Meet Your Maker
Oak Hills Brewpub
Stephen began as a bartender for McMenamins before moving into production brewing. Since joining the production staff, Stephen has spent time working Edgefield's larger-scale brewery facility as well as Oak Hills' six-barrel brewery. In following his three inspirational necessities, Stephen enjoys trying new beers, exploring Portland with friends, and engaging his strongest passion: the lowering of his golf handicap. Having some of his own brew during a round adds a little extra "aiming fluid" to his game. His favorite brew days are spent making IPA recipes. In this area, it often seems that IPAs are how customers judge a brewer's worth--and Stephen is always aiming to impress. Though in a different style, his earliest acclaim came with his Royal Oil Espresso Stout. The day it was tapped, a couple came back and flattered Stephen by asking for the recipe so they could duplicate the brew at home.
"Good beer, good friends and a good time: That's what our job is all about." – Oak Hills brewer Stephen Harper
Working at McMenamins provided the opportunity for Stephen to transition from homebrewing to pursuing a career in professional brewing. While at San Diego State University, he was a criminal justice major from 2003-2007, but as time passed his passion for his degree declined and his passion for fun and libation grew. Eventually he began home brewing with a few friends. In learning the process, he became friends with Dean Reloux of the San Diego Brewing Company, who offered him an opportunity to observe what a job in commercial brewing actually involved. Stephen also visited Forest Grove for a family gathering at the Grand Lodge in 2005. After sampling his first microbrews, and enjoying the unique artwork, he formulated a plan to move to Portland and work as a brewer. That plan became a reality a few years later. During that final transition, a sage piece of advice ran through his mind: "Put quality of beer over all other priorities. You can make beer as fast as you want, but if it's no good, nobody cares."