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Feb. 28, 2020

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Camas brewery Grains of Wrath expanding into North Portland

2-year-old craft beer brewery taking over Lompoc’s former Sidebar taproom

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Grains of Wrath Brewing, 230 N.E. Fifth Ave., Camas, is opening a taproom in Portland this spring. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files)
Grains of Wrath Brewing, 230 N.E. Fifth Ave., Camas, is opening a taproom in Portland this spring. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Grains of Wrath, the Camas brewery opened two years ago by acclaimed brewer Mike Hunsaker, is expanding into Portland, taking over part of the former home of Lompoc Brewing in North Portland.

Grains of Wrath will move into the former Sidebar taproom and brewery space at 3901 N. Williams Ave., but the deal does not include Lompoc’s former kitchen or 5th Quadrant restaurant area.

Hunsaker, who started the Clark County brewpub with general manager Brendan Greenen and partners Shawn Parker and Brendan Ford, said Grains of Wrath was looking to expand when Lompoc closed in October after nearly a quarter-century in Portland.

“We had started to look around a little bit, get an idea of costs,” Hunsaker said. “We didn’t expect it to be this easy or quick, but we heard about Lompoc closing. It’s there, and we were like, why not? We took a look.”

Hunsaker said the Grains of Wrath owners didn’t want to open another restaurant, so they declined to lease the entire space. He said he didn’t know who might end up in the former 5th Quadrant and kitchen areas.

Instead, Hunsaker said, Grains of Wrath wanted to expand its production capacity and have a taproom in Portland. The building’s owner, Thad Fisco, also owns brewery equipment manufacturer Portland Kettle Works, which will replace Lompoc’s aging and idle system with a new 15-barrel steam system with “all the bells and whistles,” Hunsaker said.

The taproom is expected to open in spring, and the brewery should be in operation by late summer, Greenen said.

“We are very excited to expand Grains of Wrath’s footprint to the Portland area,” Greenen said. “We very much look forward to be able to expand to try to meet the growing demand for the beers we currently make as well as to the opportunity to get a little more creative at the pub in Camas.”

Grains of Wrath has been known for its aggressive, hop-forward ales but is also gaining respect for its lagers, and Hunsaker has the Great American Beer Festival hardware in both disciplines to prove it. He says the Portland brewery will allow GOW, as the brewery is known, to expand production in all of its styles, which also includes barrel-aged offerings, fruited sours and stouts, among others.

“I just want to be known for making good, high-quality beer in all styles,” said Hunsaker, Grains of Wrath’s brewmaster. Brewer “Owen Lamb and I have a real passion for lagers, and we work real hard on those, but at the same time, hoppy beers are what I was taught from the beginning.”

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Hunsaker said the Portland brewery will mostly produce hoppy beers. “Everyone knows us for those. That’s our bread and butter, so this gets those beers off our plate in Camas.”

The expansion allows the brewery to resume canning, which it halted because of equipment limitations.

But size and growth aren’t what’s driving Grains of Wrath, which has limited reach in Washington as far north as Seattle. Its beers can be found as far south as Bend and Eugene through Portland’s Day One Distribution.

“We’re not trying to get big,” Hunsaker said. “We’re just trying to make sure everyone in Portland and Southwest Washington who wants our beer can get it.”

The former Sidebar taproom will undergo “kind of just a facelift, some paint,” Hunsaker said, along with branding in Grains of Wrath’s well-recognized heavy-metal motif. The taproom will be 21-and-over and offer a full bar of curated, top-shelf liquor, along with a light-food menu that Hunsaker said is still being created but could lean toward a local meat purveyor with sausage and meat plates.

Hunsaker said he’s looking forward to returning to Portland, where he made a name for himself at Ohio-based Fat Head’s Brewery before it unexpectedly closed its acclaimed Pearl District location shortly after his departure.

“I’m excited. I get to be back over in Portland more often — it’s where I really started my career,” he said. “Camas has been awesome. At first it took them a second to figure out what we’re about, but it’s been great for us.

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