere in between. This is a nice start.'
While his partner, Brewmaster Ben Love, was getting ready to open the tasting room, Master Brewer Van Havig told us about the new business.
'I do the traditional Master Brewer duties, and Ben does the traditional Brewmaster duties,' Havig quipped.
'How it came to be was that I got fired from my job of 16 years at a downtown brewpub. Ben wanted to found a brewery; so we looked at each other and said, 'we really should start a brewery'.'
A Reed College grad, Havig said the pair felt comfortable in Inner Southeast Portland. 'And ,when the landlord found out we wanted start a brewery, he thought this building would be just right. Having a fantastic landlord really helps!'
The business displays gleaming, brand-new, custom-made brewing vessels made by Metal Craft Fabrication in the North Portland/Interstate area - so close that it was possible for the partners to check in on the progress of their new gear as it was being fabricated.
'But, all of this takes money,' admitted Havig, 'and neither Ben nor I are rich kids. We talked it up to everyone we knew. Our LLC has 23 members.'
'Gigantic Brewing is not competing with taverns or corner bars,' Havig pointed. 'The three or four beers on tap are our own. We'll always have our IPA on tap, but the others will be 'seasonal beers' that - once they're gone - you'll never see or taste again.'
So, until it's gone, Gigantic is featuring 'A City Never Sleeps', described as a black Saison Belgian-style beer. 'It won the People's Choice award at the Oregon Garden Beer Festival just a couple of weeks ago,' the Master Brewer proudly reflected.
While some of their brew goes into kegs, Havig said, they're hoping for as much as 75% of their product to be distributed in bottles.
While it's not yet huge, Gigantic Brewing may be just to place to wet your whistle in Inner Southeast Portland.
Gigantic Brewing Company
5224 S.E. 26th Avenue
Tasting room is open Wednesday - Friday 2 till 9 pm, Saturday 2 till 9 pm, and Sunday 2 till 8 pm.