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Grants Pass beer scene on the rise

Medford and Ashland may have raised the bar for the brewing and pub scene in Southern Oregon, but Grants Pass is rapidly catching up.

Climate City Brewing, with a planned opening of this fall in the historic Brewery Building on G Street, will tap into the growing growler-filling, craft beer-seeking crowd in town.

"It's all good. It all helps the movement," said Jamie Cartwright, owner and general manager of Cartwright's Valley Meat on Union Avenue, where what was once a meat shop is now a trendy grocery store with more than 40 beer taps behind the meat counter. "People are more in tune with supporting local people and local stores. They want to buy more local beers, beers brewed in Oregon and Northern California, and the smaller breweries. It's not just beer, it's everything."

Carl and Mimi Raskin have sold a variety of craft beers in bottles at Elegance downtown, from a refrigerator behind all of their wine and lamps.

Within several blocks of them, numerous taps flow with craft beers.

Wild River Brewing, on F Street, originated with one of the pioneers when Hubert Smith started brewing in the Cave Junction Pizza Deli, about 25 years ago.

He taught a few local brewers, such as Jerry Elder, who brewed at the defunct Blue Pine brewpub in the 1990s, and now brews for Never a Bad Hop Brewing at J.D.'s Sports Pub.

JD's started selling Northwest microbrews in the early 1990s, carrying on a tradition that seemed to start at the long-gone Crow's Nest.Cartwright's proudly carries the Never a Bad Hop brand, among its rotating taps.

Wild River carries on Smith's tradition with brewer Scott Butts, at the main restaurant as well as the Publick House across the street.

Try the Extra Special Bitter and Double Eagle Imperial Stout, which carries this proclamation on the website, "As deep and dark as the Moscow Nights and strong enough to warm the Czar's tootsies even in January!"

Sales of growlers, the 64-ounce jugs, seem to be exploding in the last 15 months.

Pop into Frank 'N' Stene's Monster Growlers on Sixth Street and sample a Laurelwood Green Mammoth IPA from Portland, or the Heelch O' Hops from Anderson Valley in Boonville, Calif. Frank 'N' Stene's had 10 IPAs on tap recently. They are unique in that, other than samples, it's not a place to quaff a whole glass.

Across from the downtown post office, the Oregon Pour Authority, another favorite of the growler crowd, carries about 20 taps in a cozy bar room, with ESPN playing on the TV.

A photo on their Facebook Page showed beers from some of the best breweries in the West — Green Flash, Deschutes, Stone, Lagunitas, Oskar Blues and the like.

As for actually brewing the product for sale, Griess Family Brews and Taproom provides that on H Street across from Chet's, providing their own beers and other selections.

You can bring your own food and sometimes hear live music.

Coming soon: The Haul, a combined taproom, restaurant and small market, under construction at 121 S.W. H St. The owners are Chad Hahn of Applegate-based Fulcrum Dining catering and Jon Conner of Conner Fields Brewing of Applegate.

He's been selling his brews at the Grants Pass Growers' Market for some time.

The restaurant will emphasize food prepared from locally available sources. A small market there will sell cheese, bread and organic produce, among other items.

Even big grocery stores have gone beer-crazy, as Fred Meyer recently doubled its section, and Albertson's on Allen Creek Road was already there.

Reach reporter Jeff Duewel at 541-474-3720 or jduewel@thedailycourier.com