The Laurelwood Story
Hi, I’m Mike De Kalb. My wife, Cathy Woo-De Kalb, and I own and operate the Laurelwood brewery and pubs based in Portland, Oregon. Laurelwood Brewing Co. is our family-owned business, founded in 2001 after years of working in the hospitality industry and raising a young family.
The original Laurelwood Public House & Brewery opened in March 2001, in a defunct pub location with a small 7-barrel brewery located in Portland’s Hollywood district. We opened the brewpub with a distinct vision– to create an eating and drinking establishment where everyone could feel welcome. We wanted it to feel like you were attending a party at our house and moms, dads, kids, single friends, and neighbors could all mingle together to create a positive energy! To put it simply, we became and continue to be “A Place Where Friends and Families Meet.”
Just like our pub, our original list of craft beers was designed with everyone in mind.
Our original Brewmaster, Christian Ettinger, and I created a lineup meant to please every palate. With our strong dedication towards building a quality selection of beers, Laurelwood Brewing Co. was soon winning local and national awards, while our brewpub had become a bustling center for the neighborhood.
2003 brought the addition of Chad Kennedy to our brewing staff, who worked with Christian to craft the beers that won us the World Beer Cup World Champion Small Brewpub and World Champion Small Brewpub Brewmaster awards.
In 2004, we opened Laurelwood NW Public House in a beautiful restored house amidst the shops on NW 23rd Avenue in Portland. This location did not have a brewery, but did have an amazing patio and even 2nd story outside dining! NW 23rd was a great family friendly and casual choice for the neighborhoods surrounding our pub. For the next several years our business grew by leaps & bounds, but unfortunately construction projects and the Pearl District took their toil on our business and we sold this location in 2010.
In 2006, Chad became our Head Brewer and the beers continued to garner awards at local and national competitions. That same year, Laurelwood began a franchise relationship with SSP America to operate two Portland International Airport (PDX) locations on Concourses A and E– with both locations still operating today! These locations are staffed by SSP America but are trained and monitored by Laurelwood Brewing Co. in order to insure the same great experience and flavor that you would find in one of our pubs.
By 2007, our business had successfully grown to the point where our original location was too small for the high volume of business! The brewery was also struggling to keeping up with the escalating demands of the two restaurants, in addition to our many off-premises accounts around Portland. We decided to relocate the brewpub 11 blocks east to the corner of NE 51st and Sandy Boulevard, where we remain today! We purchased the former Sylvia’s Dinner Theatre and renovated it; recycling and refurbishing as much of this Portland classic as possible. The former stage area is now home to a 15 barrel brewing system. This location has ample upstairs private dining options as well as a roof top deck that hosts summer time BBQ’s and good times!
After moving to the new 51st & Sandy location, the original location was remodeled into the Laurelwood Pizza Co., with a menu that focused on handcrafted pizza and Italian fare. Our pizza place was great! Good food and amazing beer, but our 10 year lease ran out and we decided to sell this location in 2010.
In November 2009 we opened Laurelwood Public House & Brewery in my home town of Battle Ground, Washington. The pub was located in Battle Ground Village, in the heart of a residential and commercial community. This location featured our same great pub menu as well as a 2.5 bbl nano brewing system to make all those innovative and creative beers we couldn’t brew using our bigger system at our Portland, Oregon brewpub. In 2014, we sold our out-of-state location to put more focus on brewing and our Portland pubs.
That same year, our Workhorse IPA won the National IPA Championship (NIPAC) as the best tasting IPA in America! We beat all the big boys, resulting in what people called quite the Cinderella story.
In 2011, Vasili Gletos joined our team as Brewmaster. In addition to a great sense of humor, Vasili brought an impressive brewing background rooted in innovation. Our beers continued to garner awards, and somehow Vasili managed to grow production in a brewery that was “maxed out” two years ago!
We also partnered with the Portland Trailblazers in 2011 to open Laurelwood Half Court Pub on the 300 level of the Moda Center, formerly known as the Rose Garden. Today, Blazers fans flock to the arena’s pub to enjoy a pint of their favorite Portland-brewed beer while watching their favorite Portland team. Go Blazers!!
Fall 2012 brought the opening of our Laurelwood SE Public House in the Westmoreland/Sellwood area in Southeast Portland, Oregon. Roll-up garage doors open our location to the great outdoor dining that Portlanders love and make it the perfect place to enjoy good food and good beer on a warm summer day!
In 2013, we began to make moves on making our creations more available to craft beer lovers. We started bottling our flagship brews, Workhorse IPA and Free Range Red, on a regular basis and distributing throughout Oregon state. The same year, our Megafauna Imperial IPA won the National Imperial IPA Championship (NIIPAC) — once again beating out all the big guys!
The past couple of years have brought a tremendous amount of change… All good and all benefiting Laurelwood fans around the country. In 2014, we decide grow our bottled selection to include many of our seasonal beers, including our Portland Pale Project pub series.
In Fall 2014, Shane Watterson took on the role of Brewmaster, after years of working as Head Brewer with our former Brewmaster, Vasili. Shane brings a fresh perspective to Laurelwood and is dedicated to boosting the creativity of our lineup!
Today, we are seeing the Laurelwood name more and more, and not just around Portland, Oregon. Our craft beers are now available wherever better beer is sold in Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and in 2015, we began distributing throughout Japan!
Our brewpub at 51st and Sandy is still where a majority of our beer is brewed, especially our ever-changing seasonal selection. We invite you to our NE and SE Portland pubs — the place where friends and family meet — to try our newest Laurelwood beers, like our Rando IPA series or our seasonal stouts, as well as our delicious food options made with local ingredients.
Stay tuned… There’s much, much more in store for Laurelwood Brewing Co.!