By Anthony St. Clair
Construction continues on Elk Horn Brewery, with plans to open by Duck football season in September. Located in a former Carl’s Jr. building near the University of Oregon campus at 686 E. Broadway St. in Eugene, Elk Horn is the newest passion of Colleen and Stephen Sheehan and who are locally renowned for their Southern food cart, Delacata.
“We have already started demolition work in the basement and restaurant, and we’re finishing the 1,800 square foot deck,” says Colleen Sheehan, Elk Horn owner and founder. “The patio will look rustic with a concrete stone-stamped finish, a fountain, and a fire pit, with seating all around the deck.” Patio plans also include a trellis where kiwis will grow, for the making of kiwi cider.
The brewhouse will be located in the basement. A new concrete slab is being poured, with accompanying plumbing and electrical work underway. Equipment includes four 14-barrel fermenters, a 7-barrel kettle, mash tun, and a custom 23’x12’ cooler which will feed into a 20-tap system for the upstairs restaurant.
“The equipment is being built in Portland and we should have it by mid-August,” Sheehan says. “We will be open before Oregon Duck football season. We can shoot for an August 1 soft opening with guest taps. We’ll have the grand opening once our beer and cider are on tap.”
In partnership with Sweet Cheeks Winery, a 15-barrel bright tank is also on order. This tank will be housed at Sweet Cheeks and used for production of Elk Horn ciders and meads.
“To start we will just want to create flagship beverages, but we have barrel storage in the brewery for creating unique wild ales and wild ciders,” Sheehan says. “We already have rum barrels, tequila barrels, and pinot noir barrels.”
Plans for a variety of beverages reflects Elk Horn’s dedication to food pairing. “We want to
think about flavors that might not have been done before and flavors that can pair well with our food,” Sheehan adds.
Elk Horn plans to roll out a range of house beers and develop their offerings depending on customer input. House beers will include a blonde ale, a
pale ale, “an Oregon botanical wheat series—with honeysuckle wheat, sweet pea, nasturtium, etc.”—an IPA, a DIPA, a lambic, and a porter. In addition to a wildflower mead, Elk Horn will also produce a line of ciders, including dry apple, sweet apple, pear, apricot, and blackberry. Sweet Cheeks wines will be on tap, and non-alcoholic house sodas and bubble teas will also be available.
“We want to be a place where everyone can come, from students to families,” Sheehan says. “Everyone will have something they can enjoy, both in food and drink.”
BY SAM WHEELER
Indigo Creek Outfitters can take you on more than a wild river raft ride Last year, the Ashland-based adventure vacation company expanded its traditional
whitewater tour platform into the world of fine tasting Rogue Valley craft beer.
Owner Will Volpert toyed with the idea of offering winery tours, but there was existing competition and – above all – the idea of chauffeuring high-class wine tasters around the valley didn’t suit his fancy.
“There are a lot of reasons people wouldn’t go on a wine tour with us. One, we’re using 15-passenger vans. We don’t have luxury vehicles. We’re using the same vans that we us on the rafting tours,” he said. “We really wanted something that was complementary to our rafting trips. We’re the kind of people who are going to have a pint of beer to finish the day rather than a glass of wine.”
Indigo Creek offers the about five hour-long brewery tours once a day, Thursday through Sunday, and gives customers the opportunity to taste about 20 beers from four breweries between Ashland and Medford. It adds up to a pint’s worth of brew per stop and includes a snack to soak up some slosh.
The cost is $70 per person.
Volpert got the idea for the tour while swilling a pint from Medford-based nano-brewery Opposition Brewing Company with its founder, owner and lead brewer Nick Ellis – who also happens to be a longtime friend.
“I remember chatting with him about the idea of a brewery tour before he started up, but he is the guy who came up with the idea,” Ellis said. “In our initial conversation, I thought it was a fantastic idea and encouraged him to pursue it.... It’s really helping to lay the foundation for the Rogue Valley’s brewery scene.”
Ellis’ enthusiasm toward the idea helped keep Volpert’s light bulb burning, Volpert said.
“I had never really put together any tour that wasn’t rafting-related, so we went into it with the thought that we would probably need to change the itinerary after doing a few of them, but we pretty much hit it right on the head the first time. We haven’t really had to change anything,” Volpert said. “The first thing that we hear from people who are really knowledgeable about beer is that we have good beer here. People are impressed with the product.”
The tour rotates between five breweries: Bricktowne Brewing Co., in downtown Medford, Swing Tree Brewing Co., in Ashland, Opposition Brewing Co., located in a warehouse in industrial northwest Medford, Walkabout Brewing Co., located next to a gargantuan Budweiser distribution center in north Medford, and Southern Oregon Brewing Co., also in north Medford.
Although both also make top-notch craft beer, there is a reason popular Caldera Brewing Co, and Standing Stone Brewing Co., both in Ashland, are not on the tour itinerary, Volpert said.
“The reason we don’t really go to those guys on our brewery tour is because you’re going to find them on your own. Our goal with the tour is to take you places that you might not find,” Volpert said.
For more information, visit www.indigocreekoutfitters.com or call 541-282-4535.
by Anthony St. Clair
As part of the kickoff for Eugene Beer Week and a new way to experience craft beer in Lane County, the Eugene Ale Trail launches Mon., June 2, 5-8 p.m., at the 16 Tons Café. Local breweries will be giving tastings of what people can expect to find on the Eugene Ale Trail.
The Eugene Ale Trail includes 10 Lane County breweries: Ninkasi, Oakshire, Falling Sky, Hop Valley, Claim 52, McMenamins, Steelhead, Agrarian, Track Town Brewery/Rogue, and the Brewers Union Local 180 (participants must be Travel Lane County members in order to be on the Eugene Ale Trail). Beginning June 2 at 8 p.m., the public can download a Eugene Ale Trail Passport from EugeneAleTrail.org or pick one up at participating breweries.
“We were inspired by other ale trails around the state and country,” says Molly Blancett, Public Relations and Social Media Manager for Travel Lane County. “We want to be a top craft beer destination, and this is our way of supporting that effort.”
In addition to working with a University of Oregon Ad Campaigns summer class, for over a year Travel Lane County collaborated with members of the Lane County brewing community to develop the Eugene Ale Trail. “We consulted with the breweries on nearly every aspect of the Eugene Ale Trail,” says Blancett, “from the name to the logo to the design to the map.”
One side of the Eugene Ale Trail passport is an easily navigable map with a list of participating breweries, their locations, and hours of operation. A panel lists where an Ale Trail traveler can fill growlers, such as at The Bier Stein, First National Taphouse, Growler Nation, The Tap & Growler, and 16 Tons’ two locations.
The other side of the passport includes details of how the Eugene Ale Trail works, how to redeem the passport for a prize, and alternative transportation options such as taxis and buses. There are also suggestions for other trip ideas, such as Hikes & Bikes, Wine & Dine, and Live Music.
Visitors present a passport at the breweries and receive a stamp or sticker. For breweries with multiple locations, only one site is required. Once a visitor has stamps from at least seven Eugene-area breweries, they can receive a free 16-oz. amber growler. For also visiting Brewers Union Local 180 in Oakridge, in addition to having stamps from at least seven Eugene breweries, visitors can receive a stainless steel pint cup (while supplies last). “The Brewers Union is surrounded by epic mountain bike trails, waterfalls, and unbelievable hikes,” says Blancett. “It’s more than worth the drive.”
Eugene Ale Trail prizes can be redeemed in person at the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center in Springfield, or by mail (must include $5 for shipping).
“Travel Lane County developed the Eugene Ale Trail to give visitors an easy way to explore Eugene’s growing craft beer scene,” says Blancett. “Our breweries have an incredible product, and we want to help show that off. The Eugene Ale Trail gives us a better way of showing people how to find craft beer in Lane County.”
By Gail Oberst
A few blocks from Coos Bay’s boardwalk along Coos River, I am stopped in my tracks by a gigantic map of the bay area, spread across the front of a building that once housed an appliance and electrical repair shop. Warming themselves by the fire in front of 7 Devils Brewery are owners Carmen Matthews and Annie Pollard, who tell me the map shows the circa 1928 Coos Bay. Annie, a marine biologist, points to the places that have been filled or changed. It is a fitting introduction to the 30-something couple who met over a potter’s wheel, fell in love over a home-brewing kettle, and today own a popular brewery and taproom – Coos County’s only commercial brewery.
Like 7 Devils, clad in local décor I’m dubbing “eclectic coastal craftsman,” the couple represents a segment of Coos County society that defies the south coast stereotypes: They are energetic, well-heeled and cultured. The couple has invested their savings, family money and a substantial loan into re-outfitting the long-vacant shop into a working 7-barrel (soon to be 15) brewery with a taproom and restaurant that features local art and artists. Oriental rugs warm the floors. Original glass art drips from the ceilings, local paintings hang on the walls, ceramics decorate the tables, which are also handmade from local materials. If you order chowder, it will most likely be served in a bowl turned by Annie.
Almost all of the funds raised from the sale of 300 special pint glasses went to purchasing and creating local artwork hanging from the walls and ceilings at 7 Devils. The couple has apparently hit on something appealing to Coos Bay glitterati (Fishermen, professionals, newcomers and old-timers). The Wednesday night I visited, the tables were filled and a short line was waiting to be seated.
And the beer? Great, in my humble opinion. And, judging by the number of beers being slurped by patrons, I wasn’t the only fan. Musicians have showed up almost every night in February to entertain guests, Carmen said. “It’s made from coastal waters by coastal folks,” he said. Half of the brewery’s production is sold in house, the rest to Coos Bay/North Bend-area accounts. By press time, the company will be bottling (with a manual 4-head line) in 22s. Three of the 7 Devils labels -- a session, a pale ale and an IPA – will begin appearing in local stores and bottle shops.
The 7 Devils Brewery opened Oct. 30, 2013, and already the couple has made plans to expand the dining area. The pub food is an assortment of seasonal favorites and local fare. Clams from Coos Bay and locally-baked focaccia and pretzels are menu staples. A variety of seasonal greens and vegetables are supplied by local grower Valley Flora and its affiliates. Their poutine (an upscale version of cheese fries) features Face Rock cheese curds, from the Bandon creamery 20 miles south.
But their dedication to craft beer, local arts and seasonal food products is just the beginning: outside, under the giant 1920’s map, electric car charging stations sit next to the first “ocean-friendly beer garden,” according to Carmen. The City of Coos Bay assisted the company with a storm-water retention system that holds roof-water run-off from the brewery building, slowing its release into rain-swollen Coos River and decreasing flood pressure. Heavily insulated walls and windows, energy efficient fixtures and other energy-conserving methods are in place now. Solar panels are in the offing. In the summer, the outside gardens may house a local food cart and pizza oven.
The brewery’s success has created a whirlwind of responsibilities for the man who – just three years ago – was working for Dutch Bros—and the woman whose science work took her to Antarctica to study penguins three months of the year. Now, the company has 15 employees and a fan club of locals who depend on them to grow the business.
“Our customers are people who are interested in this community. We take that seriously,” said Carmen.
7 Devils Brewery
( a ) 247 S; Second St., Coos Bay
( p ) 541-808-3738
Owner/Brewers: Carmen Matthews, Annie Pollard
By Emily Engdahl
It’s a wet and rainy (typical) winter morning in Portland. Entering the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe on NW 23rd Avenue, I’m welcomed by rows and rows of chocolate truffles, confectionary creativity, and the warm smile of Chris Crabb, Oregon’s Craft Beer Sweetheart.
Crabb is an integral part of several beery endeavors, breweries, and fests across the state - and one of the kindest and hardest working women in the industry. I had an opportunity to chat with her about her roles in celebrating Oregon beer, being a go-getter, and parenting a teenager. Despite myriad challenges and the hard work involved in balancing a successful career, family life, and hobbies (Crabb has exquisite taste in antiques and collectables, creating vintage looking family photo postcards along with her husband and son each holiday season), she is ever cheerful, always professional, and a pure delight.
You are one of the most important figures in current Oregon Beer culture - how did you begin working in the industry?
First, I don’t consider myself all that important, but I truly appreciate the compliment! I stumbled into this industry by luck. I was working for a PR firm in the early 1990s, and it leased office space to Gill Campbell, an event promoter who owned Campbell Productions. Gill was looking for someone to do PR for her client, the Oregon Brewers Festival, and hired the firm; I was assigned as the account manager. 1995 was my first official OBF. That same year, Gill and Art Larrance started the Winter Ale Festival (today the Holiday Ale Festival) and I worked on that one as well. Gill went looking for her own office space in 1996 and took me with her. I continued to work for both festivals and started picking up other beer accounts along the way (including working eight years for BridgePort). She (Gill) closed shop in 2003 to run the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., and the beer clients stayed with me. That was when I started Crabbsoup Public Relations.
You work on several fests around Oregon - can you tell us which ones they are?
I work on four big festivals, and promote several smaller ones that are brewery specific. The big ones are The Oregon Garden Brewfest (April 25-27, 2014) in Silverton; the North American Organic Brewers Festival (June 26-29, 2014) at Overlook Park in North Portland; the Oregon Brewers Festival (July 23-27, 2014) at Waterfront Park in Portland; and the Holiday Ale Festival (December 3-7, 2014) in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland.
We all know you as the one who knows EVERYTHING about Oregon beer fests - what kinds of things do you do for the fests, and what is your favorite task or activity surrounding fests?
I have different roles for different festivals. This summer will mark my 20th year with the Oregon Brewers Festival, and my role has increased as time has gone on; currently, my job description for that festival runs four pages long! In a nutshell, I handle pre and on-site communication with the brewers, the vendors, the food vendors and the public; I do all the advertising, social media, public relations, posters, work with the mobile app developers and update the website. I manage all aspects of the brunch and the parade; I gather all pieces for and edit the program; and I am onsite every hour of every day, from 5 a.m. on the opening day doing morning TV until 8 p.m. on the last day, tearing down. While onsite, I handle media opportunities and check in with vendors, but mostly I operate the Information Booth. I decided we needed one a few years back, and figured I knew enough about the festival to answer just about any question thrown at me. (Number one question at the OBF? Where’s the ATM.)
My role with the North American Organic Brewers Festival is very similar to the above, plus obtaining all the permits for the event. My role with the Oregon Garden Brewfest is strictly public relations, which keeps it simple; and my role with the Holiday Ale Festival is somewhere in-between, mostly PR and social media but also communicating with brewers and producing the program.
My favorite? I love working with the brewers – who wouldn’t, they are talented, witty, irreverent, amazing! – but I also love working with the public. With the festivals, I often act as a concierge, recommending hotels and restaurants and pubs and beers. I am a Portland native and incredibly proud of this town. I want everyone who comes here to not only enjoy the beer, but the entire city and all that it offers.
Which festival is your personal favorite to attend?
That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite! (By the way, I only have one child, so that is an easy answer.) Each of the festivals I promote offers something different to love. The Oregon Garden Brewfest is held in such a beautiful setting, and they let you walk around the gardens with your beer! It has a really sweet, small town community feel to it. I love the NAOBF for its park setting and its mellow vibe. Very family friendly, it’s as if everyone there is having a picnic on the grass with a beer in hand. The OBF is great people watching, but my absolute favorite part of that festival has to be the kick off parade - it’s become an amazing tradition. And the Holiday Ale Festival is so festive, held in the heart of the city in the winter with the clear tents that allow you to see the Christmas lights above.
Do you like beer? What kinds? Are you learning to like new styles?
I love beer! Although I am very picky about styles. I have a certain palate and know what I like. I’m not a fan of malty beers, I find them too sweet. Also not a fan of lagers. I used to be a self proclaimed hophead, but the older I get, the bitterer the beers seem to taste. These days, I lean toward a lovely non-Imperial IPA, a tart sour, or a chocolate stout. Stout is truly my new favorite, which is great as it pairs so well with the dark winter months. I’m also becoming a bit addicted to ciders.
What do you love about Oregon beer culture?
I love the camaraderie of it. It truly is an industry where rivals are friendly and supportive of one another. They help each other out, and you can’t say that about most other businesses. I also love the fact that new breweries open all the time in Oregon, yet rarely do they close. The beer lovers in Oregon go out of their way to help these places not only survive, but flourish. Soon, it won’t be a Starbucks on every corner, it will be a craft brewery. I also love the reporting of our craft beer scene - we have a ton of beer and event bloggers in this town, and I’ve grown to develop really great relationships with so many of them. As a PR person, that’s my job, but I would count many of these media among my friends.
What do you do for fun?
I’m self-employed, I work 24/7! Fun for me is spending time with my husband and son. And planning our next trip to Maui, which is where we love to be.
Do you have any funny stories about working on the beer fests for us? Ever had a keg not show up until the last possible second? Any other YIKES! moments?
We’ve had many kegs not show until the last possible second; which may not sound like a big deal, but when they arrive on a tractor trailer rig in the middle of Naito Parkway and you have thousands of people on the festival grounds - it is! Unfortunately for the readers, most of the stories I have either can’t be shared or shouldn’t be! Oddly enough, they usually involve porta potties..
You run PR/Marketing for several breweries around town. Which breweries are you associated with?
I am lucky enough to work with Lompoc Brewing, Cascade Brewing, Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub, Kells Irish Pub, and the newly opened Growlers Hawthorne. I also do project work for Sierra Nevada Brewing. And believe it or not, I have non-beer related PR clients as well, including the amazing people at Tea Chai Te, the Oregon Garden/Oregon Garden Resort and Portland International Raceway.
It’s 6 p.m. on a “typical” Tuesday night - where do we find you?
Typing one last email before making dinner and helping my son with homework. Because as much as I think I have the greatest job in the world, I am a mom, first and always.
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