Head Brewer Steve van Rossem is still finishing the assembly of the brewing side of Plank Town Brewing Company, but the fledgling first brew, Bart’s Best Bitter or B^3, is already a refined recipe.
Van Rossem, who is transitioning to Springfield’s newest brewpub from Block 15 in Corvallis, brewed B^3 test batches up at Block 15, and he says that Plank Town will likely stick with the recipe. “It’s made using British yeast, British malt and British hops,” van Rossem says, “a classic-style British best bitter.”
While van Rossem says he wanted to start with an English-style session beer because it’s one of owner Bart Caridio’s favorite styles, Caridio says he’ll be happy to give van Rossem a fairly free rein of the brewery. “My vision for Plank Town’s future brews is to let Steve have fun!” he says. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
Next up for the brewery will be the Lil’ Red Ryder, which uses British caramel rye and a mix-up of mellower British hops and more citrus-like Northwest hops. A Bohemian-style pilsner, an English-style porter, a stout and bourbon-barrel beers are all on van Rossem’s to-do list, but he says he’d like to get about six main recipes perfected and brewed before releasing them to the public. “I have a line-up,” he says, “and I’m working with Bart and Curtis so we have styles that will complement the monthly specials.”
Caridio, who has plenty of practice running successful pubs thanks to Sam Bond’s and the Axe & Fiddle, says that he’d originally planned to include music like the other venues do, but Plank Town’s early success, especially the busy dining room, changed his plans. “When we opened, the restaurant just ended up being so much nicer than I had envisioned to begin with,” he says, so he decided to put off music for now to better serve the busy dining room.
Meanwhile, van Rossem is putting the finishing touches on his brewing system, special-ordered from Practical Fusion in Canby. “Brewing can be pretty intense labor,” he says, so he’s laying it out to be accessible without much climbing and stooping, “geezer” style. That’s not to say it won’t be visually appealing. An old dairy tank the Plank Towners found in Seattle will be part of the brewing aesthetic, which is now hidden by a temporary wall. Van Rossem says, “When everything’s finished, the wall goes away and you get a chance to see the brewery while you eat.”
Plank Town Brewing is open 11 am to 11 pm Monday through Thursday, 11 am to midnight Saturday and 11 am to 11 pm Sunday at 346 Main St., Spfd., 746-1890 and planktownbrewing.com.