Pono Brewing Is Opening a Brick-and-Mortar in the Former Columbia River Brewing Location

The Hollywood District building still houses a 7-barrel production system, but the dining room is getting a face-lift.

After six years without a open-to-customers home of its own, Pono Brewing is finally getting a production facility and pub.

The founders announced today they would be opening the Pono Brewing Lab at 1728 NE 40th Ave., the former home of Columbia River Brewing. That business closed in 2019 after nine years of operations due to unspecified issues with the landlord. Before that, the building was Laurelwood’s original location.

Pono has inherited the 7-barrel copper-and-stainless steel system located in the basement of the Hollywood District brewery, which can be seen from the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows. The business will use it to experiment with new hops, fruits and other ingredients while continuing to make most of its beer at Zoiglhaus Brewing in Lents. Pono also plans on starting a mixed-fermentation and barrel-aging program.

“We are thrilled to breathe new life into a historic part of Portland’s craft beer history,” says Erick Russ, Pono’s co-founder and sales manager, in a press release. “The Pono Brew Lab will be where we can finally flex our creativity.”

Beers in the works include single-hop IPAs, an extra-special bitter, a tomato basil gosa and a pandaan pastry stout.

Those familiar with the no-frills Columbia space can expect some changes since the dining room is getting a face-lift and what Pono describes as an overall brighter look. There will also be an arcade area and food menu supported by the full kitchen.

Head brewer Larry Clouser first launched the brand as a contract brewery—he would use the equipment at Zoiglhaus to churn out his many tropical-themed beers. In 2018, Pono purchased two of its own custom-designed, 20-barrel fermenters from Practical Fusion and ultimately worked to change state laws allowing the business to operate as an alternating proprietorship with Zoiglhaus—essentially an arrangement that allows both to take turns using the physical premises.