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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hobo Brewing Renamed Coalition Brewing; Other Updates

I ran into Elan Walsky over the weekend. Elan, the sharp-memoried will recall, is one of two principles (Kiley Hoyt is the other) who plan to open a new brewery in the former Noble Rot building on 28th and Ankeny. I was pleased to learn that things are still on track, though quite a lot has changed since my first update. The name, in particular: forget Hobo, the new place will be called Coalition Brewing. How did this come about, and what does it portend? Read on.

Usual and Unusual Setbacks
Every brewery opening is fraught with certain unforeseen setbacks, but you don't expect to get hit with a lawsuit even before you get the mash tun installed. That's what happened when the name "Hobo" provoked some dispute and legal action. I got the fifty-cent version of the story, but since lawyers are involved, I'll leave it at that. They considered going with a similar evocation ("Boxcar," for example), but instead decided to use the name change to re-think the business model. Thus emerged "Coalition" (see below).

They also had the more usual setbacks of space issues and lease wrangles. Originally, the idea as a three- or five-barrel system, but that didn't leave much room to grow. Problem is, the Nobel Rot building is very wee. So the new plan is a ten-barrel system, but to manage it they have to build a shed behind the building. All of this has set back the targeted opening date probably four months--look for the grand opening sometime toward the end of the year.

Coalition of Brewers
The more interesting update involves the name and concept behind it. Perhaps inspired by the Collaborator Project (Elan and Kiley are members of the Brew Crew, the homebrew club that partnered with Widmer to do Collaborator), they plan to invite homebrewers to submit recipes, work with the brewery, and produce their recipes there. Thus, the "coalition." I didn't press too hard for info about the process (let them get a brewery first), but they won't hold a competition as the Collaborator Project does. It will be more informal.

(And I happen to know of a nice grisette recipe they might be interested in trying...)

One final, interesting note. Fred Bowman, the co-founder of Portland Brewing, is advising Elan and Kiley. That's gotta be good: Fred has forgotten more about starting and running a brewery than most of us will ever know. They're in good hands. Let's hope the setbacks are all in the rear-view mirror and it's smooth riding from here on out.


  1. I know, we've had a few setbacks..but things have turned out better than ever and it won't be too much longer, I promise. The new bit is that our brewery will be right across the street which now allows public access, tours, and tastings opposed to the tuffshed we were thinking about having in the back. Our recipes are dialed in, and all the nitty gritty with the city is working out. Stop by and chat..our "Collective" program where homebrewers can come in and brew with us is being fianlized and applications will be ready soon :) Cheers!

  2. Happy to read here that Coalition's planned collaboration with customers was possibly inspired by Widmer's Collaboration Project with the Oregon home brewing community. I've read elsewhere that Coalition is claiming to be "the first brewery in Portland that partners with home brewers and engages customers to develop new beer," and that would deny homage to a great idea generated by a local brewing company that has truly been committed to fostering and encouraging home brewing creativity for the over 12 years!