Back during their childhood years, Phillip and Nick Lorenz were exposed to the importance of food and drink. The Corvallis family stayed home to whip up a variety of culinary creations and the brothers grew up with an appreciation for good taste.

When Phillip was age 16, something happened that pushed him in a certain direction.

"I got caught drinking beer and my mom said, 'hey, if you're going to drink beer, you have to make it yourself,'" he said.

Although some parents would see that as an unorthodox way to handle the matter, it did have a lifelong impact on Phillip and his younger brother of four years, Nick.

"She turned this negative into a learning opportunity," Phillip said.

In 2012, Phillip and Nick Lorenz co-founded Nectar Creek and started producing its line of meads. Just last week, the business opened its taproom and restaurant after completing a move from Corvallis to Philomath.

"I feel like Philomath really wants more community spaces that are family friendly where people can come and socialize and hang out," Phillip said. "The second we made it public, we just got an outcry of support from people who live in Philomath and people who live west of here."

Backing up again to those younger years, the brothers continued making beer in the family home's basement. Through college, they started fantasizing about starting their own business as the spirit of entrepreneurship planted its roots.

Six years ago, they made it happen.

"We had access to great honey and had relationships with some great beekeepers," said Phillip, who himself worked on the large-scale sustainable bee farm. "The craft beer business was really going, cider was starting to be a thing back then ... and we said, 'you know, let's try mead.'"

Nectar Creek rented space in a Corvallis-area business park to get started and the region starting embracing the new product.

"Over time, we couldn't make as much as we could sell," Phillip said about the mead, which is now distributed in 10 states. "We kept making more and kept making more and we ran out of space."

The Lorenz brothers actually wanted to make mead on a farm and have a facility similar to what wine lovers might find — a tasting bar in a barn-like setting that maybe even features a farm-to-table menu.

There was one factor with production holding Nectar Creek back on going completely rural.

"Mead-making is a water-intensive business," Phillip said. "We use a lot of water to produce our product and we use a decent amount of water for cleaning. So we needed to be on city utilities. It's also a power-intensive business and we need natural gas. Those things unfortunately don't exist in reliable quantities outside the city limits."

Nectar Creek is located just inside the westernmost edge of Philomath.

The new facility includes a 5,000-square-foot production space, a 1,500-square-foot taproom and a 2,000-square foot patio.

"There's more space, it's more affordable and ... it creates the feeling of a destination," Phillip said. "Our food isn't plain-Jane, our beverages aren't plain-Jane and so we wanted to do something unique and special. We felt the community of Philomath, the city and everybody, has been really excited."

Nectar Creek had a "soft opening" Jan. 13-14 for family and friends and then opened to the public Jan. 16.

The taproom features 24 taps, most pouring a variety of year-round, seasonal and specialty meads, but also guest local beers, ciders and wines. Bottles, cans and growlers are available for mead to go.

The move and expanded business interests have more than doubled the size of Nectar Creek's team to 20 employees. A dozen of those hired were because of the taproom and kitchen.

Nick spearheads the out-front operation, which also includes Tony Melton as the head chef. The menu showcases local products and features high-end sandwiches, salads and charcuterie boards that include local meats and house-pickled vegetables.

But it's the mead that serves as the main attraction. Phillip said mead is different than craft beer, wine and cider and added that a lot of people are not familiar with it.

"What we really wanted to do from the start was have a place where we could bring people in and sort of give them the Nectar Creek experience," he said. "We could teach them about mead, we could teach them what our values are and what we stand for. With what we have here, we hope we've created a social gathering where we can sort of educate people on mead and give them a little fun."

Phillip said there are maybe four other mead producers in Oregon right now, although he knows of more on the way.

"It's sort of an interesting concept of was there a niche that we were trying to fill or is it a niche that we're trying to create?" he said. "Being not the mainstream product is one of our best advantages and it's one of our biggest hurdles to climb over."

Research and development is a major part of the business with Nectar Creek currently trying to figure out what they might sell in 2019. Patrons at the new Philomath facility might be able to help.

"One of the things I'm really exited about is having a taproom here," Phillip said. "We can make small trial batches on a little bit bigger of a scale and if it's something that passes our internal tests ... rather than having to try to sell it on the wholesale market, we can sell it by the glass, too, and get a more intimate R&D experience by being able to connect with the customers."

Nectar Creek's move in December, Phillip said, went pretty smooth.

"It took us three days and I think we made 12 to 14 trips with a 26-foot box van and probably another half-dozen trips with a 20-foot flatbed truck," he said. "We're lucky it was only seven miles."

With the big move now completed, Phillip said the company will not back off on trying to improve itself.

"To be an entrepreneur, you have to walk a line of being foolish and optimistic," he said. "We try to stay humble and always try to keep making things better and never be satisfied.

"In our eyes, just because we have this new building and we're moved in here, I mean this is a big beautiful space and a huge accomplishment for us, but for us, we're just getting going," he added. "There's lots more we want to achieve."



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