PORTLAND, Ore. — BridgePort Brewing, at one point Portland's preeminent brewery, announced Tuesday it will end brewing operations immediately, and the BridgePort Brew Pub, an early anchor of the Pearl District, will close on March 10.
The brewery had operated since 1984, when it was founded by local winemakers Richard and Nancy Ponzi, and was sold to The Gambrinus Company in 1995.
The company said declining sales and distribution led to the decision. In April 2017, the company laid off nearly half its workforce and restructured operations in an attempt to revive dwindling sales, but the effort was unsuccessful, the company said.
"The decision to close was extremely difficult for all involved," the company wrote in a post on its Facebook page. 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."
Employees were informed of the decision Tuesday morning and the company said they'll be provided with comprehensive severance packages.
BridgePort is one of several Oregon breweries to close recently, joining Alameda, which closed in November, and Burnside Brewing, which closed earlier this month. Portland Brewing also closed its restaurant last year, and Widmer Bros. closed its pub on North Russell Street in January.
BridgePort was known for its India Pale Ale, which earned fans across the nation, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In 2013, BridgePort was Oregon's fifth-largest brewery based on barrels produced. In 2017, it dropped to No. 24. The company produced 8,524 barrels in 2017, a 30 percent decline from the prior year.
However, as more IPA forms, such as hazy and brut, emerged, BridgePort struggled to win new customers.
It also suffered a setback in the mid-2000s when well-regarded brewmaster Karl Ockert left the company.
The company renovated its Northwest Marshall Street space about a decade ago. It did another update a year ago.
The company's beers are distributed in 18 states.
Here is the complete statement from the company:
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