Inside New Non-Profit Ex Novo Brewing Company

Following the footsteps of Portland’s first non-profit pub (the Oregon Public House) Ex Novo intends to brew its Lagers and IPAs for a good cause.

By Anna Loh September 18, 2014

Image: Anna Loh

More locals are jumping on the non-profit beer bandwagon, and this time around they're building a 10-barrel brewery from the ground up in North Portland, donating 100% of their net profits to four beneficiaries—Impact NW, Friends of the Children, MercyCorps, and International Justice Mission.

Image: Anna Loh

If that isn't enough of a daunting idea for any brewer, Ex Novo Brewing Company's Joel Gregory doesn’t come from a beer-brewing background. “I used to be an engineer, and when I moved here from Albuquerque, New Mexico, I didn’t know much about craft beer at all,” Gregory says. So he did what any other beer-loving engineer would never do: go down that rabbit hole and open his own brewhouse. “It took two years to plan for this project; and when I got laid off from my engineering job, I took it as a sign to start making it work,” Gregory says. The next decision he made was to hire Ian Greene, Ex Novo’s head brewer who has a degree in Brewing and Distilling. 

So, why open a non-profit brewery instead of a café or restaurant? “I like coffee but it’s nothing compared to brewing beer and the satisfaction of pouring someone a pint of something you made,” Gregory shares. “People come together a lot over pints—be it to celebrate or grieve together.” Despite Portland’s plentiful beer-producing companies, Gregory likes to think that Ex Novo offers something unique in addition to its beers and community space—the chance to do something great with your drinking cash.

Image: Anna Loh

Ex Novo is registered as a non-profit public benefit corporation in Oregon, which doesn’t make it easy to land investments or apply for loans. Gregory admits that it was challenging to come up with funds to build a brewery from scratch, but he hopes that Ex Novo makes a substantial impact a few years down the road when it’s more profitable. “I felt compelled to help out in any way, so we decided to do it Portland-brewery style, and see how that works,” he says.

Ex Novo currently offers 8 beers on tap, ranging from a Mexican lager to the Down And Stout—a smooth stout with coffee notes—along with food items such as beer braised beef brisket and a yam fry bread sandwich. Drink up and do good, Portland!

Ex Novo Brewing Company
2326 N Flint Ave

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