After being in the planning process for over 1-1/2 years, John Harris’ Ecliptic Brewing officially opened their doors today at 11am. Located on the south end of Portland’s Mississippi Neighborhood, this new brewery and pub is a great addition to this gentrifying neighborhood.
For those of you not familiar with John Harris, you more than likely have drank a few of his beers that he designed the recipes for over the years. Harris is an Oregon craft-brewing icon. Harris’ background is one steeped in Oregon’s rich craft brewing history. He began as a brewer at McMenamins’ breweries and then moved on to Deschutes, where he created the recipes for Mirror Pond, Black Butte Porter, Jubelale and Obsidian Stout. He then spent the next 20 years of his career as a brewmaster at Full Sail in charge of creating the Brewmaster Reserve line of Beers. Not too shabby of a resume. And beyond this resume, Harris is such a nice, friendly and approachable person.
Harris announced his next step in his brewing career earlier this year at the end of April. This is when Harris hosted a gathering of media in this 14,000 square foot building that formerly housed an auto body shop at 805 N. Cook St, just north of Widmer Brothers Brewing. The location also offers easy access from both the #4 Bus and the MAX Yellow Line along with ample off and on street parking.
Coming up with the name Ecliptic Brewing unites Harris’ two passions of brewing and astronomy. And once you enter the pub one takes notice of these two prominent pieces in his life. Hanging over the pub is a massive light fixture in the shape of the Analemma. Then when you get to the beer and food menus there will be constant change and rotation throughout the year. Ecliptic’s seasonal menu will rotate every 6 weeks on the old world calendar. There will be menu changes at Samhian, Winter Solstice, Bridgid, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas and the Autumnal Equinox.
Ecliptic’s philosophy is to push the limits of creativity in the brewhouse, and create a sense of place in both the restaurant and the beer we build. We are set up to welcome both the family out for a meal and the couple who wants to be kid-free. We hope you join us on our journey together.
Harris will begin serving two Ecliptic beers, all brewed on-site in Ecliptic’s 15-barrel brewhouse, and two collaboration beers brewed with Gigantic Brewing, TicWitTic, and Widmer Brothers Brewing, ½ Mile Pale Ale. The Widmer Collaborative was brewed for the Portland’s recent foodie festival, Feast Portland.
The first two beers brewed at Ecliptic’s facility was Procyon Pale Ale, named after the little dog star in Canis Minor and Arcturus IPA, named after the biggest star in the sky. Coming soon will be Capella Porter, named after the brightest star in the constellation Auriga. Being a fan of this style I look forward to trying this new brew from the man the developed Black Butte Porter.
During their soft-opening yesterday, we were able to try both of their in-house beers, Procyon Pale Ale and Arcturus IPA. And both were pleasantly delicious. Most brewers will face many challenges when brewing on a new system for the very first time. Harris was up to the challenge and both beers came out quite tasty. Once up and running Harris will want to keep at least 6 house beers on tap.
Procyon is a Northwest Pale Ale that will keep hop fiends at bay with 60 IBU’s but is more drinkable at 5.9% ABV. And if you want to go to something a bit hoppier try his Arcturus IPA. Named after one of the brightest stars in the galaxy this brew using only “C” hops of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Columbus is very alluring for its well-balanced hop and malt profile. Harris decided not to dry hop this IPA to allow these “C” hops to stand on their own. Its one of the better IPA’s we’ve had in a while and is deceiving at its 7.4% ABV.
When it comes to the brewhouse that Harris will be working his wonders on 15 bbl system with its brew kettle built from JV Northwest that he salvaged from a defunct brewery in Japan. Harris originally hoped to use the original BridgePort Brewhouse that he located in the parking lot of Dogfish Head Brewing. He shipped it back here to Portland and found out that only a few items were salvageable including their former whirlpool and mash tun. The brew kettle could not be salvaged and re-used. It’s currently sitting in the far back corner of the brewery. Harris originally quipped that it would be added to the yet to be built “Oregon Brewers Museum”.
Harris did have a few tanks made down the street at MetalCraft but he was able to find many other tanks from previous owners. A few of these tanks that he picked up are from BJ’s Brewhouse locations after they shuttered their individual restaurant on-site brewhouses. Harris is bringing the “Boneyard” to North Portland.
At first you’ll find Ecliptic beers in house and once they get fully up and running they’ll be selling draft and 22oz. bottles. Harris already has his first bottling day lined up with local mobile bottler, Green Bottling, to fill up his yet to be determined Holiday ale.
When it comes to the restaurant portion of the pub, Harris and Executive Chef Michael Molitor will also be unveiling Ecliptic’s menu, which features local, seasonal fare and a heightened food experience. Chef Molitor, formerly the sous chef at Pazzo Ristorante, will reflect the astronomical seasons and be further complemented by Harris’ beers. Harris stressed his strong desire to be known as a food establishment along with his beers and not the other way as most brewpubs are associated with. The seasonal menu will change every six weeks based on the old world Wheel of the Year; we are entering into Samhain otherwise known as Halloween, the season that signifies the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Harris also emphasized their desire to serve food that will please a carnivore, omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, paleo and gluten free. To further demonstrate Harris’ desire to be a food destination he stressed this point a few times that “My beer will bring people here but the it’s the food that will bring them back”. This says a lot for a new brewpub that truly has their sights set on the food end of the business.
Ecliptic’s menu does contain your standard pub fare such as fish and chips, burgers, and salads taken to a higher level. To compliment these options, their seasonal menu is where you’ll find their higher end dishes such as lamp shank, flat iron steak, black cod and pan-roasted chicken. You can take a look at their current menu here.
Last evening we had a couple different sandwiches, the Trout Po’Boy and the Lamb Burger. Both were solid but the Lamb Burger stood out on top. The caramelized onion and Dijon made for a nice accent to the delicious lamb. The Trout Po’Boy was a decent sandwich but what it missed was some of the spice I am accustomed to when ordering this type of sandwich.
One of the most inviting aspects of Ecliptic is their “space” that was designed by architect Julia Wood. Beyond Ecliptic’s relationship to astronomy, the bar and restaurant offers a very inviting atmosphere that will suit many patrons. Families with kids can have a great night out on the restaurant side that overlooks the brewery. Patrons that want a night out with a beer or cocktail can choose the bar side that offers mix seating with booths, tables and communal seating. Wood also stressed her love of bars that offers corners to produce more conversation among their customers.
Then on any sunny, clear day both sections have large glass roll up doors that offer sweeping views of our beloved Fremont Bridge and Portland’s skyline in the distance past this structure.
One of the more unique décor options are the photos on the wall in the bar area. These photos are of beer as looked through an electron microscope that are from Florida State University. This artwork is definitely something to take in while on your first visit to Ecliptic.
So we highly recommend you head to Mississippi Neighborhood to try out the new Ecliptic Brewing. As Harris says, “Ecliptic Brewing is all about celebrating our journey around the sun.” And a fun journey this will be.
805 N. Cook Street
Portland, OR 97227
Monday – Thursday 11am – 11pm
Friday – Sunday 11am – 12am