August Everson acknowledges the fact that he named his new Washougal brewery after himself, an admitted introvert, is laced with irony.
“The whole brand is a little bit of a contradiction because it’s called ‘Recluse,’ somebody who doesn’t like to be around other people,” he told the Post-Record earlier this month, “and yet here we are, building a watering hole to bring people together. As a ‘recluse,’ I shouldn’t like people, but I love seeing all the activity and how close it is to all of this pristine nature and industry. It’s pretty cool.”
Recluse Brew Works is set to open next month in the Port of Camas-Washougal’s industrial park, 4035 S. Grant St., Suite No. 102, Washougal. Everson has tentatively set an opening day of Saturday, Nov. 18, but said that he might have to push it back a bit, depending on when he receives approval from the Clark County Health Department.
“I feel great,” Everson said. “I’m very excited. It’s been a great process, and I’ve met a lot of really cool people along the way. We built something that I think is truly beautiful and becoming more beautiful every day. And I’m pumped to be in this community, too. Almost everybody has been exceptionally welcoming. I really like a lot of the other local businesses, and I like the vibe of Washougal and Camas.”
Port commissioners approved an agreement in July 2022 that allows Everson to lease two 3,330-square-foot bays inside Building 20, a 50,000-square-foot industrial facility that opened earlier this year.
“I’m pumped for him,” tasting room manager Richard LaRue said of Everson. “He’s got a clear vision, which makes it way easier to get everything up and running. It’s going to be great.”
Everson has divided his space between a brewing area, which features five 30-barrel tanks, and a tasting room, which he hopes will give off an “industrial” vibe and feel reminiscent of a basement or cellar.
“(I want it to be) a nice relaxing place to come, have a drink, take a load off, hang out,” said Everson, who added that he’s contracted with a mobile canning company to can his beers and plans to distribute his brews to local restaurants and taprooms. “People can enjoy some tasty beers and not take the beer too seriously and not take life too seriously.”
Everson will brew a variety of beer styles, but focus on lagers, his specialty.
“I really want to focus on American-, German-, and Czech-style lagers, and have a lot of lager availability,” Everson said. “I do like introducing people to how versatile (lagers) can be. My first one is just a fizzy yellow beer, but they can be dark, they can be light, they can be amber, they can be bitter, they can be malty. Just like pales and IPAs (India pale ales), they can be very versatile.
“That being said, I do want to make a lot of pale ales, IPAs, that kind of thing, but with a stress on a little bit lower ABV (alcohol by volume). I mean, I love (boozy IPAs) — I even have one in the tank right now, a 6.9% straight-down-the-middle West Coast IPA — but I think there is a spot for putting the brakes on a little bit as far as ABV goes.”
The tasting room doesn’t have a kitchen, so food, other than pre-packaged snacks, won’t be on the menu at Recluse Brew Works. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that beer drinkers will go hungry.
“Outside food will be always welcome,” LaRue said, “and we will be trying to (host) food pop-ups and food trucks in the parking lot, so if pop-ups and trucks in the area want to reach out to us, please do, because we’re going to have that lined up. It’s mutually beneficial because we don’t have to have a kitchen, so we don’t have to deal with that headache, but also, it’s good for (food truck operators because) they don’t have to pay rent to a food cart pod and they get a steady spot. It’s good for everybody.”
Everson was born and raised in Ohio and performed data analytics work for startup businesses in the Midwest for several years, but found that he “just couldn’t sit behind a desk.”
“I was moving up the ladder and stayed unhappy every time,” he said. “I would keep moving up, and I was like, ‘The problem must be me,’ so I left (the technology industry). I wanted to start a business, but I just couldn’t think of anything that I was passionate about in that realm.”
He eventually decided to turn his main hobby — homebrewing — into a full-time job. He enrolled at the Siebel Institute of Technology, a Chicago-based vocational college that focuses on brewing science, to advance his skills.
“I was like, ‘Well, it’d be sweet to start a brewery someday, but if that doesn’t happen, I would just love to be a brewer,’” he said.
After finishing the Siebel program, Everson moved to Portland with his wife, and was hired one month later by Widmer Brothers Brewery as a night shift manager. Everson left Widmer in 2020 for another Portland brewery, Wayfinder Beer, where he performed a variety of duties and eventually worked his way up to the lead brewer position.
“At Widmer, I didn’t have to think about anything other than just how to make the beer the right way, get on the right schedule, and make sure everybody got home safe. (I learned) how to move around a brewery, how big breweries are set up, and the mechanics and engineering, and it was really good,” he said. “Wayfinder was an amazing experience, too, because it’s a small brewery, but it’s set up like a big factory. It’s pretty spectacular. It’s a cathedral, really. I continued to learn (about) efficiency there, as well as some amazing techniques for making great lager beer.”
Everson accelerated his business plan once he found out about the opportunities at the Port of Camas-Washougal’s industrial park. He left Wayfinder in late 2022 and has been focusing on launching Recluse Brew Works ever since.
“The plan was always to have my own (business),” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen this quickly. I wanted an industrial park, close to the river, closer to the Gorge than Portland, and when Building 20 popped up, (I took it as) a sign. Part of what drew me to the Pacific Northwest and the Portland metro area in general, and then further out here to Camas-Washougal, was the juxtaposition of industry and nature. It’s so striking and so beautiful in its own way.”
For more information about Recluse Brew Works, including updates about its launch date, visit instagram.com/recluse brewworks.