One clear sign an area is growing economically is by the amount of foam-rimmed pint glasses filled with cold craft brew it is pouring. According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, the state ranks number one for most percentage of dollars spent on craft beer, number two in the nation for hop horticulture, and expanded as an industry by 6.2 percent — more than 480 jobs — last year.
There is nothing Hazy about the hopping Oregon beer scene. Breweries, tap rooms and growler fill stations continue to pop up all over the state — including Douglas County. At the end of 2016 the state had 230 brewing companies operating 261 brewing facilities in 73 cities across the state. Roseburg is fifth in the state for most breweries per capita.
“More beer meant more people, with approximately 369,000 people visiting an Oregon brewery, pub, or tasting room on a weekly basis, or approximately 19,000,000 total visitors in 2016,” stated the Guild. “Oregonians are drinking more Oregon beer.”
Hoping their hops contribute to economic growth in Douglas County is Roseburg’s newest craft brewery, North Forty. Owners R.J. Mills and Arin Forrest anticipate to open at the end of summer after they wrap up a longer-than-planned construction project remodeling their downtown location at 435 SE Jackson St.
Mills said they saw an opportunity in Roseburg, jumped on it, and now want to make sure they do it right.
“Roseburg seemed like a good spot to open up shop. There were only a couple breweries and we wanted to be a part of the tourism industry — help build the industry up,” said Mills.
The two brewers aren’t foreign to Roseburg. Mills and Forrest grew up in Douglas County, became best friends at Joseph Lane Middle School and graduated from Roseburg High School together in 1998.
After going to college, both ended up in Portland. Mills, who has been brewing as a hobby for 20 years, reunited with Forrest, and the two started brewing together. The wheels began to turn and eventually the two concluded, “Let’s do this for real.”
“This was an opportunity to change direction and do something I always wanted to do,” said Mills. “We wanted to move back because there was an opportunity — we saw the winery growth, and there is a younger crowd moving here, younger group coming in. There was something here to move back to.”
In 2015, the two moved back to Roseburg and started looking for locations and after awhile landed downtown and broke ground in February 2018.
Mills said it is great being downtown and that there is this constant reminder of what it used to be and an excitement of new things coming. “People are getting excited. There’s something building below the surface,” he said.
Inside the doors of North Forty will offer a brewery with a sparkling copper 15-barrel system for brewing, a tap room, and mezzanine seating for more than 100 people. The owners desire to keep authenticity to the 100-year building by keeping old hoists, original ceiling, and other archaic aspects.
Roseburg’s Smokin Friday BBQ will be serving food inside as a second location, and a variety of beers from strong IPA’s to stouts, to Kolch’s, and ESB’s will be on tap. Growler and crowler fills (a 32-ounce fillable and sealable can) will be on site. They plan to be family friendly, do live music, and be open for private parties as well.
Initially, Mills said the brewery plans to be open seven days per week in an effort to finally be a place downtown that isn’t closed Sunday or Monday. They will be open from lunch through dinner, but are already talking about extending hours.
“At the end of the day, it needs to be somewhere I would want to go,” said Mills. Obviously, a big goal for the owners is to get others to go as well — especially those from outside the area.
“Roseburg is authentic. It’s real, and the people are real. A lot don’t get to experience that. We want to show that finding small-town authentic America is still possible,” said Mills.
With hopes to stimulate the economy and boost the downtown area, North Forty owners still want to retain that small-town charm. “I think there is room for more growth and opportunities — but you can still keep the small-town feel. You want the community to thrive and I think you can do both — keep your identity, and prosper and grow,” Mills said.
The breweries name, “North Forty,” represents part of that Douglas County identity relating it to the classic 80-acre homestead and what is commonly referred to as the “north 40” and “back 40.”
Mills explains the “north 40” to typically be the unadulterated, more raw section. “You leave the north 40 more wild. Conceptually, this is how we see Douglas County — untempered, it it’s natural state; raw, scenic, hard work,” he said.
While North Forty beer is available currently on tap at additional locations such as O’Tooles, Old Soul Pizza, Loggers, Scoreboard, and the Winston Drive-In, the owners would also like to eventually distribute outside the area. “We would like to move beer — it markets the tap room, lets people know that, ‘Hey, we are a destination for a lot of stuff,’” said Mills.
Forrest said in a previous article that this isn’t just a business for them — it’s a passion. “We want it to be a place where everybody feels comfortable and somewhere that reflects the area and history of the town,” he said. “We want it to feel like a family. That’s very important to us. We wanted to do something that adds to the community.”