By Emily Engdahl
What brought you to Oregon? Are you an Oregon native?
I am an Oregonian and really what a great time to be one with the beer, food scene doing what it is now.
When / how did you get involved in Oregon's Beer industry?
I was introduced to the industry by a friend who made a home brew beer that was a clone of my favorite beer from Nor' Wester Brewing. I went out the next day and bought a kit and started making beer. All kinds of beer. Soon after I attended my first beer festival and Joined the Oregon Brew Crew. I started volunteering for so many shifts that I was asked to be a lead and then the bar manager. It was kind of by accident that I got into the industry, but it was fueled by good beer and the search for more.
What do you do in the industry? (Cascade Barrel House / Holiday Ale Fest, etc.)
At my day job I am the General Manager of the Barrel House Pub and I do the Sour beer Blending with Ron Gansberg on the production side. On my weekends I work at beer festivals in some type or fashion. Draft tech, bar manager, site manager, beer coordinator and consulting. For the Holiday Ale I am the General Manager and that means having my hands in all aspects of the fest. From the set up and tear down to working with the brewers and managing the event. It's a lot of work but it is also a lot of fun.
Tell us a little about what you love about working with beer & the people in beer?
Well, it certainly does not hurt that you can drink your work. More than that the creative, passionate characters that I have met are so down to earth yet total dreamers when it comes to beer. It's great to come to work and know that it is not going to be another day at the office.
What do you look most forward to each year before the Holiday Ale Fest?
The conversations with the brewers about the beers that they are thinking of making. The process, the special grains or hops, the barrel aging, it's pure beer geek and I love it.
What is your favorite Oregon "holiday ale?"
Who can you have a favorite when there are so many, but like any beer geek, I like the one I'm drinking but I am always looking for the next one I have not had to come over the bar top.
Do you have any favorite pairings with beer & food that you think readers should try?
I am really into pairing a food with two beers, a comparisons and contrasts. It is really nice to see two different beers pull something different from the same dish. One beer might go with the base item, like braised beef, and the second might have hops that go with the spices in the food. I
Cascade is renowned for it's barrel aging program and weekly releases - how do you manage such a massive undertaking?
It's fun. If it was not fun it might be harder. But in the end I need a lot of projects and the different sour beers that we produce need constant tending.
How do you express your creativity in beer?
Probably mostly through the live barrel releases and the blending of the beers.
Is your focus primarily on beer as a science or an art form, or do you see it as both?
I see both and really you need to have both to make it work, but if I had to pick one as a major I would say the art of the beer has always been more fun, but the science is revealing and that is fun as well.
Cascade shows a keen focus on food & beer together - how do you create the showcase of menu items with your beers (with your team / by yourself)?
I work with my Chef Troy and the would kitchen crew to try to find different things that we can make in our tiny, limited kitchen that go with all the sour and non soured beers we make. It a lot of fun to talk about flavors with beer and food, really, anything is possible.
How do you feel about the growth of craft beer in the United States?
Well, it's good, I sometime want to see more and at other times I think maybe some people are doing it for the wrong reasons. In the end you hope it evens out. I think there is room for more breweries and more creativity and experimentation with beers.
What do you see / wish for sours / wild ales in trends or gaining exposure across the US?
Well, I think everyone should try a sour or two, you never know you just might find you favorite beer you never knew of. I think you will see more breweries trying their hand at sours, I don't think most will stick with it, it takes more time and in that respect it is like lagering a beer, few will want to invest in the extra time, but for those that do they will become really good at it.
Anything else you want to tell us about who you are and what makes you love working in beer?
I don't sleep much, I am always looking for a new beer or twist on an existing beer. I think special events are a great way to draw focus on what we do in the beer world, be that a festival, beer dinner or cheese or chocolate pairing. I like to work hard and at the end of the day, knowing I have something to do with the beer I am drinking is very rewarding.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.