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Vertigo hops to brewing success

It all began with a gift certificate.

Vertigo Brewing co-owner and brewer Mike Haines received a gift certificate from his wife, Barb, for a do-it-yourself brewing store many years ago — a place where he could brew and bottle his own beer right in the store.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Vertigo Brewing co-owners Mike Haines (left) and Michael Kinion are ready to celebrate five years in the brewery business.

The store is long gone, but Hillsboro’s Vertigo Brewing is going strong and about to celebrate its five-year anniversary.

Haines and co-owner Michael Kinion were co-workers at Intel. They shared a love of beer-making and practiced and refined the craft in Haines’ garage as a hobby for eight years.

The two brewed beer for weddings and parties for family and friends.

“People would ask where they could get it,” Haines said.

In 2000, they entered their brew into the Washington County Fair home brew competition.

“We talked about it (opening a microbrewery business) for years,” Haines said.

Finally, in September of 2008, they did just that.

At first Mike and Mike ran what in the business is considered a nano-brewery. They turned out four barrels — about eight kegs — each month.

At the time, they both worked as the brewmasters, distributors, marketers, business managers and janitors at the brewery, a small, narrow warehouse space with high ceilings and a huge metal garage door. And they both worked their jobs at Intel.

It wasn’t long before beer lovers in Hillsboro and beyond discovered the city’s new brewery, tucked in a nondescript industrial park off Cornelius Pass Road.

Over the last five years, life has changed for both Mikes. Haines retired from Intel in December 2009; Kinion in December 2012. Both now work far more than full-time at Vertigo.

The brewery has upgraded to a larger seven-barrel brew system and produces about 97 barrels a month, still a tiny microbrewery in the world of microbrewing.

The men brew 10 different ales. Anchoring the lot is Friar Mike’s IPA (no, it’s not named after either Mike), seasonals such as the popular Razz Wheat and Apricot Cream Ale, and the more recent addition of Closer Pale Ale.

Closer was brewed especially for the Hillsboro Hops’ baseball games, and Haines said Vertigo had three handles pouring Closer at the home games. He approached Hops General Manager K.L. Wombacher shortly after it became official Hillsboro was getting a minor league baseball team.

“They’re really nice people,” Haines said of Wombacher and president Mike McMurray. “They really wanted to have something local.”

In June 2012, Vertigo expanded to the space next door and launched a taproom, which is open Wednesday through Sunday in the afternoons and evenings.

Vertigo is also poured at the nearby Orenco Tap Room, as well as many other locations in Hillsboro, Beaverton and as far east as Welches and south to Salem. The company also bottles a small percentage of its beer and distributes it locally at New Seasons, Whole Foods and Fred Meyer.

The Mikes’ secret to success?

“It starts with good beer,” Haines said. “We have amazing customers. They really spread the word for us.”

The men hope to expand operations in their current space in the future, growing up with larger, taller brewing kettles.

“Hillsboro was a tough nut to crack,” Haines said. “People are finally figuring out good beer is good.”

Five challenging but successful years later, Vertigo Brewing is throwing itself an anniversary party on Sept. 28.

And brewmasters Kinion and Haines continue to eagerly develop and refine their craft, looking forward to the next five years.




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