Over the past several months, Philomath residents have enjoyed a food-and-beverage uprising and the trend will continue later this year with the opening of a Dirt Road Brewing taproom and restaurant on the corner of Main and North 13th streets.
Originally a bank building that most recently housed The Wine Vault, the historic structure is currently undergoing its latest transformation as the new owners work toward an opening in late spring or early summer.
“Our main goal right now is to get the taproom open and start serving Philomath,” said Jon Campbell, 36, who purchased the building with his wife, Beth Campbell, 35. “Once we get over that hurdle, then we’re going to go from there and see where this takes us.”
The Campbells have a business arrangement with Chuck Cox, who owns Corvallis-based Dirt Road Brewing and is one of the newer players on the craft beer scene. Dirt Road is leasing the space and Jon Campbell serves as the company’s head brewer.
Campbell said a kitchen manager has been hired and is in the process of developing a menu. He didn’t want to say too much about what to expect on the menu other than it would be more in the “farm-to-table” vein than typical pub fare. But he stressed that those types of details are still being worked out.
Cox, who is a contractor, is heading up the building’s interior renovation project as the new business works toward an opening date.
Campbell said beer brewing has emerged as a second career for him. He formerly worked for 10 years on the East Coast in computer animation and said he basically swapped one creative field for another.
What should beer enthusiasts expect?
“We have five flagships right now … and then I’m always constantly working on prototype brews all the time, just building a portfolio and also just to keep new stuff coming,” Campbell said. “That’s the key with taprooms — you have to have rotating new stuff coming in to keep people interested in coming back.”
Dirt Road Brewing was certified by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission a little over a year ago, he said.
“Septembeerfest — that was kind of our big public ’this is who we are,’” Campbell said, referring to the annual celebration in Corvallis. “Late fall is when we started distributing locally.”
Jon and Beth Campbell are new to the West Coast.
“I wanted to go back to school for fermentation science and Oregon State has a really good program and so that’s what got us out here to Oregon,” Campbell said. “I met Chuck Cox, who started Dirt Road Brewing, and he brought me on as the head brewer.”
The Campbells heard about the building’s availability through word-of-mouth this past December. They have also experienced Philomath’s attractive qualities.
“We ride our bikes through Philomath all the time,” Campbell said. “We’re always doing Decker or Marys Peak (rides) and so we always knew that Philomath was a really cool place and thought it would be a great location for a taproom.”