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Friday, August 16, 2013

A Major Milestone: Five Years for Brewers Union Local 180

I've got a pitch for you.  Wouldn't it be a great idea to found a cool little brewpub in the heart of the Oregon Cascades?  It would be ideal if the town had fewer than 4,000 people and was at least 45 minutes from any town of any size.  And wouldn't it be cool to brew only low-alcohol cask ale?  I know: let's start it in the middle of the worst recession in 75 years in a town that subsists largely on tourism.  Sold!

Somehow, when Ted Sobel wrote up the business plan (I suspect on a beer mat deep into a session of cask bitter), he didn't catch any of the subtle red flags and charged ahead, anyway.  I'm so glad he did, because his singular vision, even five years later, remains a singular vision.  Lose Brewers Union Local 180, and we lose all his idiosyncratic pursuits.  In particular, his tireless promotion of proper cask ale--the kind we need a whole lot more of.  Ted:
They say it takes three to five years in the BEST of times. It hasn't been so, something having to do with an economic downturn or some such thing. There were dark moments in the first three years when I just wanted to chuck it. Cash flow was poor in this diminutive and isolated mountain town. Then slowly in the fourth year we started to get caught up on the back bills and got the Oregon Department of Revenue and the IRS off our backs. In the fifth year we made some needed improvements and repairs to the kitchen, cellar and walk-in cooler and started staffing up a bit to cover the increased traffic. This is the first year that I've brought in brewery assistance and had double help in the front of the house during the peak hours on the weekends. While it cuts into the cash in a big way, it improves the customer experience and allows me a little time away. To plan. To scheme. To have a pint or two in someone else's pub.
I'm so glad you made it, Ted.  Oregon is much the richer for having Brewers Union in our midst. (Fans should go read that whole post, because there's some heartening news for Portland-area fans of his beer.)

1 comment:

Jack R. said...

My wife and I overnighted in Oakridge Wednesday night for the sole purpose of dining and have pints at Brewers Union Local 180. It was nice.
.. We met a young couple on their way back to Austin, Tex., who had dropped by on their journey.
.. My third visit; there will be more.

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