The brewery has been suffering poor sales figures in recent years, and a reshuffling of the company in 2017 was an attempt to rebuild profits. It looks like that didn't quite do the job, and BridgePort cites declining sales and the "extremely competitive craft beer market of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest" as reasons for closing.
BridgePort was founded by Richard and Nancy Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards in 1984, under its original name, Columbia River Brewing, and opened the pub side of the business in 1986. In 1995, the Gambrinus Company—which also owns Shiner, Trumer Pils, and the now-closed Pete's Wicked Ales (hey, remember them?)—acquired BridgePort and greatly upped its brewing capacity.
The news of BridgePort's closing comes during a period of what could be considered a market correction following a craft brewing "bubble." Last week, Burnside Brewing suddenly closed, while Alameda Brewing, the Commons, and the once-Portland-based Amnesia Brewing all have ended their run in recent months.
BridgePort, however, had been an important figure on the local beer landscape for more than a generation. Their IPA was, for many years, the gold standard for IPA in Portland, although that style has since trended toward bigger, bitterer, and hazier varieties. It also made a terrific, relaxed Blue Heron Pale Ale in the traditional British style, a fine barleywine called Old Knucklehead, and a winter seasonal called Ebenezer. At one point its operations were healthy enough to sustain a satellite pub on Southeast Hawthorne, although that closed in 2012. BridgePort's Pearl District brewpub regularly offered cask-conditioned selections that were some of the best pints to be found in city limits. For their pioneering work and for their consistent, comparatively subtle beers, BridgePort's absence will be felt.
The company's statement is as follows:
Dear Friends of BridgePort,
Today we unfortunately announce that the BridgePort Brewery will cease brewing operations effective immediately, while the BridgePort Brew Pub will close effective March 10th, 2019. The decision to close was extremely difficult for all involved. Back in April 2017, declining sales caused the brewery to restructure its operations. However, sales and distribution continued declining in the extremely competitive craft beer market of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, which resulted in this final decision.
We extend our most sincere thanks and gratitude to our hardworking brewers, pub staff, our suppliers, and sales and marketing team for their dedication to BridgePort over the years. Because of their contributions, BridgePort’s enduring legacy as Portland’s craft beer pioneer will always be remembered.
We communicated this news earlier today to our employees and all are being provided with comprehensive severance packages.
We would also like to thank you—our BridgePort drinkers, pub customers, and fans—for your loyal support over the past 35 years. We invite you to stop by the pub for one last pint before we close next month. We would love to host you and reminisce one last time.
With our heartfelt appreciation,
The BridgePort Team