It was a winter of bleak news for the craft beer community, filled with closure after closure of established breweries and taprooms. But the official launch of the much-anticipated Assembly Brewing on the edge of the Foster-Powell triangle arrives on the heels of spring should renew spirits, at least somewhat.
The business on Southeast Foster Road and 61st Avenue is named in honor of the auto factory assembly lines that powered co-founder and brewer George Johnson's hometown of Detroit for so many decades. In addition to the seven beers on tap, Assembly serves what might be the most authentic Detroit-style pizza in town, thanks to Johnson's training with award-winning pie baker Shawn Randazzo and development of a proprietary dough recipe.
"I have a special system if I disappear," Johnson laughed at a media preview last Thursday, "[co-founder Adam Dixon] can have it."
Johnson, who is African-American, shadowed at Portland breweries like Ex Novo and McMenamins Kennedy School prior to embarking on his own. He began making beer at home before he was old enough to legally consume it. At Assembly, which is also one of the few minority-owned breweries in the country, you can expect approachable styles, including IPAs, an amber and a stout, as well as ABVs that won't knock you off your barstool—everything sits within the range of 5.5 to 6.5 percent.
"My theory with my beer style is to make it flavorful and balanced," Johnson said. "I figured it doesn't have to come in a Goblet."
At $5 a pint, the product is affordable, to boot. Once the consistency is to Johnson's satisfaction, the company will start self-distributing beer coming out of the 15-barrel brewhouse. Customers might expect to catch a glimpse of those shiny, new tanks from the dining room, but the way the building is set up forced installation to happen out of sight in the rear.
To make up for the lost view of equipment many expect these days, Johnson and Dixon commissioned five local artists to paint a giant mural of the brewing and bottling process in the style of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry series.
Bucking the trend, Assembly isn't one where you can bring the kiddos while you have a pint. Only adults 21 and older are allowed inside. But also unlike many brewpubs, this one stays open until 2 am.
Assembly's grand opening takes place at 11 am on Friday, March 29.