by Anthony Roberts
There are six words every homebrewer loves to hear when they take a batch of beer to a party.
“I thought you were bringing homebrew.”
When someone mistakes one of your beers for something from the shelves of Belmont Station – because it’s that good – you know you’re getting it right. Portland brewers Ben Parsons and Rik Hall heard that statement a lot over the past five years. And starting this spring, when they show up with beer, it won’t be homebrew anymore.
Hall and Parsons are opening Baerlic Brewing Company on Southeast 11th Avenue near Ladd’s Addition, right next to Blitz Ladd, former home of Kettlemen’s Bagels. The enormous building provides Baerlic with plenty of room to grow, and positions them just a few blocks away from Southeast Division Street’s rapidly growing commercial district and a future MAX stop. The building’s old bagel counter is already gone, making way for a bar that will anchor a taproom with 10 beers on draft. Baerlic. Baerlic – which translates to “of barley” in old English – will have four or five staples in the rotation, with the remaining taps dedicated to seasonals and experimental brews.
Creating a Vision
Hall and Parsons grew up together in Idaho, and reconnected after they moved, separately, to Portland. They soon found themselves homebrewing, a hobby that quickly turned into a habit. In one 2½- year stretch, they brewed a new batch every week. For them, the move to full-time brewing didn’t seem so far-fetched. Hall has restaurant experience, and had been looking to move on from his job as a bike mechanic. And while in graphic design school at Portland State, Parsons had created all of the graphics and marketing materials for a fake brewery from scratch as part of a class project. He’s been dreaming up a marketing plan for years.
And it shows. Clever and catchy posters announce the brewery’s impending arrival in the building’s windows, imperial pint glasses with the brewery’s logo are already stacked in the back room, and cycling caps bearing a Baerlic monogram just arrived. Yes, they’re a new brewery, but that doesn’t mean they have to look like one.
“Sometimes people put so much passion and effort into what they love, but they don’t spend enough time and effort telling their story,” Parsons says.
A New System
But looking good is only half the battle; there’s also that part about making beer. Hall and Parsons brew great beer on a small scale, but moving to a 10-barrel system is obviously a big step up. Are they intimidated?
“No,” Hall says, matter-of-factly. “We’ve always been meticulous about making notes and keeping records of temperatures, hops, even down to the gear we use. As you scale up, those things can get both easier and harder to (mess) up.”
The duo have also received tons of advice from friends in the industry, who they said have welcomed them with open arms.
“You just have to be willing to dump a batch if things don’t work out,” Parsons says of brewing. “We’ll only serve what is worthy of us drinking – and we’re pretty picky.”
In early March, Hall and Parsons had just finished building the mill room in the back of the brewery, and were awaiting delivery of their brewing system while tirelessly renovating their space at 2235 SE 11th Avenue. They expect to open the taproom in the spring or early summer. Visit www.baerlicbrewing.com for details.
By Kris McDowell
As the name suggests, Bunsenbrewer is part brewery, part laboratory for owner/brewer Aaron Hanson. The brewery opened in the final days of 2013, on December 30, followed by an official grand opening Jan. 25.
The science-themed brewery has a 1.5-barrel system and is located a short drive east of Portland in Sandy. Aaron and his wife relocated to Oregon from Minnesota seeking a more temperate climate and deliberately chose a location that would allow easy access to a large metro area as well as a more spacious, less hectic home for their family.
Prior to embarking on a brewing career Aaron obtained a degree in biochemistry, along the way making friends with a home brewer and catching the brewing bug. The degree has aided him on the technical side of brewing and he's used that background to give a scientific look to his operation. Taproom staff wear white lab coats, the sample glasses look as though they'd be just as useful in the laboratory and there are plans to have simple science kits on the taproom tables.
The logo, in stark black and white, looks like it could have been pulled directly the Periodic Table of Elements, yet there is more to it than meets the eye. The "31" in the left corner is Aaron's age when the idea for the brewery was formed and the "1.042" in the right corner is the starting gravity of beer. Aaron also noted, with a smile that shows the personality just below his scientific outer shell, that those familiar with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe (ITALICIZE) will recognize "42" as being the answer to everything.
While Aaron doesn't claim to have the answer to everything he is trying to provide the answer to the question of where to find craft beer in Sandy. Upon opening he had six house-brewed beers available: a Belgian triple, a Belgian white, an oatmeal brown, an amber, a CDA and an IPA. Those proved popular enough that by February he was down to three brews - Pasteur milk stout, De Duve Belgian wit and Verbeek imperial IPA. His preference for Belgian-style ales comes through in his commercial brews to date although he is conscious of providing a well-rounded tap list for the 12 lines, currently a combination of house and guest beers.
Bunsenbrewer recently added another employee which will allow Aaron to spend more time in the brewery while allowing them to remain open seven days a week. He is planning on adding a small food menu that will include slow-cooked shredded pork and beef sandwiches, soft pretzels with cheese and mustard and a hummus plate. In addition to providing inexpensive, filling food to accompany the beer Aaron hopes that adding food will allow them to tap into the lunch crowd.
The young brewery is keeping things modest for now. Aaron's beer is kegged and served from taps that are spitting distance from where they are brewed and near future distribution would be contained to the Sandy area. That means those interested in trying out Bunsenbrewer beers will need to make the drive to Sandy. One exception is Bunsenbrewer's planned participation in the Spring Beer and Wine Fest taking place mid-April at the Oregon Convention Center.
( a ) 16506 SE 362nd Drive, Sandy
( p ) 503-308-8109
(h) Open daily at 11:00 am
Owner and Brewer: Aaron Hanson
Kris McDowell is a long time craft beer lover and Marketing Director for BREWVANA Brewery Tours. She also does social media/PR work and authors a beer blog.
By Gail Oberst
It’s no secret that a new brewery is popping up in Oregon every few days. Some of those breweries are expanding from already-established beer-related businesses.
Like their clients, the owners of homebrew stores, bottle shops, and restaurants aim to tap into Oregon’s passion for craft brews by opening brewing operations on site.
Among the first to make the leap from homebrew shop to brewery was Falling Sky, in Eugene. Jason Carriere bought the failing Willamette Street Homebrew Shop in 2002, changing it to Valley Vitner and doubling its size at its new location on 13th Avenue. In 2005, employees Scott Sieber and Mark Zarkesh proposed adding a brewery and pub in the warehouse behind the homebrew shop, and the seed was sown. “I agreed to pitch my lot in with them and help work on the plan,” said Carriere. A few years later, Rob Cohen, a former Ithaca, N.Y., restaurateur joined the business and created, what is now, the Falling Sky brand. The homebrew shop was renamed Falling Sky Fermentation Supply Shop. An additional deli and taphouse opened in last year in the Whiteaker district. The Pour House & Delicatessen is on Blair Street.
Portland U-Brew has been a homebrew shop since 2010 with quality brewing equipment available for use by the brewing public. Owner Jason (Jay) Webb had a 20-year history of brewing in the Northwest, so it was no accident that the homebrew shop had an attached brewery and pub. “From day one we began serving what was brewed here. Our business model always included drinking beer as well as making it and selling supplies for it,” Webb said. Dozens of people each week attend workshops and make their own beer on Portland U-Brew’s equipment. Recently, Portland U-Brew has added a new dimension: contract brewing. The company has added three new 55-gallon fermenters with an aim to brew beer for hotels or restaurants wanting to feature their own label or recipe. When I visited the shop, Jay was working on a special brew that would be served at a Portland wedding, with a recipe developed to the bride and groom’s tastes. To accommodate their growing business, Portland U-Brew improvements have included digitally-monitored electronics that control temperatures, designed by Cliff Webb, Jay’s dad to maintain control of the brews in the special rooms for fermenting lagers or ales.
In Hillsboro, Brew Brothers’ partner Chris Jennings leans on his new bar and talks about his brewery, Three Mugs, attached to the back of the family’s homebrew shop.
“A brewery was always in the master plan,” said Chris. “We started the homebrew shop because we were already buying grain for our own brews.”
The long-time home-brewers father and son Chris and Jay Jennings began selling extra supplies to friends and then in 2010 opened a homebrew shop that was supposed to transition quickly to a brewery and taphouse. But the shop’s business grew and expanded into another building, delaying the brewery. But the wait is over. Today, Three Mugs is on tap in the bar, where guests can get beer from the brewery at six of the 19 taps. The other taps are for guest beers and rotating beers, mostly from the Northwest. The new taproom also has a walk-in cooler, where kegs and corny kegs from Three Mugs and other breweries can be purchased.
As if the current expansion is not enough, Chris said he hopes to expand to a 10-barrel system and add food service within a year. Already, the family is looking for an additional location.
About 9 miles southeast of Brew Brothers on the edge of Beaverton is Uptown Market, in a building that until 2011 had housed a 7-Eleven store. AJ Shepard, his brother Chris, and their partner Stuart Faris upscaled the store to feature a bottle shop and tap house, with homebrew supplies and classes. In November, the store expanded to 18 taps to meet neighborhood demands for craft beer. This year, the company hired brewer Jason Rowley, a young gun with a long homebrew history who had worked for a time with Two Kilts Brewery in Sherwood. Uptown bought a used system and began practicing on it in November last year. They offered first tastes from the 7-barrel system at the Zwicklemania tour in February.
The company had brewed an Irish dry stout, an imperial red ale, an ESB and a U.S. session ale. In the future, Uptown Market Brewery’s partners plan to expand the brewery area to accommodate a larger fermenter and add more Uptown beers to their taps. Most of the beer is designated to be sold on site, either from the taps or by kegs, but who knows what the future holds, AJ Shepard said.
“The market will direct us. I’m just excited to see what happens,” he said.
Across the Cascades to Bend, where new breweries are as thick as rattlesnakes, The Brew Shop in Bend opened in 2011 in a former church on busy Third Street, AKA Highway 97. In addition to homebrew supplies, the shop has an extensive bottle collection, offering more than 600 beers. The downstairs floor of the building features Platypus Pub, a taphouse and a popular restaurant, home of tastings, live music and beer events every week. Recently, the pub began featuring a few of its own beers, brewed offsite. It brewed its first beer in September last year. In February, it released its second beer, the Platypus Pub Flat Tail Pale Ale, available on tap.
In Roseburg, Dogbarrel Homebrew Shop opened in January last year, but its owners immediately began making preparations for a brewery and tasting room, attached to the shop near the busy intersection of Roseburg’s Stephens Street and Garden Valley Boulevard. Thomas Anderson and his brother, Russ, are starting out with a 1.5-barrel pilot system before expanding to a 7.5-barrel system once recipes are perfected. There have been a few delays, but the brothers are intent on opening the brewery later this year.
By Denise Ruttan, OSU Extension
If you're growing hops to brew your own beer, you may notice silvery or pale green, brittle spikes rising from the crown of the plant or brown spots on the leaves this spring.
"Hop plants have problems with downy mildew, a fungus that attacks plants primarily in April and May," said Shaun Townsend, the hops breeder for Oregon State University.
But don't worry, he added, just cut back the bines (some erroneously call them vines) to the soil with a knife. The plants will start new bines, which will grow quite rapidly. Though wet, foggy weather encourages downy mildew, pruning helps keep the fungus at bay.
Train the bines when they reach 2-3 feet long. You can use braided rope, baling twine or coir, which is woven coconut husk. You can find these items at most home or garden supply stores.
Although one plant reportedly reached 60 feet, Townsend said, gardeners should grow hops on a 15- to 18-foot climbing support, such as a trellis or poles, in a location that receives as much direct sunlight as possible. This combination increases their production of cones — the part of the plant used in beer, he said. The plants can be trained to climb up the south-facing wall of a house, over fences, up pillars or flagpoles, over stone walls or arbors, or along clotheslines. The attractive plant can enhance many landscapes, he said.
"These are big, prolific plants that can cast a lot of shade," he said. "Don't grow them near plants that are shade sensitive, such as a vegetable garden."
The plant will climb energetically on its own, given enough support. The bines always climb in a clockwise direction by wrapping themselves around and gripping the climbing support using short, stiff hairs. Vines, on the other hand, like those of grape vine and sweet pea, climb via the help of tendrils and suckers that cling to the climbing support, Townsend explained.
Be sure to fertilize first-year plants with a multi-purpose fertilizer such as 16-16-16, found at most garden supply stores, Townsend said. Alternate with urea, a form of nitrogen fertilizer available at most garden supply stores, he recommended. Sprinkle a teaspoon of these fertilizers around the base of the plant every two to three weeks from springtime until July to aid root growth, he advised.
Hops, a perennial plant, should be productive for 10-15 years. The plant produces cones every year, which are harvested and dried from mid-August to mid-September, Townsend said. Hops are dioecious, meaning they have separate male and female plants. The female cone contains small glands that produce the essential oils and resins that give beer its aroma and bitterness, Townsend said.
For more information about insect pests and diseases that threaten hops, see OSU Extension's Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbooks at http://pnwhandbooks.org. To learn more about the history of Oregon's craft brewing movement, explore the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives from OSU's Special Collections and Archives Research Center at http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/ohba.html.
Jeff Alworth, Beervana
I have had a fairy Data-mother for the past nine months who has been sending me an Excel spreadsheet with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission's beer sales numbers. It is pretty darn interesting. Before we delve into the details, let's get a global picture of what we're dealing with.
In 2012, Oregon brewers produced 1.3 million barrels of beer. (Every brewery in Oregon is what we would call by a regular definition a "craft" brewery--the eldest of which is 30-year-old BridgePort.) Of that, they sold 483,400 barrels, or 37.3%, of it in Oregon. The OLCC numbers just cover the portion that Oregon breweries sell at home. The two largest breweries account for a third of all Oregon's sales, the four largest make half the beer, and the ten largest account for nearly 70% of the sales. So while Oregon had around 150 breweries making beer last year, over two-thirds of all the beer sold in Oregon was made by just 10 breweries. In all, consumers bought 13.4% more Oregon beer in 2013 than they did a year earlier.
(For whatever reason, the Oregon Brewers Guild has slightly different numbers than the OLCC is currently reporting out, so if you're reaching for your calculators, know that the Guild’s 483,400 figure is higher than the figure quoted by the OLCC.)
All right, you ready to see some numbers? Let's start with the top ten:
Brewery - total barrels (% of all Oregon sales) (Position in 2012)
1. Deschutes - 90,242 (18%) (1)
2. CBA (Redhook/Widmer/Kona) - 80,032 (16%) (2)
3. Ninkasi - 46,070 (9.2%) (3)
4. Portland - 28,944 (5.8%) (4)
5. Full Sail - 24,342 (4.9%) (6)
6. Bridgeport - 23,721 (4.7%) (5)
7. 10 Barrel - 16,101 (3.2%) (8)
8. Rogue Ales - 14,492 (2.9%) (7)
9. Boneyard Beer - 12,685 (2.5%) (10)
10. Oakshire - 7,952 1.6%) (12)
If you compare the current top ten with last year’s, the names and places look fairly similar. But rankings can sometimes deceive. Not all breweries on the list were headed in the same direction. For example, 10 Barrel (86.2%), Boneyard (69.6%) and Oakshire (36%) had astronomical growth while Widmer (-9.4%) and BridgePort (-4.1%) sold less beer in Oregon in 2013. Where’s the growth happening? Here are the top ten movers, based on actual increase in barrels sold, not just percentage growth:
1. 10 Barrel Brewing, 7453 more barrels in 2013 than 2012
2. Boneyard Beer, 5207
3. Ninkasi Brewing, 4229
4. Portland Brewing, 3630
5. Breakside Brewery, 2507
6. Oakshire Brewing, 2104
7. Pfriem Brewing, 1593
8. Crux, 1319
9. Base Camp Brewing, 1285
10. Gigantic Brewing, 827
Oregon has one of the healthiest craft beer markets in the country, so most breweries saw positive growth. Not everyone, though. Here are the breweries that saw sales decline the most in the past year—again, measured in actual barrels, not percentages.
1. CBA (Redhook/Widmer/Kona) -8298
2. Bridgeport Brewing -1023
3. Deschutes Brewery/Mountain Room -899
4. Hop Valley Brewing -817
5. Silver Moon Brewery -574
6. Deschutes Brewery -384 (Bend brewpub)
7. Hillsdale Brewery -348
8. Terminal Gravity Brewing -340
9. Phat Matt's Brewing -279
10. Crystal Ballroom & Brewery -110
The final numbers I'll leave you with are from some of the breweries that attract the most beer geek chatter (guilty). You can go ahead and compare them to those on the top list--you'll see that the overlap is inexact. In other words, setting BeerAdvocate on fire is not the same as selling a ton of beer.
12. Double Mountain Brewery, 7570
15. Ft. George Brewery, 5922
21. Breakside Brewery, 3178
26. Burnside Brewing Co., 2398
29. Pfriem Brewing, 2077
33. Crux, 1701
41. Gigantic Brewing, 1404
46. Block 15, 1201
47. Flat Tail Brewing, 1199
60. Upright Brewing, 924
69. The Commons Brewery, 771
90. Hair of the Dog Brewing, 496
122. Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, 166
145. The Ale Apothecary, 60.4
Oregon Beer Sales 2013
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.