By Jasmine Crandall
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Getting to watch Natalie Baldwin in her element is a treat.
A Vail, Colorado native, the 25-year-old arrived in Portland several years ago and says, “I never imagined that I would become a brewer. It just happened, and I love it.”
Natalie is hardworking, humble and talented. I visited her early on a Saturday morning at Burnside Brewing Company and followed her around for a few hours while she rattled off bits about what was happening. She was brewing her contribution for the Craft Brewers Conference, held in Portland last month. The brew is aptly named “The Fifth Ellament” after the heavy dose of Ella hops from Australia, as well as one of her favorite films. She opened the kettle to let me inhale and I asked her how she got here.
“I fell in love with Chocolate Yeti, from Great Divide,” she explains. “I had craft beer before that, had things that were delicious, but that was the one that made an impact. I would go to the taproom and basically interrogate the beertender, who had goals of becoming a brewer, on how to accomplish that goal.”
When she arrived in Portland years later, she became a beertender herself, homebrewing and learning what she could in her spare time. I was instantly drawn to her a year and a half ago when we first met — her as the customer and me as the bartender. She loves talking beer (and knows her stuff), but is very modest. “In my former position, I met Alan Taylor, who is a very educated and talented brewer. He always answered my questions no matter how busy he was and created a program that allowed us (the servers) to brew with him. That literally changed my life.”
With Taylor, Baldwin created Hop Tart, her first commercially brewed beer. It was an exceptional grapefruit IPA (both batches) that was served around Portland and was a summer hit. Early last fall, Sam Pecoraro, the brewer she would eventually replace when he joined the team at The Commons, sought her out and encouraged her to apply for the cellar position at Burnside. In October, Baldwin and Dave Fleming won the Willamette Week Beer Pro/Am with a coffee milk stout. Of Fleming, she says, “Everyone knows Dave. He is very smart. I have yet to ask him a question he couldn’t answer. He helped me get the cellar position at Burnside.” When I asked her who has been significant in helping her on her path to where she is, she lists Fleming, Taylor, Pecoraro, “and of course, all my Burnside guys. Chip, Jason, Jay. They took a risk on me. They knew I wanted to be a brewer, and here I am.”
Her advice for other women looking to grow in craft beer: “Don’t let being a female in a male-dominated industry define you. Do your thing, work hard, and prove yourself. There are great resources that only us girls have. Pink Boots posts jobs and offers scholarships.”
And finally, on her goals for the future: “I just want to make really good beer.”
By Michael Cairns
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Ever heard of the term “benefit corporation?” I hadn’t either. That is until I began researching the story behind Hopworks Urban Brewery’s (HUB) recent certification as a B Corp. A B Corp, or benefit corporation, is one that operates with “higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency,” according to the B Corp website. Such businesses strive to solve social and environmental problems with the power of business entrepreneurs.
The nonprofit B Lab began in 2006 and has since grown to certify a total of 1,229 companies in 38 countries and 121 business sectors. These businesses have shifted their definition of success away from strictly financial profitability and more toward accountability and documentation of their effects on the sustainability of the planet and its people. B Corps try to be a force for good by benefitting their employees, their communities and the global environment.
For anyone who has followed HUB’s evolution in its eight short years of existence, it’s no surprise that, following a detailed application and assessment process, they were certified in February of this year as the very first Northwest brewery to be granted status as a B Corp. One of 47 Oregon B Corps and one of only seven B Corp breweries in the world, Portland’s HUB has every right to be proud of what they have already achieved and where they are headed.
Because of the many sustainable operating practices that HUB uses, it’s no wonder that they scored particularly high in the environment category of their impact report. The brewery is actually 100% carbon neutral, and has adopted a zero waste initiative. They recycle their rinse water, enabling them to use just 3.4 gallons of water per gallon of finished beer, compared to an industry standard of 7 gallons. HUB uses only Oregon Tilth Certified Organic and Salmon-Safe ingredients and stays water neutral by buying credits from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Other B Corp certification categories are governance, community and workers.
HUB’s brewmaster and founder, Christian Ettinger, states on the brewery’s website that, “It is an incredible honor to become a certified B Corporation and to sit amongst the companies that we have admired for so long. Hopworks has always believed in the direct relationship between business and environmental health and it is great to have a framework to study our progress. B Lab’s application process provided an incredibly eye-opening and dynamic analysis of our efforts to date. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve in eight short years and look forward to tackling the more challenging points in the months to come. This process has really improved our focus and excited our team.”
Oregon Beer Growler congratulates Christian and the crew at HUB for a well-deserved honor, and BRAVO to another green Oregon brewery!
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Larger Oregon urban areas have become craft beer boom towns. But what if you wanted to open the first brewpub in a small town with a population of 9,795? What if you wanted to start a family too?
That’s what Kate Price and her husband Ben Price considered when they opened Hard Knocks Brewing in Cottage Grove, south of Eugene, in 2014. She expected challenges, both to open and to meet demand with their 7-barrel brew system (captained by Nate Sampson, formerly of Rogue). But Price was no greenhorn. Her experience includes being a Cottage Grove City Council member, a Peace Corps volunteer and owner and founder of Anytime Fitness in Cottage Grove.
She also understood that success isn’t a solo endeavor, but a collaborative effort.
New Ventures and the Lessons of Experience
The most important thing she’s learned? “You have to build a good team. You could be the best leader and entrepreneur, but if you aren’t surrounded by people who share your vision, you will fail.”
The Hard Knocks team began with the Prices. “We looked at how we managed people,” she explains. “What are they good at? What do they want to do?” Kate focused on sales and marketing: social media, building relationships and selling beer. Ben handled day-to-day operations for the pub, brewery, inventory and overall business.
“Women are often, in business, more willing to take risks,” says Price. “Men have a different expectation: Do the good job. Women, we don’t get paid as much. The expectations are higher. So we push more and take more risks. We are more willing to be more creative.”
Price has also gained a firsthand understanding of how men and women can focus on different priorities — and how that’s an asset. “I want to see if things are where they should be,” she explains. “Is something dirty that shouldn’t be? Ben won’t notice that, but I will. It’s a part of the experience that women are more likely to notice. We bring an attention to detail that men don’t necessarily pick up on.”
Leadership and Service
Taking charge is nothing new. “I never felt like I was limited in what I could do as a woman. I always felt like I was empowered. What I wanted to do, I could do,” she says. “I’m used to having a role that people feel comfortable following me.”
After college, Price joined the Peace Corps in 2007, serving a year in a small village in Togo along Africa’s west coast. The experience “is the foundation of everything I’ve done since.”
The village was poor, with no public services, but those weren’t the things that Price missed most. “It taught me what you can live without,” she explains. “Electricity and running water weren’t that important. It made me value my relationships more. Made me grateful for government, law, order, and justice — things that don’t exist in a lot of the world. It changed me as a person and enabled me to come back, focus and do what I needed to do to become successful.”
Improving Life and Community
While working toward her master’s in conflict resolution at the University of Oregon, Price interned with the United Nations and the Oregon State Legislature. “People were recommending I run for something,” says Price. “The U.N. tipped it. I saw how government worked on a global scale. That foundational piece is the community, then the state, then the country, then the world.”
Her understanding coincided with the 2012 election to fill a city council seat.
Price ran on an economic-development ticket. “I understand the importance of community, and it hinges around businesses,” she explains. “If you have a business like mine and you can make enough money, you can give back to that community and make it stronger.”
Challenges for Women, Opportunities for the Industry
Price was 31 when she opened an Anytime Fitness franchise in Cottage Grove in 2009. She was also gaining an appreciation for craft beer.
“When I met Ben, on our third date I told him, ‘You work at Rogue, you know a lot about beer, and I would like to learn more and develop my palate,’” Price recalls. “He got me hooked on local craft stuff, on IPAs.”
Alongside Hard Knocks, the Prices began another startup: a family. “I was trying to take care of the baby and manage launch,” says Price. “We are now expecting our second baby. I do a lot of stuff from home, balancing marketing and sales while also doing the bulk of the work with the kids.”
Price acknowledges the challenges women face in work and family life. “Even with my husband, who is pretty forward-thinking overall, I’m still the one who is the primary caregiver because he’s working all the time,” says Price. “And there are biological reasons for that, such as breastfeeding.”
Another limitation? “I can’t drink right now: I’m pregnant. It takes women out and makes the beer scene inaccessible. People can be afraid to talk about that biological difference,” Price says. “And we need to talk about it. If a woman wants to be home with kids, great. I’m having kids, but I still work. I will be back selling beer. That’s because I enjoy it. It makes me happy.”
The Public in the Pub
What makes the challenges worthwhile is what Price sees as Hard Knocks’s role as an ongoing catalyst for a stronger community.
“Hard Knocks isn’t just a brewery,” Price explains. “Our role here specifically is different than if we had done it in Eugene/Springfield, because no one has done it here. We’ve been educating people on craft beer, the role of a brewery and pub in the community.”
Kate and Ben Price know they are also serving their family, the town they call home and something bigger.
“Oregon is really paving the way for the brewing industry,” says Price. “I like the culture. You can always strive to achieve and do better.”
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Like many of us, Hilda Steven's journey into the world of craft beer has been one with many twists and turns. Hilda is the sole owner of Bazi Bierbrasserie in Southeast Portland, a Belgian beer bar and official Portland Timbers and Thorns partner. Raised in Texas playing street soccer and eventually drinking the default beer, Shiner, her first career was in the software industry. She spent a good deal of time on the East Coast, and Philadelphia in particular, where Belgian beer bars are plentiful and she enjoyed blonds and wits. It was during a tour of French wine country, however, where her future took a fateful turn by way of a conversation with a couple that suggested she visit Bruges. Not having been there before, she took the recommendation and subsequently fell in love with the history, character and appreciation of beer she found there.
Back in the U.S. during the course of completing graduate school, Hilda put together a business plan, influenced by her travels, for a European bistro. But before it was more than a plan, she asked herself why there were no Belgian beer bars in Portland. Sure, this was 2009 and Upright Brewing was the only local producer of Belgian-inspired beer, but she had heard rumors that five more breweries were in the works to make similar beers. That information, combined with her love of the beers and desire to "find a niche and fill it," eventually led to the May 2011 opening of Bazi.
It was a fortuitous time in Portland for Belgian beers, with Beetje Brewery becoming The Commons Brewery, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales opening and Upright's beers gaining in popularity. Additionally, it was a booming time for soccer as the Portland Timbers joined Major League Soccer and the Rose City also played host to the Women’s World Cup just two months later. The latter event was a trial by fire for Hilda and her staff since a standing-room-only crowd gathered at Bazi to watch the semifinals. They crew survived (making a few tweaks before the final match), but more importantly, the turnout showed Hilda that in addition to filling a beer niche she had created a community gathering place for soccer fans, something she had observed and admired abroad.
Bazi serves up both imported Belgian beers and local interpretations with the authenticity of the imported beers being maintained by Hilda's regular visits to Belgium. Her most recent trip was in January 2015 and it was not just to enjoy the beer. Hilda’s other mission was to collaborate with Jef Goetelen at 't Hofbrouwerijke, a nano brewery northeast of Brussels. The two met a couple of years ago, and late in 2014 she approached him about working with her to brew a beer to celebrate Bazi's fourth anniversary. Jef loved the idea and together they created a recipe for a traditional Belgian tripel with a U.S. spin. Besides being a beer Hilda wanted to drink, she felt that a tripel was an appropriate "goodbye" to Bazi's first three years in business and a welcome to the beginning of year four. She spent a week in Belgium and a full day brewing the anniversary beer on ‘t Hofbrouwerijke's 9-barrel system.
Hilda returned to the U.S., leaving the beer with Jef, which he recently bottled. The majority of the 2,000-bottle batch of Bazi 't Hofbrouwerijke Tripel will soon be making its way to Bazi, with Jef retaining some of the bottles to be poured at festivals they attend. The 750-milliliter bottles will be available at Bazi with a release party taking place Wednesday, May 27. Timbers fans will recognize that as being a match night and in the planning of the event it was something Hilda kept in mind. They'll do a cake cutting, with cake made by neighboring bakery JaCiva's, and complimentary toast at 6 p.m. to allow people to attend the party and watch the action. In addition, Bazi taster trays will be offered.
As Bazi continues to mature, Hilda is looking forward to volunteering more and deepening her involvement with the community. Most of the Bazi crew has been in place since day one and that stability has allowed Hilda to take on projects like last year's Kick Kick Score, a nine-hole fut-golf event. She worked with the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association and took the lead on writing the grant that funded the event. It involved many businesses along and adjacent to Southeast Hawthorne, an area she's called home since moving there in the early 2000s. They received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the event and Hilda is hopeful they'll be able to secure sponsors to do it again this year.
The future is bright for Hilda, Bazi, beer lovers and soccer fans alike. She's been asked by loyal customers who commute across the river about opening a second location on the west side, and while she's not ruling it out she's also mindful of pacing herself. As someone who has experienced her energy and passion for craft beer, I have no doubt she'll be seeking to fill another niche as she's done so masterfully with her Southeast Portland gem.
[a] 1522 SE 32nd Ave., Portland
By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As homebrewers, we all know the huge importance of keeping our equipment sanitized. Not only can dirty equipment ruin our tasty homebrew, but it can also invite unwanted guests into our brewhouse. Keeping our equipment clean and the space we store everything in organized is a great way to ensure future brewing success.
Properly storing your ingredients will not only prevent spoilage, but it will also keep pests away. The best way to decide how something should be stored at your home is by seeing how your local homebrew shop does it. If they have ingredients such as grain and spices in airtight containers, then it is a safe bet that you should store them that way at your house. These containers should also be kept off the floor and on a shelf to prevent rodents and bugs from getting into the good stuff. You also want to be sure that all of the bins you use for dried storage are food-safe.
When storing hops, the best method is to freeze them in their original packaging. However, if you’ve opened the bag they came in and didn’t use all of the hops, you can use a vacuum-sealing device to close the package or place them in a plastic resealable bag for freezing. Avoid keeping hops at room temperature because they will begin to lose a lot of their aroma and flavor due to oil evaporation.
Meanwhile, yeast should always be kept at refrigeration temperature until you’re ready to use it. Yeast stored at room temperature will start growing bacteria and become unusable.
Equipment storage is just as important as ingredient storage. Making sure that everything has a place and doesn’t run the risk of accumulating grime is just as important as cleaning our fermenters after we have emptied them. Some simple, inexpensive wire racks are great for storing buckets and carboys. Small parts, such as air locks and stoppers, are best kept in a tool box with individual compartments. Try to use wall space for storage as well to help cut down the amount of counter and shelf space that you’ll need. Hanging tubing from hooks on a peg board will help keep liquid from pooling and mold growth. Store buckets and carboys upside down to help drain every drop of liquid.
Once you have properly organized your brewhouse, the next important thing to do is to clean the whole brewing area. You don’t want slime and mold growing in the cracks and corners. Simply hosing down the floors and making sure there is no standing water left is the fastest and easiest way to ensure that you have no brewing disasters. Brewing is a lot of “hurry up and wait,” so the next time you are brewing an awarding-winning beer, try cleaning along the way to make the process easier the next time around.
How to Store Brewing Supplies
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