Growing up, Nick Herrera would always hear his dad say to his friends, “Hey, compa, want a beer?” So while Herrera, 44, isn’t quite fluent in Spanish, he’s very familiar with “compa,” an informal word for friend or buddy. That term became part of the name of the taproom he and Angel Medina, the mind behind the Pearl District’s República and Reforma Roasters, plan to open in downtown Portland later this year: Entre Compas, or “between friends.”
Herrera, a former head brewer at Portland’s LABrewatory (temporarily closed due to COVID-19), says Entre Compas’s vision is to represent BIPOC-owned companies while collaborating with other brewers. He imagines a neon sign where the “M” in Entre Compas flickers on and off, so it reads “Entre Copas,” or “between cups.” Unlike at most taprooms, Herrera says his whole lineup will be collaborations—across the state, the country, and in Mexico City. One potential collab? An IPA with Xicha Brewing.
Herrera says his background in microbiology and focus on collaboration will drive the beer, as opposed to gimmicky ingredients or expectations based on where something or someone comes from. “I want to make really good beer that’s respected in Portland,” Herrera says. “Mexican lagers are going to be around. Mexican beer is going to be around. I don’t need to tap into that market so much. I just want to make real good, high-quality craft microbrews.”
While a brewery is the ultimate goal, he hopes the taproom will generate the revenue they need to expand, potentially becoming the city’s first Mexican American–owned brewery. “With my parents coming from Mexico, and parents always wanting the best for their kids and to always have a better future, I think I just want to make them proud,” Herrera says.