In a few weeks, we’ll be bringing our Juicy Brews festival to the Bay Area with Juicy Brews WestFest. This is Hop Culture’s first time on the West Coast and we’re excited to reconnect with some of our favorite breweries in the area, as well as introduce Oakland locals to our East Coast buddies like Magnify, Dancing Gnome, and Triple Crossing.
To find out a little more from our friends out west, we asked them a few questions about their history, favorite music, and their thoughts on juicy IPAs.
In this edition, we chatted with Scott Lawrence, co-founder of Breakside Brewery.
Breakside Brewery, located in Portland, Oregon, opened its doors 8 years ago as a brewpub. Now, Breakside has three locations across Portland inlcuding a 20,000 BBL per year facility in Milwaukie, just southeast of downtown Portland. The newest brick and mortar addition to Breakside is the Slabtown brewpub and restaurant, which features organic, locally-sourced food.
Expansion hasn’t come at the cost of quality, though. Breakside continues to produce stellar classics like its flagship, Breakside IPA, and exciting new additions like the Kids These Haze series.
I reached out to Scott to talk about the origin of Breakside, what makes a great taproom, and how failure is a necessary part of brewing.
John Paradiso: Why did you want to start a brewery?
Scott Lawrence: On a trip to Alaska with friends we ended our stay with a few beers at the Alaskan Brewing Company. I realized afterwards, sitting around a fire with my friends drinking good beer and eating good food, that this is what I wanted to do for a career. And opening a brewery gave me the opportunity to do just that. Eating and drinking with friends is one of our unofficial mantras at Breakside.
JP: Do you have any horror stories from your time as a brewer?
SL: I don’t have any specific horror stories, but I had to give up everything to start Breakside. My car, my 401K, etc… I was the head bartender at the pub for the first few years. There was a point where I went to the grocery store and got declined buying some eggs! Starting up a business definitely has its stressful moments and I don’t think those ever end for an owner. Over time, as the business (hopefully) grows I think you learn to deal with those moments a bit better and have a bigger team to fall back on for support and help.
JP: Are you reading anything interesting?
SL: I just finished Trevor Noah’s book Born a Crime. I really enjoyed that one!
JP: How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for future success?
SL: From a failure perspective you obviously don’t want to continually make mistakes, especially big ones. However, you need to fail in order to learn. It’s been said many times before but from your failures come some of the best ideas and products.
JP: Describe your ideal taproom.
SL: While our brewery taproom is not the most beautiful place, I think it gets pretty close to ideal. You’re in the brewery so you definitely see the action and hear it! It’s very industrial, with the focus on the 24 beers we offer. It could probably use a bit more comfort in the way of seating but it encourages people to sample some great beers and have some fun conversations in the process.
Catch Breakside Brewery at Juicy Brews WestFest on April 22nd in Oakland, CA.