Zoiglhaus Brings an Obscure German Brewing Tradition to East Portland
The East Portland neighborhood of Lents has a new, 7,500 square foot, family-friendly brewpub: Zoiglhaus.
Opened in late September, Zoiglhaus is the creation of Alan Taylor, head brewer behind Old Town's Pints Brewing. While Pints' beer list has a definite German slant, Zoiglhaus goes full Deutsch, drawing on Taylor's years of living, drinking, and brewing in Germany before settling in Portland.
While the menu contains some American crowdpleasers (burgers, fish and chips, etc), the greater theme is simple German comfort food: schnitzel, goulasch, sausage platters, and Flammkuchen (aka tarte flambée), a shareable Alsatian-style pizza.
The word Zoigl refers an old and obscure brewing tradition from the Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) in northern Bavaria, where a handful of communal, wood-fired brewhouses produce wort—basically, unfermented beer—and distribute it to homebrewers in the community, who in turn ferment and share their own beers. Only five breweries in the world, all of them in this little geographic pocket, still follow the Zoigl tradition.
Taylor says he wants to bring this communal vision of beer to Lents—without the wood-fired brewing system, which would burn through an unsustainable cord of wood per batch: "We're invoking the conceptual, but not technological spirit of Zoigl." Taylor is setting up wort-sharing relationships with other breweries, and hopes to eventually involve local homebrewers in the beermaking, too.
"I’m a firm believer in the fact that breweries can revitalize neighborhoods," says head brewer and owner Alan Taylor. "There are lots of families out here in this part of town...hopefully it's good for them."
The 3,000 square foot brewery in the back of the restaurant won't be functional until early 2016, so for now you can only sip on beers from its sister brewery, Pints. (This is by no means a bad thing. Pints' Berliner Weisse made this year's Top 25 Oregon Beers. )
For the time being, we recommend the out-of-this-world Lents Lager, a traditional Bavarian helles that absolutely nails the balance between rich maltiness and sessionability. When Zoiglhaus's brewery opens, they will have ten beers on tap, including German-style Pilsner, a Bavarian Hefeweizen, and a Gose—using a secret recipe obtained from a German brewer friend.