Wednesday, August 10

A Visit To Old Market Pub & Brewery

I've known Old Market Pub & Brewery's Brewmaster Tomas Sluiter for quite some years. I met him and his wife through my sister and brother in law. Must have been about the time they moved over here, and he started brewing for Old Market. I don't know who the brewmaster was before him previous to about 2002. All I know is that my trip out there was long overdue. I kept telling him that I would get out there, and I always managed to drop the ball.

I drove down on a weekday right around happy hour time. Tomas and his assistant brewer Bobby were working around the brewery, and saw me through the window as I approached. Tomas had just come back from a lengthy European vacation, and was still trying to adjust his clock back to our schedule over here. Surprisingly, he was sipping a cup of coffee.

I mentioned to Tomas, that his 'Berried Alive' barrel aged, and blended sour ale was my absolute favorite at this years Oregon Brewers Festival. It truly was. Nothing there was quite so unique, and tediously cared for and brewed. The blending of it took place when Tomas was away on vacation, and Bobby did a very fine job as cellarman & assistant brewer. He is on the fast track to brewdom.

Upon arriving, Tomas immediately went into pouring and beer mode. It was great to discuss what he has been doing with his sour program. I love a brewer that focuses on Pinot Noir Barrels, red ales, and other various creations with the souring agent we all know as 'Brett'. Tomas had a keg of unblended Berried Alive, and of course we poured some of that. He also poured straight from the barrel. He had a lighter golden sour as well which was fantastic. What a treat it truly was. I could stand all day next to a pouring oak barrel full of sour goodness. As long as I could keep standing anyway. He also had a Belgian Dubbel that was sitting in oak for some time, and the brett was developing a lot of character in it. I got a lot of dryness and brett character from it which I thought was very good. Tomas wasn't so happy with it. I found that hard to understand, but to each their own!

The pub is kind of off the beaten path, and in an area that I don't think is quite known for its craft beers, and unique styles that go along with the trend. Perhaps that is why it took a little time for me to get over there. I tend to drift towards any pub that creates a good sour which Tomas does. But I don't think that is the popular choice of the area... yet. A couple miles off Multnomah from I-5, past John's Market a little ways is where the pub sits. Sure, the area needs one, and it's got one right there where it ought to be. Locals should feel lucky to have such a nice and rather large establishment there pouring up many different beers on tap, and serving some delicious food.

The service was great. After hanging out in the brew area, we journeyed into the bar where I was poured numerous samples of the house regulars and some seasonals. I quickly became a huge fan of the Mr. Toads Wild Red Ale. Though the name has the word "wild" in the title, it wasn't what many of us would think. It's not a sour/wild ale. It's a truly solid and tasty red that I bet would be fantastic blended and soured in some oak. (hint hint ;)

With Tomas being gone all that time, there were sure a lot of empty kegs needing to be cleaned and filled. They had some busy days ahead of them. It's tough for Tomas to work in seasonals when the steel always has to be utilized for their house beers and keg orders.

As far as the beers go, we spoke a little about what he would like to do in the future with Old Market. Tomas discussed barrel aging beers in Japanese Sake barrels which I though would be killer, and very unique. I hope that happens soon, because I will be right there trying them. As I tasted the beers at the bar, I also really liked the Stout. The flavors where great. The IPA's and Pales were solid too.

The space overall was quite large, and could seat many people. I heard that the weekends there were just packed, and I can see why. Lot's of tables, a pool table area in the back, and even a few shuffle boards which the place is very well known for.

I likes the old antique signs, and collectables all about the place. It added a nice classic touch, and really brought out the history of the area as well. The menu is quite extensive as well with all kinds of food to choose from. Compared to most pubs menu's, I think theirs is about 3 times the size, and the plates are much more customizable.

One thing that is great about the establishment is their focus on the environment, and their sustainability practices. The joint gets a lot of their electricity from an array of solar panels on the roof. In the long run, I think that will be quite cost effective.

I would highly recommend people check the place out. If in the area, and if you are hitting up John's Market for their huge selection of beer, get into Old Market and grab a bite and one of their many house-made beers on tap. In the craft beer world in Portland, Old Market seems like the forgotten pub among them. With beers like the Berried Alive, and other sours.. I just wish they were perhaps more available and on tap there. Business is business though, and you've got to brew what the people are thirsty for!

Twitter: @OMPBrewery (newly formed, and just getting going)

I wish I had more details, but I waited a tad too long to write this up. All I know is that I am thirsty for more of those barrel brews.. mmm. I look forward to more unique beers from Tomas.


  1. Old Market is a little off the beaten path (I've never been there), but there is John's Market as you mentioned right there, and there's a Lucky Lab not far away.

    It's worth mentioning that Old Market's beers are also served on the eastside at the Broadway Grill. Here's a writeup I did a few months ago.

  2. Sweet, thanks Bill. Glad you're reading in on the blog ;)