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Tigard's newest brewery taps into Farmer's Market scene


Red Ox Brewing will set up kegs on July 20 and 27

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Adam Amato said the companys goal is to make simple, high quality beer without the frills.The Tigard-Area Farmer’s Market has long been known as a place to pick up fresh berries, flowers or a quick lunch, but tucked among the booths and vendors is something you might not expect: A nice cold beer.

Red Ox Brewing, a new nanobrewery based in Tigard, will be at the market each month offering samples and filling growlers as it spreads the word about the area’s newest local brewery.

Red Ox’s owners Matt Shelby and Adam Amato launched the business in 2011 in Shelby’s garage after years of dreaming about opening their own brewery. The duo focused on perfecting their craft while they waded through the years-worth of red tape for approval from the state and federal government, which came through earlier this year.

Grab a growler!

Red Ox brewing is available at two locations in Tigard.

The Tigard Area Farmers Market

8777 S.W. Burnham St.

Sundays through October, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Growlerie

15151 S.W. Barrows Road, in Progress Ridge.

“We spent the first couple of years just brewing,” said Shelby, 35. “It was trial and error getting everything right. Now, we have the recipes, and it’s on to the business side of it. We have all these kegs, now what do we do?”

The friends run the brewery alongside their day jobs — Amato is a custom cabinet builder, Shelby is the former spokesperson for Portland Public Schools and currently serves as communications strategist for the state’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan.

The brewery is still based in Shelby’s garage, and Shelby said he’s fine with the arrangement, for now.

“From early on, we said that the beer had to earn its keep,” Shelby said. “Right now, Adam and I are still putting in some of our own money to pay operating expenses, but anything we get goes back into the business.”

Most of Red Ox’s business comes from keg sales to parties and local bars, Shelby said. But farmers markets are a great way to connect with potential customers.

“It’s a great opportunity to engage with people and get feedback on what they are liking,” Shelby said. “People are disappointed that we haven’t been there all summer.”

Red Ox’s will be selling growlers at the Tigard-Area Farmer’s Market on July 20 and 27.

Shelby said he wants to grow the brewery’s following organically.

“We’ll make incremental investments,” Shelby said. “People always say, ‘Go get an investor,’ or, ‘Get a loan,’ but then this isn’t ours anymore.

“With this model, the worst thing that happens is we we’ve got a brewery and a bunch of beer.”

‘People love it’

Shelby said he’d like to keep the business small, for the time being.

“Right now, we are focusing up and down (Highway 99W). Our focus is staying local and doing only a few things, but doing them really well.”

Once the company starts to pay for itself, Shelby said expanding isn’t out of the question.

“Ideally, we’d like to get to the point where we have a larger brewery and get enough of a following that it would make sense to open up a storefront,” he said. “That seems like the logical next step. It probably wouldn’t be a lot bigger than what we have now, just out of my garage. Have it be a place that people can actually come.”

Despite its new presence in the community, the brewery has already picked up a fanbase, said Megan McCabe, a bartender at The Growlerie — a bar in Progress Ridge that was the first to buy Red Ox's beer.

“People love it,” McCabe said. “They get really excited about it.”

McCabe, who was working the night The Growlerie started selling Red Ox’s creations, said it’s more than that, it’s developing a real following.

“We had been getting requests to carry their stuff,” she told The Times on Tuesday afternoon. “I said to one customer that we were going to put the Red Ox beer on tap next, and there were quite a few customers who heard me say that. They had already closed out their tabs, but said, ‘OK, we’re going to stay,’ and waited another 10 or 20 minutes before we put the Red Ox on so they could have some.”

Shelby said that response is the perfect problem for a new brewery to have.

“We are figuring out pretty quickly that we can’t make enough beer,” Shelby said.