Fresh start for brew pub

Last Friday afternoon, the serving of fresh, locally brewed beers took a long leap from the past and into the future. The Caldera Tap House, located by Ashland Creek at 31 Water St., opened its doors with a flourish: Bands played under the viaduct, favored pints were proffered and plates of good vegetarian and omnivore food were served to the ever-increasing crowds. With 20 taps flowing and the mood on the upswing, is was hard to believe that such an establishment has not always been with us.

In the '70s and '80s, the space was used as an aerobic studio and a bicycle shop, which moved to Oak and B streets as Cycle Sport, an oasis to the bikers amongst us. Then in 1988 brewer Gregory Kebkey and backer Jack Joyce installed what became known as the Rogue Brewery, with on-site brewing. Todd Kemp was soon the assistant with Jim Mills coming aboard to learn the ropes. During Ashland's great flood of 1997, the Rogue quickly filled with 4 to 5 feet of creek sand and all manner of debris. The brewing equipment was removed and Patrick Couchman ran a pub there for many years and after a fallen sale, worked things out with Jim Mills, who had since founded Caldera Brewing in Ashland.

A massive remodeling, a new menu, a new painting scheme and, most importantly, 20 taps of the finest help propel the grand opening to a level where smiles, laughter and suds reigned stronger each hour, accompanied either by the sound of the creek or the beat of the band, all heard well from Ashland's largest creek side decks.

All is well in Ashland when such conditions conspire to outline a night of frolic and good conversation. It is comforting to know that a buoyant evening of camaraderie and contentment can be had most any day at the new Caldera Tap House. As to the names and descriptions of the brews ... I leave that to you to investigate and harvest what you feel is the best.

For more information call 482-HOPS.

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