New brew pub is hopping

INDEPENDENCE -- There will always be hiccups when trying to start a new business, said John Whitmire, owner of the Independence Hops & Barrel House.



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Bar manager Gary Will pours a beer Tuesday at the new Independence Hops & Barrel House. The establishment kicked with a soft opening two weeks ago.

INDEPENDENCE -- There will always be hiccups when trying to start a new business, said John Whitmire, owner of the Independence Hops & Barrel House.

This past spring, the Independence resident was putting the finishing touches on the pub at 250 S. Main St., with the hopes of having it open by the Fourth of July.

As is often the case with old buildings, particularly ones being turned into watering holes or restaurants, there were code issues to resolve.

And then there was the setback with the original name, the Hop & Vine Barrel House -- a Portland outfit with a similar title opposed it.

Maybe it's those obstacles that made the soft opening for Whitmire's establishment two weeks ago -- which was packed -- all the sweeter.

"I have a great bartending staff and chef ... and it feels great to finally be open," Whitmire said.

As the name might imply, the Barrel House is a nod to Independence's hop heritage and Oregon as a beer-centric state. The venue features 12 beers on tap, with almost all of them from the West Coast.

Those include Lazy Boy Brewing, Trumer Pils, Stone Brewing, Salem-based Gilgamesh Brewing, Rogue Ales and more.

"We're trying to go local, there's no comparison to the love for beer in Oregon," Whitmire said. "It seems like there's a brewery on every corner in most of the big cities."

Beyond that, the Hops & Barrel House will offer wines from several area wineries, with tastings and live music every Thursday. Spirits, salads, sandwiches, pita pizzas and appetizers -- for beer pairings -- round out the menu.

The building itself, the former South Main Street Antiques and Fine Art, is owned by Alex Trevino. Whitmire said the two of them had talked in the past about running a pub.

The opportunity arose after Whitmire ended a three-year stint as manager of the Arena Sports Bar down the block.

The 122-year-old building, at one time a bank, saw a major overhaul of the interior, with a new stage, bar, kitchen, bathrooms and wine racks.

"It was basically a blank floor plan when we started," he said.

Whitmire had registered the name "Hops & Vine Barrel House" with the state in June. In mid-July, he received a phone call from The Vine and Barrel in North Portland.

"They politely asked us to change it," Whitmire said. "We did, but that made us have to entirely redo the liquor license.

"It wasn't too big a letdown," he added.

Whitmire said customer input will play a big role in what's poured and served at the Hops & Barrel House.

"If people want more local wines, that's what we'll try to do," he said. "We'll rotate beers as we go through kegs, but at the same time, we'll stick with those beers people like."

Check It Out

What:

Independence Hops & Barrel House.

Where:

250 S. Main St., downtown Independence.

Hours:

Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday from 4 to 10:30 p.m.

Of note:

Wine tasting and live music takes place at 6 p.m. every Thursday.

For more information:

503-837-0935 or visit Independence Hops & Barrel House on Facebook.



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