By Kirby Neumann-Rea
For the Oregon Beer Growler
the process of fermentation involved in the making of beer, in which sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol
Dan Peterson is the microbiology-trained brains and brawn behind Ferment, one of Oregon’s newest breweries. Based in Hood River but brewed in Portland, Peterson plans a Hood River brewery and a Portland pub.
“Food will be made to suit the beer,” Peterson said. The pub should open by late summer and the brewery would follow in late 2016 or early 2017.
“It’s nice to have this kind of clean slate opportunity and say, ‘This is what I want to do,’” described Peterson. Last year, he left pFriem Family Brewers in Hood River, where he was one of Josh Pfriem’s first hires, to start his own brewery.
“It was a tough decision, but it was a great opportunity at the right time to have creative control over the beers,” Peterson said. He is doing the entire brewing process himself, and distribution is limited at this point. Peterson focuses on “balanced, English-style” beers.
“The cool thing is they go really well with food. And with Ferment, the focus is more experience-focused rather than beer as a liquid or beverage or commodity or bottles being distributed as far possible. It’s the synergy of food, beer, experience and environment.”
Ferment brewery and pub will both be known simply as “Ferment.” The pub will be in Portland, at a location soon to be announced. The brewery, however, will be in Hood River. Peterson is looking at a variety of locations, including a planned building on the Hood River waterfront, two blocks from pFriem.
Peterson, a University of Vermont microbiology graduate, got his fermenting start at Brooklyn Brewery in New York. He had worked in a cancer research lab before his love of homebrewing took him to a combination lab/entry-level brewing job at Brooklyn in 2003. He then came west to work at Full Sail in 2009.
“I was brewing with friends and I slipped down the slope of thinking a lot about brewing and thinking of it as a profession,” Dan said.
Peterson started Ferment in Portland in 2015, brewing at Pints in Old Town and at the new Zoiglhaus cooperative. His yeast concoctions start wild on the slopes of Mt. Hood, where he leaves cultures out overnight.
At this point, Peterson experiments with small batches. “This is a chance to do recipe development — see how things are received on a really small scale. I can get a couple of kegs out there to places and check in with people,” he said. “I’ve been doing test batches, making tweaks. And instead of just tasting them myself and deciding whether I like it, this is a way to see, in general, how consumers like it,” Peterson said.
He uses special malts out of England for most of the brews in order to find a balance with the hops and yeast. “My background is mostly English-style brewing practices,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot of English-style brewing in the Northwest. I like seeing what people think of it — to say, ‘This is a pale ale that’s not all that hoppy,’ compared to our standards now.”
In general, the yeasts will tend to exhibit a “pretty fruit ester character,” Peterson said, adding that they flocculate easily and leave a clear beer.
“Traditionally, (the English) brew a lot in casks and count on the yeast to settle in the bottom and expect the beer to be really clear. That’s kind of my goal also.” Peterson is not currently cask conditioning, but said, “I want to in the future as I get more established and have some good cask offerings.”
In Portland, you can find Ferment on tap at Clyde Common and The Richmond Bar. In Hood River, Ferment beers are available at Camp 1805 Distillery, Pine Street Kitchen and Volcanic Bottle Shoppe.
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