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The Common Block Brewing Company sign sits in an area slated for beer-brewing tanks in the restaurant and brewery that opened last week next to The Commons in downtown Medford. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta

New place for food & brew

Common Block Brewing Company is pouring suds in downtown Medford.

The long-awaited brewpub opened last week more than a year after its original target date. A variety of factors led to the delay for what figures to be a signature establishment on The Commons next to Pear Blossom Park. In the end, founding partners Alex and Danielle Amarotico did it their way, maintaining interest while containing costs.

"We would've been in a whole different ballpark as far as budget goes had we contracted the whole thing out," said Danielle Amarotico.

The Amaroticos signed a long-term lease with Lithia Real Estate, allowing them to transform the Monarch Building between Apple and Bartlett streets into a two-level brewpub with a mezzanine and outside seating.

By doing much of the remodeling work themselves, the Amaroticos were able to get things right as they moved along through the $2 million project.

"We had a lot of time to think about the details," Danielle Amarotico said. "We were able to take into account past experiences and improve on them. We wanted to do the steel work ourselves, work with a small crew, and a whole bunch of little things. We thought through our end goals."

Among the energy-efficiency elements incorporated into the remodel was a mile of radiant tubing in the mezzanine deck and walls.

"In the summer, it's cool to the touch, and in the winter, it's warm to the touch," she said. "You just can't do that once the concrete is poured without ripping out the floor."

Common Block features 17 beer, 11 wine and 3 cider taps, as well as cold-brewed coffee on draft. What you won't find are bottles and cans.

"We didn't want to handle a ton of recycling," Amarotico said. "So we built in a tap-only system with no bottles of wine, bottles of soda, or mixers. Taking care of all that waste adds up in human time."

A staff of 58 was hired to handle the opening, although there are more hires to come.

Common Block Pale Ale heads the beer list, supported by a dozen Oregon craft brews.  And, no, you won't find Budweiser, Coors or Miller here.

The house will generally carry multiple selections until a 15-barrel brewing system is installed, and seven or eight afterwards, Amarotico said

Although tapped wine isn't widespread, it is growing. Five reds and six whites are available.

"It can be limiting, but Oregon is especially ahead of the curve in kegged wine," Amarotico said. "We will have plenty of great choices, and with the demand, more wineries are doing it."

Local vintages from Wooldridge Creek, Quady North, Rock Point and RoxyAnn Winery will join the list this spring. The establishment's three ciders include Apple Outlaw Ginger from the Applegate Valley. The cold-brewed coffee is from Case Roasters in Ashland.

The American brewpub menu is fairly traditional, Amarotico said, "with a lot of different twists in recipes using a lot of beer."

Gluten-free pizza crusts are available, and a Talent bakery is supplying gluten-free bread for sandwiches.

"We've had so much community support, and that has been really amazing," she said. "So many people come on a daily basis, peeking into the building, introducing themselves and taking tours."

Still, it's a work in progress, along with the usual new restaurant kinks.

The wraparound exterior sign has yet to go up. The sign will begin on Fifth Street, facing the Lithia Building, and round onto the Apple Street parking area. Common Block's own beer will be brewed off-site at another shop until a brewing system is installed, presumably in the second half of 2017.

"There are so many loose ends to tie up," Amarotico said. "Yet, after working for the last year and a half, we felt like it's a real accomplishment to open the doors."

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31

 

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