By Sam Wheeler
For Oregon Beer Growler
Riding 1,000 miles in one day on a motorcycle is no easy feat.
It wasn’t supposed to be easy, said 29-year-old Dave Marliave, who rode that distance to raise $8,260 for the National Brain Tumor Society. The co-owner and brewmaster at Corvallis’ Flat Tail Brewing was inspired to push himself through the journey by a member of Oregon’s craft beer community. Angelo De Ieso, founder of the beer blog Brewpublic, was diagnosed with a rare and — for now — incurable brain tumor in 2013.
“It was a weird wakeup call for everybody because Angelo knows everybody, and everybody knows Angelo. It just hit so close to home,” said Marliave, who met De Ieso more than six years ago when Flat Tail was a young 7-barrel operation.
“He gave us some love on his blog and helped spread the word about us when we were just this tiny little brewery that no one had ever heard of. We just kind of kept in touch from that point on,” Marliave said. “Angelo is one of those guys that is just a staple in the [craft beer] community.”
And it’s not just De Ieso’s battle; Marliave has other friends who are living with brain tumors, and there are more than 688,000 throughout the U. S. who face the same challenges, according to the National Brain Tumor Society.
“It’s almost hard to find people who don’t know someone who has been affected by a malignant or benign brain tumor,” Marliave said. “It’s not only one of the fastest-growing types of cancer, but one of the least understood. No one knows what’s causing it. I think it’s really important that we figure it out.”
So on March 29, Marliave took off from Corvallis on his BMW R1200GS to ride as far as he could. With help from the National Brain Tumor Society’s Portland chapter, which created a “Highway to Health” webpage to accept donations, Marliave garnered flat-rate donations and pledges ranging from 10 cents to $1-per-mile for the ride.
Averaging about 56 miles per hour, 18 hours later, he was in San Diego.
“The outpouring of support was incredible, and it was almost all small Oregon breweries and related businesses,” he said. There is a list of donors, including the Flat Tail kitchen staff, which can be found at braintumorcommunity.org.
The trip went rather smoothly, said Marliave, who also received a $500 donation, a set of tires and free technical support from Hansen’s BMW Motorcycles of Medford.
“Doing a long endurance touring-style ride wasn’t new, but the 1,000 miles in a day I had only really done one other time,” Marliave said. “One of the biggest things about doing a ride like this is staying safe. And when you’re getting tired on that 15th, 16th hour — things can get really unsafe, really fast.”
It’s wasn’t until the day after the 1,000-mile ride, on a 500-mile route between San Diego and Petaluma, Calif., that Marliave’s bike started acting up. It was just a little brake noise — something that was determined to be a non-issue after he sent a few cell phone videos to Hansen’s BMW mechanics.
The fundraiser was an enormous success, Marliave said, and he continued to receive donations three-to-four weeks after concluding the ride, which helped Highway to Health surpass its goal of $5,000.
“Not only are we going to do it again, but next year we are setting the goal at $15,000 and hope to clear $20,000. This is definitely something we’re going to keep doing every year, and we’re going to stick with the NBTS,” which will continue to receive 100 percent of the donations.
Anyone who would like to be a part of next year’s fundraiser can contact Marliave at: email@example.com. This year, Flat Tail footed the bill for the entire ride, but Marliave said donations specified for ride expenses will also be accepted in the future.
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
One word can sometimes sum up the character of a city. While Flint, Mich. has a long and complex history, the story of that particular place can begin and end with “tenacity.” Turns out, it’s not just a fitting term for a city that’s struggled with unemployment, violence and now tainted water. The only craft brewery in town has adopted the name to not only describe Flint’s determination; but also the resolve it took to open the business. More than 2,000 miles away in Portland, tenacity is what it will take for one homebrewer to rally the city, the state and perhaps even the rest of the nation to do more than feel sorry for Flint’s latest crisis. He’s created a call to action for anyone who’s connected to the craft beer community: use your passion for this beverage to raise money for Flint.
Tenacity Brewing sits just several hundred feet from the source of the city’s contaminated drinking water. In a cost-saving move in 2014, Flint stopped buying water from Detroit’s system and tapped its eponymous river, which bends and curves through the heart of downtown right past Tenacity. Although the source was meant to be temporary, complaints about the taste and appearance of the water begin rolling in almost immediately. Then-Mayor Dayne Walling repeatedly brushed off safety concerns despite mounting evidence that the chemistry of the Flint River was causing pipe contaminants, including lead, to leach into the water supply. Children developed rashes from bathing in the water and test results showed higher levels of lead in their blood, which can lead to significant developmental delays.
Additionally, two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease sickened at least 88 people, nine of whom died. There’s no proven link between the spate of illnesses and the river water because not a single government agency has tested Flint’s water for legionella. However, these bacteria thrive in water with iron that flakes off of old pipes. Conditions worsen when water temperatures increase during summer months. A Free Press analysis of data collected by the state also discovered that 62 of the 88 people with confirmed cases were exposed to Flint’s water. For two years, residents of the city grew sicker simply by completing life’s daily tasks: showering, brushing teeth and lifting a plain old glass of water to their lips. But a Flint General Motors plant managed to switch to a different water supply a mere six months after river water came online because it was corroding car parts.
As Flint suffered, Dylan VanDetta got mad. He learned about what had essentially become a public betrayal by tuning into MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” as he often does.
“And when I heard what was actually happening and the lack of motivation from the local politicians, I was outraged. Absolutely outraged. And I thought that this is something that we really need to do something about. And we can,” he explained. “And we have a large number of brewers and homebrewers and people that care that would be willing to help out.”
That’s the thing, though, about these large-scale crises — we want to help, but don’t know how. But instead of throwing his hands up and saying ‘Oh well,’ VanDetta, who is treasurer of the Oregon Brew Crew, resolved to reach out in the best way he knew how — by turning to the oldest and largest homebrew club in the state.
“It was unanimous. Nobody even questioned it. They’re like, ‘For sure. Let’s send some money. Let’s do something and help these people.’ I think that helped spur me along and everyone I’ve talked to has similar feelings about it, is they’re outraged,” VanDetta said.
And of all the emotions, anger is one of the most powerful motivators. The Oregon Brew Crew voted to approve a $500 donation, which is being used to recruit additional contributors and volunteers. The effort is still in its infancy, but during the next several months VanDetta is looking for individuals to give their time and ask breweries, as well as beer- and water-related businesses, to get involved. Any and all forms of support are welcome — cash, free kegs and donated space where VanDetta wants to help organize events that would be used as fundraisers. Art Larrance has already promised the use of the Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub patio in Southwest Portland. The Peninsula Odd Fellows has also pledged its location to the cause. Additionally, a GoFundMe page is now accepting gifts.
VanDetta and those assisting him at this point have already made connections with entities in Michigan, such as the Genesee Brewers Club (named after the county where Flint is located), to ensure the funds raised will eventually be directed by the people who need it. And he has a specific goal: $20,000.
“The reason I came up with that number is it costs — I read an article where it costs about $10,000 to replace the pipes in a single home. That would be about two homes,” he said, “or one home and $10,000 worth of fresh water that we can distribute to the neighborhood.”
He’s also exploring the possibility of distributing water in 5-gallon jugs or borrowed beer kegs, which would be a more sustainable option than the 12-ounce plastic bottles currently employed. The average family in Flint uses about 151 of those containers a day.
The number of requests for assistance these days can already feel overwhelming, particularly with the rise of crowdfunding sites that allow pretty much anyone to ask for help. What would prompt Oregonians, then, to pay special attention to a city more than halfway across the country? Well, if you’re talking to beer lovers, it all begins with the precious nature of water.
“The fact that we have such access, readily access to clean water, and beer is such — it’s such a big component of beer I thought that this would be a great opportunity for us to give back to the community as Oregon Brew Crew, as well as the brewing community across the country — not just Oregon,” VanDetta described. “The fact that we couldn’t make beer without water is disheartening — let alone, you know, drink or bathe in it or wash your clothes or anything like that in that stuff. So whatever we can do to help them is really what we’re trying to do.”
For VanDetta, the cause is also personal. Most people, particularly those fortunate enough to access water from the Bull Run Watershed, don’t think twice when they turn on the faucet. But VanDetta grew up in a poor town in northern New York where they tapped into city water of neighboring Poultney, Vt. The liquid used to be treated in a chlorinating plant until the source changed and the processing ended. Ultimately, VanDetta said officials had to drill a well for the family. While he was only about 6 or 7 years old when his water became unreliable, he never forgot it. The experience allows him to empathize with Flint’s population, but even he can’t imagine going without easy access to water at home for as long as they have.
“It’s something that you just don’t normally think about. And the hassle! Oh, I’ve got to brush my teeth, so I’m going to do down to the store and get water with money that I really have already spent on water. These folks are still paying their water bills for water they can’t drink, so it’s crazy,” VanDetta said. “Most of these folks are poor and they don’t have vehicles. They can’t drive, so they’re carrying the water or they’re not getting the water — they’re using water out of their taps and that’s even worse.”
Family brought VanDetta to the West Coast and the beer is what rooted him in community. He considers joining the Oregon Brew Crew the best $35 he’s ever spent. Membership provided artistic and creative balance to his life that’s occupied, in part, by a 20-year career in IT. While his first meeting in 2012 was intimidating since he says he “knew nothing” about beer other than the fact he loved it, he’s learned a lot from watching others and taking in their feedback on his own brews. He was also drawn to the open, supportive nature of brewers, which he believes will translate into backing for the Flint project.
“I consider it a blue-collar kind of business. They’re really in tune with the work that they do and their hands,” explained VanDetta. “And they make a product that people put in their bodies, and you really kind of have to be careful with that.”
If you’d like to volunteer or donate, email VanDetta at firstname.lastname@example.org. The fundraiser is starting on a modest scale, but plans are big.
“My dream is that it would be nationwide. We would have the brewing community — homebrewers, commercial brewers and water companies across the country helping with this effort. Because, you know, it takes a village to raise a child, right?”
And it’s now becoming abundantly clear that the children of Flint who’ve been affected by tainted water will need an army of support for decades to come.
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Oregon’s craft beer boom isn’t limited to larger urban areas. An hour south of Eugene, the approximately 22,000 people of Roseburg have taken notice of the beer world beyond standard American lagers. One of their own, K.C. Mckillip, has been behind the bar and hovering over the brew kettle since 2012 as founder of Backside Brewing Co. Just as the community shows its growing support for craft beers such as Backside’s, Mckillip has also got the community’s back.
“We could’ve gone to Portland or Bend where there’s more support. But being from here, I love it,” says Mckillip, 27. “Any brewer that’s born and raised in the place where they open their brewery, what gets that small business off the ground is that support.”
Growing up southwest of Roseburg in Tenmile, Mckillip is newer to brewing but no stranger to business. After graduating Douglas High School, Mckillip moved to Arizona to pursue a dream of motocross racing. Spending part of the year in Oregon, he also started pest control and asphalt businesses.
The businesses were doing well, but “I was not passionate about what I was doing,” he explains. “I enjoy business, but it was getting stale. I wanted to do something different.” At 22, Mckillip had begun homebrewing and at 24 realized he wanted to go pro. He sold the pest control business and has used the proceeds to help fund startup costs. “My business background helped me a lot, especially with networking,” says Mckillip. “I had a good support team of business owners that I could fall back on. From there it took off and I focused, and I’m still passionate about it. Working behind the bar, brewing, being at the events — it’s fun. It’s long days and a lot of hours, but it’s worth it.”
As for the name, Backside is about anything but butts. “I was originally going to run something out from my parents’ property outside of Roseburg,” says Mckillip. “‘Backside’ came from backside of the mountain, backside of town.” But he realizes that if he has the name, then someday he might as well do something cheeky. “We haven’t done a play on it yet, but eventually we’re going to with logos or something."
Acting on advice to start in a larger space, however, Mckillip was able to set up shop in the former home of Gerretsen Building Supply, an 18,000-square-foot property on a full acre. A bike shop occupies 3,300 square feet. Backside takes up the remainder with the brewery, a public bar and restaurant space, a wood-fired brick oven (for pizzas and toasted sandwiches) and a 10,000 square-foot warehouse that gives Backside ample room to grow.
Inside the brewery, Mckillip has help from a business partner and various family and friends. Backside currently has seven employees, with plans to increase staff to 10–12 for the restaurant and brewery, as well as for a full-time bottling line employee and a full-time salesperson to grow distribution beyond the Roseburg area.
In addition to a recent bottling line purchase, Mckillip has been upgrading equipment for the 7-barrel system. In 2015, Backside produced 200 barrels, and Mckillip estimates that 2016 production will be 350–400 barrels.
With 12 house beers pouring — such as Axeman Red Ale, The Bitter Truth Imperial IPA, and OSP (a nod to the Oregon State Police) — Mckillip wants to increase that to 20 by fall. A house root beer provides an option for kids and customers who don’t drink alcohol. Mckillip also realizes that he is a craft brewer in an area where standard American lagers are the mainstay. In addition to having some of those available, Backside produces a German-style “middle of the road, basic lager” that Mckillip sees as a good introductory beer. “It gets them into the craft beer world with something light, and then they realize they’re having a great time.”
Inside the brewpub, a stage accommodates a regular schedule of live music. People enjoy beer and wood-fired pizzas under the glow of bare light bulbs suspended from the ceiling in angled mason jars. Outside, a large parking lot and covered area provides space for the events that have been Backside’s way of showing it has the community’s back. “What goes around comes around. When you focus more on getting people in for their event, as opposed to getting people into your place, people appreciate that a lot.”
Backside supports local causes through various events, such as the recent Hops for K9 Cops open house. Officers with the Roseburg Police Department and deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department brought in their K9 partners to the brewery so the public could meet and better understand the law enforcement, investigative and search-and-rescue functions that the dogs perform.
Backside has also done fundraisers for local schools, such as Douglas High School, and the Taylor/Hatfield Memorial Fund, which helps disabled children and adults in Douglas County. In the aftermath of the October 2015 shooting at Umpqua Community College, Backside held raffles and auctions. To raise funds for the UCC Relief Fund, Backside brewed Umpqua Strong Ale with four other Roseburg breweries and Eugene’s Hop Valley Brewing, raising approximately $30,000 to aid victims and loved ones.
Breweries have a unique way to appeal to the public. “We can easily market to a broader demographic, and that helps them even more. It brings more awareness of their cause.”
For Mckillip, giving back to the community is both good business and the right thing to do. “The biggest hurdle is getting people to realize how much breweries support the local area,” says Mckillip, who talks with people every week who seek Backside’s support. “We are trying to shift people’s mindsets. We try to educate and influence people and get them to come back. We want to maintain what we’ve got going, keep the momentum going and make sure that things continue to be fun and enjoyable for everyone who works here and who comes in for a beer.”
Backside Brewing Co.
[a] 1640 NE Odell Ave., Roseburg
By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Lisa Morrison, aka “The Beer Goddess,” loves a challenge, especially when it comes to beer. She jumps heart first into all her ventures and success follows this passionate trailblazer.
Her newest challenge is Belmont Station, the premier bottle shop in Portland with more than 1,300 varieties of beer and 23 different taps, including cider, in the Biercafé. Two years ago Morrison became a co-owner of Belmont Station, a 51 percent owner to be exact, with Carl Singmaster.
Morrison said she often jokingly asked her friend Carl if he wanted to sell. One day he said yes.
“It was around the time that my husband Mark and I were talking about ideas for retirement. We threw out the idea of owning a bottle shop, and then it happened,” said Morrison.
It was, and still is, a whole new experience, learning about the retail and bar side of beer. She manages daily operations, orders beer, receives beer, supervises 14 staff members and keeps her eye on the entire shop, including the inviting outside patio area and adjacent Italian food cart.
“Keeping all the balls in the air is the hardest part of the job,” she said, “but I like wearing a lot of different hats.”
Morrison traces her interest in beer to a college friend at Colorado State who introduced her to flavorful German beers and her husband Mark Campbell who introduced her to homebrewing.
Fast forward through a successful journalism career in television and radio to a burnout time in Portland where she was doing freelance video work and considering her next move. She envied well-known beer writer Fred Eckhardt, taking notes and tasting brews at festivals.
Citysearch was just starting up in Portland and Morrison wrote a few restaurant reviews for them, often mentioning the beer lists. Her editor then asked her to write a beer column.
She only wrote one before she was approached by her former employer KOIN-TV to develop the broadcaster’s first website. If she accepted, the beer column was dead. So she took the job on condition that she could write a beer column. That’s how “First Draft” started.
It was one of the first beer columns online and definitely the first written by a woman. More important, it was Morrison’s beginning as a professional beer author. “I was learning about beer as I went along. At first, I didn’t know what I was doing,” she explained.
Although the broadcast website was groundbreaking, exciting work with only three stations across the country in Portland, Los Angeles and Minneapolis developing guidelines at the time for significant ethical issues, Morrison’s future was in the craft beer world. Her column eventually caught the attention of national beer publications. By 2008 she had so many assignments she was writing full time.
Writing led to her first radio gig as a co-host on a show called “The Libation Station.” It didn’t last. “But Don Younger, of the Horse Brass, thought Portland, of all places, should have a beer radio show. So, he pitched it to KXL that I would buy the airtime and sell advertising to breweries, bars and other places to pay myself back.” “Beer O’Clock” launched and Morrison entertained and educated listeners with interviews and conversation for more than six years. During that time she was also working on “Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest,” which was released March 30, 2011. She wanted to create a book that would be a companion for beer lovers when traveling, touring or living in the Pacific Northwest.
“I didn’t want to write a guide book that listed every brewery with a short blurb because it would be outdated as soon as it was in print. Instead, I made it a collection with stories from each location and I visited all of the ones in the book. What you will find in the pages are places to source good beer and a good vibe with friendly, helpful passionate people in all corners of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. And you get some insider knowledge about each spot,” said Morrison.
Another opportunity came her way when Fred Bowman from Portland Brewing mentioned there wasn’t any marketing or advertising to women about beer. She quickly decided to change that and began presenting classes to women about beer. The first sessions were held once a month at Portland Brewing with a small group that tasted and tested different styles of beer. She gave them cheat sheets to take home and later gave them key words to use when selecting beers.
Morrison would intentionally challenge preconceived ideas about taste and serve a dark, chocolaty stout beer first. Her ground rule was that all participants had to taste everything and often women who thought they didn’t like dark beers would change their minds. “It was fun to be able to open people’s eyes,” said Morrison. She has offered classes at breweries, at a beer festival in Quebec, at a Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Convention in Seattle, using all different brands of beers.
“The beer community is so cooperative, so unique and friendly,” said Morrison. In appreciation for the support and generosity, Morrison, in turn, has founded several fundraisers for the beer community.
The day we met, Belmont Station was hosting a fundraiser that evening for a brewery in Belgium. Three generations of family farmers in 2008 opened a sustainable brewery using their own grain, hops, barley, water and yeast. Morrison had an opportunity to visit it last year. Unfortunately, it caught fire in January. At the fundraiser, they were serving the Belgium brewery’s beer.
Ten years ago Morrison started FredFest to honor the Dean of American Beer Writers, Fred Eckhardt, who began writing about beer in the 1960s. On his 80th birthday, Morrison and friends held a birthday celebration at Hair of the Dog Brewing with beer tasting, cake, candles and fun. His birthday is May 10, but the festival is held the Sunday before to avoid conflict with Mother’s Day. Every year Fred chooses the charity.
Morrison also organizes Sasquatch Brew Am, a golfing event at McMenamins Edgefield, held annually on the Friday of the Oregon Brewers Festival in July. The fundraiser is for the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation. Glen was a well-loved and highly-respected brewer in Eugene who died tragically in 2002 while working on a car. The money goes to Northwest brewers for education to improve their craft. “I love being able to do good through good beer,” said Morrison.
Right now, she loves the chance at Belmont Station to “talk beer” one-on-one. “Maybe it’s just chatting with a regular about the new beer on tap, turning a customer on to a new style or just helping an out-of-towner looking for great Oregon IPAs, but I get to really talk with people and see those ‘aha’ moments.”
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