The path to owning a brewery started with a money saving tip.
“You’ve got to brew your own beer. It’s a lot cheaper,” Michael Pearce told his best friend Rick Winniford.
It was the early 1990s. Home brewing was seeing its first surge in popularity. Pearce had discovered that brewing by the gallon was one way a man in his 20s with little income could drink something better than animal beer.
Both were avid craft-beer fans. They grew up in a small town in the Rogue Valley in Oregon. Winniford left to pursue a career in the Army, and Pearce worked in restaurants in the Portland area.
The duo’s brewing hobby became more technical much later after they both moved to the South Sound area.
“We went to an all-grain homebrewing class at Larry’s in Kent. We didn’t take any notes, so our first batch we brewed, boy, it was so bad,” said Pearce.
“We started on our kitchen stoves and making our wives miserable with the stickiness and the smells,” he added. “But we brewed more than 200 times on the little system we built, and we got pretty good at it.”
The hobby became more than that as they entered regional brewing competitions (and won).
Flash forward to now. Their kids were grown. They had been itching to go pro with their beer.
What to do next?
Enter Acorn Brewing, which opened Saturday in Edgewood, a community short on eateries and absent a brewery until this week. The brewery is open daily with comfortable, spacious seating, an on-site three-barrel brewing system and a small menu of sandwiches, served with chips and a pickle spear.
The community response has overwhelmed the brewers.
“We were just overwhelmed by the support from the community. They saw us in here doing the build-out. They came in and offered a hand,” said Pearce.
He listed the names of locals who helped attach the reclaimed wood to the walls — that wood was a donation from the old Edgewood Flower Farm —and helped the brewery owners with other tasks.
Here’s a first-sip report.
The space: That donated, salvaged wood climbs the walls, and the floors are polished concrete. A half wall separates the seating from the brewing operation. The space is a typical taproom, equipped with tables for small or large gatherings. Two tables seat at least six and one larger table fits around 16. Four-top tables line the front windows. There’s also seating at the ordering counter.
Game table: Stacked with all kinds of card games, from PG-13-style games to games appropriate for school-age kids.
Kids: Welcome until 8 p.m. Bring your own high chair or booster.
Root beer: If not already, the brewery soon will have a house-brewed root beer ready for kids and teetotalers. Pearce described the recipe as close to a sarsaparilla.
The beer: There’s room for seven taps now with eventual plans for 10. They intend to host a guest tap for ciders. Five beers listed on the opening menu, all made on site.
On the opening taplist is Gold Hearted IPA.
“It’s got a great malt backbone,” said Pearce. It’s brewed with Willamette and Simcoe hops.
Also on the opening list is Redbeard’s Ale, an amber/red ale, a pale ale brewed with Simcoe hops, a honey blond ale and a porter. Coming soon is a Scottish ale.
The menu: A short list of grilled and deli sandwiches includes a kid-friendly peanut butter and jelly ($5), an egg salad sandwich with a heavy tweak of stone-ground mustard on buttermilk with cheddar ($7). The club combines turkey, bacon, mayo, stone-ground mustard, lettuce and tomato on grilled buttermilk bread ($11). There’s also grilled cheese ($7), a kimchi Reuben ($12) and a Cuban sandwich ($12). All served with chips and a pickle spear.
Craft beverage field trip: Nearby tiny Nightside Distillery is worth a visit (bring a driver). The distillery has tasting hours Fridays and Saturdays. 2908 Meridian Ave. E., Edgewood, 253-377-1379, nightsidedistillery.com.
Where: 2105 E. Meridian, Edgewood
Info: 253-517-8899, acornbeer.com
Hours: Opens at 11:30 a.m. daily