USA, OR: Mt. Angel Brewing Company to close this month
There are a few bags of ingredients and empty bottles left in the Mt. Angel Brewing Company's production facility, but most of the remaining product is in the barrels.
Once owner Larry Oien, 72, fills his remaining orders this month, he will close the business he has owned since 2005 to focus on his recovery from cancer and spend more time with his grandchildren, the Statesman Journal reported on May 12.
It was a very emotional decision to wind this down, Oien said.
He said he will attempt to sell the brewing business.
Oien has been winding it down he stopped bottling a year ago and has only been selling kegs since being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but wanted to continue the operation even as his life grew more complicated.
He said he could continue the business indefinitely while he courted a potential buyer, but he felt it was best to make a quick exit from the business.
It doesnt feel sudden to me, but youve got to do it that way to get it done, Oien said. Move on. The longer you stretch it out, the more doubt you may have. Nope, youre done, finished.
In 2005, he was working as a manager at Red Lobster in Salem when his brother, Hal, bought Mt. Angel Brewing Company and the building it occupies on Main Street from the Traeger family.
The Traeger family had closed the beer brewery and started a soda brewery in the same space. Oien has loved root beer since he was young he has fond memories of a cousins A&W Root Beer stand in Montana.
The idea was to continue the restaurant Oien has owned restaurants over the years and get the soda brewing operation up and going. The restaurant lasted a year until it closed for good.
But he grew the soda operation to include root beer, hazelnut cream, marionberry and orange cream flavors.
I saw a chance here and did my due diligence and research and a lot of little experiments in that first tank trying to get it all right, Oien said.
The operations biggest moment came in 2012 when it was awarded the silver medal in the National Open Root Beer Competition.
But the entire time the brewery has been in operation hes been doing the majority of distribution he picked up some distribution from Corvallis-based Point Blank Distribution a few years ago.
And hes been the companys main employee with help from friends and family members as needed.
Its because of who he is, said Nehemiah Huffman, one of many friends who have worked for him at the brewery. Hes helping people, so in turn people like to help him.
Oien was developing a hard root beer and had created a recipe, but decided the application process through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission was going to take too long to make it practical.
By the time they get done with that Im going to be 74 years old, Oien said. I got better things Im going to be doing, but man, let me tell you, its good stuff.
There are still a few tap houses that have soda from Mt. Angel Brewing Company on tap, but once they run out, there will be no more product.
Oien said he plans to use up the remainder of the inventory, beyond what it will take to fill the remaining orders, to bottle some soda to give to friends.
Oien will continue to work 25 to 30 hours each week as a manager at Walerys Premium Pizza, where he has been employed the past 10 years.
His brother, Hal, sold the building years ago and it was transformed into the Mt. Angel Events Center. But the Mt. Angel Brewing Company has continued to occupy a room on the south side of the building.
Oien admits the soda business never made a lot of money because he plowed most of the profits back into the product.
Theres not many 72-year-old guys who can take a 166-pound keg and throw it in a truck, Oien said. Its helped me with my other stuff to keep me healthy.
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