By Ellen Spitaleri
The Great Notion taproom that opened at 2105 SE Division St. on June 23 in the former Ether Shoes storefront is the result of a project started by Andy Miller, James Dugan and Paul Reiter in 2014. Together they have 25 years of brewing experience and have won medals in the National Homebrew Competition.
The three men met by coincidence in 2010 when they discovered they lived on the same street in N Portland. Miller and James were homebrewers who began developing recipes and then teamed up with Reiter who has a degree in business and finance, with a focus on start-ups and creative enterprise.
The brewery has three other Portland-area locations: NE Alberta St., NW 28th Ave. and in Cedar Mill off Hwy 26. “We have always wanted a SE location and this spot fell into our laps and we can’t wait to build out the interior,” Reiter said.
The owners eventually plan to have an interior bar that matches the aesthetic of the NW 28th Ave. location with wood accents and illustrations of forest creatures. At the moment, they don’t have a start date for construction. “The thing we like most about the location is the expansive front outdoor area and the number of small business neighbors nearby,” Reiter said.
The name of the brewery pays tribute to Oregon’s most famous novel, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, he noted. “Both our classic logo, seen on our sign at all our taprooms, and our newer cross-axe logo invoke the lumberjack theme of Oregon and Great Notion, but it’s the fun-filled forest creatures that you see on our vans that are the real talk of the town,” Reiter said.
Ripe is Reiter’s all-time favorite beer; it is a seven percent all-Citra hop hazy IPA that was ranked number one IPA by Willamette Week and number one IPA in America out of 324 blind taste-tested from Paste Magazine.
Great Notion Brewing is different from other breweries, Reiter said, in three ways: beer, business model and its slogan “Keep Beer Fun.” “Great Notion was the first brewery in the Northwest to brew hazy IPAs and continues to primarily focus on that style as well as sours and stouts that taste like fun food dishes, like blueberry muffins, pancakes, sticky buns, orange creamsicles and more,” he said.
The brewery’s business model focuses on selling the majority of its beer direct to beer drinkers through its taprooms, its one-of-a-kind mobile app and its website, Reiter said.
As for the fun aspect of the business, “each unique beer at Great Notion is represented by a fun, distinctive character on the front of each can illustrated by California artist Chad Eaton,” he said.
Papi Sal’s food truck is located in front of Great Notion SE and the food “is a combination of Philadelphia comfort food and Puerto Rican flavors,” said owner John Hatch. “We mainly are a Philly sandwich shop with hoagies that use Puerto Rican staple ingredients, condiments and proteins on them. But we do have more Puerto Rican leaning specials and platters from time to time.”
Customers love the Jawn, Hatch said, adding that it is a fusion of Puerto Rican and Italian American cuisines: Puerto Rican pork lechon, provolone cheese, sofrito mayo and oil-roasted long peppers on a freshly baked Italian baguette. “It is probably the best pork hoagie in the city,” he said.
Hatch said that he is pleased to be the food truck of choice for the new taproom, adding, “Great Notion provides beer made with great attention to detail and we are so excited to be with them.”
Photo of owner Paul Reiter enjoying a refreshing brew on a hot day by Ellen Spitaleri