By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
For the Oregon Beer Growler
One of the first questions that visitors to this Southeast Portland brewery often ask is, “What does Grixsen mean?” While the word is a mashup of the three partners’ surnames, it also symbolizes the communal focus of the 4-month-old brewery. Scott Petersen, who handles business operations and branding, says “We wanted to come up with a name that encompassed what we had as an ideal. The model of Grixsen is someone who works hard, does the right thing and celebrates together.”
That theme shaped the brewery’s evolution and was part of the founders’ ethos even before they knew they wanted to start a business together. DJ Moxley, Grixsen’s head brewer, met Petersen through a family member in 2012 when he was still in college. Their recommendation landed him a summer internship at Petersen’s strategy and design firm in Portland. Moxley had already been homebrewing for several years, and he quickly became Petersen’s collaborative partner for all things beer. They brewed their first batch together, a Scotch ale, at Portland U-Brew in Sellwood as part of a team-building exercise with Petersen’s employees.
When I ask Moxley why he started brewing, he replies, “Wine is romantic, but I think beer is just as romantic. I got into beer because of American history. I was a huge history fan throughout school and learned that our country was pretty much built on breweries and pubs. I wanted to be part of that somehow and create something that can have that big of an impact.”
As Moxley completed his studies and graduated from Gonzaga, he and Petersen continued making test batches of homebrew in Petersen’s garage. Eventually, their collaborations led to discussions about opening a brewery together. While it was tempting to seek out investors to expedite their new business venture, they ultimately decided to personally fund the entire operation, which allows them to retain full control over the company. Petersen explains, “We wanted to experience the bootstrapping that’s required to launch a new brewery.”
They immediately began looking for a building to house the business. “Our goal was to find a location that would be affordable plus would allow us to grow into it in terms of production,” Petersen states. Giving credit to serendipitous circumstances, they signed a lease on a 6,000-square-foot warehouse in December 2014.
The build-out process took longer than expected due to changes in building codes as well as the overall physical labor required to turn the space into a brewery and tasting room. Enter Kurt Gritman, the third business partner. The team refers to him as “a workhorse within the operation” and mentions that the majority of the work on the build-out was done by himself, Moxley and Gritman, with the exception of electrical and plumbing.
Moxley is now brewing on an American Beer Equipment system that was originally designed for another company, but fits the Grixsen space perfectly. It’s a 10-barrel, 3-vessel operation, which means they can do continuous brewing cycles. They have two 20-barrel fermenters and two 20-barrel brite tanks with two more 20-barrel fermenters already ordered.
When asked about the beers he is brewing, Moxley mentions Funkwerks in Fort Collins, Colo. as the inspiration for his Hopped Saison, along with The Commons Brewery in Portland. Petersen elaborates, “We want to embrace the craft movement in terms of the craft over the experimentation side of it. For the most part, we’re brewing standard variants of traditional styles, but with a Northwest take on it.”
The tasting room, which welcomed the public during this year’s Zwickelmania while still under construction, officially opened in April. The design melds perfectly with the brewery’s focus on sophisticated craft and American heritage. The walls are made of reclaimed wood from a friend’s fence. If you look closely, you can see pellets and BBs that were embedded in the boards during their previous life. Petersen’s dad built the bar, which showcases 12 taps plus two nitros. They also sell wine.
The tasting room seats 30 and has a 52-inch flat screen TV, which is only on at low volume for live sporting events. Otherwise, you’ll be listening to the bartender’s choice of streaming music, which will soon be played on a new Sonos sound system. An adjacent private room seats around 10 people and features an 80-inch flat screen TV, making it the perfect spot for fantasy football or other friendly gatherings.
Kids and dogs are welcome in the brewery area, which already has a few tables and chairs as well as a pool table, but will soon have more games like cornhole. Currently they do not serve food but coordinate with a food truck to park near the brewery entrance. Outside food is welcome.
As for future plans, Petersen says they are hoping to sign with a distributor this month and plan to start packaging in 22-ounce bottles. They’ll be making more beer styles and have already started barrel aging; first up is a bourbon barrel imperial stout. While they have just hired a taproom manager, you’ll continue to find all three partners alternating shifts in the tasting room. After all, they are still busy building the Grixsen brand which embodies “giving an honest effort, following the righteous path and celebrating the uniqueness in everyone.”
Grixsen Brewing Company
[a] 1001 SE Division St., Suite 1, Portland
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Midway between Clackamas and Estacada, and less than a half mile from the banks of the Clackamas River, you can find some excellent beer served out of a bright red barn near the back of a residential property. Nestled among bucolic pasture land and Christmas tree farms, Bent Shovel Brewing may require a little effort to reach, but you will be rewarded with a solid lineup of at least eight (and up to 11) different brewed-on-premises beers, along with a guest cider tap.
Rick Strauss, an IT professional by day, is the brewer, and his wife Shelly handles other aspects of the business. Their barn was originally a repository for “too much stuff,” but it eventually morphed into Rick’s man cave where he has homebrewed for nine years. After entering his brews in some local competitions, Rick cultivated a peer group that acted as a sounding board and helped him refine recipes and processes.
In 2011, Rick won Best in Show at the Cheers to Belgian Beers homebrew competition and was awarded an opportunity to scale up and brew his recipe as a guest at Block 15 Brewing in Corvallis. While brewing at Block 15, as Rick was shoveling out the mash, Nick Arzner, the owner of the Corvallis brewery, said “Hey, we’ve never put that much grain in the mash tun before” and Rick replied, “I guess I’m going to bend your shovel.” The idea stuck and the resulting beer was released by Block 15 as Bent Shovel Belgian Dark Strong.
Beyond that experience, Rick also gives a lot of credit to the Green Dragon Brew Crew, with whom he brewed for a couple of years — the organization ultimately serving as a launch pad for his brewery. “That’s where I got my first taste of bringing a product to market and I am thankful that Rogue pays for the program and supports the homebrewing community. That experience helped me get to where I am today.”
Rick is like many homebrewers who have gotten lots of positive feedback on their beers. “You say ‘What if I started my own brewery?’ I figured I wasn’t getting any younger. It’s pretty physical work. And if I’m going to do this, let’s do it now because you only live once.” When the decision was finalized in May 2014, Rick instantly knew what he wanted to name his new brewery. With Nick Arzner’s blessing, Bent Shovel Brewing was born.
Officially open since Labor Day weekend in 2015, the brewery consists of a 5-barrel brewhouse. Rick can have 20 barrels of beer in production at one time and he typically brews in 10-barrel batches. “At this point I’m brewing what interests me,” Rick says. “That’s the great thing about beer consumers in this area. They’re adventurous and they’ll drive across the county to find this little place. Our focus is to always put our best beer in front of the consumer!”
Many of Bent Shovel’s beers are “classic styles, exceptionally well-executed.” Their pilsner has been really well-received as has their Schwarzbier, which should be on tap again this summer. Other favorites are the Clashing Plaids Irish Red and CiPinON IPA, which was originally released last December. Made with orange peel with a hint of piney bitterness, the beer is light and refreshing, making it the perfect summer IPA.
Currently Rick is self-distributing kegs to about 20 accounts. The majority of his sales are in Sandy, Gresham, the Clackamas/Sunnyside corridor and Sherwood, but you can usually find a Bent Shovel beer at The Civic Taproom & Bottle Shop in Southwest Portland. Rick does not have any imminent plans to bottle or can, but definitely intends to bottle in the future.
Now Rick’s early successes in brewing have come full circle. At the dart throw for this year’s Cheers to Belgian Beers, the result was once again dark and strong. Rick decided to brew the same beer he made in 2011, but with the current yeast strain (58 Lioness). The stainless steel-fermented beer called Namesake is a limited release — the festival received one keg, several more kegs were delivered to a couple of key accounts and some was reserved for a tap at the brewery. The remainder is being put away until this fall and will be re-released along with a whiskey barrel-aged version.
The unique setting is only part of the charm of Bent Shovel. Drinking beer served directly by the owners/brewers is a “great opportunity to get acquainted with our customers,” says Rick. “People wouldn’t think twice about going out to a rural area for a glass of wine, especially a rare vintage that’s only available at the winery. We just happen to be a brewery that has a similar vibe.”
Bent Shovel Brewing has expanded its hours for the summer. You’re welcome to bring outside food to enjoy with your beers, as this is the perfect spot for a picnic.
Bent Shovel Brewing
[a] 21678 S. Latourette Road, Oregon City
[h] Fridays 3-8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays Noon to 8 p.m.
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Love to drink beer but short on funds? For a few hours of your time you can gain free entry to most festivals, a T-shirt, the requisite drinking vessel and some tasting tokens. All you have to do is sign up to volunteer. Options usually include pouring beer (OLCC license required at some fests; be sure to check online to verify), handling token sales and recycling duty. For those with more experience, you can become a supervisor, thereby earning even more tokens. Taking the last shift of the day or of the festival often gets you free food and pitchers of beer or a gift certificate to a local business. Most volunteer tasks are for adults age 21 and over. Many festivals donate some or all of the net proceeds to local charities, so be sure to toast yourself for your efforts!
The Oregon Beer Growler also uses volunteers to help run our booth at festivals. Interested beer lovers should follow our Facebook page for sign-up announcements or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Event: Spring Beer & Wine Fest
Dates: April 3-4
Location: Oregon Convention Center, Portland
Description: Sampling, seminars and chefs teach the masses about pairing beverages with everything from cheese to chocolate. Brewers from all over the West Coast flock to the Spring Beer & Wine Fest, pouring rare beers and perennial favorites.
Volunteer Info: http://www.springbeerfest.com/volunteers.htm
Event: The Rogue Valley Fermentation Celebration
Dates: April 24-25
Location: Harry & David Field, Medford
Description: This inaugural celebration will gather some of the best beers and whiskeys from across the Northwest, in addition to regional wines and ciders. Local foods to compliment craft beverages will be available at the event.
Volunteer Info: http://roguebrewfest.com/volunteer/
Event: Cinco de Micro
Dates: May 1-2
Location: Salem Convention Center, Salem
Description: The fourth-annual Cinco de Micro Brewfest features favorite local and Northwest brews, eateries and distilleries, musical entertainment and the unique opportunity to taste hard-to-find, spring-release brews. Proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Salem.
Volunteer Contact: Stephanie Compton email@example.com 503-581-7383, ext. 20
Event: Cheers to Belgian Beers
Dates: May 8-9
Location: Metalcraft Fabrication, Portland
Description: Cheers to Belgian Beers is back for its ninth year in 2015. The Belgian-style Ale Festival will feature a single yeast strain for the beers entered, determined by a dart throw to diversify the color and strength of the beers.
Volunteer Info: http://ocb.events-connect.com/
Event: Brewer’s Memorial Ale Festival
Dates: May 15-16
Location: Rogue Ales Brewer’s on the Bay, Newport
Description: This annual event was created in memory of Rogue brewmaster John Maier's faithful companion Brewer, who passed away on May 20, 2006. Brewer grew up in the brewery and eventually rose to the rank of CEO of Rogue Ales. The dog-friendly festival is held inside the brewery and includes more than 50 microbrews, live music and many dog-themed events.
Volunteer Contact: Al Jorgenson firstname.lastname@example.org 503-241-3800
Event: Eugene Beer Week
Dates: June 1-7
Location: Eugene Beer Week takes place at more than 20 venues including breweries, bars, restaurants and other beer-centric businesses.
Description: Have fun and help promote craft beer in Eugene and craft beer culture in the Willamette Valley with the annual Eugene Beer week. With more than 60 events last year, the festival plans to expand even more for the 2015 celebration!
Volunteer Contact: Mike Coplin email@example.com
Event: Sasquatch Brew Fest
Date: June 6
Location: Hop Valley Brewing, Eugene
Description: The annual Sasquatch Brew Fest will be hosted outdoors in the “Fermentation District” of the Whiteaker neighborhood. This celebration features food vendors, a silent auction, raffles, a beer dinner and a homebrew contest. Winner of the “Best of Show” award will be announced live during the festival.
Event: Molalla Brew Fest
Dates: June 11-13
Location: 123 Ross St., Molalla
Description: Celebrating the craft beer industry in and around the Pacific Northwest, the Molalla Brew Fest features more than 25 taps, plus wine, hard cider, draft root beer, food concessions and great local bands.
Volunteer Contact: Kristy Wheeler 503-970-8859
Event: Portland Fruit Beer Festival
Dates: June 12-14
Location: Burnside Brewing Company, Portland
Description: A weekend-long, street fair-style outdoor festival at Burnside Brewing, the Fruit Beer Festival features more than 40 refreshing, well-crafted fruit beers, most of which have been brewed specifically for this event.
Volunteer Info: http://www.fruitbeerfest.com/
Event: The Oregon Garden Brewfest
Dates: June 19–21
Location: The Oregon Garden, Silverton
Description: Enjoy 65 breweries pouring 130 beers, ciders and meads from producers throughout Oregon and across the country, plus 12 great regional bands on two stages and food from local vendors. The brewfest is held indoors, but guests are welcome to explore the 80-acre botanical garden.
Volunteer Contact: Beth Mauer firstname.lastname@example.org 503-874-2533
Event: Eastern Oregon Beer Festival
Dates: June 19-20
Location: Union County Fairgrounds, La Grande
Description: La Grande Main Street Downtown organization is pleased to announce the second-annual Eastern Oregon Beer Festival will be a two-day event with special beers never before poured in the Pacific Northwest, regional food and craft vendors and music and entertainment.
Volunteer Info: http://www.eobeerfest.org/volunteer/
Event: Portland International Beerfest
Dates: June 26-28
Location: Holladay Park, Portland
Description: Drawing more than 150 brews from at least 15 countries to a beer garden setting, the Portland International Beerfest puts Beervana on the map, letting locals punch their passport with worldly offerings like barrel-aged strong ales, barley wines, sours, imperial stouts, farmhouse ales and double IPAs.
Volunteer Info: http://www.portland-beerfest.com/volunteerinfo.php
Event: Portland Craft Beer Festival
Dates: July 3-5
Location: The Fields Neighborhood Park, Portland
Description: This new festival’s goal is to host an annual premier craft beer event that enables all breweries within the city limits of Portland to showcase their beers on a common stage. Aside from beer, there will be selections of Portland-crafted ciders and wines, as well as locally based food vendors.
Volunteer Info: http://www.portlandcraftbeerfestival.com/volunteers
Event: Oregon Brewers Festival
Dates: July 22-26
Location: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland
Description: Celebrating its 28th year, the Oregon Brewers Festival brings more than 80 craft brews to Portland for a five-day brewfest, the largest gathering of its kind in North America. One of the country’s longest-running and best-loved craft beer festivals, the event features scores of award-winning beers, live music, food vendors, beer memorabilia and homebrewing demonstrations.
Volunteer Info: http://www.oregonbrewfest.com/index2.php?p=volunteer
Event: Bite & Brew of Salem
Dates: July 23-26
Location: Riverfront Park, Salem
Description: The Bite & Brew of Salem is a three-day festival featuring more than 15 bands on two outdoor stages, several local eateries, more than 60 beers on tap, Willamette Valley wines and endless entertainment for kids of all ages.
Volunteer Contact: Krista Unruh email@example.com 503-307-6256
Event: Bones and Brews
Dates: Aug. 1-2
Location: Rogue Ales Public House, Portland
Description: Bones and Brews is an annual event held by Rogue as the annual meeting of Rogue Nation Citizens. More than 30 different beers, ciders and sodas from Rogue and other breweries are featured. Local barbecue restaurants and catering companies set up shop to cook new and classic barbecue dishes and participate in a friendly competition. Rogue Nation Citizens also form barbecue teams and compete for People's Choice Awards.
Volunteer Contact: Al Jorgenson firstname.lastname@example.org 503-241-3800
Event: Oakridge Keg & Cask Festival
Date: Aug. 8
Location: Uptown District, Oakridge
Description: This small festival in front of the Brewers Union in Oakridge gives a taste of the many small breweries and wineries in Oregon. Now in its fifth year, they are expanding to include additional food and craft vendors as well as a slate of musicians.
Volunteer Contact: George Custer email@example.com 541-225-8484
Event: Bend Brewfest
Dates: Aug. 13-16
Location: Les Schwab Amphitheater, Bend
Description: Four full days of hop, yeast and malted barley bliss on the banks of the Deschutes River. Featuring more than 170 different options of beer, cider and wine and a fine selection of food from local vendors.
Volunteer Info: http://bendbrewfest.com/volunteer.html
Event: North American Organic Brewers Festival
Dates: Aug. 13-16
Location: Overlook Park, Portland
Description: Designed to raise awareness about organic beer and sustainable living, the NAOBF serves up nearly 60 organic beers & ciders from around the nation. From summery saisons to rich and hearty stouts, the festival offers beers to please every palate. There’s also live music, organic food, sustainability-oriented vendors and nonprofits, and a children’s area.
Volunteer Info: http://www.naobf.org/volunteer-signup/
Event: Nano Beer Fest
Dates: Aug. 14-16
Location: Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub, Tigard
Description: Featuring more than 25 different special and seasonal beers from smaller nanobreweries in Oregon, Idaho and Washington as well as live music and meet-the-brewer sessions. Beer stations are set up under a large tented area in the back parking lot, with seating there, along the creek side of the pub and on the patio.
Volunteer Info: http://nanobeerfest.com/volunteer.asp
Event: The Little Woody
Dates: Sept. 4-5
Location: Des Chutes Historical Museum, Bend
Description: To commemorate one of Central Oregon’s hallmarks — craft beer — and lend a nod to the historic techniques used by brewers with oaken casks, The Little Woody features small-batch beers aged in wood barrels by top Northwest breweries.
Volunteer Info: http://thelittlewoody.com/volunteer/
Event: Eugene Brews Cruise 5K
Date: Sept. 7
Location: Hop Valley Brewing, Eugene
Description: This year’s Brews Cruise will be a Labor Day celebration! Runners will start at Hop Valley Brewing and wind their way to Railroad Boulevard, continuing on down River Road. Loop back around for a tour of the Maurie Jacobs Park paths and return to the North Whiteaker District for a finish line celebration at Hop Valley.
Volunteer Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Event: Oregon Brews & BBQs
Dates: Sept. 11-13
Location: Granary District, McMinnville
Description: Oregon Brews & BBQs is all about great food, great regional brews and a whole lot of fun! This event features more than 50 taps serving craft beer from at least 35 breweries for your enjoyment throughout the weekend, delicious barbecue and other food delights, as well as live music.
Volunteer Info: http://oregonbrewsandbbq.com/volunteer/
Event: The Taste of Oregon’s Old West
Date: Sept. 12
Location: Cottonwood Canyon State Park, between Condon and Wasco
Description: This new festival showcases the beverages (including beer), food and recreation to be found in the beautiful John Day River basin. Every year, the event will rotate through the four sub-regions of the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association: John Day River Territory (Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler and Grant Counties), Northeast Oregon (Wallowa, Baker and Union), Oregon’s Rugged Country (Umatilla and Morrow) and Southeast Oregon (Malheur and Harney).
Volunteer Contact: Janet Dodson email@example.com 541-786-8006
Event: Single Batch Bier Fest
Date: Mid-late September (TBD)
Location: Oakshire Brewing Public House, Eugene
Description: The Single Batch Bier Fest celebrates creative, single-batch brews, and the annual hop harvest season including fresh-hopped beers, pumpkin beers and other fall varietal favorites.
Volunteer Contact: Meridy Wheeler firstname.lastname@example.org
Event: Mount Angel Oktoberfest
Dates: Sept. 17-20
Location: Downtown Mount Angel
Description: This year marks the 50th anniversary of this philanthropic event that celebrates the harvest, Bavarian style. Along with 50 food booths and a large arts and crafts show, the traditional Biergarten, family Weingarten and interactive Alpinegarten entertainment venues have something for everyone.
Volunteer Contact: email@example.com
Event: Newberg Oktoberfest
Dates: Sept. 18-19
Location: Memorial Park, Newberg
Description: It’s the third year for this family-oriented event brought to you by the Rotary Club of Newberg Early Birds along with local sponsors. Highlights include the grand opening parade, craft brews, live music, a wiener dog race, lederhosen contest and children’s activity tents.
Volunteer Contact: Chris Irwin firstname.lastname@example.org
Event: Bend Oktoberfest
Dates: Sept. 18-19, 2015
Location: Oregon Avenue, Bend
Description: Sample traditional Bavarian foods, beers from Central Oregon breweries, wines and ciders and listen to live music at this 10th-annual celebration of Oktoberfest. This all-ages festival offers something for everyone, including wiener dog races and absurd games of skill like yodeling, stein holding, hammerschlagen and more.
Volunteer Info: http://bendoktoberfest.com/volunteer/
Event: Independence Fresh Hop Fest
Dates: Sept. 18-19
Location: Riverview Park, Independence
Description: The Independence Hop & Heritage Festival happens every last full weekend in September. It features vendors who sell local crafts and foods along with contests like pie eating, scarecrow building and homebrewing.
Volunteer Info: http://www.hopfestival.org/#!contact/c5fi
Event: Southern Oregon Brew Fest
Dates: Sept. 18-20
Location: The Expo, Central Point
Description: Celebrate abundance and reap the rewards of harvest time at the Southern Oregon Harvest Festival and Brew Fest. Featuring more than 60 craft beers, a fierce homebrew competition, plus food, music and lots of old-fashioned fun for the whole family.
Volunteer Info: http://www.attheexpo.com/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=3
Event: Pacific Northwest Brew Cup
Dates: Sept. 25-27
Location: Various locations, Astoria
Description: Now in its 14th year, this festival features more than 30 Northwest beers on tap, along with live music, food vendors and activities for the kiddos. Enjoy some limited-edition beers at the Brewer’s Reception on Thursday night and fuel up at the Brewer’s Breakfast on Saturday morning.
Volunteer Info: http://pacificnorthwestbrewcup.com/volunteer/
Event: Hood River Hops Fest
Date: Sept. 26
Location: Downtown Hood River
Description: The Hood River Hops Fest is a beer lover’s dream, serving up 65 fresh-hop beers from more than 45 regional breweries. Fun for the whole family, this festival offers a full lineup of live music, great local food, arts and craft vendors and a children’s area.
Volunteer Info: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hood-River-Hops-Fest/127886120593522
Event: Sisters Fresh Hop Festival
Date: Sept. 26
Location: Sisters Village Green Park, Sisters
Description: This fifth-annual event features brews from around the state of Oregon and their unique fresh hop flavors. All breweries that participate bring at least one fresh-hop beer (meaning the brews are made with hops straight off the bine)!
Volunteer Contact: Jeri Buckmann email@example.com 541-549-0251
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.
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
For the Oregon Beer Growler
If you have ever attended a Portland-area beer festival or an Oregon Brew Crew meeting, you have probably seen Jenn McPoland and Jeremie Landers. The husband-and-wife team are very active in the local beer community, volunteering and helping coordinate and staff events throughout the year.
A third-generation Oregonian and second-generation Portlander, Jenn remembers walking from her Northwest Portland apartment to her job downtown with the smells from the Blitz-Weinhard Brewery -- which brewed its last beer in 1999 -- permeating the air. She drank Henry’s back then, but was introduced by a friend to big, hoppy beers in the early 2000s and now enjoys all styles of beer. Her love of beer became a hobby when she started homebrewing in 2004.
Jeremie, who has lived in Portland for half of his life, recalls that the first craft beer he ever drank was Widmer Hefeweizen at a bar in Sacramento, Calif. when he turned 21. He admits that he wasn’t a big beer drinker until he tried BridgePort IPA. The impression left by the complex hop flavors set him on a course, both for a lifelong love of IPAs and, eventually, a desire to try to recreate his favorite beers which culminated in his first attempts at homebrewing.
The natural next step in learning more about making beer was to join a homebrew club. Jenn started attending Oregon Brew Crew (OBC) meetings at F.H. Steinbart Co. in 2004. OBC is Oregon’s oldest homebrewing club, established in 1979. It was at an OBC meeting at Widmer Brewery in July 2006 that Jeremie first laid eyes on Jenn. She was serving on the board of directors and Jeremie was attending the meeting with the goal of joining the organization as a member.
Their first date was at Horse Brass over pints of Terminal Gravity IPA. In the subsequent months and years, they bonded over their mutual love of beer and became ever-more involved in homebrewing, with both holding various positions on the board of the OBC. It was only a matter of time before a wedding was in the pipeline.
With Rob Widmer’s blessing, they were married where they first met, at Widmer Brothers Brewing, in September 2010. The ceremony was officiated by their friend Lisa Morrison, aka the Beer Goddess, who was ordained as a Dudeist Priest for the event. Incidentally, Lisa was being filmed for the documentary "The Love of Beer," produced by Alison Grayson. As a result, their wedding appears in that film.
The reception, where many friends from the beer community gathered to toast the couple, featured free-flowing beer from 12 kegs. For their honeymoon, they traveled to Europe, specifically to well-known beer destinations: Brussels and Bruges, Belgium; Prague, Czech Republic; Munich, Germany for the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest; and Bamberg, Germany. During the three-week trip, they had many romantic beer experiences including drinking Kwak and Tripel Karmeliet on draft on their first morning in Belgium. They also warmly recall dining at a rooftop restaurant in Prague, drinking good beer and eating great food while enjoying the 360-degree view of the city.
After settling back into married life in Portland, Jenn and Jeremie purchased a home in the Kenton neighborhood in 2013. They have converted the 350-square-foot detached garage into a private brewery and drinking den, named McPoLanders Taproom. They acquired a 6-foot-by-10-foot walk-in cooler from the Old Ivy Taproom in Vancouver, Wash. and also have a 42-cubic-foot bottle fridge stocked with an envy-inducing selection of craft beer from all over the world. On the night I visited, the impressive draft beer list was comprised of four McPoLanders homebrews, two collaboration beers, two locally-made commercial beers, and one homebrew made by their friend Lee Hedgmon.
Jeremie says his favorite style to brew is Cascadian Dark Ale. Jenn doesn’t have a favorite, but along with brewing traditional styles like stouts and IPAs, they also enjoy the challenge of experimenting with things like fruits and spices.
The couple also likes to enter homebrew competitions, where they find it helpful to get feedback from both professional beer judges and regular beer lovers alike. At the 2014 Fall Classic, the OBC's yearly American Homebrewers Association/Beer Judge Certification Program-sanctioned homebrew competition held after hop harvest, Jenn and Jeremie each took home two gold medals apiece, with Jenn taking the “Best of Show” out of hundreds of entries. She now holds the distinction of being the first solo female winner of that title at the Fall Classic. Earlier in the year, Jeremie entered the Clean Water Services Pure Water Brew Competition and took second place with a German pilsner. The beer was sent to New Orleans for the WateReuse Association's “One Water Innovations Gala,” where it received high praise for its quality and drinkability.
Over the years, Jenn and Jeremie have had the pleasure of teaming up with various brewmasters to brew their recipes professionally. In 2012, they brewed "North End Cascadian Dark Ale,” a Timbers Army Homebrew Competition “Best of Show” winner at the New Old Lompoc Fifth Quadrant. In 2013, they won the Widmer Collaborator Homebrew Competition with "Kenton IPA" which they then brewed in 2014 with Dan Munch on the Widmer Innovation Brew System for local release. Also in 2013, Jenn, with the Ladies of Lagers and Ales (LOLA), brewed a CDL at Base Camp. In 2014, they brewed their "StellaNova India Session Ale" with the legendary John Harris at Ecliptic Brewing for the Willamette Week’s Beer Pro / Am. Jenn also brewed another beer for the Pro / Am with LOLA and Tonya Cornett at 10 Barrel in Bend. They have already started off the new year with another collaboration. In January, they brewed a Russian Imperial Stout with Charlie Hutchins at Rock Bottom Brewery in Portland.
Another unique beer-related fact about this couple is that they have a yeast strain named after them. While on their honeymoon in Prague, they visited the famous U Fleků Brewery where they enjoyed a Bohemian Dunkel. They acquired samples of the yeast, which they brought back to Oregon and then gave some to Wyeast Laboratories, which made it into smack packs. OBC members conducted the “McPoLanders Czech Lager Yeast Experiment” by brewing a variety of beers using this yeast.
While Jenn and Jeremie truly enjoy all of their work and involvement in the Oregon beer community, they do not have any plans to open their own brewery. “We just wouldn’t be able to maintain the lifestyle we have now if we brewed commercially.” Both have full time jobs, neither of which is in the craft beer industry. They will continue to homebrew a few times each month as well as participate in club events and educational seminars helping new homebrewers.
As Lisa Morrison enthuses, “Jenn and Jeremie epitomize everything that's great about Oregon beer. It's safe to say that no other couple has devoted so much time and energy to promoting and celebrating our local beer community. From their wedding to their new in-home taproom, their passion for beer -- and more importantly for each other -- is evident every day. Cheers to the McPoLanders!”
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