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.
By Kirby Neumann-Rea
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Community is the fifth element in brewing to go with water, yeast, barley and hops, according to Oregon brewing pioneer Dave Logsdon.
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales’ founder recently gave an insider’s detailed, and often funny, history of brewing in the Columbia River Gorge and the rest of Oregon. He recounted the roots that were established by Full Sail Brewing Company along with the past decade’s rapidly growing brewing culture in Hood River and nearby scenic towns about an hour east of Portland.
“It is really a story of people working together,” Logsdon said to a room of about 120 people in February. His speech was part of a Sense of Place Lecture held at Hood River’s Columbia Center for the Arts. With him was his wife Judith Bams-Logsdon, a native of Belgium and his muse for beer styles and Belgian menu at their downtown Hood River tasting room.
Logsdon has the authority to re-tell the area’s brewing saga because he was there from the start — first as a leader in the homebrewing revolution in the 1970s and later as co-founder of three anchors in Oregon fermentology: Full Sail, Wyeast Laboratories and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales.
“Full Sail was the gathering point for homebrewers and other like-minded folks, and people saw it was successful,” he said. “When I think of the sense of place, to me it’s mostly about the people. Yes, we have a beautiful valley and river and environment to live in, but it’s the people who have lived here and shared their community to make things possible and make the community what it is. And that’s what I have to say about the brewing community,” Logsdon described. He added, “Even before craft brewing and Brewers in the Gorge (BIG), the large professional brewers had a tradition of working together about science and innovation in order to brew the best beers possible.”
Logsdon’s experiences during the last 40 years span from garage brewing to being a leader in the 500-employee, $50 million Gorge beer economy.
“I left the Midwest in the early 1970s and there were still regional beers with flavor, but as soon as I reached the West Coast, I noticed a distinct difference in beer quality,” he said. “They were all pretty much light lager beers. Working my way through school, I didn’t have the resources to enjoy the beers I wanted to drink, so I started brewing beer.” In 1985, he opened Wyeast Laboratories, which was then a small operation.
“Wyeast was a big part of my life here in the Gorge and part of what I did to bring the fourth element of brewing to the neighborhood. We have abundant hops on both sides of us, acres of barley and the best brewing water in the world, and it was nice to work with my family to bring this fourth aspect of it to the Hood River Gorge.”
He later jumped at the chance to help get Full Sail off the ground with Irene Firmat and Jerome Chicvara. Logsdon remained at the brewery until the mid-1990s.
“We pooled all the resources we could from family and friends and worked for a year to get it financed,” Logsdon said. He said it would not have happened without longtime Parkdale residents Jack and Kate Mills. “They believed in us, invested in us and also helped us raise another large chunk of money through the Oregon Lottery,” he said. What emerged was first called Hood River Brewing Company.
A building that protruded halfway into Columbia Street and a chain-link fence were both in the way of constructing the Full Sail facility. “We knocked it out to get the brewery going,” he said. “Things have changed a lot, and it started with a huge amount of energy. And many of the brewing community members were very encouraging of Full Sail, which became two blocks of Hood River.”
Craft beer, he said, “is here to stay and it has had a huge impact on everything we consume and our approach to life and the values we have in what we create.”
He was part of the “’86 Club,” as he puts it — the brewers who were there when it became legal to brew beer and sell it in the same location. Logsdon pointed to fellow pioneers including Brian and Mike McMenamin, Kurt and Rob Widmer, Karl Ockert, Fred Eckhardt, Art Larrance, Fred Bauman and Jack Joyce.
Logsdon presented a “family tree” of Gorge brewers, with Full Sail brewers moving on to either work for, or found, all but one brewery in the Gorge (Backwoods Brewing Company in Carson, Wash.) Standouts include Double Mountain founder Matt Swihart, pFriem founder Josh Pfriem and Solera brewer and co-owner Jason Kahler.
“The brewing community itself has very deep roots and strengths going back to big breweries working together in sharing knowledge,” Logsdon said. ”Overall, besides of all these good things we have, it’s as much to the credit of the open-mindedness and the progressive thinking you find in Oregonians. It’s the people and the energy putting those things tighter — the willingness to create and take a chance and do what you think is right and work together.”
Josh and Annie Pfriem are preparing to expand their family brewery to the rest of the 20,000-square-foot Halyard Building in Hood River. The move brings extra stress and long hours, but finding time for themselves, along with a foundation of friendship, helps keep their relationship strong. Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
By Kirby Neumann-Rea
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Few beer names are worth a battle royal for trademark infringement, but you couldn’t blame Josh and Annie Pfriem for going to court if they really wanted to dub a beer “Headlamp.” It’s a name used by at least three American breweries. But there likely won’t be any legal battles anytime soon — the owners of pFriem Family Brewers in Hood River gravitate toward more traditional names rather than relying on puns, places or physical objects.
But if they did go another route, “Headlamp” should be theirs by any romantic right.
Their love started with beer and a headlamp-lit glacier and it continued to grow while helping develop two breweries. Now with a family and a business — a brewery of their own that focuses on Belgian-style beers and brings home numerous awards — life is more complex, perhaps. But it’s also more rewarding. However, their relationship didn’t start out on such strong footing.
The two worked together as ski guides in British Columbia, Canada and when they met, “We really clashed,” said Josh, now 35. “I was arrogant and young and she was loud and emotional.”
Annie confirmed the description and added, “We were really young and I had broken up with my college boyfriend, and I was like, ‘I don’t need you.’”
The guide work was “a couple-year commitment, and it was a tight-knit group of like-minded folks,” Josh explained. “And we were friends for the first couple of years we knew each other, but at the start we actually didn’t like each other.”
A mutual dislike gave way after a beer recommendation.
“That first summer, we kept away from each other. But when we came back to the U.S. we hit Boundary Bay in Bellingham,” said Josh.
“His hometown brewery, you know?” Annie interjected while elbowing Josh.
“And Annie and I happen to sit next to each other and she was having trouble deciding what to drink, and I said, ‘Do you need a beer recommendation?’”
"'Even though I drink craft beer," Annie said.
“But she was stuck,” Josh said.
So Josh recommended a Blonde ale. She liked it, and that led to talking about skiing, and coming out that winter to snowboard at Mount Baker.
"And that's when our friendship took off and it led to a relationship," Josh said.
Shortly after they started dating, the first mountain they summited together was Sahale Mountain in northern Washington. But as they descended in the dark, that’s when the headlamp entered the picture: Annie’s broke, requiring her to follow behind Josh.
“It was an epic day and we learned later that both of us thought later on, ‘If we ever have a little girl, Sahale would be a pretty awesome name,’” said Josh.
Their first child, daughter Sahale, is now 10. The couple also have 6-year-old son Watou, named for a beer center in Belgium. Their other child, the brewery, was conceived at least 10 years ago when Annie and Josh realized their mutual fondness for the craft.
“I'd get home from brewing, and fire up the homebrewing, trying recipes,” Josh said. “pFriem Brewery was the plan all along, and Annie’s been part of the process from day one; together we're talking, visiting places — including Belgium -- building a vision of what we wanted to have happen.”
Today, “our employees love to see us working together,” Josh said. As they sit next to each other in the brewery’s cozy upper room, decorated by Annie and termed “The Library,” something sparkles as clear as a pFriem pilsner — their mutual willingness to tease and be teased, and that they can seamlessly finish each other’s thoughts.
“When we're here in the office and Annie gets too loud and I tell her to ‘Be quiet, it’s very not corporate,’” he said. “We go to beer events together and people see us as a couple, it shows more and more of what we're trying to do here at pFriem.
“I’m soft at heart but pretty go-go-go during my day to get things done, and Annie's pretty good at letting people know the softer side — when they need the Mama when Papa's a little too gruff.”
In fact, in the early part of their marriage, Josh took to calling Annie “Brew Mama.” It’s a nickname she puts on her business card and illustrates some of her chief brewery roles — ensuring “the touch and feel” of place, making sure the customers are comfortable and the atmosphere is family-like. She’s also in charge of donations and community outreach while assisting with the business’ social media presence. “But touch and feel is the little things you see around pFriem that you don’t necessarily see in restaurants or, more specifically, breweries.”
Of course, with success comes new challenges. This year, pFriem is planning to take over the rest of the 20,000-square-foot Halyard Building, which is owned by the Port of Hood River. That will provide more space for storage, fermenting, bottling and the office. While stress and long hours accompany any expansion, creating something together has its rewards as well.
Josh adds, “It’s really romantic that we're building something together. It’s like raising children, there's a romance to that."
How are beer and romance connected? “It gives an opportunity for love and joy,” Josh answered.
Annie was more to the point: “Beer is sexy,” she laughed.
As busy as they are with running a burgeoning business, they manage to find time for themselves and family.
“We have little breaks, and our kids have grown up in the mountains — between skiing and biking and camping and nowadays we mountain bike quite a bit,” Josh said. “That’s another way we connect outside the brewery. We try to get out on mountain bike dates, rather than going out to dinner. Since we do so much for events, we try to do non-beer things. But there's usually a beer at the end.”
Referring back to the origin of their relationship, Josh said that “we were definitely just friends for a long time, which has helped these times — some of them hard when you have the brewery and this business and the children,” he said. “We have this cement foundation of friendship.”
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
Big Horse Brew Pub
115 W. State St., Hood River
This small brewery is one of the oldest in the Gorge. Owners Randy and Susan Orzeck opened the business as a fine dining destination under the name Horsefeathers but have gradually evolved over the years, with Randy, a self-taught brewer, acting as the original brewmaster.
Current brewmaster Darrek Smith has been working at Big Horse for almost three years. He took over when Jason Kahler left to start up Solera. The 4-barrel brewery is a one-man show, producing five regular beers, including a rotating series of IPAs called Strictly Rude, and a variety of seasonals that are served at the pub on the upper level of the three-story building with great views over downtown Hood River and the Columbia River. Smith jokes that one of the unique things about the brewery is that “every keg is hauled up three flights of stairs.”
As the brewery doesn’t package or distribute, Smith has more flexibility in choosing what beers to make. His favorite styles are traditional German lagers, funky sour beers, and really hoppy beers. Smith usually partners with the restaurant’s chef to create a few special menu items to pair with any new beers he releases. New beers in the works are a nut brown ale, a chocolate stout, and a Munich dunkel as well as a Berliner Weisse-style beer made with sour mash.
Next spring, the brewery will double in size as the building’s footprint expands farther north toward State Street. Smith will still be brewing on the 4-barrel system, but will gain a malt room and a barrel room. He plans to start a barrel-aging project and will focus on making some stronger beers next year.
Double Mountain Brewery
8 4th St., Hood River
Business is booming at Double Mountain. In 2013, the brewery doubled in production and pub space and now employs 75 people. They also have an offsite warehouse which includes space for keg storage, malt storage, an 8,000-square-foot cooler, and a cask room. Double Mountain makes four year-round beers and seven annual ales, all packaged in reusable glass bottles.
Matt Swihart, owner of the 20-barrel brewery, takes great pride in sourcing the best ingredients from all over the world in order to make the best beer possible. These include two-row pilsner malts from British Columbia, Belgian yeast strains, and Northwest hops. “Our brewmasters thrive in creating robust, yet drinkable beers by focusing on the end product rather than being wedded to stylistic guidelines,” Swihart says.
Swihart found another way to showcase the brewery this summer when he purchased a 1950 Chevy panel truck he found in Los Angeles. Other than replacing the engine, transmission and brakes, modifying the paint job, and adding four taps on one side, little has been done to modernize the vehicle.
Double Mountain beers will be featured at Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort for several events throughout the winter. The brewery will also be releasing two new beers early next year. In January, look for Pale Death, a Belgian-style Imperial IPA. Later in the spring they will release Gypsy Stumper, an IPA.
According to Swihart, the brewery’s future plans will focus on “organic growth at our own pace. We’ll continue to make delicious beer, serve up quality food, and enjoy the ride for as long as we can.”
Pfriem Family Brewers
707 Portway Ave., Suite 101, Hood River
Along with friends and business partners Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner, Josh and Annie Pfriem opened this family-run 15-barrel brewery two years ago with the primary focus of producing artisanal, high quality beers. Housed in a silver LEED-certified building, the brewery has already doubled their space from 6,000 to 12,500 square feet. Forthcoming additions of four 90-barrel fermenters, two 90-barrel brite tanks, a dedicated mash tun, a second grain silo and plenty of other equipment will all serve to boost quality and increase capacity from 5,000 to 10,000 barrels per year.
Even on the current system, Pfriem has been able to release approximately one new beer every week, and will brew more than 50 different beers this year. In addition to six year-round offerings, the brewery makes a wide variety of seasonal beers, and has recently released a Winter Ale, a Cascadian Dark Ale, and a Belgian Christmas Ale for the holidays.
Other forthcoming beers are a Flanders blonde and red that have been aging for the past year and a half in French oak barrels. Further barrel aging plans incorporate two newly-acquired 40-hectoliter foeders from Bordeaux, France as well as some bourbon and gin barrels. Three wine tanks will be used for fruit aging beers next summer.
Pfriem plans to start bottling in March 2015. Their six year-round beers will be at the forefront of packaged options, although they are generally going to avoid the traditional model and will put hop-forward beers and lagers in 500-milliliter capped bottles while Belgian-style and barrel-aged beers will undergo secondary fermentation in 375-milliliter bottles.
Full Sail Brewery
506 Columbia St., Hood River
Full Sail is an employee-owned company (since 1999) whose CEO and Founder Irene Firmat is not only a pioneer of the craft beer industry; she also blazed the trail uniquely as a woman from Cuba. Her husband, Jamie Emmerson, is executive brewmaster.
Full Sail laid the foundation for most of the Gorge breweries in business today. The majority of the other brewers mentioned in this article have worked at Full Sail at some point in their careers, gaining valuable knowledge and experience along with the business connections and confidence to take a leap of faith and strike out on their own.
The brewery continues to win awards for its beers and sustainable business model. One of the many accolades they have received was being named Beverage World Magazine’s Craft Brewer of the Year 2014. At this year’s U.S. Beer Open they won gold medals for Session Premium Lager and Session Black Lager.
Besides the two Session beers, Full Sail makes their flagship Amber Ale and IPA as year-round offerings in six-packs and on draft. The company has also now added its pilsner to this year-round lineup. There are also rotating seasonal varieties in the Pub Series, the LTD Lager Series and the Brewer’s Share Series. The brewery recently released a special beer as part of their Brewmaster Reserve series: 27 Wheatwine Ale, brewed with 100% wheat malt to celebrate their 27th anniversary. For this holiday season, they have already released Wassail, Wreck the Halls and Session Fest.
Full Sail offers informative, enjoyable, and complimentary brewery tours at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily. The tour takes about 30 minutes and is a great introduction to the art and science of crafting beer.
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
4785 Booth Hill Rd., Hood River
Located on David Logsdon and Judith Logsdon-Bams’ picturesque 10-acre estate off Highway 35, complete with assorted animals and 400 cherry trees, this brewery is unique in that it’s a cooperative owned by six partners who can make their own beers. The Farmhouse Brewer, Charles Porter, has already released his first beer in his own “Bergschrund Signature Series.” Aberrant, an Organic Farmhouse Golden Ale, debuted in June 2013.
Logsdon currently brews four regular beers plus a range of seasonals. Their Peche ‘n Brett recently won Silver at GABF while Cerasus won Gold at the 2014 World Beer Cup. Look for the release of 2014 Cerasus at Volcanic Bottle Shoppe in Hood River this month. It was expected to debut Thanksgiving weekend.
The brewery has recently installed two new 40-hectoliter Hungarian oak casks in the cave, an arched structure installed in a hillside and covered with soil. The larger casks take the place of the original 55-gallon ones, which will be used for a new sour beer program. In early November, they took delivery of a coolship which will be used for traditional wild fermentations.
The brewery will celebrate its four-year anniversary in February and is planning to open an offsite tap room and barrel house sometime in the spring. Note that the current tasting room is closed for the winter months.
4945 Baseline Dr., Mount Hood Parkdale
Co-owners John Hitt and Jason Kahler are always happy to welcome you to their cozy brewpub, which will celebrate its three-year anniversary in April. Just off Highway 35 in Parkdale, Solera is the perfect pre- or post-skiing watering hole. The vibe is always laid-back and you’ll probably meet several of the locals if you hang out at the bar for a while. With spectacular views of orchards and Mt Hood, the brewery is a wonderful place to grab a picnic table and soak up the sunshine on a clear day. This winter, look for themed events like an ugly sweater party in December and an ‘80s ski party in January.
Hitt handles the front-of-house responsibilities while Kahler, previously of Full Sail and Big Horse, operates the 7-barrel system he inherited from Elliot Glacier Public House, the building’s previous occupant. The name of the brewery comes from the unique process, called “solera,” in which beers of varying ages are stored in barrels. Portions of the contents of the oldest barrels are removed and added to contents of newer barrels, creating a blend.
While Kahler doesn’t make all of his beers using the solera method, he has been barrel aging since the end of 2012 and will soon be ready to release the brewery’s first solera-style beers in 750-milliliter bottles. These will be limited editions of approximately 250 bottles per batch that will only be available at the brewery. In the meantime, you can usually find their Hedonist IPA on tap in the pub, along with a variety of rotating seasonal beers.
Thunder Island Brewing
515 S.W. Portage Rd., Cascade Locks
This new brewery just celebrated its first anniversary in October. Started by business partners Dave Lipps and Dan Hynes, it is uniquely located alongside the Columbia River near the Bridge of the Gods and the Pacific Crest Trail. With views of namesake Thunder Island from the large outdoor patio, the brewery is a year-round destination for adventure lovers of all types and serves as a gathering spot for the local community.
Thunder Island started operations on a 2-barrel system and is now transitioning to 7-barrel system. Hynes, the brewmaster, is already anticipating making the first beer, a double chocolate stout, on the new system. As they expand production, the brewery will start limited distribution. They also hope to expand their current food offerings.
In addition to their standby beer, a Scotch Porter, Thunder Island features a rotating selection of brews that appeal to their broad customer base. These include a Mosaic-hopped pale ale, an easy drinking cream ale, and a Northwest-style IPA. They have a small barrel-aging program and have already released a few “dinosour” beers. They have also collaborated with Beers Made by Walking on a number of beers featuring wild harvested ingredients from their backyard.
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