Portland has a wonderful history of makers who have become pioneers of industry. Steve McCarthy is one of these folks. Steve started Clear Creek Distillery in 1985. This was at a time when Widmer Brothers, Bridgeport Brewing, and Portland Brewing were all getting started. Clear Creek went on to do some very innovative spirits. They quickly became known for their pear eau de vie. While a little old, this video shows their process. I highly recommend reading up on Steve McCarthy and the history of Clear Creek Distillery.
Why all this talk about distilling and Clear Creek, you might ask? In July of 2018 it was brought to our attention that an 18,000 sqft building was purchased by a former friend and colleague. However, the landlord didn’t know what to do with approximately 6,000sqft of it. Out team had been out looking at locations all around the Portland metro area. It was fascinating to venture in to spaces and try to envision what Hammer & Stitch would look like in that space. When I received the address for the above mentioned 6,000sqft space, I paused for a second. Wait, I know that address and this space. I’m sure the suspense is killing you here….. You guessed it, the Clear Creek Distillery space!Watch the Video
The first we entered the space, the ripe smell of fruit and sweet smell of distilled spirits wafted through the air. Hoses on the floor, bottles on the shelves, totes filled with spent fruit and distillers were busy moving about the production floor. Clear Creek was in the final months of operations in this location. They had recently joined forces with Hood River Distillers and moving all operations out to the Columbia River Gorge.
When Ben worked for Widmer Brothers, Steve McCarthy approached Kurt and Rob and inquired about Widmer making a whiskey wash for Clear Creek. Widmer jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the new craft distilling movement and support them anyway they could. In fact, some of the original McCarthy Whiskey had the Widmer logo on the back of the bottle. A word of advice to other brewers –if you plan to do a whiskey wash, get ready for A LOT of post brewing clean up. Peated malt makes everything smell like smoke and doesn’t lauter worth a damn!
Our team instantly knew this would be the perfect home for Hammer & Stitch. The North end of Slabtown is currently going through a major revitalization. The ESCO property has been demolished and will likely be the future home of mid-rise housing and retail, there is talk of the Portland Streetcar passing through the area, and Montgomery Park is also looking at some revitalization projects.
Hammer & Stitch is truly honored to be in a building once occupied by a pioneer. We are excited to celebrate the make of Clear Creek and begin the celebration of our own make!