The Laurelwood Story
Hi, I’m Mike De Kalb. I, along with my wife Cathy Woo-De Kalb, own and operate the Laurelwood Family of Pubs and Breweries. Laurelwood Brewing Co. is our family owned business that was founded in 2001 in Portland, Or. After years of working in the hospitality industry and raising a young family, we decided to make the leap to ownership. The original Laurelwood Public House & Brewery was opened in the Hollywood district of Portland in March 2001 in a defunct pub location with a small 7 barrel brewery. We opened Laurelwood Public House & Brewery with a 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 where Moms, dads, kids, single friends and neighbors can all mingle together to create a positive energy. To put it simply, we are “A Place Where Friends and Families Meet.”
Our original Brewmaster Christian Ettinger and I designed a list of craft beers meant to please every palate. Soon enough, after a strong dedication towards building a quality and delicious line of beers, Laurelwood was winning local and national awards and had become a bustling center for the neighborhood. The year 2003 brought the addition of Chad Kennedy to our brewing staff. He and Christian crafted the beers that won Laurelwood 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. Also in 2006, Laurelwood began a franchise relationship with SSP America to operate two PDX locations on concourses A and E. 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 high demands of the two restaurants and our many off-premises accounts around Portland. We decided to relocate the Public House & Brewery 11 blocks east to the corner of NE 51st and Sandy. 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 Blvd location, the original location was remodeled into the Laurelwood Pizza Co, with a menu that focuses 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 of 2009 we opened Laurelwood Public House & Brewery in my home town of Battle Ground, Wa. The pub is located in Battle Ground Village in the heart of a residential and commercial community. This location features our same great pub menu as well as a 2.5 bbl nano brewing system to make all those innovative and creative beers we can’t brew using our bigger system.
Also in 2009, in what some regard as the true Cinderella story, our Workhorse IPA won the National IPA Challenge Championship as the best tasting IPA in America! We beat all the big boys!
In 2011, Vasili Gletos joined our team as Brewmaster. In addition to a great sense of humor, Vasili has brought a great brewing background rooted in innovation. Our beers have continued to garner awards, and somehow Vasili has managed to grow production in a brewery that was “maxed out” two years ago! In this year we also partnered with the Portland Trailblazers to open Laurelwood Half Court Pub on the 300 level of the Rose Garden. You can now enjoy a pint of Laurelwood Beer while watching world class entertainment at the Rose Garden. Go Blazers!!
Fall of 2012 brought the Laurelwood SE Public House in the Westmoreland/Sellwood area. Roll up garage doors open our location to the great outdoor dining that Portlanders love and make it the perfect place to enjoy great food on a warm summer day! We also decided to bring back a portion of our Laurelwood Pizza Co menu. Come check out our newest location!
What does 2013 bring for Laurelwood? We’re glad you asked! We are now ranked the fifth largest Brewpub in the United States based on the volume of beer that we brew! Our Megafauna Imperial IPA won the National Imperial IPA Challenge Championship for the best tasting Imperial IPA in America. Once again we beat all the big boys!!
In 2013 we are also proud to announce a major expansion into national markets. Working with the Craft Brew Alliance, We are set to increase our production by as many as 15,000 barrels a year, making it finally possible to realize a long held goal of ours –packaging Laurelwood beers in 12 ounce glass bottles-6 packs. With the rise of production, there will be a few changes, but the flavor profiles that gained us our reputation will stay the same.