By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
An ambitious startup craft brewery plans to open two locations in two different cities in March. Founder and brewer Jeremy Turner clearly aspires to live up to the mantra: “Go big or go home.”
Ancestry Brewing is a family business started by Turner and his father Gerald Turner with essential support from industry leader Al Triplett. The branding and marketing focus on a family tree of beers and the anchor logo recognizes the Turner family’s naval service.
The brewery and flagship location in Tualatin at 20585 SW 115th Ave., directly off Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road, is a 7,200-square-foot, brand new warehouse space. With most of the construction delays and speed bumps behind them, the founders anticipate opening in March.
For several years now, Turner and his father have been interested in starting a family business. Since Turner, an Oregon State University graduate in chemistry and biochemistry, has been homebrewing for more than 13 years, a brewery seemed like the logical business to get into. His day jobs at Hewlett-Packard and, most recently, the Portland Venture Group, combined with some brewing experience at Kulshan Brewing Co. in Washington, convinced him that a brewery was in the family’s future. But nothing was coming together until they met Al Triplett, a 24-year brewing veteran with Redhook.
“He blew the doors wide open for us,” said Turner. Triplett, now an equity member of the Ancestry team, helped secure hop contracts, which will be in place through 2020, and connected them with other essential suppliers and industry leaders.
“We identified this bare warehouse space in November of 2014. We wanted a suburban location and this Tualatin place was ideal,” explained Turner.
They went to work prepping the space — just a bare rectangle with a dirt floor. They even had to put in a wall dividing it from the adjoining auto business. With the usual paperwork and contract delays, it took until this June to complete the main infrastructure.
The 10-barrel, state-of-the-art system from JV Northwest — including six fermentation and two brite tanks with all the shiny bells and whistles, costing more than $500,000 — was installed in July.
“We finalized all our OLCC papers in October,” said Turner, “ and we’ve been brewing since then.”
Up until then, they had been testing and experimenting with the recipes. They worked with John I. Haas, Inc., the largest hop operation in the world, and used their innovation center in Yakima, Wash. to test out several of Turner’s homebrew recipes. They brewed up pilot batches and did blind tastings with 20-100 people, pairing Ancestry’s brews against industry-leading beers. Since then, they’ve also done guest tap tastings at Hop N Cork in Lake Oswego and the Platypus Pub in Bend.
“We built extra time into our business plan to test everything out,” said Turner.
They plan to have 12-14 of their beers on tap, plus cider and perhaps root beer and wine. To start, the beers will be identified by type — IPA, ale, ESB, stout and Belgians. They will be listed on Ancestry’s family tree of beers with three different pillars for American-style beers, British Isles beers and Continental European beers. “The actual names will come from our customer reviews and feedback,” said Turner.
He will be joined by brewer Trevor Lauman, who favors British-style beers, such as porters and stouts, which he describes as more balanced and malty. “I want to bring back a couple different styles,” he said, “including British mild.” He proudly served me a sample of the mild with its distinct hazelnut taste achieved without the use of hazelnut extract.
Lauman, also an accomplished homebrewer, returned to school several years ago to study computer science, but quickly switched to fermentation science at OSU. While completing that program, he gained experience at Ninkasi in Eugene and Feckin in Oregon City. He joined Ancestry in July and, like the entire team, looks forward to the official opening. But preparation for that day has meant working numerous 15-16 hour days.
The tentative brewing plans call for around 1,500 barrels of production the first year and 2,200 the second, with brewing happening two or three times a week and double brews every two weeks. Since one barrel of beer equals 31 gallons or 320, 12-ounce bottles — that’s a good amount of beer.
The crisp navy-and-white logo, created by Portland-based Nemo Design, is everywhere — on their growlers, on the lid of the tanks, on all the growler labels, the glasses, tasters and kegs. The brewery’s interior, while industrial, is airy and bright with plenty of natural light. The windows and outdoor space overlook a natural wetland. A rustic wood bar will offset the custom wallpaper of enlarged maps from Limerick, Ireland, a nod to the Turner family’s roots. The shiny, new brewhouse and cold storage facility are adjacent and open to the taproom, yet still separate from it.
Ancestry will sell traditional growlers and bottled beer to go along with prefilled, pressurized growlers in 16, 32 and 64 ounces. Their bottling machine can handle 12-ounce bottles and 750-milliliter barrel-aged bottles. PDX Sliders will be the food partner at both locations, and their staff will handle all the kitchen responsibilities. The award-winning food cart has come out on top at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s “Eat Mobile” competition two years in a row.
Ancestry’s second location in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood is on the Springwater Corridor at 8268 SE 13th Ave., which is handy for bikers. Its outdoor service area will have a bike-up growler fill with two large sliding doors to the outside. The taproom and kitchen, on the ground floor of a new apartment complex, will be about 1,300 square feet.
Imran Haider, a longtime friend of Turner’s who teaches at OSU, will assist with management responsibilities, and Mel Long, who has extensive experience as a beer distributor, will be the cellar manager.
Turner said they had initially hoped to open both locations at the same time and then kept going back and forth about opening dates. As it stands now, they plan to open the Tualatin location first, followed by Sellwood a week or so later. Check the Ancestry website for updates.
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
For the Oregon Beer Growler
How much water does it take to make your favorite beer? What about energy and other natural resources? This is probably not something you normally consider when you drink a pint, but thankfully for the environment, many of our local breweries are trying to lessen their impact with the help of Energy Trust of Oregon.
At Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, modifications to their refrigeration systems helped reduce their kilowatt hours per barrel by 6.9 percent, according to Julia Person, sustainability manager. The company’s participation in Energy Trust’s Strategic Energy Management initiative also provided valuable tools for engaging employees and identifying low- to no-cost energy-saving opportunities.
Person points out already-implemented or ongoing projects at the production facility on North Russell Street. In the brewhouse, they are currently testing various LED bulbs in the existing overhead fixtures to find the desired color and brightness. The new, more efficient bulbs will contribute to a further drop in kilowatt hours per barrel. Widmer has already replaced all inefficient fluorescent lamps with T5 lighting and has installed occupancy and daylight sensors throughout the facility, so lights automatically turn off when not needed.
Person describes another Energy Trust project, which involved installing smart thermostats in the office space. Heating and cooling systems can now be controlled remotely, thus saving energy, and money, by raising or lowering ambient temperature when no one is present. “The HVAC project, which includes these smart thermostats as well as other measures, such as retro-commissioning of our entire system, has resulted in Widmer receiving a $56,000 rebate check for completing this project,” Person says.
Back in the brewhouse, Person explains how a reduction in boil times by only five minutes equals significant natural gas savings when you consider that the 250-barrel brewery brews nine times per day and typically operates 24 hours, six days per week. “For water efficiency, we have worked on reusing rinse water at our bottle filler and preventing beer loss,” says Person. In 2013, the Portland brewery’s water usage ratio was an industry-leading 4.07 gallons per gallon of beer. In 2014, they were able to reduce that number even further to 3.5 gallons per gallon of beer.
One challenge familiar to all breweries is how to dispose of the high-quality organic wastewater that is a byproduct of the brewing process. An Oregon BEST Commercialization Grant helped Widmer collaborate with researchers from the Oregon State University researcher-led startup Waste2Watergy. Now working under a National Science Foundation grant, the company is already on the second phase of testing an innovative microbial fuel cell technology that is “capable of generating electricity directly from wastewater, while simultaneously accomplishing highly efficient wastewater treatment,” explains Person.
Widmer Brothers Brewing already boasts that 99.5 percent of their waste is diverted from landfills, including truckloads of spent grains, yeast and hops, as a result of recycling efforts. The company has recently identified a new partner that can recycle more plastics including grain bags, polyester strapping for packaging, keg caps and Mylar hop packaging.
After making the beer, it still has to be packaged for distribution. Craft Brew Alliance’s Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, Wash. switched to a dry-running System Plast bottling conveyor in 2014, which yielded savings in energy, maintenance and materials, along with 111,000 gallons of water. Redhook was subsequently named a 2014 Safer Chemistry Champion by Washington’s Department of Ecology for the project. Person says they are already exploring its application at the Portland facility.
If you like to consume your beer as close to the source as possible, you’ll be happy to know that the Widmer Brothers Pub was recently recertified as a three-star Green Restaurant. Certification is based on the accumulation of points across seven environmental categories: water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. One hundred percent of the pub’s electricity is sourced from renewable wind power through Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program.
Having met their 2014 objectives of achieving 5 percent savings across all utilities, reducing the impact of materials, increasing packaging efficiency, and achieving third-party certification, Person says the company is now focused on “tracking our greenhouse gas emissions’ intensity and continuing to pursue innovative projects such as capturing renewable energy from biogas.”
Widmer Brothers Brewing is not the only company that is committed to minimizing their environmental impact across their breweries and brewpubs. Energy Trust of Oregon has also partnered with Deschutes Brewery in Bend and Portland, Gilgamesh Brewing in Salem, Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene and Worthy Brewing in Bend, helping each of these businesses implement energy-saving improvements that have resulted in financial gains from both energy cost savings and Energy Trust cash incentives.
It’s amazing when you think about the positive impact that a few simple conservation actions can make on the environment. No matter how big or small the operation, Oregon breweries are finding ways to produce your favorite brew more sustainably while still providing the same quantity and quality of beer that we’ve come to expect and love.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.