Whitney Burnside and Doug Adams are an undeniable power couple in Portland’s food and beverage scene. Burnside was Portland’s first woman brewmaster when she took over at 10 Barrel Brewing and helped the Bend-based brewery open its Portland location eight years ago. Now, she’s set to become one of the few women who own breweries in Portland, along with husband Doug Adams, formerly the chef at Bullard Tavern, and general manager Emily Hilliard, who’s long worked with Burnside at 10 Barrel. On Friday, November 18, their project Grand Fir Brewing will open its doors at 1403 SE Stark St (the former West Coast Grocery brewery space) with a full menu of beer, wine, cocktails, and food.
The opening beer menu includes seven different offerings on tap. “We wanted it to be relatable, for it to be welcoming [with] a wide variety of beer styles,” says Burnside. She calls special attention to the Tack Shack East Texas Lager, a variation of a beer they originally made at Bullard called the Bullard Bock that was inspired by Shiner Bock, a popular beer in Adams’s home state of Texas. It’s a Czech amber lager that’s easy to drink, and that we can imagine pairing well with several offerings on the menu. Meanwhile, Adams describes the Old Growth Pale as “probably my favorite beer ever,” and it’s easy to see why—it’s crisp with a hint of hoppy, lemon-like bitterness, but well-balanced. Burnside describes it as a nostalgic throwback to the pale ales of the ’80s and ’90s, reminiscent of Sierra Nevada’s pale ale. The menu also includes collaboration beers with breweries including 10 Barrel and Living Häus. In the future, look for a honey kolsch made from Patagonian honey, and an oak barrel–aged beer made in white wine barrels. Burnside’s training as a chef and baker also influences her beer-making. “Brewing is liquid baking,” she explains. Soon, she’ll launch a coconut stout made with flaked coconut from Bob’s Red Mill, which she says tastes like a Mounds bar.
Packaged beers will also be available at the brewery and at local bottle shops, and on tap at select taphouses and restaurants.
Adams created a food menu that includes fried chicken, a dish he was long known for at Bullard Tavern, though he promises the spice and flavor profile will be pretty different from previous iterations. What he’s particularly excited about: elk that’s slow-braised in Texas lager and malt syrup, then topped with egg yolk and served with crusty bread. The menu also includes fried alpine potatoes with beer-infused melty raclette cheese, topped with smoked onion beer mustard. There are smoked wings on offer, too, but meats aren’t the only thing being smoked here—alliums, including onions and garlic, get the smoke treatment. “The meats are all great, but we really go crazy for smoked vegetables,” says Adams. “It’s my no. 1 thing I suggest everyone does, all these weekend warriors with their smokers.”
A long table in the back is reserved for supper clubs, which will take place at least once a month. The brewery owners want to showcase various chefs—the lineup already includes Han Oak’s Pete Cho and Los Angeles chef Mei Lin, who competed alongside Adams in Top Chef season 12 and won. Some dinners will be focused around winemakers or particular ingredients, including an 11-course honey dinner from Brian Woerner, who runs the World Honey Exchange, helping beekeepers from around the world sell their products. Not a beer drinker? Bar manager Eugene Doherty has a full-on cocktail menu available, with ingredients ranging from celery bitters to pickle juice.
Though Burnside and Adams have years of experience in the industry, this marks their first independent venture. Adams stepped away from his restaurant group, Holler, last year, and Burnside left 10 Barrel a couple of months ago. Was it daunting to step out on their own? Says Adams, “Personally, the glass is half full. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with it, and there’s way less meetings.” On a more serious note, he adds: “It feels way more rewarding to me, as much as partners with deep pockets can be helpful. We really wanted to see our vision through ... and in this neighborhood, there’s still traces of the do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to restaurants.”
Grand Fir Brewing, 1403 SE Stark St, tentatively open noon–10 p.m. Tue–Thu and Sun and noon–11 p.m. Fri–Sat