E-Malt.com News article: USA, OR: Danish brewery Mikkeller to take over former home of Burnside Brewing in Portland
Two decades before becoming one of the world’s most acclaimed brewers, Mikkel Borg Bjergso of Denmark had his craft-beer awakening while attending college in the United States, the Herald and News reported on April 27.
It was at the hands of a Rogue Dead Guy Ale.
Now Bjergso is returning the favor to Oregon. His Danish brewery Mikkeller, maker of some of the globe’s most sought-after craft beers, will take over the former home of Burnside Brewing, opening a pop-up beer bar alongside a pop-up restaurant — a placeholder while the partnership explores the possibility of a permanent bar, restaurant and Mikkeller brewery at the site.
The Copehagen-based Mikkeller is teaming with Portland restaurant group Chefstable to open Mikkeller Portland by June 1 and operate the pop-ups through the end of the year, featuring at least 23 Mikkeller taps alongside a menu of Japanese noodles and rice dishes. The partners will then shut down the pop-ups as they pursue the feasibility of a permanent establishment.
“I’ve always loved Portland and think it is a great city,” Bjergso said. “In many respects it reminds me about Copenhagen and Scandinavia — also mentality wise — and maybe that is why I feel comfortable there.”
Kurt Huffman, Chefstable owner and managing partner, said the empty Burnside Brewing space and the vibrant neighborhood appealed to both Bjergso and him.
“I love the ethos of this,” said Huffman. “It’s spontaneous, it’s unusual, and it fits very well with the Mikkeller brand.”
The brewpub has been sitting idle since Burnside Brewing, at 701 E. Burnside St., closed in early February. Huffman said the group wants to open a permanent Mikkeller brewery and restaurant there, but the regulatory issues are significant and could take several months to sort out. On Friday, April 26, Huffman purchased Burnside Brewing’s assets and wiped out its debt, allowing the new project to proceed.
Mikkeller beers are widely considered some of the best in the world, a reputation Bjergso built through innovation and creativity. Originally a homebrewer, he became a “phantom” brewer — having no facility of his own but creating innovative beer recipes he employed other breweries to produce for Mikkeller.
Bjergso draws inspiration from nontraditional sources — chefs, coffee roasters or winemakers, for example – and the brewery’s beers are sought for their use of bold and unexpected ingredients, such as seaweed, licorice or truffles.
“They have an approach to beer that is very different from what we see normally in Oregon,” Huffman said. “The flavor profiles are different; they’re daring in different ways than the breweries here are. … So, I think their perspective will be a great addition to the greatest beer town in America.”
Like the beer, the food at the Mikkeller Portland pop-up restaurant will differ from the usual U.S. brewpub fare, Huffman said.
Huffman said he and Bjergso met in person about nine months ago in Portland and discovered the Copenhagen native was interested in bringing Mikkeller to the Rose City. Schedules and the legal complications of starting a foreign brewery led them to opt for pop-ups.
Huffman said the furniture will be ripped out of the existing space, replaced by a “Mikkeller style” beer bar featuring murals and elements found in storage or second-hand shops, and new light fixtures and design. “It’s truly going to be just a thrown-together space that fits in with the idea of a pop-up, opening as a Mikkeller bar, knowing we’ll close back down in six months,” Huffman said.
Huffman — whose Chefstable group partners with chefs to operate Portland area restaurants including Ox, St. Jack, Lardo and Oven & Shaker – said distribution issues have been worked out to allow Mikkeller to bring “the entire book of every beer they have” to Oregon.
“We will have access even to the specialty and the rare beers” from overseas, he said. “Throughout the summer it’s going to be just like a party there.”
Mikkeller operates eight breweries worldwide, including New York City and San Diego. It runs 43 locations around the globe — bars, restaurants, breweries and bottle shops — San Francisco and Los Angeles on the West Coast. Additionally, Mikkeller has produced the Oregon Fruit Series, a collection of beers made using Oregon-grown blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and oranges, to name a few.
The series is produced in collaboration with Oregon Fruit Products of Salem and its Oregon Specialty Fruit line. Mikkeller says it hopes to continue developing more beers in the series.
Burnside Brewing was started in 2010 by Jay Gilbert and Jason McAdam and made a name for itself with signature beers including Burnside IPA, Couch Lager and the spicy Sweet Heat apricot wheat ale, which won gold at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.
But it unexpectedly closed two months ago, the apparent victim of financial distress. A sign appeared on the building in early February saying that the locks were being changed because the tenant hadn’t paid rent “in months,” that the brewery was no longer allowed on the premises, and that the landlord was seizing Burnside Brewing’s possessions in the building as collateral.
No further developments have been made public. The brewery and pub, at East Burnside and Seventh Avenue, have sat empty since.
28 April, 2019