With so many new breweries popping up in Portland, you’d think it was easy to open your own place. You’d be wrong. The years-long process of figuring out how to make good beer – dialing in temperatures, ingredients, fermentation times and more – that just might be the easy part.
The hard part, well, brewers Ben Parsons and Rik Hall are in the midst of that right now. They’re currently renovating the former bagel shop that will soon become Baerlic Brewing on Southeast 11th Avenue next to Blitz Ladd. The space was most recently an Einstein Bros. Bagels, and before that, the beloved Portland institution, Kettleman Bagel Co. It turns out that the bagel counter and cozy dining space were just a small portion of an enormous building that stretches back to 10th Avenue and includes second floor offices and a cavernous area for brewing. Rik and Ben are taking on much of the demolition and renovation of the space on their own. They left their day jobs as a graphic designer (Ben) and a bike mechanic (Rik) earlier this year to put in long days working to have the brewery open by early summer.
Parsons and Hall also faced the typical stumbling blocks before they even moved into their new space. They made it deep into negotiations with two different landlords before deals fell through. But they wound up in a space that leaves them room to grow, in an area that’s exploding. They’re a few blocks up from the unofficial start to Southeast Division’s restaurant row, where the paint is drying on a new Pine State Biscuits location, and where they have a couple of beer brethren in Beermonger’s Bottle Shop and Apex. In another year, they’ll be about five minutes from a new MAX stop.
You won’t have to wait that long for a Baerlic brew. Their new brew house arrives soon, and while there is still plenty of work to be done, Ben and Rik are ready to get back to brewing beer. The pair grew up together in Idaho, and reconnected after they moved to Portland separately. They picked up a homebrewing hobby that grew into a passion, and eventually started mulling a brewery. Rik had restaurant experience, and Ben was a graphic designer. One of his projects while taking design classes at Portland State was to create the branding for a brewery. That’s come in handy.
Baerlic – which translates to “of barley” in Old English – plans to have 10 taps flowing when the pub opens its doors, with four regulars, several seasonals and experimental beers, and a guest tap or two. There won’t be full-blown food service, Baerlic will technically be a tasting room, similar to the Gigantic model. Baerlic is located at 2235 S.E. 11th Avenue. Visit www.baerlicbrewing.com for updates.