By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Brewing craft beer is an art. Running a successful craft brewery is a balance of inputs and outputs. It’s the result of careful thought and planning, addressing each component of the business in the most efficient way possible. It’s undoubtedly a lot of work but one Oregon company has developed software that streamlines these processes, making it easier for craft breweries to focus on the part that we all love the most — the beer.
Beaverton-based Orchestra Software was started by Brad Windecker in 2008 to provide enterprise resource planning (ERP) software specifically for the craft beer industry. At the time, there were plenty of resources relating to brewing technology but nothing that addressed the business side of the equation — at least to the degree he intended. That intention was to provide true ERP, a comprehensive solution to run a business that would replace the various disparate tools and bootstrap solutions (i.e. QuickBooks, Peachtree, spreadsheets). Other companies were providing piecemeal offerings at a lower cost, but Brad aimed to offer a comprehensive package that was even more affordable as well as less complex — making it more approachable to craft breweries.
Identifying a need in the market is one thing and having the ability and know-how to implement a solution to address that need is another. So what put Brad in a position to go from idea to implementation? Growing up around a family business, Brad had always intended to be an entrepreneur and supported that plan by earning a business degree at San Francisco State University. Deciding not to take over the reins of the family business, it was somewhat of lucky chance that brought him into the craft beer fold. During his last year of college his girlfriend (and now wife) took him on a trip to Portland to attend the Oregon Brewers Festival. He was already enamored with craft beer, which could have landed him in a number of places, but during their visit he also fell in love with the city. From there, a path that combined his business background with a passion was forged.
The software Orchestra has created is similar to the kind that large enterprises utilize, but it has been brought down to an affordable level for small breweries or what Brad calls “democratizing technology.” It integrates purchasing and receiving, sales and shipments, production and packaging, quality control and inventory tracking while offering automated accounting and full reporting along with interfaces to third party systems.
Sound like a lot? It is, but it’s all part of what running the business side of a brewery entails. By addressing and successfully managing those things, businesses that utilize this software will not only run more efficiently, but will also have an advantage over those that are wasting time and resources on those same processes. By reducing the pressure of administrative tasks and allowing the focus to be placed on producing and selling product, Brad feels the industry as a whole is improving.
Starting with their early customers — Lazy Magnolia Brewery in Mississippi was the first, followed by Missouri’s Schlafly Beer and Firestone Walker Brewing Company in California — Brad says that, “word of mouth has been the biggest engine of growth since the beginning.” Brad sees an extension of that craft beer camaraderie in their Community Forum, an online resource where customers can ask for or offer help. It has not been uncommon for breweries that first connected in the Forum to go a step further and actually meet in person.
In addition to the always-available Community Forum, Orchestra offers an annual Orchestrate User Conference, yet another way to help their customers to get the most out of their software. At Orchestrate 2017: Level Up (Nov. 15-17), they are expecting 500 attendees who are there for the education and the networking.
Orchestra has come a long way since their inception and counts many Oregon breweries, including Buoy Beer Company, Cascade Brewing and Full Sail Brewery as customers. Their 40 percent year-over-year growth and 96 percent employee retention rate would make them highly attractive to many buyers, however, Brad isn’t interested in selling. He’s far more interested in continuing to grow and improve, changing craft beer on a global scale by expanding through the beer value chain. It may seem like a tall order, but based on how far they’ve already come it’s simply a matter of time before Orchestra is able to provide more avenues to help craft breweries run as efficiently as possible.
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Harvest is a time for reaping what has been sowed. And while hop farmers are bringing in the fruits of their labor, the collaboration between Culmination Brewing and Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider is producing fruits of their combined labors.
Collaborations are fairly common in today’s beer world, with more breweries crossing the beer borders to team up with other adult beverage producers. These hybrids can be somewhat difficult to classify and won’t tempt all consumers from their respective markets. However, those open to new taste experiences may find something they enjoy that requires no classification beyond that fact that it’s the product of talented craftsmen.
Culmination and Reverend Nat’s collaboration, called Our Glass, goes beyond a single brew and encompasses a series of hybrids. The first release was Watermelon Cherry Sour — a blend of two sour beers produced by Culmination (a barrel-aged Flanders red with cherries and a blueberry blonde sour) that was co-fermented with Reverend Nat’s Granny Smith cider and fresh Hermiston watermelon juice.
The inspiration for this first in the series came from local food-beer-everything-tasty aficionado Steven Shomler’s love for and relentless pursuit of Reverend Nat’s Holy Water(melon) cider. Steven also has an ownership stake in and hands-on involvement with Culmination, which made the project launch even easier. The brewing teams could also often be found hanging out at each other’s locations, so there was a foundation of familiarity. Tomas Sluiter, principal owner and certified master brewer at Culmination, explained that the “caliber and quality of Reverend Nat’s made them attractive” to form a strategic collaboration and long-term relationship with.
When it came to the actual brewing, there was no doling out of “we’ll do this, you do that” instructions. The final product was the result of a true partnership, and one that seemingly worked well. The small batch consisted of six 1/6-barrel kegs and 450 22-ounce bottles, nearly all of which sold out quickly. Only a few bottles remain in the possession of each brewer and a couple of kegs will be brought out at a yet-to-be-determined time. Commenting on how the sour has evolved, Jim Bonomo of Reverend Nat’s said, “It’s getting more sour, but the watermelon flavor is still there.”
The name Our Glass was the brainchild of Devin Benware, part of Culmination brewing team. Tomas contributed the idea for the logo — two tulip glasses positioned base-to-base, forming the interior of a shadowy hourglass. The image is set like the hands of a clock would be at approximately 4:58 for the first of the series. As new collaborations are released, the “clock” will continue to move on each label.
Plans for future beer-cider hybrids include a barrel-aged, Tepache-based barleywine. Composed from Costa Rican pineapples, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar) and spices, Reverend Nat’s Tepache is a “lightly alcoholic elixir.” However, the original brewing schedule has been thrown a bit off course due to the fickle nature of crops. The delay has nothing to do with ripeness (the pineapple plant produces throughout the year). Instead, a recent price spike in the Costa Rican supply due to volcanic activity has put things on hold. As a backup plan, to ensure the brewing schedule doesn’t go too far astray, Nat’s has bottles from the last batch of Tepache that can be added directly to the barrels with Culmination’s barleywine.
Another collaboration will involve Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spice, a cider that is inspired by Northeast-styles that use raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Winter Abbey Spice is actually a blend of two ciders - Revival, their flagship cider, and Providence, which is made with raisins. What was initially called “Apple Pie” when the taproom started blending them has since taken on a life of its own to the extent that 75 percent of each batch of Providence is allocated to making Winter Abbey Spice. Due to the success of the first collaboration, expect larger batches of subsequent hybrids.
Both Reverend Nat’s and Culmination see a strong future in collaborations like theirs, in part because the cider business is growing, especially in mature markets like Portland where plenty of drinkers are looking to expand their palates. Tomas also believes that Portland consumers demand more due to the fact that so many people who now call the city home are non-native. He hails from Grand Rapids, Mich. and says in general terms, “everyone in Grand Rapids is from Grand Rapids.” In fact, he specifically asked one well-known and well-respected Grand Rapids brewery to collaborate with him and they replied that they simply don’t do collaborations.
That brewery’s loss is the gain of others who are likeminded. The Culmination-Reverend Nat’s collaboration is a fluid affair among friends, where getting together to spitball ideas is key along with firmly believing in the quality of what the other is creating. Listening to the two producers talk — the ideas generated by their creativity and openness to experimentation — gives the impression that there is no end to what they’re able to come up with. And just like friends do, when a bump in the road comes along — like the price of pineapples — they find a way around it. Beer drinkers and cider drinkers alike can raise their glasses to that.
By Oregon Beer Growler Contributors
The summer of 2015 was a brutal one. There were 28 days where the city of Portland officially hit or exceeded the 90 degree mark. That’s nearly a month of sweating probably far more than you wanted to and cursing the fact that you still live in a place without air conditioning. It’s also 16 more days than we see on average. If we’re in for another scorching summer, and perhaps on our way to becoming the new Bakersfield, Calif. if that state’s drought continues to push north, at least we can celebrate our abundance of brewery patios with shade and quality beer. While we couldn’t include all of our favorites in this guide, here are some standouts from across the state during the past year:
825 N. Cook St., Portland, 503-265-8002, eclipticbrewing.com
Ecliptic’s patio has been evolving since it opened in 2013, but from the start the space offered a view of the West Hills — made spectacular as the sun sets —and I-405 as it spans the Willamette, adding a bit of schadenfreude spice to happy hour during rush hour. The umbrella-covered picnic tables provide refuge from the sun with foliage bordering two sides, breaking up the concrete parking lot and surrounding streets. Located in what is still a largely industrial area south of bustling Mississippi, the lack of nearby dining makes it feel like you’ve found an oasis as you sip beers named for the stars while gaining an astronomy lesson from the menu.
The kitchen is known to serve up some of the best brewpub food in town with a menu that rotates in accordance with the Old World calendar. For a price break, hit happy hour where popular items like Caesar salad, the classic burger and grilled salmon sandwich are a few bucks cheaper. However, don’t look past more unusual dishes like deviled eggs topped with boquerones or skip an indulgence like an ice cream float made with the Capella Porter. KRIS MCDOWELL
Fire on the Mountain
3443 NE 57th Ave., Portland, 503-894-8973, portlandwings.com
Fire on the Mountain is undoubtedly known more for its food — the wings in particular — than its beer. The restaurant had been making East Coast-inspired wings for six years when owners decided to get into the booming brewing business, adding a third family-friendly location that houses the brewery as well as pizza ovens that churn out a cross between New York-style and Neo-Neapolitan style pies.
During warm weather, the patio — which has a mix of standard four-person tables and larger picnic tables — is a hopping place to be. Sitting beneath the overhead covering can get a bit warm during the height of summer evenings but conversely, that same covering offers shelter from rain. An impressive mosaic outdoor fireplace brightens the decor and provides a coziness when the weather is cooler. All day on Mondays, beers are just $2.50. KRIS MCDOWELL
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
5115 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, 503-282-0622, laurelwoodbrewpub.com
Tucked out of sight, the patio atop Laurelwood Northeast (Did you even know there was an upstairs that includes an indoor “Brewers Den?”) feels like an oasis from the bustle on the main floor of the flagship location and traffic on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. While modest in size, they’ve made the most of the rooftop with bench seating — topped with flower boxes — around the perimeter that join with the two- and four-person tables. Raspberry vines and other foliage occupy another planter, helping to give the patio more of a backyard feel.
Nearly a dozen beers pour out of the taps along with a handful of guest ciders and the extensive menu offers plenty of options to accompany one’s drink of choice. Happy hour, with discounts on beer and food, gets even happier on Thursdays when they roll out Thirsty Thursdays. Each week the brewers select one keg of beer that goes for $2 a pint from 3 p.m. until the tap runs dry in the Brewers Den. Beers purchased in that area can be taken out to the patio. KRIS MCDOWELL
Montavilla Brew Works
7805 SE Stark St., Portland, 503-954-3440, montavillabrew.com
Occupying a corner on the west end of the business-filled portion of Southeast Stark Street in the Montavilla neighborhood, Montavilla Brew Works features a modest bar area that is open to the brewery itself with an adjacent patio that greatly increases the seating. It’s an adults-only place throughout (no minors, no furry friends) with a wide assortment of house beers. From the beginning, brewer/co-owner Michael Kora has put his brewing system through its paces to offer an impressive number of beers that range from summer patio staples like Stick and Frame Blonde Ale to heartier brews like Old Fellowship Barleywine. There are only minimal snacks onsite, but customers are welcome to bring in outside food like pizza from Flying Pie across the street.
The patio is fully enclosed, providing a buffer from the car and pedestrian traffic that is especially prevalent on warm, summer afternoons. Outfitted with umbrella-topped picnic tables, a cornhole game — an ideal one-handed activity to enjoy with a beer in the other — and the bar just steps away, it’s a setting that invites one to stay for a while and relax. KRIS MCDOWELL
Stickmen Brewing Company
40 N. State St., Lake Oswego, 503-4449, stickmenbeer.com
While Oswego Lake is largely inaccessible to the general public, particularly for recreational purposes, you can still drink and dine on the edge of the water and feel like you own a piece of it from the patio at Stickmen. The brewery, which opened in 2011, has a deck that extends over what’s officially called Lakewood Bay. You can spend hours entertaining yourself with nature — watching the blue sky turn purple and red at dusk or by tossing bits of French fry to giant bass and baby ducks. On a hot day, you can also sit back and watch stand-up paddle boarders find their balance or wealthy families taking a spin in their motorized vessels. If things really get crazy, the Lake Oswego boat cops will be on patrol. While the brewery no longer serves the skewers it once advertised in its name, the kitchen focuses on classic pub fare and thankfully F-Bomb IPA remains on tap. ANDI PREWITT
832 N. Beech St., Portland, 971-703-4516, stormbreakerbrewing.com
StormBreaker’s location on the corner of North Beech Street and Mississippi Avenue is surrounded by numerous bars, restaurants and retail shops that are frequently bustling with activity, making the patio a great place for taking it all in while enjoying the beers. Since the brewpub changed hands and names (formerly Amnesia Brewing) there have been numerous upgrades — to the interior, to the food and to the outside. What was once a utilitarian patio is now a space that has a permanent covering over a portion of the picnic tables — great whether one is trying to escape the sun or the rain — as well as a two fire pits with seating. If the fire pits are too crowded, there are also hanging heaters that provide year-round warmth when the patio is enclosed with detachable sides.
The beers can be enjoyed on their own or, for whiskey fans, StormBreaker provides eight shot pairings with half-pints. The food menu has a little something for everyone, including sharable plates for groups and selections for kids. KRIS MCDOWELL
Block 15 Brewery & Tap Room
3415 SW Deschutes St., Corvallis, 541-752-BEER, block15.com/brewery-tap-room#overview-2
A short eight-minute drive from its downtown location, Block 15’s Brewery & Tap Room offers more of a scenic setting, whether you’re seated inside or outside the building. The alluring view of Mary’s Peak — the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range — is just the beginning of the appeal of this place. When you first pull into the parking lot, the outdoor patio draws you in right away. It’s airy, reasonably shaded, and decorated with a colorful array of flowers. With a dozen or so beers on tap (including the highly sought-after Sticky Hands IPA and the seasonal Mango Song IPA) it’s hard to pick just one — so your best bet is to start off with a taster tray. Once you’ve ordered, (carefully) carry your tray of beers outside and park yourself at one of the brewery’s picnic tables that surround the new fire pit. Then sit back, relax and enjoy your variety of brews that are “brewed feet from your seat.” Too hot outside? Venture indoors and doodle your way to happiness on one of their chalkboard tables next to a window. You’ll still get to enjoy the beautiful views — but with air conditioning. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
140 NE Hill St., Albany, 541-928-1931, calapooiabrewing.com
This Albany brewery recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary and it’s easy to see how Calapooia has stayed successful for so long. Between the wide range of beers, daily food specials and live local music every week, there’s always something new to enjoy. On a nice day, go up to their bar and order a refreshing summertime sipper like their Raspberry Wheat or turn up the heat even more with their award-winning Chili Beer, which features Anaheim, Serrano and Jalapeno peppers. Then, take a step outside. The leafy green foliage you’ll encounter once you enter their sheltered outdoor “forest” provides a nice retreat to hide from reality for a little while. Here you’ll find kegs that have been converted into planters, picnic tables and even an old church pew, which gives the space a unique charm. There’s also a barrel with a tabletop that reads, “This table has had other lives,” and goes on to say it was part of “a successful batch or 10 of bourbon and beer making.” Proof that what’s old is new again!
If you happen to be at the brewery on the first or third Wednesday of the month, imbibe in some liquid courage and take part in one of the Open Mic Nights, whether you might be a musician, poet or comedian. If your talents lie elsewhere, at the very least be sure to raise a glass and cheer on the brave souls willing to approach the stage! ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
2065 Madrona Ave. SE, Salem, 503-584-1789, gilgameshbrewing.com
When you first approach the restaurant adjacent to this south Salem brewery, nicknamed “The Campus,” it’s hard to imagine it as a former office building for a grass seed warehouse. As you walk through the expansive (yet cozy) building, the beautiful woodwork and grand stone fireplace are a welcome introduction to the large back patio. You’ll discover there’s a fireplace out there, too — perfect for those cool summer nights. But the real star of the show is Pringle Creek, which runs alongside the patio. It’s a delightful complement to the light breeze that runs through the trees, providing a relaxing ambiance that can only be matched by the beer in your glass.
On the third Wednesday of each month, join former OBG cover girl Mikki Trowbridge for her ever-growing Yoga + Beer on Gilgamesh’s lush lawn next to the creek. After you detox, retox with a pint of the brewery’s DJ Jazzy Hef. The floral jasmine in the beer will take you one step further into becoming one with nature. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
Golden Valley Brewery & Restaurant
980 NE Fourth St., McMinnville, OR, 503472-2739, goldenvalleybrewery.com
McMinnville was a finalist in a Best Main Streets of America competition featuring more than 2,000 nominations. If you’ve ever strolled along Northeast Third and Fourth Streets, it’s no surprise that these stretches of pavement made for such a strong contender. Small, independent shops, restaurants and wine tasting rooms line the route. And, of course, no proverbial Main Street would be complete without a brewery. Well, Golden Valley stepped up to fill that void more than 20 years ago. It also happens to have one of the prettiest little patios in that area. The handful of tables are cocooned by vegetation — a wisteria tree does the bulk of the work by coiling up and over a planter in the middle of the space with a trellis that reaches toward the sky. The result is a ceiling of small leaves and branches with just enough natural skylights here and there for the sun to peek through. A fountain bubbles away in one corner above a carpet of small pink flowers and emerald ferns. It feels like you’ve stumbled into a hidden Main Street garden that only former mayors and head of the Chamber of Commerce get access to. ANDI PREWITT
Grain Station Brew Works
755 NE Alpine Ave., McMinnville, 503-687-2739, grainstation.com
If McMinnville’s quaint old town core is the city’s Main Street, then the Granary District might just have become the Entertainment Hub. The blocks of land haven’t shed their rural/industrial identity — large structures covered with corrugated galvanized steel dominate the area. Some are still stamped with the names of their former occupants (like the McDaniel Fertilizer Company), even though most have been transformed into winery tasting rooms and restaurants. At the heart of it all lies Grain Station, a rustic, brown barn with a sprawling patio that butts up against the parking lot. There’s a variety of seating — umbrella-topped picnic tables and plastic chairs pulled up to oversized wooden spools. But plenty of people are just fine with standing — it makes it easier to start dancing when moved by a band playing in the wood-roofed amphitheater. By next year, Grain Station will get a softer carpet of grass in its outdoor living room and even a cover. ANDI PREWITT
McMenamins Hotel Oregon
310 NE Evans St., McMinnville, 503-472-8427, mcmenamins.com/hoteloregon/location
You might not expect that a mere five stories up would feel like the top of the world. That’s how high McMenamins Hotel Oregon rises, and its Rooftop Bar offers surprisingly expansive views of Yamhill Valley’s wine country. Black, wrought-iron tables and chairs wrap around the building before spiraling higher, creating a layered view. Swaths of beige cloth are stretched across portions of the patio for shade, crisscrossing with string lights from the center building to exterior posts. Looking out at the city below you, the trees actually seem to outnumber the buildings and the Coast Range rises gently on the horizon. Because it’s McMenamins, you’re ordering Cajun tots. And while they still have it on tap, drink an Alienator IPA. The beer’s name is a nod to the city’s famous UFO sighting in 1950, the photos of which are said to be some of the most credible to date. ANDI PREWITT
Sky High Brewing & Pub
160 NW Jackson Ave., Corvallis, 541-207-3277, skyhighbrewing.com
It would be remiss to list off some of the best brewery patios in Oregon and not include Sky High Brewing. Nestled on top of the brewery’s renovated four-story building, this rooftop oasis offers some of the best views in Corvallis. While it may only be open seasonally (an often short window for Oregon’s rain-prone climate) and from 4 p.m. to closing time, it’s well worth the wait. At the top of the four-story renovated building, you can enjoy snacks, the brewery’s full tap lineup, and a full service bar. If you’ve had a couple pints and are feeling lively, there are several cornhole stations. Or, if you’re wanting to just take a load off and enjoy the sunset, there are plenty of tables shaded with big blue umbrellas for your ultimate comfort.
On a hot day, it’s nearly impossible to say no to something cold and refreshing. Luckily for you, the brewery offers Handys — which, despite what you may think, are drinks mixed with their Handlebeer wheat ale. You can choose from The Shandy (lemonade), The Randy (Reed’s ginger beer) or The Bandy (soda water — aka Banquet Beer). The Shandy is especially thirst-quenching on a summer day. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
Seaside Brewing Company
851 Broadway St., Seaside, 503-717-5451, seasidebrewery.com
The 102-year-old brick building that once held this coastal city’s drunkards and other lawbreakers, is one of the highlights of visiting Seaside Brewing. Since opening in 2012, the owners have slowly, but unrelentingly, worked on renovations while leaving the character of the rustic building intact. Take a seat at the bar and you can see metal rails still covering a small window that doubles as a liquor shelf. Taps sprout from the chipped brick wall of a cell, now holding kegs serving sentences of life with the likelihood of parole once they’re dry. But the exterior has gotten a makeover to match the coziness and hard-scrabble beach city charm that defines the inside. Deck seating now exists on two levels and the ground floor space is more prominently defined by the instillation of a canopy made with reclaimed wood that looks like it’s weathered many a storm near the sea. Strands of lights arc down from the trellis of beams, \creating a soft glow that’s matched by a brick-and-glass enclosed, gas-powered fire pit. From a picnic table seat, you can watch tourists make their way to the Promenade on a street choked with families struggling to control tandem bicycles or packed cars constantly slowed by the stream of pedestrians. On one of those rare summer days when Seaside breaks the 80 degree mark, the brewery kitchen’s chipotle fish tacos are a light dining option. Sweet mango salsa complements the lightly fried crunch of the fresh cod. A citrusy Lockup IPA won’t overwhelm the fish and its name is a reminder to appreciate the fact that you weren’t paying this jail a visit a century ago. ANDI PREWITT
Pelican Pub & Brewery
33180 Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City, 503-965-7007
Like many beach traditions — scouring the same tide pools for signs of life, spending too much money at your favorite outlet mall or returning to the candy shop for the saltwater taffy and caramel corn you think is best — sipping beers in front of Haystack Rock at Pelican is a ritual you’ll never grow tired of. As soon as you round the corner of Cape Kiwanda Drive in Pacific City, it’s inevitable that the wind-swept parking lot will be packed with family vans toting sand buckets and Subarus sporting surfboards on the roof. After a day in the water or running up and down the nearby giant sand dune, Pelican is right there to help you rest and refuel just as it has been for 20 years. If you can manage to wait for a table on the patch of concrete out back, watching the sun slowly descend into the shimmering Pacific is all the payoff you’ll need for your patience. Rich, hearty fare is the menu’s strength, including fish and chips breaded with Kiwanda Cream Ale and a sweet, tangy slaw that’s actually not just a plate filler; mac and cheese made with Tillamook smoked cheddar; and a bleu cheese burger featuring Doryman’s Ale pork belly confit. And if a seagull with good aim happens to poop on your shoulder while you’re on the patio (it occasionally happens), chalk it up to life on the coast and order an Umbrella IPA in the hope that it will provide a symbolic shield next time. ANDI PREWITT
THE GORGE/MOUNT HOOD
4945 Baseline Road, Parkdale, 541-352-5500, facebook.com/Solera-Brewery-155875804519628
While sitting on the back lawn of Solera, you might expect a gun-toting farmer to pop out of the trees at any moment to confront you about trespassing on his property if you hadn’t just bought a pint inside. The long, narrow patch of grass that belongs to the brewery is corralled by a rope fence that stretches toward acres of orchards. In the distance sits a dark red barn with a slightly sagging roof next to rust-colored equipment. Majestically jutting out into the sky is the North Face of Mount Hood — the best view you’ll get of the peak from any Oregon brewery. The picnic table seating is basic and unadorned, but you don’t need furniture upstaging scenery this grand. In the decades-old building that houses the 7-barrel brewery and bar, beer flows from a stained glass-style portrait of three grinning skulls. You’ll find ever-popular styles like IPA, but Solera specializes in saison/farmhouse ales. Order something you’ve never tried before the live music gets going, turning this little patch of rural Hood River County into a party that’s wilder than a square dance after a barn raising. ANDI PREWITT
Thunder Island Brewing Co.
515 SW Portage Road, Cascade Locks, 971-231-4599, thunderislandbrewing.com
This is about as close as you’ll get to the Columbia River, as it surges and churns through the Gorge, from the patio of Thunder Island Brewing. The business was named after the feature that engineers created by carving into the mainland in 1890, allowing for the construction of the Cascade Locks and canal. A skinny strip of jagged grey rock topped with grass and trees is the tip of Thunder Island that’s most visible from picnic tables lining a guard rail on the property. The owners seem to upgrade their outdoor playground nearly every year. The space that started with minimal seating now has bench-style wooden booths, a metal fire pit emblazoned with the brewery’s logo, blue-and-white umbrellas, string lights and a brand-new beer bar that will provide some line relief during busy summer weekends. The faster you can get back to your seat, the better because the setting never bores. Not only can you watch barges meander back and forth along the water, you might even spot the Sternwheeler docking next door. This is also the only brewery where you might run into a Pacific Crest Trail-through hiker since Cascade Locks is the sole city along the route in Oregon. Should you run into any shaggy, trail-dust coated people hauling small homes on their backs, buy them a pint of liquid relief. ANDI PREWITT
Elk Horn Brewery
686 E. Broadway St., Eugene, 541-505-8356, elkhornbrewery.com
The campus haven. With seating for 50 at a dozen black wrought-iron tables, the thing about Elk Horn’s patio is how quickly you forget that you are sitting at the corner of two busy streets and are a stone’s throw from the University of Oregon. Founded in 2014 by the folks behind Eugene’s popular Delacata food cart, Elk Horn seeks to bridge the gap between beer, cider and wine, while providing guests with Southern-inspired food made in a kitchen that doesn’t cut any corners. First, order some frickles (yes, fried pickles). Then, sip your pint of Ducks Blue Ribbon Kolsch, Redic Dry Cider, Velvet Antler Red Ale (or any of the 24 beers, ciders and sodas on tap — not to mention the extensive whiskey list). Start drooling thanks to a menu of shrimp and grits, catfish, and chicken and waffles. Before you order, though, cast your gaze to the blaze burning at the far end: the recently added wood-burning oven is cranking out “beerizzas,” or pizza made with a stout crust. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Falling Sky Pour House & Delicatessen
790 Blair Blvd., Eugene, 541-653-9167, fallingskybrewing.com
While Falling Sky’s Oak Alley brewpub has a nice outdoor area, the Pour House & Delicatessen offers a spacious covered patio with raised counter and table settings. In addition to local accolades, including “Best Bar Grub,” “Best Burger” and “Best Place to Drink in the Sun,” Falling Sky has made a mark with its ability to brew diverse beverages and present quality charcuterie, breads, pickles and more. The deli also takes the prize for having the most family-friendly patio. The covered, enclosed space forgoes a fire pit and instead has a sand pit, complete with a selection of toys. There’s no better brewery patio in Eugene for kids to play while moms and dads take a breather over a pint of Blue Balloon Belgian Pale Ale or Dual Hearted IPA. If you want a little privacy while outdoors, fear not. Off in one corner, sectioned off from the rest of the space, there’s a secret table with room for four. From latkes to beef-pastrami sliders or other pastramis made of duck, lamb and beef, be sure to arrive with an empty stomach, because you certainly won’t leave with one. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Hop Valley Tasting Room
990 W. First Ave., Eugene, 541-484-2337, hopvalleybrewing.com
On your way west down First Avenue, traveling away from iconic Skinner Butte, when you pass the homebrew shop, auto repair place and various industrial businesses, you might at first wonder how in the world there’s a brewery to be found in this area. But you are indeed in prime Eugene beer country, so just look for the giant hop cone. When Hop Valley named the brewery and designed a logo in honor of the Willamette Valley’s hop-growing history, the founders knew that hops must be central to everything they do. The first thing you’ll see as you approach the long, narrow patio lining the side of the building? Hop vines making their way up trellises. Be sure to pardon Hop Valley’s dust — already with seating for 175 (and room for 260 people total), Hop Valley is currently further expanding the patio. Dip inside and peek through the large windows that let you see the brewing side of things. Then relax in the soothing presence of the plants that bring such bitter joy to the 18 beers on tap, such as Citrus Mistress IPA, Double-D Blonde Ale or Light Me Up Lager. The tasting in tasting room isn’t just for the beer. Check out an Irish take on the steak nachos, a spicy smoked andouille sandwich or a Mediterranean panini for some satisfying outdoor summer eats. Coming in the evening? A large rectangular fire pit provides a prime warm-up spot. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
McMenamins North Bank
22 Club Road, Eugene, 541-343-5622, mcmenamins.com/NorthBank
When the folks at McMenamins opened their third Eugene location in 2000, they must have had summer on their minds. After all, where better to enjoy a pub burger and a pint of Summer Berry Stout (on nitro, no less), Copper Moon Summer Pale Ale or iconic Ruby, than on a patio next to the gently flowing Willamette River? Take in the sunset or watch the traffic roll over the nearby Ferry Street Bridge. And don’t feel guilty about noshing on the elk Bolognese, ale-battered fish and chips or pork shank osso buco. North Bank is not only riverside, it also borders part of Eugene’s vast network of bike paths, so order what you want and ride it off later. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Ninkasi Brewing Company
272 Van Buren St., Eugene, 541-344-2739, ninkasibrewing.com
Eugene’s largest brewery also has the largest beer patio, with room for up to around 300 beer fans. Located in the heart of the Whiteaker, Ninkasi’s tasting room is a walled garden of beery delights. A dozen tables are spaced throughout to give convenient seating, but it’s still easy to wander or hold up a patch of wall. Off near one corner, a large fire pit — filled with pale green, blue and pink rocks — gives you a chance to soak up some warmth when the sun finally fades on lingering summer evenings. In case of rain, a large canopy provides cover for part of the patio, or you can duck inside the tasting room. Hungry? Food carts can usually be found either in front of the brewery or just inside the patio, and it’s okay to bring in food from the outside. Once you arrive, first stop at the bar to order up your pint of Helles Belles Lager, Total Domination IPA, or Dawn of the Red India Red Ale. This summer provides another reason to raise a glass to a brewery named for the ancient Sumerian goddess: Ninkasi turns 10 this year. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Oakshire Brewing Public House
207 Madison St., Eugene, 541-654-5520, oakbrew.com
Oakshire is also celebrating its first decade this year, and their Whiteaker-area Public House has become an area favorite. The reason is apparent: when it comes to enjoying a fine craft beer on an Oregon summer evening, where better than a simple picnic table on a west-facing open patio? It’s a fine way to soak up every last ray of sunlight from the days that are, alas, already getting shorter. Take your pick of 14 picnic tables. The patio has no frills, but it’s good, simple outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying a bite from a food cart along with your pint of Watershed IPA, Sun Made Cucumber Berliner Weisse or Line Dry Rye IPA. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
495 NE Bellevue Drive, Bend, 541-639-4776, worthybrewing.com
Worthy Brewing built a massive, 26,000-square-foot brewery outside of the downtown core for a reason — the plots of land east of Pilot Butte were much larger than anything west of Highway 97. While a large portion of that land was allocated for beer production, the location was begging for a place for customers enjoy the westward view. Enter Worthy’s patio, one of the largest outdoor restaurant spaces in Bend. Worthy is one of the better places to start your night out, considering its distance from downtown and its famous wood-stone oven bedazzled in shimmering, colorful tiles. Build a drinking base with an Oregon-inspired duck and fig pizza or blackened steelhead tacos and pair those with Worthy’s award-winning Easy Day Kolsch or Farm Out Saison. If you’ve already gone through the brewery’s year-rounds, try an experimental-hop IPA or coconut lime gose from the Heart and Soul Series. A large expansion on the restaurant and patio is underway, which will provide more seating, an outdoor bar and an observatory. In the meantime, round up the kids and set them loose on Worthy’s lower lawn while you relax and watch the sun set over Pilot Butte. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
10 Barrel Brewing
1135 NW Galveston Ave., Bend, 541-678-5228, 10barrel.com
There are few places within city limits that capture the stereotypical Bend vibe as well 10 Barrel’s Pub. Located in the heart of the west side, the patio is often filled with a capacity crowd surrounding a raging fire pit or mobbing the outdoor bar. While the location draws people from all walks of life, the majority are young adults in some sort of outdoor gear as they just finished a bike ride, mountain hike or long river float. And it’s not just the ambiance that draws them in. Some of the city’s tastiest (and best-funded) brews come out of these taps, including the staples and R&D batches. For instance, the now-famous Joe IPA was a pub exclusive long before it was distributed in six-packs. Keep an eye out for anything from Tonya Cornett, 10 Barrel’s celebrated sour brewer. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Crux Fermentation Project
50 SW Division St., Bend, 541-385-3333, cruxfermentation.com
If you spend even a few of Bend’s 300 days of sunshine on Crux’s lawn, then you’re doing it right. The largest outdoor patio in town features lawn games, a large fire pit and some of the state’s best beers. While the restaurant’s menu is limited, there are two consistent food carts, including the cult-darling El Sancho Taco, that make hearty meals that can stand up to Crux’s barrel-aged beauties and heavy IPAs. The brewery is also loved by locals and tourist alike because of the “Sundowner” special. Thirty minutes before and after the sun sinks behind the Three Sisters, drinks are discounted. And you can’t beat the sky show. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Bend Brewing Company
1019 NW Brooks St., Bend, 541-383-1599, bendbrewingco.com
Bend Brewing has been making some of the city’s best beers for 21 years, although it’s been overshadowed by Deschutes’ largeness as well as the feisty up-and-comers. But locals have known about Bend Brewing for years. It’s where Tonya Cornett got her start before Ian Larkin seamlessly took over. Upscale pub fare and a wide array of beer styles await those who enter the unassuming house in the downtown area. The Elk Lake IPA is there for those who need a hop fix, but the seasonals should not be ignored. Look for the Black Diamond Dark Lager, which refreshes despite its rich complexity. And bring a pink-hued Ching Ching American Sour onto the back patio that overlooks the famous Mirror Pond. While Bend Brewing was a hidden gem for years, its growing fame can make it tough to find a seat on the weekend, so plan accordingly. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
GoodLife Brewing Company
70 SW Century Drive, Bend, 541-728-0749, goodlifebrewing.com
GoodLife Brewing Company is nearly synonymous with its flagship beer, Sweet As Pacific Ale. While it’s a popular brew to crush while floating on rivers and lakes across the state, you could argue that one of the best spots to consume it is on the lawn next to the brewery. That space is large enough for two bocce ball courts, two sets of cornhole boards, a fire pit, a food cart and plenty of tables — yet still has plenty of empty grass for people to lay down and soak up the sun with beer in hand. The spot is tucked away in the Century Center, so it can sometimes be easier to find a seat here than at other, more tourist-driven breweries. Besides Sweet As, GoodLife’s bread and butter is the consistency of delicious, hoppier brews like Descender IPA. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Sunriver Brewing Company
1005 NW Galveston Ave., Bend, 541-408-9377, sunriverbrewingcompany.com
When Sunriver Brewing announced it would be taking over the space that housed the Oblivion Brewing Company Pub on Northwest Galveston, many people shook their heads, citing immense competition on the west side of town. But with Sunriver’s solid menu and beers that are quickly racking up medals in national competitions, the move turned out to be a safe bet. The addition of the patio behind the pub has been a big draw, with several outdoor tables and a barn-like structure that will help provide shelter from the cold during winter months. The brewery makes beers that are great for all seasons. The award-winning Fuzztail Hefeweizen is refreshing and bright for summer days while Cocoa Cow Chocolate Milk Stout (when available) will be a warm, liquid dessert once the temperatures drop. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Wild Ride Brew
332 SW Fifth St., Redmond, 541-516-8544, wildridebrew.com
Redmond is Bend’s little brother that’s quickly growing up. With more affordable housing and plenty of space to grow, more people are moving to Redmond to save on rent even while working in Bend. Wild Ride arrived at the perfect time, then. A huge patio greets you as soon as you drive up along with a small food cart pod with three to five trucks. Most days, the brewery door is rolled up and you can spot Paul Bergeman running around inside creating flagships like Hopperhead IPA and Whoopty Whoop Wheat or crafting styles outside the norm such as a hibiscus golden ale or a peanut butter porter. Enjoy any of these options on the concrete patio filled with giant wooden spools that have been turned into tables or high-tops covered by wide, white umbrellas. In addition to hikers relaxing with dogs, post-trek, you may even spot a regular who likes to bring his giant lizard with him to the brewery. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Whether choosing the life of a brewer or the life of a musician, it’s a choice that means committing to a challenging career that often requires long hours. Those who succeed are the ones who combine skill and commitment to crafting a product that they not only can be proud of, but their fans can consume.
John Harris, an icon in Oregon craft brewing, has managed to balance his primary career as a brewer with a love of music by sitting in as a guest for bands with both a local and national reach. As a kid, John said he was "always banging on stuff," which led to banging on things in a more musical manner — playing the drums in junior high band. Between band and private lessons, he learned to read music and keep rhythm, skills that he would draw upon years later. Attending a concert in 1985 he saw Billy Hults, a washboard player who, according to his posthumous induction into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, "played with about everyone in Portland in the ‘70s and ‘80s." John thought what he was doing with the washboard looked fun and he proceeded to pick one up for himself at a thrift store.
When asked how he learned to play it, John replied "You just kind of do it." No doubt his background in playing the drums helped him figure it out, and for a couple of years he was officially part of a band called the Hardly Boys. Being a musician generally isn't a high-paying gig and since washboard players don't hold the cache that a lead guitarist or vocalist does, there’s a greater likelihood that they won't be paid often, so when he was kicked out of the band it wasn’t the blow it could have been. At the time, John was beginning a career in brewing, something that would be at least a bit more lucrative than playing the washboard.
In 1986, John had a roommate that saw a brewer position advertised in Willamette Week by McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery & Public House and encouraged him to apply for what he felt should be "his job." John had done some homebrewing and read up as much as he was able to on it, which didn’t amount to much formal literature at the time. Feeling light on qualifications, he was somewhat surprised when McMenamins offered him the position. His boss proclaimed his chances of success directly from the get-go: he would either get the flow of brewing or not. As it turned out, John got it.
Two years later, with some professional brewing experience under his belt, he once again saw an ad, this time with Deschutes Brewery in Bend. They were looking for someone with two years of experience, which was considered a lot at that time. John knew that this was his job to go after and he was in a position to be able to relocate to Bend, which is what he proceeded to do after accepting the job.
When he came on board at Deschutes, owner Gary Fish taught him to brew three year-round offerings: a golden ale, a bitter and a porter along with seasonal beers. John's first seasonal was a wheat, followed by what is now a Deschutes staple — Mirror Pond. Sales of it quickly outpaced the bitter 3-to-1. But even with numbers to prove its popularity, Gary resisted replacing the bitter with Mirror Pond. He finally gave in a bit by bringing it on as a nine-month seasonal.
While John and his beers were successful at Deschutes, he said living in Bend wasn't much fun for someone who was an outsider. After four years, an opportunity with Full Sail Brewing came along that would allow John (and his now-wife) to return to Portland. John had known the Full Sail guys before they started looking for someone to head up their Portland location and both parties were comfortable with the autonomy John would have to run Portland operations.
Compared to the amount of beer the Bend facility turned out, the Portland location’s annual maximum capacity of 5,000 barrels was small, but it allowed John to continue to develop new beers for the Full Sail Brewmasters Reserve series. It was there that he also got the chance to learn more about the business of having a brewery, which included traveling with distributors and selling what he was making. From the beginning, John had viewed Full Sail as a good place to work and it was a solid job for a guy with a wife and two young kids. John was loyal to his job and ended up spending 20 years at Full Sail.
Throughout his career as a brewer, John continued to nourish his love of music, attending concerts and getting to know bands. That interest garnered invitations to play a lot with local bands Crawdads of Pure Love (based in Eugene), Ed and The Boats, and The Buds of May. He has even played with national bands such as The Mother Truckers, Zero, and Kingfish, fitting in appearances around their touring schedules and his brewing schedule -- a brewing schedule that changed in 2012 when he left Full Sail.
Some might have considered a 26-year run as a brewer a good one, especially when taking into consideration that he created recipes for Mirror Pond, Black Butte, Jubelale and Obsidian, among other things. Perhaps this would be when John started to think about spending his time doing something else. In his own way, John was. He was brewing up a plan for opening his own place and applying what he’d learned on both the brewing and business sides at Full Sail. In 2013 he opened Ecliptic Brewing, a brewpub whose name and the names of the beer, along with its interior design, speak to another love of John's: astronomy. When you have your own place, you set the rules -- and at Ecliptic, John has also brought music into the mix with a regular schedule of live performances. One band in particular, Off the Cuff, plays often -- with John shifting from brewer/owner to washboard player when he can.
Beyond the regular schedule of live music at Ecliptic, John has put together an event that will take place there Thursday, June 16th. Brewers and Their Bands will feature five brewers and bands they play with: John and Off the Cuff, The Moonshine with Max Skewes of Burnside Brewing, Indiana Tex Mex with Matt Swihart of Double Mountain Brewery, and Left Coast Convicts with Shaun Kalis of Ruse Brewing. The music will start around 5:30 p.m. and it will surely be an evening filled with great music, great beer and great people whose talents go beyond the brew kettle.
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The writer behind the recently published zine, A Feminist's Guide to Beer Drinking, is unsurprisingly, a girl (and yes, she's OK being a "girl"). She's also a certified Cicerone, coauthor of the book “Hop in the Saddle” and has her first solo book coming out this fall.
Before Lucy Burningham came to the beer mecca that is Portland, she was living in Utah, which has laws she diplomatically describes as "weird." Those used to the beer-favorable laws found here, however, might describe Utah’s limit of 4% ABV on beers sold at grocery stores and convenience stores “shockingly antiquated.” Moreover, so-called “high point beer” with an ABV above 4% is limited to bottles only, even at state liquor stores, breweries, bars and restaurants. Those laws have resulted in a general lack of craft beer (although that is slowly changing) and for Lucy, a lack of a palate for beer.
When she moved to Portland in 2005 to pursue a master's in creative nonfiction writing at Portland State University, she fell in love with the city after being wooed, in part, by its craft beer scene. While interviewing a beer sommelier for her first beer article she not only learned that beer could taste like bananas; Burningham was also impressed with the beer culture. People knew the brewers, they expressed a tremendous amount of pride for local beers and were passionate about their favorites. It's not hard to understand how she became hooked on Portland, on drinking craft beer and on writing about craft beer.
That first beer article turned out to be the start of a new point of interest and direction in her journalistic career. Lucy had written for years about food. In fact, the thesis for her master's was on Oregon truffles. But Portland's beer enticed her to explore her beer palate. Jumping into craft beer Portland-style, IPAs were her first love due to what she describes as their "bracing bitterness." Beyond being drawn in by the taste, her curiosity was piqued by the wide variety of color variations both within and across beer styles. All of this combined with her journalistic skills to produce pieces for well-known publications such as Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, The New York Times and SAVEUR.
Out of her vast collection of writing, it was Lucy's first piece for The New York Times that she is most proud of. The article, “A Hop and a Sip to Fresh Ales,” was not only her first high-profile beer piece, but its research put her on a hop farm for the first time. At Sodbuster Farms in Salem, she was introduced to the excitement and incredible smells of the hop harvest. That, along with other beer experiences, opened her eyes to how much there was to explore, which she continued to do through writing. It also spurred her to pursue formal beer education and become a Certified Cicerone.
The Cicerone Certification Program offers three levels of certification with Certified Cicerone being the second, giving students a well-rounded education on beer as well as the skills needed to assess beer quality. Passing a comprehensive exam is necessary for certification and Lucy took the preparation to heart. She learned what it’s like to be a beer student — experiencing the intense pressure and feelings of being completely overwhelmed. Tough decisions arose, including times where she wasn’t sure whether she should just simply sip and enjoy a beer or continue to study in order to pass the exam. Her hard work and dedication paid off when she passed the exam and, as a bonus, she realized she had the content for her forthcoming book, “My Beer Year.”
Lucy Burningham writes about beer for well-known publications and has a new zine called A Feminist’s Guide to Beer Drinking. The journalist wanted to expand her experience with food writing by turning to beer after moving from Utah to Portland and falling love with the craft beer culture. Photo by Kris McDowell
While it will be a few months before her new book is available, her most recent work, A Feminist's Guide to Beer Drinking, is available in hard copy and online. Part of the Portland Zine series, it's one in a set of independently published booklets that reflects the progressive spirit and DIY ethos of the city. When Lucy was initially approached about the guide, she wasn’t sure she could pull it off. As she was brainstorming her approach, she started thinking about the women in the Oregon beer world and how they help to define it. Before she knew it, she was excited about what lay ahead.
With her proposal accepted, she interviewed a number of women, including Gayle Goschie of Goschie Farms, Miranda Kasten of Lady Brew Portland, Teri Fahrendorf of the Pink Boots Society and Whitney Burnside of 10 Barrel Brewing. She wanted the project to be part serious and part playful. It starts off serious, with a section on Gayle where she talks about her role in taking over a portion of the family hop-growing business and changing its focus to craft brewers to meet the changing times.
The playful tone becomes apparent as you move through the pages and find articles such as “How to Evaluate Beer Like a Lady *Or a Man *Or Fluid Gender of Preference.” There's also a guide for hosting a ladies' beer night that concludes with the instruction to "dream about your next ladies' beer night." In addition to Lucy's writing style, the zine's tone is assisted by illustrations from Deirdre Mahon and the layout, reminiscent of a scrapbook of favorite memories, pulls off the balance she was looking for.
The balance in the zine reflects a similar balance in Lucy's feelings about gender in craft beer. While acknowledging that gender can't be ignored and there are still biases and stereotypes, it's not something that she focuses on. Rather it's something that surfaces somewhat unconsciously — like when she finds herself at a beer event counting the number of men versus the number of women.
She's seen the number of women involved in craft beer increase in the last 10 years and takes the count as more of a quick observation than of something to dwell on. In her experience, she's generally found the beer community to be very welcoming, spurring her curiosity instead of discriminating against it. It's the occasional situation that catches her by surprise briefly. For instance, there was the time she was told by a guy that “you don’t look like a beer drinker,” which left her a bit bewildered. Much like the boy picking on girls on the playground, there's bound to be one who hasn't figured out that both guys and girls enjoy craft beer and can even enjoy craft beer together.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.