In July, Hood River News presents The Ale List, a month-long series of articles profiling the producers and purveyors of beer in Hood River County, as part of Oregon Craft Beer Month.
Next stop: Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom, which tripled in size and is about to start a bottling line.
Owners Matt Swihart and Charlie Devereux believe their larger pub will retain the same sense of intimacy they had in mind when they opened on St. Patrick’s Day 2007.
Look for the first bottles of Double Mountain IRA by the end of this week.
That’s right, bottles.
On Monday, “a vanload of Italians” will start assembling the conveyer belt, filler and labeling equipment for Double Mountain to start bottling its four year-round ales, according to co-owner and brewmaster Matt Swihart. After the IRA come Hop Lava, Vaporizer and Kolsch.
“We’ll hook up the utilities, turn on the machine and run the beer, by Wednesday or Thursday of next week,” Swihart said. “We’ll be bottling IRA, and evaluating quality and have it either immediately for sale or we’ll just keep working on it until we’re happy with where we’re at.”
In a month or so, they’ll be ready to send their bottles to Seattle, Portland, Bend and other places, “once we finalize quality procedures for the bottling line,” Swihart said.
The brewery will use unique 16.9 ounce bottles, made in Germany. The size is a typical one in Europe, according to Devereux.
Double Mountain will celebrate its expansion, and new bottling line, with a grand reopening celebration Aug. 3 during First Friday. Pub hours are the same, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
The original tap room remains unchanged. That space opens up to “the garage,” formerly a utility area that doubled as music space, excess seating, and loading area.
It’s now equipped with a second bar, “the north bar,” and more seating. The garage connects to a mezzanine and just north of that is a long room alternately called “the annex” and “the music space,” with plenty of seating, a band stand and dance floor.
The bottling and keg-filling areas fill the north building, purchased last winter by Swihart and Devereux.
Customers and staff were patient in the remodeling process, Swihart and Devereux said, and bar manager Jon Warszynski said the results were worth it.
“I like the fact we have a lot more seating, and can accommodate locals and tourists, and make everybody happy, keep the local vibe, which is what we’re really going for also not steering away people who hear about us in Portland.
“I really think it’s summer time and weekends; a lot of people coming for daytrips for the weekend for the pizza,” said Warszynski.
“From the start,” Devereux said, “with our taproom, the guiding principle was we wanted to make the locals happy and when the tourists came, follow the marketing premise, ‘the good tourists want to find out where the locals go.’
“That’s where we started and we’ve had numerous people remind us along the way, ‘Don’t lose what got you here,’ and that was a big part of our strategy with expansion here.”
“I’m delighted with it,” Swihart said. “You never know how it’s going to turn out, but when I walk in here on a Monday night or a Saturday night, I like the way it came out.”
He especially likes the new wooden floors and, in the music space, the existing overhead truss that runs the length of the ceiling, a feature he calls “the defining element of this building.”
“It reveals that we’re part of an 80-year-old building. I love how it draws you into how this building started out,” Swihart said.
The buildings that now form Double Mountain served as headquarters to a wind gear manufacturer, a furniture warehouse, yarn shop and, originally, a car dealership.
Swihart points out a beam above the north bar with a slight curvature. “It was so you could drive your car in and it swept around in this kind of 1930s Art Deco style,” he said. “You don’t see that kind of construction anymore. We wanted to uncover that so you can see some of the design elements of the building.”