Posted by The Portland Mercury in the 2018 Craft Beer Issue
The Forthcoming Buckman Neighborhood Brewpub Keeps a Family Name Alive
The Buckman neighborhood continues its fast and furious transformation with the new addition of West Coast Grocery Company (WCGC). A new grocer, you ask? Nope—just a clean, bright, corner spot that’s brewing some damn tasty beer.
The long-awaited brewery and pub, due to open in July, sits kitty-corner across from Revolution Hall in the old Luxury Bread Building, which has undergone a full (and lengthy) renovation. The extra time has proven to be a good thing for WCGC’s founder/owner Charlie Hyde, as he was able to settle on a more fitting name than the brewery’s previous, short-lived incarnation as Bodega Beer.
Lifelong Pacific Northwesterners might already be familiar with the West Coast Grocery Company name, which has a long history here—as an actual grocery warehouse. Hyde’s great-great-grandfather founded the Tacoma, Washington-based business back in 1891, and multiple warehouses from Salem to Seattle distributed goods to stores throughout the area all the way up until 1985.
A recent tour of the new brewery reveals a glimpse into its namesake’s past—including yellowed packaging behind the bar with the original West Coast Grocery’s “AMOCAT” brand on them. A large mobile of shopping carts hangs from the ceiling near the restrooms. And the visage of great-great-grandpa Charlie himself might also make an appearance on one of the walls in the future.
But this is a beer place, right? Hyde’s philosophy is simple: “I just want to do something I love, and do it well.” To help with his vision, Hyde brought in Owen Woods as WCGC’s head brewer (Woods is the former head brewer at the Deschutes Public House in the Pearl, and replaces Steve Balzer, who recently moved to Hawaii).
When you walk in, the first things you’ll notice are the sleek, shiny tanks protruding up from the basement level (patrons will be able to watch the brewing process while sipping their brews). There’s also a barrel room for future barrel-aged and sour recipes. WCGC already has a handful of collaboration beers in circulation, including the Bo-De-Ga IPA with Breakside Brewing and a pilsner with Baerlic Brewing. By the time I make my way up the steps to the bar area from the main dining room, I have a Fuzzy Ballz hazy IPA in my hand (a collaboration with Victor 23 Brewing—the name comes from Hyde’s love of tennis). It’s a balanced take on the popular hazy style, and quite good.
WCGC will have their six collaboration beers on tap when they open, but will expand to 14 tap handles—including two for ciders—once the 15-barrel brew system is fully operational. Food-wise, Hyde says they’re not breaking the mold, but will offer up solid pub fare, including burgers and sandwiches. He also says they may end up having the only fryer within a few blocks, so you can get your tots fix, too.
Needless to say, this bustling corner is about to get a little livelier. The West Cost Grocery Company name lives on in the Pacific Northwest, and I think great-great grandpa Charlie would be proud.
West Coast Grocery Company
1403 SE Stark, Portland, Oregon 97214