Ashland, among the state’s popular tourist destinations thanks to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, will only be left with one brewery following the announcement that two-decade-old Standing Stone is closing its doors.
The business, located just blocks from the many stages used for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the heart of downtown, announced May 10 on its Facebook page and in a subscriber newsletter, that its final day of operation will be at the end of this month. The owners cited factors that began before the pandemic.
“As you all know, we as a community have recently experienced some especially challenging years here in the Rogue Valley,” the post stated. “Starting with heavily smoke-filled summers in 2018 and ’19, coupled with the start of a global pandemic and the devastating 2020 Almeda Fire, we have found ourselves in an arduous position.”
Since bars and restaurants have been able to resume relatively normal service, Standing Stone says it has struggled with a decline in tourism, skyrocketing prices for goods, as well as a disruptive job market, where finding stable employees has been difficult.
When it comes to breweries in the charming city just north of the California border, the only one left is Caldera. There are, however, more than half-a-dozen producers just 13 miles north in Medford.
Standing Stone opened in 1997, making it one of Oregon’s older still-operating breweries. The beer it is best known for its I Heart Oregon Ale, which is made with barley and Cascade hops all grown within the state’s borders. The brewery also operates a nearby farm, where it raises cattle, lamb and chickens. All of the business’s pre- and post-consumer waste is composted there, and the brewery’s spent grain is turned into feed for the animals.
The company also stood out because of its commitment to the environment and employees’ well-being. In 2009, Standing Stone initiated a program that provided 75 staffers with bicycles. Employees put down a deposit of about $500 on the bike, and once they’d come to work 45 times on it, the business returned their deposit and the employee kept the bike.
The brewery also joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Work@Health Program in 2014, and dedicated nine months of training and development to create an in-house version that it called Cheers to Health. Standing Stone used it to host movie nights, rent chair massagers, and provide yoga class vouchers to encourage its team to socialize and relax.
Standing Stone will hold a farewell celebration 11:30 am to 8 pm Sunday, May 29. Pints will go for three bucks—the same price as when the pub opened in 1997.
“As we close this final chapter in our journey, with heads held high and appreciation in our hearts, please remember that you all are the inspiration that has moved Standing Stone forward throughout the years,” the post added. “It is with profound gratefulness that we raise a pint and say, “Cheers Stone Family, it’s been a great run!”