By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Dylan Goldsmith can tell when the beer buyers just don’t get what he’s doing.
When he begins to describe how he malts his own grain, he’s often met with blank looks. He hears questions like, “Well, doesn’t everybody do that?” It just doesn’t register. And that’s not just the buyers. All too many beer drinkers lack a clear understanding of what it takes to turn a raw barley kernel into usable malt.
“I think a lot of people just kind of have no idea about the process of it,” said Goldsmith, “which is why my job would be to try and see if I can elicit flavors out of the barley by my own process.”
This extra effort is what sets Goldsmith and Barley Sprout Restaurant & Brewery apart from other beer producers in the state. Since malting barley not only takes more time, but also additional space, you may be wondering where this Gresham business is brewing, serving pizza that’s made in-house as well as experimenting with grain. Well, if you tripped over the word “Gresham” just now because you didn’t realize the rather bleak outer-eastside beer scene had gotten a little busier, you’d be forgiven. It’s easy to miss the unassuming storefront when zipping along Southeast 223rd Avenue — a strip better defined by big-box stores and car dealerships than boutique breweries. But Goldsmith and co-owner David Shonk have managed to carve out a little slice of rural life in Gresham’s Twelvemile corner. Goldmith’s malting allows him to source much of his grain from local growers. Shonk, who’s also a farmer, uses some of his produce for both the food and beer. And you’d never know it by looking at it from the outside, but just a few hundred feet from four lanes of traffic and the nearby Lucky 7 Food Mart lies a secret garden of sorts. Behind the brewery, on Shonk’s family land, is a 4-acre farm leased to a Community Supported Agriculture organization.
Cultivating longstanding ties with farmers who grow everything from barley to hops is one reason why Goldsmith began malting. He pushes back against purchasing practices that simply treat “the ingredients for the beer as an anonymous commodity where you don’t know where it came from. You don’t necessarily know beyond certain reasonable standards how it was treated,” Goldsmith said.
Instead, he envisions a model where two businesses enter a form of commitment. A buyer, for example, won’t simply switch suppliers at the drop of a coaster should a competitor temporarily lower prices.
“The idea of having ongoing relationships with the farmers and the producers of your stuff to where you know if times get hard that we’ve been doing business for a while and we can support each other. Whereas beyond that, it’s just the free market,” Goldsmith said. “I think that is an important part of sustainability that’s difficult to quantify. But I think in the long haul, that kind of thing really does make a difference.”
Beyond the “I’ve-got-your-back” ethos that turned him on to malting, Goldsmith has other goals. The label on his IPA now says “100-percent Oregon farmer grown.” That’s because he buys those grains in-state and can process them himself. Eventually, he’d like to avoid buying from the big malthouses altogether. Additionally, he hopes to tease out the best expressions of the terroir of different grains. Goldsmith said he’s still discovering his skills as a maltster, but with time is curious to discover whether barley grown in, say, Goble tastes different due to geology versus grains from Sauvie Island.
While you now have a greater appreciation for the reasons why Goldsmith does this, the how may still be obscure. Malting is a four-step process that releases the barley kernel’s enzymes in order to break down the lattice of protein protecting the energy stored as starch — the stuff that’s converted to sugars brewers need.
The first objective of malting is to encourage the seed to begin the early stages of what it’s meant to do: grow into another barley plant. That’s initiated by steeping, which is step one. Goldsmith soaks and aerates his grains about three times until they’re 45 percent water by weight.
Germination is phase two — where the acrospires begin to push their way through the length of the kernel, unlocking those enzymes that degrade the protein. Air flow is key since the rootlets could tangle and become sort of a massive dreadlock, encouraging mold growth. To promote circulation, Goldsmith’s germination box has a false bottom — similar to a mash tun — and he turns the barley with a pitchfork.
After approximately five days, the grain is ready to dry. This must be done slowly at first to preserve the temperature-sensitive enzymes. When the barley is brought down to 3-5 percent water by weight, curing can get underway. How high a brewer runs that temperature and for how long is what really gives the malt its character.
A shorter summary of the malting process is reflected in the brewery’s name: Barley Sprout, which hadn’t yet been snapped up by another business to Goldsmith’s surprise. Though he’s not just making beer for the pizza restaurant. Goldsmith has revived his 10-year-old label Captured by Porches under the same roof and self-distributes those bottles and kegs, which was how he met Shonk before they decided to launch the Gresham brewery and eatery. Shonk used to run a natural food store in the same building and sold Captured by Porches beer.
“And it was an excellent account. His customers really liked it,” Goldsmith recalled. “I think if you compared the number of bottles sold to square footage of grocery store space, I’d say by that math it was the best account.”
The grocery’s chapter came to an end not long after a larger competitor took up residence nearby. But the change allowed Shonk to focus on upgrading his kitchen space.
“I was ripe for the opportunity to take on more stainless steel, more BTUs — take on the challenges of restauranteurship,” he said.
Goldsmith was also ready to move out of his cramped quarters in St. Helens to a bigger facility. Shonk proposed the partnership: “starting a restaurant and brewery together as a way to double our positives and share on the cost.”
This April marks one year since they opened, and so far Shonk said business has been steady due to positive word of mouth. And Goldsmith isn’t the only one at Barley Sprout now crafting beverages. Shonk’s Honey Lavender Lemonade has a tingly carbonation kick that’s proven to be such a hit, they sell to-go bottles. As the weather improves, you’ll be able to enjoy a lemonade or a beer in the restaurant’s backyard. Shonk plans to use part of the farmland for a beer garden, giving customers an opportunity to share a meal right next to a visual reminder about local source and sustainability — two values at Barley Sprout’s core.
“By creating a little bit of peace and quiet and deliciousness in this corner of the world, it ripples out,” Shonk said.
Barley Sprout Restaurant & Brewery
639 SE 223rd Ave, Gresham
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Two brothers wanted a family-friendly brewery, so they built one. Now, Eugene’s ColdFire Brewing sees itself as a hub for bettering the larger community. Early on the two founders, who are also brothers and dads, made a business commitment to focus on children's nonprofit organizations, and more specifically, children's health organizations.
“We all take our kids to the same schools, pay the same bills, buy groceries locally and spend our recreational time locally,” explains ColdFire co-founder Dan Hughes. “It's the broader sense of being part of a community that drives our business values to extend beyond our walls. It is our duty and our privilege to give back where we can.”
Focusing on children is also a way for ColdFire to express their commitment to the next generation. “We want to invest in a way that makes sense,” says Hughes, “by helping those who will be taking the reins from us someday, and maybe inspire them to do the same.”
Not that “alcohol” and “family-friendly” usually appear in the same sentence — much less the same business plan. Between the lingering legacy of Prohibition, as well as national ad campaigns that aren’t exactly known for focusing on family, beer has gained a bad rep. That association is inaccurate, says Hughes, who was inspired by the family-friendly pub culture of Ireland and Germany.
“European communities know what we are trying to recapture here: family is welcome everywhere,” says Hughes. “People there have vastly different expectations on what's expected at a pub. It's centered around food, music, socialization, and family is a key aspect. We see this changing rapidly here in the U.S., and we are very much a part of it.”
ColdFire backs that up not only with its support of community organizations and causes, but also with the simple nuts and bolts of the brewery: visitors to ColdFire can let their kids romp in a play area while parents enjoy a quiet pint.
The family-friendly culture — and kid-welcoming layout — is part of what brought local nonprofit WellMama to ColdFire. With volunteers providing pregnancy and postpartum mental health support services (including services in Spanish) for moms and their families throughout Lane County, WellMama’s fundraising events with ColdFire and Ninkasi have demonstrated how powerful breweries can be in raising awareness for a good cause. WellMama is also looking at how it can further collaborate with breweries to grow its Reaching All Mothers Initiative to support women in underserved areas and bring everybody in the community together.
“ColdFire presented us with an idea to work together, hang out, have family-friendly community events and see what happens,” says Jessica Schultz, WellMama volunteer coordinator. “The intent was to look for something where we could have families and especially kids welcome at, not just board members or staff. We could get everybody together. ColdFire is particularly family friendly, and that serves our mission of serving families and of helping families be healthier.”
Schultz sees the laid-back atmosphere of a brewery, plus its role as a community melting pot, as key ways to help people overcome social stigmas and personal embarrassment — common barriers that often prevent people from seeking needed services. Schultz also appreciates that craft breweries host local food carts and provide non-alcoholic options, striking a balance of healthy and fun interactions with the community.
“Most of us have had experience with postpartum depression and anxiety, and now we want to reach out to other mamas and help them,” says Schultz. “The breweries create space for people to come, relax, and feel like they can be themselves. They can support WellMama and support other families. The breweries bring that together.”
Dan Hughes sees ColdFire continuing to increase its role in supporting the broader community. Plans for 2017 and onward include more support of organizations such as WellMama, local school events and the nearby Campbell Community Center.
“People love a well-crafted beverage. They enjoy socialization. And they love it even more when they can do these things while supporting a good organization,” says Hughes. “We are building our business’s future, so we build our community’s future through our children.”
By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Much like everything else in the homebrew world, there is a seemingly endless array of cleaning and sanitizing solutions to choose from. Given that it’s that time of year where “spring cleaning” is the popular topic, we thought it would be a good time to compare and contrast some of those options. There are a number of opinions of which product is best. However, it is true that some are better than others — it all depends on what fits your needs.
Cleaners are the chemicals we use to break up debris and give our kettles that shine. They can do everything from descaling that beer stone buildup on your boil vessel to breaking up the dried yeast in your carboy.
The most common would be an oxygen-cleaning agent, like unscented OxiClean or Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW), which is like unscented OxiClean with trisodium phosphate added. For the most part, these white powdery cleaners work best with hot water. Naturally, every chemical company has its own fancy name for these products, but the formula is the same. It really only comes down to price point.
Avoid chemicals that have odorous oils — like OxiClean with lavender. Also steer clear of all soap products. They tend to have added scents that can leave residue on your equipment, causing every batch of beer to have the same flavor and aroma.
Sanitizers come into play during the second phase of the cleaning process. These chemicals make sure nothing contaminates our award-winning brews. There are several different solutions available, but the most-common and longest-used sanitizer is bleach. Yup! Bleach works great to kill absolutely everything with the added bonus of affordability. There is a downside, though. Once you’ve applied the bleach, the equipment needs time to completely dry or you need to rinse everything. Either way, you risk contamination.
The next most common sanitizer is an iodine-based product such as Five Star Chemicals’ IO Star, a low-foaming iodophor sanitizer. These types of solutions are also relatively inexpensive. However, if not diluted properly — they can give the beer an iodine taste. The sanitizers also don’t have much of a shelf life once mixed and can cause issues for people with a shellfish allergy.
The final category of chemicals are acid based. This would include Star San, made from food-grade phosphoric acid, and PuriSan, which uses peracetic acid. The biggest difference between the two is that Star San is infamous for foaming (unlike PuriSan).
Whatever sanitizer you decide upon, be sure to dilute with water. The iodine based sanitizers won't last to the end of the day. Either of the acid-based sanitizers can be stored for future use in spray bottles or fermenters if you make a batch that’s larger than what you’ll need for one brewing session. You can tell the solution has gone bad when it turns a milky-white color. You can do the same with bleach, but it is impossible to get that flavor out of your beer if you aren't careful.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an “all-in-one” cleaner/sanitizer. Yes, technically once you have cleaned something it is pretty well sanitized. But unless you use a sanitizing agent, there is no way to be positive that you killed everything.
The next time you brew and you’re waiting to add hops to the boil, use that downtime to sanitize instead of just pouring yourself another pint from the keezer. Keep this guideline in mind: sanitize anything that will touch your beer after the boil, including plastic buckets, glass carboys, bottles and kegs. Keep a spray bottle full of sanitizer handy when bottling, kegging or transferring as well. If you stay on top of cleaning and sanitizing, that’s a sure fire way to keep the award-winning beers flowing instead of pouring them down the drain.
Weizen Not Hefe [AG]
Weizen Not Hefe [Extract]
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It used to be that you just had to make good beer, but in today’s competitive industry good beer isn’t even a starting point. That’s why, in 2013, Oregon State University’s Professional and Continuing Education program (PACE) began offering their Craft Brewery Startup Workshop as a way to give fledgling brewers a boot camp-style overview of all the essentials of launching a brewery.
“There is so much more to the craft brewery business,” says Emily Henry, PACE program manager. “Our workshop covers all of those topics and ties together the business and production sides of the industry in a compact format.”
This year’s workshop was held in Eugene Feb. 25 through March 1, with the first three days at Lane Community College’s Center for Meeting and Learning, and the last two days at Ninkasi Brewing. Twenty people from Oregon and at least nine other states — including one student based in Central Asia’s Kazakhstan — came to learn from experts who had experience in everything brewing. Topics ranged from licensing and following regulations to ingredient and equipment sourcing as well as building a company culture.
“I attended the workshop to gain a three-dimensional insight into what it takes to operate, run and keep a brewery running successfully,” says Laura Dunn, who along with her fiance co-owns startup G Town Brewery in Greenville, Texas. “I am at the beginning stages of my brewery setup and wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible to know what I'm getting myself into!”
The first portion of the workshop highlighted the business and entrepreneurial aspects of planning and starting a craft brewing enterprise, including brewery case studies, with the goal of preparing students to draft or enhance their business plan. During the second portion, Ninkasi founders and key personnel offered their insights, along with stories of the good, the bad and the ugly of Ninkasi’s 10 years in the business. The course finished up with interactive sessions and a panel discussion. Course instructors were also available to review student business plans.
“You learn about ingredients, talk to real brewers. This is a good crash course for exposure to all those key areas,” says Ninkasi CFO Nigel Francisco, one of this year’s instructors. “It’s hands-on. They see the equipment, talk to the people who brew the beer and source the ingredients. They hear about our pitfalls and successes, and then can apply them to their own business.”
PACE and Ninkasi have collaborated on the workshop for four years. Henry credits the partnership’s success, in part, with Ninkasi’s willingness to pull back the curtain and give an in-depth look at the logistics of running a brewery, with sessions led by their CFO, COO, co-founder and Technical R&D and Quality team.
“Ninkasi has had tremendous growth over the last 10 years while also maintaining their core values and ethics as a business,” says Henry. “They stay true to themselves, both in their business and in their beer, and it is amazing for our upcoming craft brewery owners to see this success and the thoughtful management that is behind it.”
The workshop allows prospective brewers to “hear the challenges and opportunities in the industry as we see it in our position,” says Francisco. He credits co-founder Jamie Floyd’s background in brewing as helping Ninkasi weather startup challenges and growing pains, which may have been harder had there not been someone who was familiar with the ups and downs of the industry. “You have to think about strategy, legality, regulation, work force, how to run a brewery or pub,” says Francisco. “You might make a great beer, but when you take that next step you have to be able to make it all fit together.”
For Francisco, he knew that giving brewers insight into the financials would be a needed perspective. “You can’t grow 100 percent year-over-year for 10 years, so how do you plan for that?” he asks. “What’s a sustainable growth percentage, and what does that mean to you? Do you want to be small, big, boutique, have more locations? Pick what you want and match your strategy to the brewery you want to be.”
After all, sometimes people get into brewing simply because they want to make beer — but there is a world of difference between brewing beer and running a brewery. Many of this year’s students found the workshop eye-opening in regards to the business side of running a production brewery or brewpub.
“I gained the confidence to push forward with my business with more knowledge and expert advice,” says Texas startup co-owner Dunn. “Everything from legal information to how to design my brewhouse. I learned things I didn't even think of, such as having a ‘concept’ and the strategic planning to help organize and prepare my brewery.”
Perhaps even more important is understanding that while there are others in the industry who are willing to help, your operation ultimately is your operation — from compliance and sanitation to payroll and personnel. “Nobody is going to do these things for you,” says Francisco. “The buck stops with you.”
That’s one of the many things Laura Dunn is taking back to Texas. “It was brilliant and I would recommend anyone who is thinking of starting their own brewery business to take this course,” she says. “I came out feeling much more prepared.”
Other OSU PACE Beer and Cider Workshops:
Beer Quality and Analysis Series May 15 through June 19, online, June 19-23, Corvallis
Craft Cidery Startup Workshop June 11-15, Portland
Cider and Perry Production July 17-21, Corvallis
Origins of Beer Flavors and Styles — Check website for next year’s dates.
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When they had to make a choice, Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing decided to go for all three. Three nonprofits — Conscious Alliance, Team River Runner and Women Who Code — are receiving donations through the brewery’s Beer Is Love program.
Support is tied to sales of Ninkasi’s Believer Double Red Ale — a beer brought back due to popular demand. Ninkasi will donate $1 per case and $7 per keg of Believer sold, and will apportion donations based on votes by the public at beerislove.com.
Originally released as a winter seasonal in 2006, Believer truly came from the heart. Its label design was based on a tattoo on the arm of Ninkasi co-founder Jamie Floyd, and that heart design also became part of the Beer Is Love logo when the program launched in 2012. Believer was a way for Ninkasi to offer “a thank you to the people who believed in them from the very beginning,” says Emilie Hartvig, who heads up Beer Is Love. Supporting nonprofits that promote women, equality, recreation, the environment and arts and music, to-date Beer Is Love has worked with more than 800 organizations throughout the 14 states where Ninkasi beers are available.
However, the time had come to raise the program’s profile on a national level. “Believer has always been a fan favorite. When it was no longer a part of our lineup, we got consistent messages from followers that they missed it,” says Hartvig. “We thought, why not combine Beer Is Love and beer sales? The first beer that came to mind was Believer. From the start, it was brewed to give back.”
As Hartvig and the Ninkasi team began exploring ways to combine Beer Is Love and a Believer comeback, they knew the nonprofit missions had to matter to the beer-buying public, too. “People have different interests and care about different things,” says Hartvig. “We wanted to make sure that when someone bought Believer, money was going back to a cause that means something to them.”
As Ninkasi narrowed down organizations, the team realized that three had something in common — equality — but each also addressed the program’s other core concerns. Women Who Code works on female empowerment and education. Conscious Alliance uses art and music to encourage people to give back through food and money. And Team River Runner helps veterans keep in touch with the environment through kayaking.
“It was a very long process,” says Hartvig. “We reached out to team members across different departments to get suggestions and then we researched, researched, researched. When we finally pitched the idea to the nonprofits, we felt very fortunate that the nonprofits were just as excited about this opportunity as we were.”
For Women Who Code, the partnership was a perfect fit. Dedicated to inspiring women worldwide to excel in technology careers, the organization has more than 80,000 members and a presence in 20 countries. "Every industry is part of the tech industry,” explains Jennifer Tacheff, vice president of partnerships and business development. “Ninkasi understands that, and they approached us because they recognize the importance of empowering women to succeed in this field. With the support of partners like Ninkasi, Women Who Code will continue to work towards the goal of increasing diversity in technology so that we can all benefit from a more broad and dynamic perspective and the innovations that will come from it."
Voting in the Believer Beer Is Love campaign opened in January and closes April 30. Through Ninkasi’s Facebook page and the Beer Is Love website, the three nonprofits have been making their case for why they deserve each Believer fan’s vote. The votes will be tallied in May. Each organization will receive a minimum of $5,000, with final donations divided based on the number of votes and total Believer sales: first place receives 50 percent, second receives 30 percent and third receives 20 percent.
Supports U.S. communities in crisis through emergency food relief, empowerment programs for youth in impoverished regions, and nutrition, exercise and gardening education for youth in economically isolated Native American reservations.
Team River Runner
Offers wounded and disabled veterans an opportunity to regain independence with an adventurous, adaptive paddle sports program.
Women Who Code
Inspires women to excel in technology careers and become technical leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members and software engineers.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.