They continue to expand their brand with the announcement of several special releases this Saturday, Dec. 21. One of these beers, and I'll get to the list, is the 100th release of the year. They are also establishing a beer club, the Cellar Reserve Club, which fans can sign up for beginning Saturday.
Back up a bit. The original brewery on Dekum is a 3 bbl setup, essentially a nano-brewery. The limitations of that brewery were probably apparent from day one. Even as the beers gained a following, they lacked the capacity to brew more. A production brewery was the answer, and it presented itself in the form of a 30 bbl system in a 7,000-square foot facility in industrial Milwaukie. They have 24 taps in the tasting room.
The change in output is amazing to behold. For all of 2012, Breakside produced 670 barrels of beer and was ranked 64th on the OLCC's Taxable Barrels Report. Then came the new brewery. By the end of September 2013, the most recent month for which production numbers are available, Breakside had produced 2,281 barrels and ranked 20th on the OLCC list. That's what a production brewery will do for you.
|The brewing machine|
They have room for expansion in the new place and it also provides ample space for barrel-aging. As you may know, lack of available space is the main reason breweries that want to start a barrel program don't. Breakside's barrel program, limited before, is in fine form now.
The old brewery on Dekum is now free to produce experimental beers at will. In fact, the 100 beers brewed during 2013 surely could not have happened if the old nano brewery had been engaged in production and specialty brewing. Again, a large, efficient production facility is nice to have when experimental beers are your thing.
|Space to grow into|
- Aquavit Barrel-Aged Braggot - Honey ale aged for eight months in a Krogstad Aquavit barrel. The end product (10.2% ABV) features notes of anise and carrway, along with mild oak.
- Bourbon Woody - A blend of 80 percent English old ale aged in bourbon barrels for seven months and 20 percent freshly brewed English strong ale. This winds up being a robust beer (just 10% ABV) with strong bourbon notes and a beefy body.
- Beaujolais avec Brett - A strong sour ale fermented with wild yeast, this is a brilliant violet color in a glass. It is bottle-conditioned with Brett for added complexity and clocks in at 8.2% ABV.
The draft beer, anointed Breakside's 100th beer of 2013, is a brilliant effort known as Safe Word Triple IPA. We (beer media folks) tasted this out of a tank last week and it was fabulous with minimal carbonation. It will only get better. They used seven pounds of hops per barrel in making this beer. It packs a punch at 11% ABV and 140 IBU (a crazy number, I know). But this isn't a bitter beer. Nope. It smells like a hop drying room and hop flavor is bold. No self-respecting hophead will want to miss this beer. Again, it's draft only.
|The bar area...24 taps|
I suspect there are a lot of breweries that would like to be in Breakside's position. They've built a solid reputation via careful planning and attention to detail. Brewmaster Ben Edmunds has one of the most creative minds in Oregon brewing, and has been instrumental in producing beers that people are drawn to. They're spreading their wings and the future is bright at Breakside.