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Brewery opens in 'untapped market'


by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Brewmaster Ben Edmunds welcomes customers to Breakside Brewery in Milwaukie with an array of well-reviewed offerings.You will have to forgive brewmaster Ben Edmunds for his pun, but he said that one reason owner Scott Lawrence wanted to locate his Breakside Brewery in Milwaukie was because the area presented a “great opportunity to jump into an untapped market.”

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Jacob Leonard, director of brewery operations, empties a fermenter at Breakside Brewery.One thing Breakside has is plenty of taps, and the hand-crafted beer flows freely from them.

Breakside Brewery opened Jan. 30 in the industrial park just off Harmony Road in Milwaukie. Mayor Jeremy Ferguson was there to cut the red ribbon and sample the beer.

“He liked the Breakside pilsner,” Edmunds said, adding that it is also his personal favorite.

“It is a light, crisp and balanced German beer,” Edmunds said. “What is beautiful about it is that it is an accessible beer — not super bitter, not sweet and not highly alcoholic.”

Breakside was founded by Lawrence in May 2010, when he opened his first location on Northeast Dekum in Portland. The name originally stemmed from an ultimate Frisbee term, but now the logo of a “vacation deck chair” says it all.

Lawrence wanted the logo to evoke a lifestyle where people relaxed, took a break and spent time with friends, Edmunds said.

“Few things are better than eating and drinking with friends,” he said. “This business is our attempt to put that philosophy into action, in the way that we run the business, hire employees and how we grow as a business.”

The Dekum location is a full restaurant with classic pub grub, Edmunds said, but is also a three-barrel brew house.

Only potato chips will be served at the Milwaukie location, but it is considerably larger, with a 30-barrel system; the goal is to brew about 5,000 barrels this year and double that in 2014.

“We’ll continue to brew at Northeast Dekum, and do some fun experimental beers. Few breweries have both a 30-barrel and a three-barrel system,” Edmunds said.

Why Milwaukie?

“We decided not to be a huge, huge brewery, but a mid-sized craft brewery, where we could produce both draft and bottles, so we had to have the space to produce a lot of beer. There is an underserved market here in the Clackamas County area, and the real estate is more affordable” than in Portland’s city center, Edmunds said.

“One thing we did successfully at Northeast Dekum was we took a neighborhood that did not have a pub and created a great environment where people learned to trust what we are doing, and we want to do the same thing here.”

The addition of Breakside Brewery to International Way, a location that already houses Bob’s Red Mill and Dave’s Killer Bread, means there are now “three businesses that manipulate grain,” Edmunds noted.

A delicate beverage

Breakside will offer tours of the brewery on Saturdays, and visitors will see a spotless area with shining vats and containers with mysterious devices for checking temperatures and such.

But the actual brewing process is not such a mystery.

“Beer-making is the conversion of unpalatable cereal into a moderately alcoholic and delicate beverage,” Edmunds said.

Of course, it is not exactly that simple.

To produce the beer, the four full-time brewers and four part-timers grind malted barley into a very coarse flour called grist. From there, water is mixed in and starches become sugar; the sugars eventually become the alcohol in the beer, Edmunds said.

The liquid is strained off the grain and boiled; hops are added for flavor and aroma, and this mixture is boiled down. Rapid cooling is the next step, and the mixture is put into a fermentation tank, and yeast is added. Fermentation takes from five to eight days; the beer is then moved off the yeast in a natural filtration process; and finally, carbonation takes place.

The grain residue is picked up by a local farmer and fed to cattle, Edmunds noted.

Ninety-nine percent of beer is made in this way; variations come in different ways.

“In the last two years, we have released about 170 beers, and hope to release another 100 or so this year,” Edmunds said.

One seasonal or small-batch beer made by Breakside is Cedarbaumbier, which means cedar tree beer in German, the making of which involves foraging for red cedar tips and the substitution of those for hops in the beer-making process.

Making the county famous

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Ben Edmunds next to a fermenter at Breakside Brewery.Customers can come in and have pints or try taster trays. The classic tray has six beers — four popular year-round beers and two picks from the bartender, while the choose-your-own-tray allows people to choose six glasses from a huge menu of beers.

One thing that sets Breakside apart from other breweries is that the brewers are behind the bar, serving customers, Edmunds said.

“It is a unique experience. Customers get to talk to and learn from the people making the beer, and we want to learn who’s drinking our beer,” he said.

As for the future, “we want to grow into this facility and become a well-recognized and successful brewer of draft and bottled beer all over the Northwest, Western Canada, Idaho, Northern California and select other markets in the country,” Edmunds said.

“We want to be the brewery that makes Clackamas County famous. In the next six months, we want to be in restaurants and bars in all of Oregon. Support your local brewery — ask for it on tap.”

Breakside Brewery

Located at 5821 S.E. International Way in Milwaukie.

Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 3 to 7 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Tours are offered on Saturdays.

Visit the website: breaksidebrews.com to see a full menu of beer choices, or call 503-719-6475 for more information.