Brew History

Creative Problem-Solving Revives a Brewery

Oregon Trail Brewery

An Oregon brewery survives failure to produce award-winning beers. The Oregon Trail Brewery in Corvallis, Oregon, is in its second incarnation. The original brewery started brewing in 1987, but by 1992 a string of problems had forced its closure. New owners took over in 1993. With their new energy, a few modifications to the brewery, and some good recipes and a sound business plan, today’s Oregon Trail Brewery has met success and seems poised for even further growth and recognition in coming years.

Much of what Oregon Trail has become is the result of the dedication and direction of two men: Dave Wills and Jerry Bockmore. Dave Wills is already a familiar name in the brewing industry; he’s the owner of Freshops, home brewers’ original mail-order source for fresh whole hops and one of home brewers’ only suppliers of organic hops. Bockmore has been involved with craft brewing since 1989, first as a brewer for Hart Brewing (Seattle, Washington), then as a consultant for Star Brewing (Portland, Oregon).

This article presents the history of both the failed brewery and its more fortunate successor, which has earned awards at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) for two years running.