‘We will rebuild’: Portage Brewing Company picking up pieces after catastrophic fire

Portage Brewing Company in Walker, Minnesota, was destroyed by a fire on Sunday, January 6, 2019 // Photo via Portage Brewing Companys Facebook

Portage Brewing Company in Walker, Minnesota, was destroyed by a fire on Sunday, January 6, 2019 // Photo via Portage Brewing Company’s Facebook

[Updated January 9, 2019, 12:06pm]

Portage Brewing Company in Walker, Minnesota, announced via Facebook on Sunday, January 6, that a fire had completely destroyed the brewery.

The company was alerted to the fire at 6:30am on Sunday morning. Local volunteer firefighters arrived on scene and eventually extinguished the blaze. Though no one was injured in the fire, Portage’s taproom on floors two, three, and four was entirely destroyed.

The brewery was known for its experimentation with wild yeast strains collected from the area and cultivated into a house blend that head brewer and co-founder Jeff Vondenkamp used in many of Portage’s beers.  On Tuesday, the company posted an update, stating, “Today was among the hardest of days, having to destroy our beer and say goodbye to many of our projects. It hurt more than anything we’ll likely experience.”

Fans of the brewery, which opened in 2017, and the beer community have offered words of support and some have begun organizing events in support of Portage Brewing Company. This Friday, a benefit event at the Leech Lake Event Center at Bluewater Lodge will be taking place from 5–9pm, and Portage beer will be flowing.

“Coincidentally, we were also planning to release our #resilienceipa with Sierra Nevada to support the Camp Fire efforts [this Friday],” the company wrote on Facebook. The Resilience IPA program was started by Sierra Nevada to raise funds for those who were affected by the recent wildfire. Many Minnesota breweries have participated in the program by brewing and releasing their own versions of Resilience IPA, but the beer has taken on a new depth of meaning for Portage. “Firefighters were scheduled to pour that beer at our brewery, who inevitably helped fight the blaze that took our business. Thanks to a lot of entities, this will still be happening.”

In a statement of its own resilience, Portage Brewing vowed to its fans and followers, “We will clean up the pieces, we will rebuild. On ahead.”

Stay tuned for more information about the company’s future plans. 

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