In 2017, Top Chef alumnus Doug Adams was judging a shandy competition in the Taqueria Nueve space when he met Whitney Burnside. Burnside, a trailblazing brewer who began her career in the culinary world, went on a few dates with Adams before he told her he was going to marry her. “She said, ‘That’s super creepy,’” Adams recalls, with a laugh.
Five years later, the two are married, with a young daughter and an even younger business. Grand Fir Brewing — which opens Friday, November 18, in Southeast Portland — has been on Portland’s culinary radar for months, after Adams walked away from his burgeoning restaurant group, Holler Hospitality, a year earlier. “I really wanted to learn how to be a normal human being, not working 12 to 15 hours each day,” he says. Instead, he focused on his family, and Adams and Burnside began pursuing a brewery they could run together.
Grand Fir is, in certain ways, a culmination of both Burnside and Adams’ careers in a single place, but without any pretense. Burnside’s beers range from the niche to the palpably accessible, like a Sierra-Nevada-inspired pale ale that Adams calls the best beer he’s ever had. The food menu is casual and nothing exceeds $15 per plate, from the obligatory fried chicken to the beer-braised elk with crusty bread. “We really wanted to make it a spot where we could connect our food and beer together and have that connection extend to the guests,” Burnside says. “That was our plan, to create a really fun experience for people.”
Below, find the details you’ll need before visiting Grand Fir, including the dishes they’re most excited about, the beers to try, and more.
Who are Doug Adams and Whitney Burnside?
For those outside Portland, Adams is probably best-known for his appearance on Top Chef season 12, but local diners have known the Texas-raised chef for years. He was a veteran of restaurateur Vitaly Paley’s restaurants, most notably the now-closed Imperial, where he became famous for his fried chicken. In 2018, Adams opened Texan-Northwestern restaurant Bullard with front-of-house maven Jennifer Quist; the two went on to found a hospitality group together, which included restaurants like fried chicken spot Holler and cocktail bar Abigail Hall. In 2021, Adams left the restaurant group.
Burnside got her start in culinary school, eventually becoming a cheesemaker for a Woodinville, Washington restaurant. Her passion for fermentation pulled her into the beer world, interning at Laurelwood Brewing Company before working her way through several notable Pacific Northwestern breweries: Upright Brewing, Elysian, Pelican, 10 Barrel. She was the first female head brewer at Pelican Brewing, and she’s often called Portland’s first female brewmaster after helping 10 Barrel open its Portland location. She has won several awards for her beers, including a bronze at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.
What is Grand Fir Brewing?
Grand Fir Brewing, named for the 200-year-old fir tree outside the couple’s home and their shared passion for the outdoors, is a brewery within the former West Coast Grocery Co. space on Southeast Stark. The 15-barrel brewhouse will offer a variety of Burnside’s beers, including a West Coast pilsner, a handful of IPAs, and a chocolatey, toasty stout. In the kitchen, Adams will make dishes like smoked wings with Calabrian pepper hot sauce, grilled cabbage steaks with green chile and avocado, and snacks like beer nuts. The space will also host supper clubs with a rotating slate of chefs, as well as collaboration beers with other Oregon-based brewers.
What do I drink?
The brewery is starting with a small lineup of house beers, but Burnside and Adams mention two beers immediately as a clear starting point: the Tack Shack East Texas Lager, and the Old Growth Pale. The former is technically a Czech amber lager, which Burnside says is “really approachable” with “light caramel characteristics” and “some nice breadiness.” Adams is partial to the latter, which he calls an “instant classic.” “It’s just so crisp and clean and the hops come through so well,” he says. “Having a really balanced pale ale with some hops, some citrus notes, it’s just a great jumping off point for a lot of different foods.”
Those uninterested in beer can stick to the brewery’s cocktails: That Smoke pairs Rittenhouse rye whiskey with lapsang souchong, while the house margarita hews savory with jalapeño-tarragon triple sec.
What do I eat?
The menu at Grand Fir is intentionally small, leaning on the sweet, malty flavors of the beer and a culinary palette incorporating hues of pub fare from parts of Europe and the United States. The burger takes some inspiration from Whataburger, topping two Carman Ranch grass-fed beef burgers with mustard-mayo sauce and a smoked caramelized onion finished with the Tack Shack lager. The crispy alpine potatoes arrive smothered in a raclette beer cheese, with smoked onion mustard and cornichons. For something ideal in the colder months, Adams braises elk in Tack Shack with malt syrup, caramelized onions, and smoky Tanzanian honey; the dish is finished with an egg yolk briefly blasted with heat, turning it into something of a sauce when stirred into the braising liquid. “It feels super English pub-y for me,” Adams says.
What’s the deal with the supper club?
In the winter, the Grand Fir Supper Club will begin, with ticketed dinners in the brewery’s barrel room. Upcoming chefs include Top Chef winner Mei Lin and Han Oak’s Peter Cho, though the time frame and theme of those dinners is still up in the air. The events will start with tasting menus, though Adams also imagines more casual meals that might take up half the space. Keep an eye on the brewery’s Instagram for more information down the line.
Where is Grand Fir Brewing?
1403 SE Stark Street.