By Bruce Pokarney, Oregon Department of Agriculture
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Oregon exports into South Korea have greatly expanded following the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) of five years ago. The potential of Oregon wines and craft beers is starting to be realized in a country that has developed a thirst for imported alcoholic beverages. South Korea imports nearly $140 million of wine from around the world, and even though the U.S. is responsible for only about $20 million of that total, it’s still significant.
Five years ago, I visited Shinsegae, a large upscale department store in Seoul that also sells food and beverages. Pre-KORUS FTA, there were no Oregon wines to be found in Shinsegae’s well-stocked wine section. Now, several Oregon wines can be located without much effort. Granted, the price is still steep (A 2012 pinot noir from Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards in Dundee goes for more than $100 a bottle) and the Korean consumer is more apt to look for more affordable products. But as the tariffs continue to tumble, Oregon wines are more often on the shopper’s radar.
“The free trade agreement is driving down the tariffs, and that has helped,” said Shawn Kim, who works for the State of Oregon’s Korea Representative Office in Seoul. “People who know and love wine know all about Oregon pinot, which is still more expensive than many other wines in the Korean market but is priced more competitively than it was five years ago.”
Oregon is on everyone’s map when it comes to craft beers. South Korea is no exception.
“Rogue was one of the first American craft brewers to enter the Korean market,” notes Sang Yong Oh, senior marketing specialist at the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Seoul. “They have a very solid foundation for their export business to Korea because they were ahead of others. I think Rogue is a very good example of how American suppliers can benefit from the export opportunity in Korea by being active in Korea.”
The key for a craft brewer seems to be supplying enough volume to satisfy the demand. There is plenty of competition from beers exported by other countries, but Oregon can be a big player in a market where it’s trendy to ask for an imported craft brew.
It will be interesting and exciting to see how many more Oregon products might find a home in South Korea over the next couple of years.
By Ezra Johnson-Greenough
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The internet was supposed to make life easier and solve humanity’s problems, so who figured it would take an online bookstore more than two decades just to get beer deliveries to your home right? When Amazon rolled out its Prime Now service in late 2014, home beer and wine deliveries were discussed, but it wasn’t until August of 2017 that the service launched in Oregon. Amazon is famous for helping kill off local and big-box book retailers, and some are now concerned they could do the same to grocery stores and bottle shops.
Prime Now is an app for your phone or device that lets you order items you’d normally find at large grocers: food, household supplies and gadgets. To use this service, you must be an Amazon Prime member, which for $99 a year is easily worth it if you do any other online shopping or video/music streaming. Products are shipped through the company’s regional partners, and based on my zip code that would be New Seasons Market, Whole Foods Market or Amazon’s local product center.
Ordering from each incurs a separate delivery fee (typically about $5) that’s waived when the purchase amount reaches a certain threshold. Amazon then adds a suggested $5 tip for the driver, which can be edited. Users choose a two-hour arrival window and it can be scheduled days in advance. If you’re in a hurry, one-hour delivery is available for a fee ranging from $4.99-7.99. Prices are comparable, if not exactly the same, as what’s in stores. Another benefit is the option to have your package left on a safe porch without signature (though you must be present with identification if purchasing alcohol).
Amazon’s Prime Now store is the only outlet in my zip code to ship beer, cider and wine (none of the hard stuff). There is a “Cold Beer” section with subcategories for “Local and Craft Beer” along with domestics, imports and specific styles. At this point, your choices are limited to the lineup you might find at your local mini-mart, but I suspect that will change — especially if there’s demand.
Under “Local and Craft Beer,” some might quibble with listings for Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Blue Moon, Elysian, 10 Barrel and Hop Valley, but that’s neither here nor there. More important to most is the local beer selection, which includes new and classic — but safe — hits from Breakside, BridgePort, Crux, Full Sail, Deschutes, Ecliptic, Fort George, Ninkasi, Oakshire, Pyramid, Rogue, Widmer and Worthy. National/international players are even more basic, like Corona, Guinness, New Belgium, Pacifico, Stella and, interestingly, Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen.
I have now ordered from Amazon’s Prime Now service five times, three of them specifically for beer, finding mostly good results. The delivery often arrives on the early side of the two-hour window, and they take care to put the beer in a thin, but still temperature-holding, Mylar bag along with an ice pack. I encountered one issue with my first purchase of two bottles of Breakside’s flagship IPA in 22-ounce bottles (well-priced at $4.29 each) and a six-pack of Pelican’s Beak Breaker Double IPA. Shortly after placing the order, I was notified via email that the Pelican beer wasn’t available. The rest of the items came as usual, and there was no charge for the six-pack — though it was still listed as being available more than a week later.
Polling the hive mind known as my social media connections, I came across one other interesting snag that I tested myself. When requesting a seasonal release, you may not end up with the beer you intend. For instance, one person discovered that an order placed for Fort George’s Suicide Squeeze IPA actually resulted in the brewery’s 3-Way IPA being delivered. I attempted to replicate this by ordering Suicide Squeeze along with Breakside’s Toro Red (the site actually pictured the brewery’s What Rough Beast beer). I ended up receiving the 3-Way as well and the India Golden Ale by Breakside. The lesson: beware of accuracy when it comes to ordering seasonals. On the plus-side, it’s nice to get a refund and still keep the beer by sending in a complaint. This, however, highlights areas where online beer delivery will most likely always fall short — in selection and depth of knowledge.
“Delivery works best for replenishing staples,” says Carl Singmaster, one of the proprietors of Belmont Station in Southeast Portland. “For the consumer that prefers to drink primarily one widely available brand consistently, it makes a lot of sense. But for those who are constantly exploring and learning, I think they'll prefer to shop at bricks and mortar.”
“When customers need friendly interaction, real opinions, industry gossip or tips, that's where we come in. There's nothing virtual about it,” says Sarah Pederson, owner of North Portland’s Saraveza tavern and bottle shop.
With Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods, there’s a lot of concern that the massive company could push out mom-and-pop grocery and beer retailers. While most bottle shop owners I talked to think that Prime Now is more of a threat to big-box stores, they are still considering the possible consequences.
“We may lose some sales,” says Sean Campbell (aka John Beermonger), owner of The BeerMongers bottle shop and bar in Southeast Portland, “but I feel that is always a threat either from grocery stores or big liquor stores. Knowledgeable staff, good prices and good atmosphere should help keep the little guys in business.”
Sarah Pederson agrees, “I think Amazon grocery will affect grocery stores in the beer departments more than small bottle shops such as Saraveza. I can't imagine that all the time, effort, devotion and education we put into our selection on a weekly basis could be mimicked by a ginormous online store.”
In addition to the selection and expert customer support, Prime Now doesn’t offer details consumers want, like where their beer is coming from.
“I have so many customers who are very conscientious of what brands they purchase in regards to the ownership of the brewery,” says Sarah Pederson. “I don't know if these people refuse to shop at Walmart or on Amazon, but I'm curious to hear from them.”
The area where Amazon really could hurt small businesses is pricing. “The biggest concern is that a company of the scale and with the cash on hand of an Amazon can subsidize their service to undercut other retailers. The other concern would be if producers and distributors give them outsized allocations of limited-release beers,” comments Singmaster.
Beermonger is more concerned about the beer itself. “I know not all beer is stored properly. I see it in big stores, but also specialty stores. If people get inferior product that was stored and shipped under less-than-ideal conditions, they may blame the brewery for making bad beer. This is a problem that often comes up and I see this new delivery system increasing the likelihood of beer that is ‘off.’”
Overall, these craft-centric retailers were interested in following this new wave of beer delivery, but didn’t seem overly worried about competition. In some cases, they were even encouraging.
“I am all for consumers having as many options and choices available to them as possible,” says Singmaster. “For those that prefer to have their groceries delivered rather than visiting stores in person, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to put beer and wine into the mix.”
“Convenience sells. This move by Amazon and Whole Foods is a sign of the times, and we shouldn't be surprised by it. In fact, we should be prepared for more of it. People are very emotional, and often fearful, about big business and how it takes over. It's not necessarily a bad thing for the craft beer movement, but it sure is an interesting twist in this ever-changing industry.”
One thing is for sure, now that there are more ways to get beer delivered, Amazon won’t be the only one to get into the business. Additional specialty retailers are likely on the way. We already have draft growler beer subscription services in companies like Hopsy and bottle subscription through Tavour, among others.
By Jim McLaren
For the Oregon Beer Growler
A Chinook helicopter looks like a giant pickle, held in the air by enormous blades fore and aft. The rotor wash from the machine can knock a person off their feet. It kicks up so much debris it earned a colorful, slightly obscene, nickname. (Check Google.)
So, Maj. Stephen Bomar, director of public affairs for the Oregon Military Department, says envision “the unit Bravo 1-168 Aviation” flying the latest Chinooks, the CH-47 Delta, “in Kuwait for one year and doing operations in Iraq.” The heat is unbearable. You’re eating dirt and being sandblasted whenever the beasts take off and land.
At the end of each of those 365 days, National Guard members from Oregon and Washington probably wanted nothing more than some air conditioning and a cold beer. The A/C was easier to get overseas than the beer — it’s outlawed in those countries.
But these troops could daydream about what they would get when they got home, besides hugs, kisses and marching bands. Bomar knows “one free beer should do it.”
The “free beer” is a unique, somewhat-secret bottling Rogue Brewery has been doing for nearly 20 years.
In his Salem office, surrounded by bottles of Rogue beer to be donated to the Oregon Military Museum after its renovated, Bomar explains what might be called “Operation Rogue.” It started post-9/11 when Oregon began deploying units to combat zones. “Rogue began recognizing a unit for their service.”
The idea, actually, goes back to the founding of Rogue Brewery in the late 1980s. To “integrate ourselves into the community” was one of the original company goals.
When Rogue moved to Newport, it became part of the Coast Guard community. The “Coasties” were early customers honored with one of the first memorial labels. Company president Brett Joyce says, “the most fun things we do just tend to happen, naturally, because we are there and we’re listening and are open to new things.”
It would’ve been easy for Rogue to bottle some beer, make up a label and hand it out at coming home ceremonies. Instead, Bomar says, the units to be honored work directly with Rogue through the nonprofit Oregon National Guard Association in designing the label and verifying the facts on the bottle. For instance, the label for Sky Daddy Ale — handed out at the Oct. 22 demobilization ceremony for Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment -- featured an airborne Chinook with details about its operations, the 1,000 hours of combat flight time and the million pounds of cargo it airlifted.
Rogue stands off to the side during the official ceremonies but has, President Joyce says, “become a fun part of what we call a souvenir service — a service they really look forward to because it has become a tradition for them. So we get emails from people who say — ‘Hey, I couldn’t make the ceremony, can I get a bottle?’ It’s an honor to be able to help those who do serve.”
Bomar agrees and remembers the biggest bottling Rogue did. “When the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team had its largest mobilization since World War II — it involved multiple states — there were more than 3,500 soldiers. Rogue still did the welcome home.”
Mike Johnson was part of that 2010 ceremony. He was coming back from his second tour. Johnson now works for Rogue, but remembers being impressed “that we have a brewery in Oregon taking time out of their regular course of business to work with the unit to do something really special, to remind them of where they came from and to give back.”
Brett Joyce is slouched in the chair behind the desk in his cluttered Southeast Portland office as he thinks, again, about how this fits Rogue’s community integration goal. “It’s kind of an unwritten agreement — you guys served and we’re happy to serve you up with a bottle of Rogue beer.”
But, after all these years, why not let the world know? Why has it been something of a secret?
“For this project, that is not really the point. People on the inside of it — the families, the friends, the people who serve — enough people know. We don’t do it to run a press release, we don’t blast it on our website. We just do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
The public cannot buy these special bottles. But unit members can pay only $20 if they want a full case.
By Erica Tiffany-Brown
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
For the last three years, I’ve dressed up as a hop during the Halloween season because a.) hops are awesome, and b.) I’m both too lazy and not creative enough to conjure up some other costume. Although I love traditions, I’m growing tired of doing the same thing year after year. But one thing I never get tired of is Oregon beer — so, I’ve decided to brew up some new rituals for all of us featuring our favorite treat. Below, you’ll find four different fall activities — beyond just Halloween — and the beers that go with them. October will never be the same again!
Ashland’s Caldera Brewing is already Halloween-friendly thanks to their logo, a bubbling black cauldron. But what will really put you under their spell is the Toasted Coconut Chocolate Porter. The brewery uses in-house toasted coconut chips and natural liquid chocolate to create nothing short of Mounds bar goodness. The beer already claims to be dessert in a glass, so why not take your state of sugar-induced bliss one step further by pairing it with the Hershey’s tropical treat? | 6.2% ABV, 24 IBUs
Aside from having a great name, Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter from Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond blends the chocolatey, caramelly, nutty notes loved by porter fans and amplifies them times a thousand with an undeniably creamy peanut butter flavor. It’s a beer that pairs well with E.T.’s favorite food group — Reese’s Pieces. Added bonus: The candies will double as a type of breadcrumb trail when you’ve imbibed too many beers and can’t find your way back home! | 6% ABV, 18 IBUs
Fall Activity Pairing: Trick-or-Treating
Even though you’re too big to get away with going door-to-door asking for candy — unless you secretly steal from your kid’s stash — there are likely plenty of leftovers from that giant variety pack you had every intention of handing out to costumed little monsters. Instead of ravaging it like a zombie, here are some more Oregon beer and candy pairings to help you savor every last bite: Rusty Truck Brewing’s Taft Toffee Porter with Heath bars, Base Camp Brewing’s S’more Stout with Peeps marshmallows, and Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar with Ferrero Rocher.
Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice
Pumpkin beer (or pumpkin anything for that matter) is one of those things people either seem to love or hate. But even the biggest pumpkin skeptic could be made into a believer with Rogue’s annual Pumpkin Patch Ale. “Crafted from patch to batch,” each year Rogue employees pick fresh pumpkins from Rogue Farms in Independence, load them up and drive them 77 miles to the Newport brewery. The pumpkins are then roasted and pitched into the brew kettle, creating a final product that rivals even the best witch’s brew. | 6.1% ABV, 25 IBUs
Complex enough to be in a category all on its own, Cascade Brewing’s Pumpkin Smash is not for the average pumpkin beer fan. The Portland barrel house is highly regarded for its sour beers, and Pumpkin Smash does not disappoint. Each year’s batch offers a different experience — for example, their 2015 version is a blend of blond and quad ales aged in bourbon and brandy barrels for up to 22 months with pumpkin and spices. In September, the brewery released the 2015 blend on draft only, with vintage 2013 and 2014 bottles available for purchase. If the spirits are in your favor, you’ll likely still be able to score a rare bottle at the brewery, or at bottle shops such as Portland’s Belmont Station and The Bier Stein in Eugene. | 10.8%-12.35% ABV
Fall Activity Pairing: Pumpkin Patch
Check out Heiser Farms in Dayton for the ultimate pumpkin overload. On Saturdays and Sundays in October, the farm has cannons that shoot pumpkins more than a quarter of a mile! They will also be serving Heiser Pumpkin Ale from Silverton’s Seven Brides Brewing, a brew made with pumpkins grown right on the farm.
Originally released as a seasonal in 2014, Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red has become almost as much of a cult classic as the movie it’s named after — 1978 horror film “Dawn of the Dead.” The brewery’s label designer and art director, Tony Figoli, is obviously a fan of the film, so what better reason to add this zombie-themed pairing to your to-do list this Halloween season and beyond? According to the Eugene brewery, “it doesn’t take brains to know this IRA is a delicious choice any time of year!” | 7% ABV, 75 IBUs
The infamous Black Widow only summons herself two weeks out of the year, but she always leaves a lasting impression. Originally brewed at the McMenamins Thompson Brewery 25 years ago on October 15, 1991, this deep-black porter infused with licorice root is so enchanting she will be the star of her own “Widow’s Weekend” at various locations. While she’s available October 15 through Halloween at all McMenamins pubs, the Thompson Brewery usually releases the popular seasonal earlier than the rest. But don’t get too lost in her web, as she won’t be here for long! | 7.35% ABV, 30 IBU
Fall Activity Pairing: Scary Movie Marathon
Although there is a 1987 crime thriller which shares the name “Black Widow,” McMenamins has a lot more to offer than that in the scary movie department this month. The company’s Mission Theater and Pub in Portland offers a variety of screenings all year long, but in October, you’ll find that classic spooky movies are their specialty. “The Craft” and “Scream” are both celebrating their 20th anniversaries, “Little Shop of Horrors” is celebrating its 30th, and “Carrie” is celebrating its 40th. There will be multiple showings of each, along with the movie “Se7en.” Don’t forget to order your favorite McMenamins beer as liquid courage as you prepare to be scared!
Putting the Oktober in Oktoberfest
If you’re pumpkin-phobic, have no fear, Deschutes is here! The brewery recently added a new fall seasonal to its lineup: Hopzeit Autumn IPA. While this beer may or may not conform to the Reinheitsgebot (a German purity law only allowing water, barley and hops as ingredients), the beer is at least “100-percent gourd free” according to the brewery, and “blends the malt body and flavor of a Marzen with the hop profile of an IPA.” It even has its own hashtag: #SayNoToPumpkinBeer. | 7% ABV, 60 IBUs
For those of you wanting something you could drink a few steins of without being frightened by flavors, this section’s for you. Block 15 Brewing’s Autumn Farmhouse Ale, dubbed as a “harvest celebration of Pacific Northwest regional farms,” is a part of the brewery’s seasonal bottle-conditioned series. The beer truly lives up to its description, featuring organic North American malts, organic oats from Green Willow Grains, Willamette Valley hops, and honey from Queen Bee Apiaries, also located in Corvallis. | 7.4% ABV
Fall Activity Pairing: Oktoberfest
Although Munich’s famous Oktoberfest may be over, luckily for you there are still some Oregon breweries that are hosting their own versions of the revered German celebration this month, including Block 15’s Bloktoberfest on Oct. 21 (Pro Tip: You get free entry if you wear German-themed clothing). On Oct. 8 in Portland, not only is Zoiglhaus Brewing hosting its own Oktoberfest, but Widmer Brothers Brewing will be putting on an Oktoberfest at Pioneer Courthouse Square featuring rock band X Ambassadors.
No matter how you’re celebrating this month, don’t be too spooked to try a new Oregon beer!
By Erica Tiffany-Brown
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
I am secure enough in myself to admit I used to watch this show on Bravo called “The Millionaire Matchmaker.” In said show, the matchmaker, Patti Stanger, tells the couples they need to follow a two-drink maximum rule on their dates. While that’s probably a good idea in theory, I believe rules were made to be broken. I also believe there are far too many delicious Oregon beers out there to limit yourself to only sharing two with your significant other.
But before we get into what beer you’ll be drinking on your date, there is one important question to answer: Do you go out or do you stay in? Fortunately for you, I’ve provided options for both!
— If you’re feeling extra indulgent, pamper yourselves with a romantic trip to Bend’s Anjou Spa. For over a year now, Anjou has collaborated with GoodLife Brewing for a special “Spa Hoppiness” menu of services. It turns out the ingredients in beer are actually really beneficial for your skin. Your taste buds will take pleasure in the experience as well with some complimentary draft beer. Treat yourselves to the Ale-ing Foot Remedy, Brew & Renew Body Polish or the Stout Scalp Treatment. Or spoil yourselves to all three treatments and you’ll receive a beer-infused natural LeCol soap to keep the fun going back at home. Good luck keeping your hands off one another!
— For a fun night out, OMSI After Dark’s 21-and-over monthly event lets adults channel their nerdy side. This month, the museum will feature two events — OMSI After Dark: Gaming on Feb. 24 and OMSI After Dark: Sex & Love on Feb. 13. Formal wear is encouraged at the latter event, so it’s a good excuse to get dressed up. According to OMSI, be prepared to “get down and dirty as we explore the science of attraction.” Rumor has it Rogue will be on hand selling their beers.
Pro Tip: Stop at nearby Hair of the Dog Brewing before the event to get a little warmed up for all the dirty talk.
A night in can be very underrated when it comes to dating. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you have to be boring — get creative! But if you’re not the imaginative type, don’t worry; I’ve done the hard work for you. First, let’s focus on what beer you should have on hand. This is one third wheel you’ll actually want tagging along with you!
Depending on your current relationship status, there’s an Oregon beer for that.
My recommendations are as follows:
— Crux Tough Love [Banished] 2015 (11.5% ABV, 70 IBUs): a barrel-aged imperial stout that has been “banished” for nine months in Kentucky bourbon barrels. According to Crux, “Tough Love is big, but smooth with tender strokes of vanilla.”
— Alameda Love Squirts (6% ABV): a chocolate strawberry stout. Too lazy to make your own chocolate-covered strawberries from scratch? Never fear, beer is here! And a hilariously named one at that. They say laughter is carbonated love, right?
— Ex Novo Friends With Benefits (10% ABV, 23 IBUs): a peated scotch ale aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. If you consider yourselves a little more than just FWB, try the brewery’s Dynamic Duo IIPA (8% ABV, 70 IBUs) instead. Or, if you’re happy to be flying solo this year, you’ll get a kick out of their Psycho Ex Triple IPA (10.5% ABV, 92 IBUs).
Runners-Up: Upright Brewing Oyster Stout (6.25% ABV) a British-style stout brewed with both oyster liquor and whole oysters (an aphrodisiac!), Mazama White Wedding IPA (5.2% ABV, 55 IBUs) a marriage of Belgian wit and Northwest IPA — proof that opposites can attract — and Southern Oregon Brewing Black Heart (8.5% ABV) an imperial stout with chocolaty malt aromas, “Black Heart is full of body and not for the faint of heart.”
Now that we have the most important part of the evening figured out, let’s move on to the actual date ideas to go along with the drinks!
— When two people love each other very much, they get together and make … a beer! Even if you two have never brewed a batch before, Rogue makes it a little bit easier by allowing you to produce clones of their popular beers with homebrew kits you can buy online — just add yeast. I recommend the Shakespeare Stout, and not just because of the writer’s inspiring romantic poetry — his plays are also full of allusions to his love of ale.
— Cook with beer. You can even put it in the food! Collaborate together and make a unique beer-themed meal. Check out our Brew Bites column online for inspiration, like a beer-brined rack of lamb with mint pesto for dinner and some Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis Stout ding dongs for dessert. Or, considering you were too lazy to even make the aforementioned chocolate-covered strawberries, you could get extra cheesy and order a heart-shaped pie from Pizza Hut (see what I did there?).
— If you prefer to compete rather than collaborate, this idea is for you. After ordering a pizza, crack open your bottles and battle one another in a board game made for beer lovers. Beer Smarts Game 2.0 is an “intoxicating question and answer game for beer lovers everywhere.” The game includes a scorepad so you can make sure the loser does whatever the winner desires. Another fun game is Brew-opoly, which is very similar to Monopoly, although you purchase brews and taphouses instead of houses and hotels. There are fun twists, where you might have to put on beer goggles and kiss your neighbor or stand and sing “99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall.” The game even features some beloved Oregon breweries like Full Sail and Deschutes.
Whether you go out or stay in this Valentine’s Day, there’s no excuse to not invite Oregon beer along for your date. But beware of imbibing too far beyond the two-beer maximum, as it was in Macbeth that Shakespeare wrote, “It provokes the desire but takes away the performance.”
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