Portland homebrew speakeasy Dean's Scene is coming back with a new manager two years after the death of its founder and namesake.
Dean Pottle was a beloved figure in the beer community who ran Dean's Scene essentially as an ongoing party in the basement of his home and plumbing shop on Northeast Fremont Street. When he died of heart failure in 2016 at age 65, the future of his bar—where guests could pay a donation and serve themselves home-brewed beer—was in doubt.
Pottle's surviving family on the East Coast had no interest in keeping the house. But one of his friends and members of the crew that would gather in the underground tavern managed to buy the property. While the "OPEN" sign remained on, and people were welcome, a lack of leadership led to struggles.
"The place was in disarray," said Nate Montgomery, another longtime buddy. "Everyone was kind of sad and depressed."
Montgomery, Pottle's former apprentice both in plumbing and brewing before he quit drinking, came on board about three weeks ago as manager and says he's brought the Scene back up to standard. That's included everything from fixing the leaky roof to booking live music.
"I heard negative reviews after Dean died about the place. Now it's revamped," Montgomery says. "This is a really fancy neighborhood now. I've been working hard to reach out to them, and they've all been super responsive and coming over. I feel like we're two seconds away from blowing up."
Open 5 pm-midnight Friday and Saturday, all the beer is free—and you're no longer encouraged to donate cash.
"I don't even want a tip jar," says Montgomery. "I think it looks trashy."
Another original member of the club, Michael Brown, is keeping the eight taps flowing by working on Pottle's old system. He also has a new brewing assistant. "Everyone's been raving about his beer," Montgomery adds.
A house band plays upstairs, where Pottle used to live and which is currently unoccupied. The space is available to rent—Montgomery would like to see a business move in that would close for the day around the same time the bar would open. Ultimately, he's just excited to keep Pottle's spirit and legacy alive in the storied location.
"I'm just trying to do the best, most responsible representation of Dean that I can," he says.