Portland will no longer have a Fat Head's brewery.
Fat Head's in Ohio announced late last night that they would close their mammoth Portland brewpub in the Pearl, effective the first quarter of 2018. The announcement was first noted locally by beer blogger Jeff Alworth on Twitter.
"Despite best efforts from both sides," wrote Ohio Fat Head's Glenn Benigni, "We were unable to agree upon a vision for the future. As a result, we've mutually decided to close the Fat head's Brewery location in 2018, pouring our last beer in 2018."
However, that release from Fat Head's tells less than half the story.
Fat Head's was never quite a chain operation in Portland, but rather a local spin-off owned by Portlander Tom Cook.
The Pearl District brewpub will not close. Rather it's severing ties with Fat Head's in Ohio and embarking on a new life as a wholly independent brewery called Von Ebert. Cook says he's inviting every single employee to stay on in Portland, including head brewer Eric van Tassel and former Commons brewer Sean Burke.
WW had been a fan of Fat Head's beer in Portland almost from the start, especially the beers that diverged from the Ohio originals with ingredients like barrels used for Oregon-made walnut liquor. Former brewer Mike Hunsaker's Semper FiPA, judged the best IPA in Portland in a blind tasting, was also a wholly Portland creation.
"The oafish branding," we wrote in another post, "couldn't be more at odds with the Portland aesthetic."
The new pub will have an "industrial-loft" feel and will serve elevated pub fare from stone-baked pub pizzas to German-style pretzels. Cook also promises a more adventurous beer list spanning American, German, Belgian and barrel-aged beers.
Cook says the transition will be as seamless as possible, and that hopes the brewpub will not have to close for more than a few days as it transitions away from Fat Head's licensing and brand early next year.
Here's Von Ebert's full announcement:
And for reference, here's the one from Fat Head's in Ohio: