By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
GoodLife Brewing in Bend has been on a roll ever since it opened five years ago this June. “We’re five years ahead of our business plan and 800 percent ahead of production goals,” said sales and promotions coordinator Chris Nelson.
To celebrate and give back to the community, GoodLife started a Sustainable Session Series in February with a portion of sales going to a Northwest nonprofit. The first beer is the Brewshed Session Ale, available through the end of May, with proceeds going to The Oregon Brewshed® Alliance, created to protect Northwest watersheds.
Nelson said, “All the session beers will be different styles. The new one coming in June is called Wildland Session Ale and we are donating 1 percent of the sales to the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project. The one for October will be Mountain Rescue, GoodLife’s first beer. The proceeds from that will go to Deschutes County Search and Rescue.”
Native son Curt Plants started the brewery along with Ty Barnett, who’s originally from Joseph. The two managed to secure the business’s enviable west side location through a combination of incredible timing and luck. They were one day away from signing a lease on a facility in northeast Bend and planned to focus on production.
But they happened to drive by an indoor tennis center for lease in the Century Center Events venue. Immediately they were hooked. The building had high ceilings, good light and plenty of space: 22,000 square feet inside and 9,000 square feet outside. They jumped at the chance to lease it and took the financial hit for the buildout. At the time, people wondered what in the world they would do with all that space.
It turns out, plenty. When you drive into the GoodLife parking lot, you’re right in front of their beer garden. The fenced area features a few tables, a firepit, a bocce ball court and a food cart. There’s room for kids and dogs to run or to spread out a picnic and hang out. In the summer, it’s constantly full and often the scene of charity events.
The brewery is directly to the left of the garden. With all the new tanks GoodLife keeps adding, the brewhouse is close to needing an expansion. But before they opened and installed a 30-barrel system, the empty space was cavernous and obviously so. There was so much room initially, the touring company Cycle Pub moved in. It was a beneficial partnership for a while, but GoodLife eventually needed to grow and the bike company found a new home. Curt’s older brother Mark has now taken over a section of the building for BackDrop Distilling. This is another win-win arrangement, as Mark uses the brewery’s wort and GoodLife gets his barrels. Plus, the copper still is an eye-catching addition.
Growing up, Curt was interested in learning about different beers. Curt and his father, a music teacher in the Bend school district, often vacationed at Odell Lake, which is about 65 miles southwest of Bend. That’s when father and son would sample beers to educate their palates. One day, Curt’s dad suggested he continue his studies at the Siebel Institute because he knew his son was passionate about beer and didn’t like traditional schooling. Curt went on to complete coursework there, got a job at Rogue, but eventually turned his focus to opening a brewery with co-founder Ty.
GoodLife got going with a 30-barrel, four-vessel system and produced 3,100 barrels during the first year. Growth continued from there, including the addition of two 240-barrel fermenters and a 130-barrel lagering tank. Last year, production hit 20,000 barrels. Nelson said, “The 30-barrel system will max out at 55,000 barrels a year.” Right now, they brew four batches a day, six days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The expansion was driven by their purchase of a canning line. They had been using a mobile unit that filled 30 containers a minute. But the new line can handle 122 cans in that same amount of time. The line from Palmer Canning out of Chicago was, at the time, the largest the business had shipped west of the Mississippi. The equipment will allow GoodLife to keep up with demand in their distribution markets, including Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, Washington and Vermont.
For GoodLife and so many other local enterprises, sustainability is simply a part of life in Central Oregon. Spent grain recycling started with a phone call from Curt to longtime family friend Dave Holmberg, his former teacher and principal. Holmberg, who worked with Curt’s father at the same school, also owns Anchor Heart Ranch and raises cattle. Holmberg described that, “Curt asked if I still had cattle and said he was starting a brewery. Would I be interested in taking that stuff?”
Holmberg started with one small trailer to haul off GoodLife’s spent grain, but he now owns four large trailers and two 1-ton diesel trucks to handle all of the byproduct. He arrives in the morning, depending on the brew schedule, with an empty trailer to replace the full one, which contains 10,000-12,000 pounds of spent grain. Not only do Holmberg’s cattle benefit from the process; hogs at High Hope Acres in Culver also get some of the load. Holmberg additionally picks up the trub (yeast mixed with beer, the stuff left at the bottom of the fermenters) in 300 gallon containers — five or six a week.
“With the trucks and trailers I have now, and with GoodLife’s 30-barrel operating system, I can keep up with them for the foreseeable future,” said Holmberg. “Between me and my other driver, even with increased production, we will just be busier recycling spent grain.”
Future plans for GoodLife? “We have the option of building on the lot adjacent to our parking lot. If we were to do that, we would be going big — comparable to Deschutes with a 100-120 barrel system. Or we will stay put — maybe put in a 60-barrel system and continue as a regional brewery,” said Nelson.
By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Now that spring is upon us and the days are getting longer, it’s time to give your homebrewing gear some fresh air. Even if you make beer year-round, it’s still a good idea to examine your equipment in the sunlight where a fresh perspective may help you see trouble spots. Or it may just affirm how awesome you are at keeping your brewing kit well maintained.
Besides the regular cleaning that takes place before and after the brewing process, several pieces of equipment need a more thorough scrub at least twice a year. The most obvious on that list is the boil kettle. Even though you may rinse it with hot water, it could build up beer stone, which is a calcium deposit that looks like a white film over time. Beer stone won’t harm your brew, but it can create an uneven heating surface and prevent the wort from having a consistent boil. The only way to get rid of the beer stone is with a powdered brewery cleaner that has trisodium phosphate, which dissolves the organic matter and prevents the beer stone from sticking to the kettle. One tablespoon of cleaner per 3-5 gallons of hot water — not boiling — should do the trick.
Once you have a clean, shiny boil kettle, you can use that to heat more water and cleaner for your next project. All-grain brewers who use a cooler for a mash tun probably have faced a pretty gnarly “ring-around-the-bathtub” effect in that vessel. To remove the grime, let the affected area soak in hot water and cleaner. Scrubbing should also help loosen the grit. For kettle-made mash tuns, apply the same technique you would use to clean the boil kettle. However, be sure to also soak the false bottom or kettle screen. This will open up any clogged holes and your mash will run more smoothly.
Neither the boil kettle nor the mash tun need this level of cleaning regularly. It’s a good habit to adopt after every 20 or so brews. Occasional deep cleaning will help keep your equipment looking shiny and prevent problems created by neglect.
Left in the Corner
Ever forgotten about some of your brewing bits and pieces for several months only to revisit them and discover they’re growing mold or smell of mildew? Most small parts can be soaked in cleaner and allowed to air dry. For larger equipment, let’s say a glass carboy that never got fully cleaned after being used months ago, you’re going to need some bigger guns. Since carboy glass is not tempered and will shatter if rapidly heated or cooled, do not fill the vessel with very hot water. But some of the chemicals in cleaners are activated at higher temperatures, so cold water isn’t enough. Slowly heat the carboy by adding warm tap water to the container and swirl it with your hand. Top off the carboy with a bit of hot water and cleaner. Let it soak for several hours. Slowly and carefully drain the liquid until you have about a half-gallon left in the bottom. Use that water for any caked-on grime that you can attack with a carboy brush. Once the carboy is free of debris, give it a good rinse and hold it up to the light to see whether you missed anything. After you’ve determined you did a fine job cleaning, let the carboy air dry.
Even if you don’t homebrew, you may have a keg tapping system at your house. Proper maintenance and care of this system will help prevent problems that might come up while you’re trying to enjoy a tasty beverage in the comfort of your own place.
The most obvious areas to clean: the outside and inside of your kegerator. The outside can be wiped down with any appliance cleaner to stop dust and dirt from building up. Keep the inside as cool and dry as possible to avoid mold growth. If you do get some mold spots, a bleach spray is the best way to combat that. Be sure to empty the kegerator, spray down all the surfaces and then wipe it dry. Unplugging the appliance first and allowing it to warm up can also help with cleaning.
Of course, you can see when the kegerator needs to be cleaned, but it’s not as easy to spot draft lines that are getting dirty. Every time a beer is swapped out once you’ve finished a keg, a little bit of liquid is left behind in the lines. Over time, that small amount will grow and affect every future brew you put on tap. For proper maintenance, run a cleaning solution or homebrew sanitizer through your system between each keg. If you’re a homebrewer and kegging your concoctions, simply fill one of the kegs with a cleaning solution and put it on tap. If you don’t have kegs or the ability to fill one with cleaning solution, there are pumps available on the market. Most mount to the front of your system after you’ve removed the faucet and then backflush your lines. Hook up the pump with cleaning solution and then manually pump the liquid through the lines and into a waste bucket.
After a proper spring cleaning, you will notice a difference in the quality of the beer.
Mein Schatz [AG]
Mein Schatz [Extract]
By Sam Wheeler
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The personal writings and records of the late Fred Eckhardt, Oregon’s iconic craft beer aficionado, will be open to researchers and the public by spring at the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives.
Eckhardt is the godfather of American craft beer commentary. Through his writing and enthusiasm, the Pacific Northwest native popularized the culture of craft beer and helped nurture it into the flourishing multi-billion dollar industry it is today.
“There is something special about certain individuals within an industry, within a culture. I think he is unique in the documentation that he produced,” said Tiah Edmunson-Morton, archivist at Oregon State University’s Valley Library and curator for the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives. “I don’t know if anybody can be like Fred Eckhardt.”
Eckhardt, who died August 10, 2015 of congestive heart failure inside his Portland home at the age of 89, was one of the most well-respected and beloved personalities of the craft beer industry — not only in Oregon, but around the country.
His 1969 publication “A Treatise on Lager Beers,” written a decade before homebrewing was legal in the United States, was an exceptionally well-researched analysis of the development of lagers in North America and homebrewing. It helped spark the homebrew movement in the U.S. and, arguably, the country’s craft beer industry. His second, and most popular book, “The Essentials of Beer Style,” was published in 1989. They are both quintessential pieces of literature surrounding the history and production of craft beer in the U.S. Eckhardt in 1992 also published “Sake (USA): The complete guide to American sake, sake breweries and homebrewed sake,” and wrote hundreds of columns and newsletters throughout his career spanning four decades.
Throughout his lifetime of work, Eckhardt accumulated unpublished drafts, notes, newspaper clippings, photographs, emails, periodical subscriptions and more; more than 30 boxes worth, said Edmunson-Morton. But he kept everything meticulously organized.
“He was an incredibly enthusiastic advocate, and you can tell he really, really believed in the importance of what was happening. You could tell he really took joy in it, and it was interesting to him, and he wanted to learn more, and more and more,” Edmunson-Morton said. “He wanted to write about what was happening, he wanted to support the brewers that were growing, he wanted to encourage the public to try new things. His way of doing that was just to write, to research and to experience it himself.”
Edmunson-Morton and a few others on staff at OSU’s Special Collections & Archives Research Center, which maintains OHBA, have been sifting through the Eckhardt collection since mid-December, she said.
“What I really appreciate, what comes out — there are those quirks that we all have — but what I think comes out to me is he was so incredibly dedicated to collecting the record of what was happening,” Edmunson-Morton said.
Sharing one quirk she uncovered in the process of archiving his collection — Eckhardt hated attachments inside emails. Edmunson-Morton knows this from reading over countless physical copies Eckhardt made of all his emails. Those containing attachments were promptly met with an “all caps” response demanding no further attachments be sent to him.
From those small personal quirks to well-written depictions of an industry over the course of more than 40 years, the Eckhardt collection is a one-of-a-kind account of the history of craft beer in the U.S. and a glimpse into the personal life of someone who helped shape it.
“I don’t know that we will ever get another collection that is like this. It’s possible that Ken Grossman’s papers or Charlie Papazian’s papers would be like this, but I don’t know,” Edmuson-Morton said.
She still has more than half of the material Eckhardt set aside for OHBA to sort through, and expects to acquire more of his personal photos and journal entries pre-dating his interest in craft beer.
Eckhardt grew up in Everett, Wash., coached swimming and diving and was a World War II and Korean War veteran, prior to settling in Portland with his life partner Jim Takita and becoming one of his country’s most prominent craft beer writers.
Aside from the incredible record Eckhardt’s personal papers provide about the development of the craft beer industry in the U.S., his longtime subscriptions to publications such as: Celebrator Beer News, All About Beer and Zymurgy helped fill in several of the missing issues within OHBA’s volumes, Edmunson-Morton said.
“I am excited to see how people use this collection. I am honored that we have it,” Edmunson-Morton said. “For me, the most daunting piece of it all is the level of responsibility. It feels very important. It’s really hard to not read every piece of paper.
Some 50 kids got coats through Operation Warm thanks to Portland Firefighters Association Local 43 and Ninkasi. Last September, $5 of every Ninkasi keg sold at Portland-area accounts was donated to the union, which funded several projects. Photo courtesy of Portland Firefighters Association Local 43
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Unless you have ties to the military or another organization with the mission to serve others, such as firefighters, the challenge coin may be a foreign phenomenon. The small tokens typically signify association with a particular entity, and they’re often engraved with an insignia or motto. The origin of the challenge coin is said to date back to World War I. After escaping his German captors, an American pilot managed to flee to France, where he was assumed to be a spy and faced execution, according to the U.S. Air Force. To prove his identity, the man revealed a medallion featuring the emblem of his flying squad. That little bronze circle saved his life, and some sources say the French even sent the pilot off with a bottle of wine.
Since then, the tradition of carrying challenge coins has spread. They represent more than just membership. Earning one means you’ve been embraced by that community and it sparks a sense of pride. So when Portland Firefighters Association Local 43 presented a Ninkasi employee with one of its challenge coins, the organization was building a camaraderie with the brewery.
“So the challenge coin is normally only allowed to be given to firefighters and essentially, it marks you as one of their own — as part of the family,” said Ryan Brentley, Ninkasi market manager for the Portland area and owner of the challenge coin.
Brentley is no firefighter, although he has gotten to ride in one of the rigs and ring the bell. He does, however, have the backs of the hardworking men and women of Local 43. Brentley launched the Funds for Firefighters campaign and managed to raise nearly $10,000 for the unit. Just as it happened in 2015, $5 of every keg of Ninkasi sold at Portland-area accounts will be donated to Local 43 during the month of September. Last year, the money then went to the union’s charitable organization, which was able to fund three projects. First and perhaps most importantly, 50 kids didn’t go cold during the winter because Local 43 provided them with coats through Operation Warm. The union was also able to start growing its Pipes and Drums Team, a bagpiping group that will perform at community events. And the third venture was particularly meaningful to Travis Chipman, secretary/treasurer of the union.
“And I would say Ninkasi’s money actually founded this program,” even though it’s been an idea the group has had for a long time, he explained. “But we’ve never had the opportunity to start it, and that’s called the Firefighter’s Memorial Platoon. And that Platoon is built specially for us to service and reach out to firefighters that have lost their lives in duty all across the nation.”
When Chipman first learned that Brentley reached out, he said the thought of partnering with a brewery was surprising but also exciting.
“For us it was a natural fit because Ninkasi is so — they’re all about community and so us, we’re all about community, too. That’s what we do on a daily basis is protect the people that we serve,” Chipman said.
That description helps explain why Brentley wanted to raise money for firefighters. After all, there is an endless list of causes he could’ve focused on. For example, partnering with any one of the 500 or so organizations supported by Ninkasi’s Beer is Love program in 2014 may have been an easy option. Additionally, Brentley is an advocate for plenty of personal projects and giving back is so important to him, if there were a level above Eagle Scout for adults he would surely be working to earn that badge. The former Boy Scout will tick off his interests with the zest of an ambassador at his first ribbon-cutting ceremony: animal activism, Friends of Trees and preserving the Hollywood Theatre, just to name a few.
“But I was trying to think, what organization or nonprofit locally could every single person in Portland get behind?” Brentley said. “And firefighters just naturally came to mind.”
Rallying behind the people who put their lives on the line to help others would seem like a straightforward pitch. But putting together Funds for Firefighters wasn’t without its challenges. On the Ninkasi side, Brentley didn’t have a lot of time or money to get the large-scale project off the ground. Fortunately, the company encourages any and all employees, not just the marketing team, to research and develop methods for giving back. When Brentley ran the plan past the higher-ups in Eugene, it was co-founder Nikos Ridge who stepped in and covered the startup costs. Brentley was taken aback and honored when he learned that one of the company’s CEOs was personally green-lighting his idea.
Brentley may have had a way to start the project at that point, but Local 43 still needed to give the go-ahead. Secretary/treasurer Chipman explained that some in the union were nervous about collaborating with a brewery since there have been instances of firefighters dealing with alcohol abuse in the past.
“I mean, being a firefighter is very stressful, and a lot of times people don’t know how to deal with that stress,” Chipman said. “So sometimes people do turn to drinking. And if we’re an organization that’s had some problems in the past, then why would we promote a fundraiser that’s alcohol-related?”
To address those concerns, Local 43 researched Ninkasi, its founders and Brentley, who said the union “really appreciated the fact that we already had this Beer is Love program that we donate a lot of money through nonprofits, grassroots level, to say ‘thank you’ to the communities that take care of us. It’s just one of those simple ways that we can give back.”
Chipman added that “it was an opportunity for us to go to the membership and say, ‘Remember, please continue to drink responsibly and make good choices.’”
Once both sides were on board, it was already the first week of August, which left little time before the launch of Funds for Firefighters. That’s when Brentley enlisted the help of some off-duty firefighters to drum up support at area businesses. And aside from the days where they’re saving lives on the job, Chipman said his members really shine when they’re making connections in a low-key environment.
“Anytime there’s an opportunity to interact with the public in a casual setting is the best,” he explained. “Because firefighters are just normal, average people and, you know, for the most part we don’t do well in suits and those type of events. But we do well with just talking to people one-on-one and asking their concerns and seeing how they’re doing and explaining to them, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing.’”
Brentley said the outpouring of gratitude at these businesses was one of his favorite aspects of the project.
“Just seeing the thanks from every single person that came into contact with these firefighters and just how gracious and thankful they were — that, you know, these men and women are out there taking care of us every single day. I think that was, by far, the best part.”
Close to 1,000 accounts bought Ninkasi beer to sell that September. Brentley didn’t get to talk about Funds for Firefighters with all of the businesses he wanted to in 2015, so he’s hoping to bring even more on board and possibly double last year’s numbers. Brentley noted that Maletis Beverage also played a pivotal role promoting the program.
In January, the Ninkasi-Local 43 camaraderie continued to build when some of the firefighters, who were in Eugene for a statewide union meeting, got a tour of the brewing facilities and administrative building. The experience was one that still brings a smile to their faces when they describe it.
“Well for a lot of people, they had never been to a brewery before,” said Chipman. “And there’s some people on our executive board that I would say are connoisseurs of beer. They understand every aspect of every type and flavor, so for them it was — I would equate it and I kept saying it that night: it was like going to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for them.”
To thank Ninkasi, the union did something it never had before; firefighters gave the brewery a hand-crafted gift. They dyed old water hoses red and blue and then placed them in the shape of an American flag. Local 43’s symbol is ringed by stars in the upper-left-hand corner. One of the members built the natural-wood frame.
“It was just a heartwarming moment that they also gave back to us saying, ‘Thank you for the partnership,’” Brentley described.
In a way, it was like awarding the entire Ninkasi team with its very own extra-large challenge coin.
By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Beer and biking led to love and marriage for Joel and Karen Sheley. You could even say they were the “Gateway” to new opportunities.
Gateway Brewing, named after the Portland neighborhood in which they live and make beer, was the city’s first brewery east of 82nd Avenue when it officially opened in March 2015. The path to get there began more than 20 years ago when Joel, a Portland native, hopped on the homebrewing bandwagon before deciding to go pro. He was in one of the first classes at the American Brewers Guild and completed one of the 10-week programs. Joel then got a job at the now-defunct Nor’Wester, quickly immersing him in all aspects of brewing, including the less-glamorous keg cleaning and equipment sanitizing.
Nor’Wester was located on the east bank of the Willamette River under the Morrison Bridge. Joel remembers the record-setting flood in 1996, which brought together city and voluntary crews to build a temporary levee on top of Portland’s seawall to keep the river from spilling into downtown.
“Our brewery didn’t flood,” said Joel. “But customers couldn’t get into our doors because of high water, so our restaurant was effectively closed.”
Multiple factors ultimately put Nor’Wester out of business in 1997, but Joel had moved on to Widmer Brothers Brewing the previous year. While there, he did pretty much everything BUT brewing. Joel started out on the keg line, ran the filter and centrifuge, and then took the lead in the cellar. Just when he was getting ready to make the transition into brewing, he accepted a head position in the bottling, packaging and wrapping department.
Karen’s pursuit of a career in craft beer took her across the country from Louisville, Ky. to Portland, where she joined Widmer in 2003. “My interest in beer grew from living in the Czech Republic in the 1990s and seeing craft brewing take root in other places I’d lived, including Louisville,” she said.
With her business background and interest in manufacturing, she wanted to work in brewing operations. At Widmer, she worked first in wholesale support and then production planning. “All the while, Widmer was growing into Craft Brewing Alliance and witnessing that evolution from within was an invaluable experience,” she said.
Karen and Joel naturally met, then, at work. “Back then, everyone at Widmer pretty much knew everyone else,” she said. But, they bonded over bikes. Joel was deeply involved in the cycling world at the time, participating in multiple events, such as the popular Seattle to Portland ride, and building bikes in his spare time. “From bike shopping to bike rides, to marriage and a daughter, here we are today,” said Karen. They married in 2007.
Joel actually left Widmer in 2011 to launch a business that involved his hobby: cargo bike delivery. The 65-pound contraption featured a roomy storage box in the front that he would fill with customer orders. “Anyone could call up and request a delivery,” he said. Most of his deliveries were for public relations firms or real estate agencies. But his job was no easy pedal through the park. In order to get to work downtown from his home near the Glendoveer Golf Course on Northeast Glisan Street near 140th Avenue, he’d have to ride nearly 11 miles in all kinds of weather. At the end of the day, he’d make the trek to Swan Island to pick up his daughter from preschool, safely tuck her into the cargo box, and ride the 11 or so miles back home.
Karen, too, had moved on from Widmer to a high performance microscope company, headquartered in the Czech Republic, with offices in Beaverton. And while Joel ran his cargo delivery service for about three years, he and Karen never left beer behind entirely. They started talking about opening their own brewery and that is how Gateway began. “Our final goal all along was to get this going and when the opportunity presents itself to establish a kid-friendly pub in the heart of Gateway,” Joel said.
Although Gateway was official, it took months to get all the legal stuff completed. In the meantime, Joel built a half-barrel system for experimental brewing and began developing recipes for their standard beers. They decided to lease brewhouse equipment, settling on a 2-barrel system that’s electric powered, four fermentation tanks on wheels, fully jacketed with glycol cooling, and eight brite tanks, also on wheels. Last June, Joel started the layout process. He carved out a good-sized cooler space, ran all the necessary lines and ended up with a simple, efficient operation in his garage. The brewhouse was up and running by late August.
Gateway’s current brews are Exit 7 IPA and Exit 7 IPA Ramped, named for the Gateway exit off I-84; Glendoveer Golden, a kolsch named for the neighborhood golf course and fitness trail; Wood Hill Stout, a dark winter ale named after Joseph Wood Hill Park on top of Portland’s Rocky Butte; and the Mahogany Lager, named for its rich, malty flavor and reddish-brown color.
“I want to make good, clean drinkable beers,” said Joel. “One of our main themes was to have sessionable beers. I’m always thinking about what will be the next big thing in beer.”
Right now he brews by demand, about once a week. “Once we hit capacity, we’ll need to brew three or four times a week,” he said. He’s the brewer, salesperson, president, and materials acquisition and supply chain manager. Karen is the planner, bookkeeper and regulation compliance officer.
Gateway’s slogan is an invitation to travel east of 82nd Avenue — “Come on over!” Check their website for current beers and where to sample them: gatewaybrewingpdx.com.
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