Pulling Up Roots: Last Call at Roots Organic Brewing

According to The Oregonian, Roots Organic Brewing has closed its doors.

I’ve twice attempted to visit this organic brewpub. But my timing was always bad. Each attempt was met with closed doors. Maybe this bad luck was a sign of things to come. There were actually people in the brewhouse both times but they would not talk to me or let me in. So I never got to experience what one Portland, Oregon local described as the place where he met the best friends of his life.

In 2005, owner and brewer Craig Nicholls opened what the company website claims was Oregon’s first all-organic brewpub. (Strangely the website homepage still says “Now Open for Lunch Weekdays 11:30-2:00”). After five years of producing organic and herbally-inspired brews, the small brewery and pub has decided “it was time to stop the bleeding and cut our losses.”

The Oregonian article says the demise was caused by a combination of problems typical to small businesses, including the recession, under-capitalization and bad weather. However, Roots seems to be an outlier in this regard. Although the restaurant business is certainly struggling in this economy, craft beer overall continues to show double digit growth, and brewpubs in particular are still one of the strongest elements within the restaurant industry.

Nicholls also runs the North American Organic Brewers Festival, which he reportedly intends to continue. Seven Bridges, the organic brewing supply company I part own, made the trip for the festival last year to display our organic brewing kits and meet some of the homebrewers and commercial brewers that buy our goods. Let’s hope this great spotlight on organic brewing doesn’t suffer the same fate as Roots.


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