I always look forward to starting the summer festival season with Medford Beer Week in June, but this winter has given fans of local beer plenty to celebrate, with new breweries bubbling up over the past few months.
Judging from the crowds, everybody knows about The Ram Restaurant & Brewery and Common Block Brewing Company, popular spots for food and drink. The latest addition, Osmo’s Alehouse at 522 S. Central Ave., Medford, doesn’t serve food, but it does offer interesting beers, an up-close look at a three-person family-owned brewing operation, and an intriguing mix of Timbers soccer, foosball and Finnish epic poetry on the side.
Brewer Nick Hull said he tried to create a bigger, better version of hanging out in his garage trying new beers with friends, and I think he has accomplished that. Warmly lustrous wooden bars and tables, polished concrete floors and gleaming brew kettles and fermentation tanks put craftsmanship on display. There’s also a cozy couch, a few board games and a foosball table where regulars are hoping to rally a tournament. Behind the bar hangs a collection of soccer scarves, and there’s a TV for catching games.
Osmo’s takes its name from Osmotar, a woman who brews beer and offers homemaking advice in Finnish folklore. The name also sounds a little like osmosis and just seemed to have the right mix of science and myth for Hull’s style of brewing.
An award-winning homebrewer, Hull worked for three years at Wild River Brewing but wanted to branch out and try different recipes. He hopes to combine the creative experimentation of homebrewing with the consistent quality of a commercial brewery.
He brews 90-gallon batches every Tuesday and aims to have a new beer ready to pour each Friday. Instead of developing a flagship beer, Hull is focused on variety. He strives to have something on tap to appeal to all sorts of beer drinkers, whether they’re hopheads, fans of funky farmhouse ale, like their brews light, dark or somewhere in between.
A sampler offers the option to try three 5-ounce pours of whatever Hull has brewed up for $6. I enjoyed sipping my way through a range of well-made beers, each true to its style. I particularly liked the balanced ESB and an amber with the quirky tang of rye. A sticky sweet honey nut brown ale and that funky, fruity farmhouse are sure to find fans, too. If you know what you like, a pint, served in an elegant tulip glass, is $5, or get a 10-ounce glass for $3.
In addition to his own brews, Hull had a gluten-free beer from Walkabout Brewing, a delicious dry apple cider from WildCraft Cider Works in Eugene and Caldera sodas on my most recent visit. Osmo's also has a limited selection of local wine.
Hull collaborates with the crew at Immortal Spirits, getting their barrels to age some of his beers. A pear sour, soured in the brew kettle, then aged in a pear brandy barrel is in the works for the Pear-a-Fare during Pear Blossom Festival.
Osmo’s is open from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Fired Up Food Truck is usually on site Saturday, while other food trucks stop in Fridays. There’s often a taco truck parked across the street near Panaderia Del Pueblo, a Mexican bakery, and customers are welcome to bring their own food.
Find Osmo’s Alehouse on Facebook or call 541-842-0557.