By Michael Cairns
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Does spent yeast constitute a water quality issue for Oregon streams, and a financial burden on the state’s craft breweries? A September 2014 beer blog post described how two Austin, Texas breweries faced a fee of $5000 for “improper yeast disposal.” The piece made this writer want to do a little investigation to understand whether Oregon’s brewers are in danger of also getting slapped with hefty fines.
To understand why yeast would be considered a pollutant, a very brief science lesson is in order. Yeast, along with cleaning water, spent mash and hops that remain after the brewing process is complete, is usually discharged into municipal wastewater systems. Note that in Oregon most spent grains and hops, along with the yeast, are usually sold or given to farmers for animal feed — it’s organic and very nutritious. And yeast is ‘harvested’ for reuse in many breweries. These practices limit a lot of waste discharge, but not all of it. So where does the science come in? Well, the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 regulates the discharge of pollutants to the nation’s waterways. More specifically in this case, it’s the discharge of organic materials that may contribute to biological oxygen demand, which can stimulate the growth of algae in streams, lakes and oceans. This, in turn, can lead to a decrease in dissolved oxygen, which is bad for fish and other aquatic life. High concentrations of total suspended solids that could come from breweries pose another threat to waterways and wildlife. Acidity, expressed as pH, is an additional concern. OK, enough of the science lesson.
To determine whether Oregon breweries are in danger of being fined or required to pay special fees for their discharges, I did some digging and got some of my questions answered. First, Steve Schnurbusch of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) told me that there are no requirements specific to yeast effluents, nor to brewery wastewater discharges in general. He spoke of ‘loading,’ a measure of the total amounts of organic matter discharged to streams in relation to the size of any particular wastewater treatment plant from a brewery and other industrial sources. In other words, if a large brewery is located in a small community with a small treatment plant, then there could be a problem. Schnurbusch noted that the DEQ mainly regulates end-of-pipe discharges to receiving waters — for instance, from treatment plants, rather than discharges from breweries to municipal sewer systems. He suggested I should speak to city officials who operate those treatment plants.
This suggestion led me to the City of Salem, where Nitin Joshi of Salem Environmental Services reiterated some of what I had learned from the DEQ representative. The City of Salem does not have regulations specific to yeast, or even to breweries. Salem breweries are considered commercial, rather than industrial, users. Unless a particular plant, or brewery in our case, discharges more than 25,000 gallons per day, then there are no permits required. Finally, I decided to speak to a brewer to get that perspective.
Santiam Brewing’s head brewer, Jerome Goodrow, was kind enough to talk to me as he was in the process of cleaning tanks after a brew and discharging the rinse water. Like most breweries, the spent grain and hops are used for farm animal feed, and some of the yeast is harvested. He noted that the cleaning solution, or disinfectant, is quite acidic, although it’s neutralized by use of a caustic solution, thereby creating a final effluent that is nearly pH neutral. Goodrow reiterated that they do not discharge enough volume into the city’s sewer system to qualify as an industrial customer, nor do any of the other Salem breweries. There are no issues specific to yeast discharge at Santiam.
So, the bottom line based on my limited research: yeast discharge to sewer systems does not seem to be an issue in Oregon. I’m confident that Oregon’s craft brewers are attuned to the potential and are very conscientious about recycling and limiting their discharge of both wastewater and organic materials. Further investigation may find a very large brewery in a very small community where discharge could create problems with biological oxygen demand, total suspended solids or pH conditions in the receiving waters, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at this point.
By Erica Tiffany-Brown
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Our state’s capital is home to one of the most humble czars you’ll ever meet. His laid-back demeanor likely stems from the fact that he’s in command of something quite unpretentious.
Known as the “Venti’s Beer Czar,” Jarred Venti has been providing two of Salem’s favorite hangout spots with an amazing lineup of beers and beer-themed events for more than a year and a half now.
When Jarred’s dad, Mike, and uncle, Dino, started their business back in 1996, it was initially branded as Venti’s Bento and was housed in downtown Salem’s historic Reed Opera House. In 2008, the place now known as Venti’s Cafe + Basement Bar moved to a new space across the street and has been wildly successful ever since. Today, bento is still the signature dish, but the menu has increased dramatically — including 10 craft-only beers and ciders.
“Dino was way ahead of the craft beer scene in Salem. He was paying more attention to what was going on in Portland and Eugene. No one in Salem was really paying attention to that,” Jarred says. Dino and his wife Leslie now own both locations.
Venti’s Cafe + Taphouse, which opened in south Salem in 2011, is the bigger location and hosts many fun events, including a huge anniversary celebration every August. Last year, the event was called “Salem’s Amazing Local Exhibition of Microbrews (SALEM).” All 24 of the taps were taken over by Salem beer and cider.
As beer czar, Jarred helps put together these kinds of festivities, including tap takeovers, Beer Geek trainings and Craft Brewed Concerts. Since October 2013, Jarred has also been fully in charge of ordering beer for both locations, including around 100 bottled beers at the Taphouse, and about half that at the Basement Bar. When it comes to beer, he makes all the final decisions — just like any czar would.
So, how does one obtain such a regal title? In Jarred’s case, it’s kind of something he just fell into. “The beer czar at the time, Matt Killikelly, was also starting up Santiam Brewing with his partners. He had a lot going on, so they were looking for someone to come in and help out a couple days a week. One day a week became two days a week, became three days a week, became four days a week … Almost a year into it, Matt decided he needed to devote himself full time to Santiam Brewing, so I had to step up and fill some pretty big shoes. And I’ve been immersed in the craft beer scene ever since.”
When Jarred isn’t busy being a commander of beer, he is a member of not one, not two, but three bands. If you think that’s impressive, you’ll find it hard to believe he was involved with six or seven bands a year ago. His current lineup includes playing bass for Rich McCloud, providing bass and vocals for Magical Mystery Four (a Beatles tribute band) and bass and vocals for Still Water Vibes.
While Jarred tries to divide his attention equally among the three bands, Still Water Vibes has been keeping him the busiest lately since their debut album came out at the end of May. “We call ourselves a blues band, but it’s really also heavily influenced by funk and soul music … and a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Just like how Venti’s started as a family affair, so did Jarred’s passion for music at the age of 14. “We have a lot of musicians in my family, my uncle Mario is an amazing piano player, and his son Josh, my cousin, is an amazing bass player. He’s sort of the inspiration for me picking up the bass.”
Although Venti’s is well known for its live music, you won’t find Jarred playing there too often — but he’s happy to let other artists take center stage. “Andrew (Hussey) books the music there, and he always does a good job at bringing in a lot of great out-of-town bands, which I think is awesome.”
Hussey books the musical acts for the Taphouse’s Craft Brewed Concerts, and Jarred chooses a beer pairing. “I usually try to arrange a special tapping of some sort to coincide with the music. It’s a cool way to bring live music and craft beer together.” A recent evening featured the video game sounds of Emulator combined with eight space-themed beers.
The Taphouse also hosts Lounge Nights, in which two of Jarred’s good friends, Nathan Olsen and John Pounds, play keyboard and bass during the opening set and then allow any and all singers to join in. “They’re both incredible musicians. The best at what they do in the area, for sure. We’re really lucky to have them come down every Tuesday.”
Aside from hanging out at Venti’s, you’ll likely find Jarred playing shows at Salem’s Vagabond Brewing, Half Penny Bar and Grill or Duffy’s Hangar, where he even hosts a monthly jam session. “I know a ton of musicians, and it’s a cool way for me to bring everyone together in one spot and just play music together.” All artists, regardless of skill level, are welcome to join.
If he ever needs some extra help warming up for his night gig, the beer czar likes to keep it local. “When I play at Vagabond, I always try something new. Every time I play at Half Penny, I’m drinking Hop Penny from Salem Ale Works (an Irish red only available in-house). When I play at Duffy’s, I like to drink Gilgamesh Vader (a coffee CDA).”
“I’m just super proud of Salem. We’re finally starting to get a beer scene down here. It seems like every day something new is opening up. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
This is one czar who is definitely all about his people. He’s the true definition of what a leader should be: he’s passionate about what he does, he supports his community as much as possible and he makes a valiant effort to bring everyone together. Oh, and he supplies the masses with funky music and tasty beer. All hail Jarred Venti!
Cafe + Basement Bar
[a] 325 Court St. NE, Salem
Cafe + Taphouse
[a] 2840 Commercial St. SE, Salem
By Sarah Mason
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Four Salem breweries have made it their mission to quench the thirst for craft beer in Oregon’s capital.
Together, the founders of Gilgamesh Brewing, Salem Ale Works, Santiam Brewing and Vagabond Brewing formed the Salem Brewery Association, a nonprofit focused on fermenting the state capital’s craft-beer culture.
Their motto, “Drink Salem Beer,” is a call to action urging the enjoyment of Salem beer, Salem craft breweries and ultimately the Salem community. For a long time, Oregon beer has left a good taste in the mouths of beer drinkers. But Salem has gone unnoticed among many fans of craft.
“Oregon is hands down the best craft brewing state there is, so it’s kind of strange that the capital has been neglected so far,” said Alvin Klausen from Vagabond.
If this is true, then why has such little attention been paid to one of Oregon’s most important cities?
“Salem has been overlooked as anywhere to consider when seeking out craft beer, even by those living here,” said Jake Bonham, the association's new president and co-owner of Salem Ale Works.
In recent years, Salem’s craft beer scene has started to bubble up, and the Salem Brewery Association is encouraging Oregon beer drinkers to reconsider Salem.
“I think what’s happened over the last seven years is that Salem has started to develop a craft beer scene,” Klausen said. “A few Salem-based breweries have formed, and we want to raise awareness about it.”
Other than McMenamins and RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Gilgamesh is the oldest brewery out of the new crop in Salem at four years old. Compared to other beer scenes throughout the state, Salem is young.
“Salem beer is so far behind,” Klausen said. “Eugene has Ninkasi, which is eight and Steelhead, which is much older. Portland has Widmer, which is 20 or 30 years old now and Rogue, on the Coast, is pushing 30 years. Then in Salem our oldest is only four! We just want to bring awareness to our beautiful craft beer.”
One thing that sets the Salem Brewery Association apart from others like it in the state is that it is centrally located, making access to other metro areas relatively easy.
“Other than the fact that our beer is really awesome, we are incredibly centrally located for the population of Oregon,” Klausen said. “We are an hour south of Portland, an hour north of Eugene, an hour from the coast and a couple hours to Bend.”
In addition, all four breweries are located within miles of one another and use their small selection to their advantage.
“I think we are a very eclectic group,” Klausen said. “Between all of the breweries, we have very different styles. And this is kind of a weird thing, but the lack of craft brews is kind of cool. There are only our four choices right now, so people can hit up all four of them in the city pretty easily.”
The comradery between the breweries is also unique. Because the four breweries are all fairly new, they are experiencing the ups and downs of the industry together. They have all shared information and been supportive of one another.
“We share ideas and help each other out when needed,” Bonham said. “We all realize that we own independent businesses in the same industry, so there is the reality of that. But certainly we get along and are supportive of each other and cross promote when it makes sense.”
“We are hoping that working together to create more of a culture in Salem will raise everybody,” Klausen said. “A rising tide raises all ships. We want to work together to create that for Salem.”
The association has a few ideas in the works, such as organizing festivals and tap takeovers in Salem and other cities as well as sponsoring events in the city.
“I think if they give us a try, we will grow just like the other cities did in Oregon,” Klausen said.
By Brian Yaeger
For the Oregon Beer Growler
In the winter, Oregon gets fewer than nine hours of sunup. That’s a lot of darkness. Beer-wise, darkness is something our brewers do very well. Some of those stouts and porters get a big spotlight while others, pardon the expression, are generally left in the dark. There’s no arguing that Deschutes’ The Abyss is a world-class imperial stout or that Barley Brown’s Turmoil deserves to be the award-winning Cascadian Dark Ale that it is. But there are more than 200 breweries across Oregon. Some simply get less lip service; some stellar beers may be overlooked. So in honor of wintry dark ales, especially as imperial stouts get their major love-fest this Valentine’s Day at Fort George Brewery’s Festival of the Dark Arts, take a moment to try and seek out these other opaque and obscure onyx beauties.
Seaside’s eponymous brewery, Seaside Brewing Company gives the arcade and taffy-laden town what it really needed: a brewpub. Their imperial stout, Black Dynamite, lives up to its name in that it’s pitch black and explosively tasty. The beer with bourbon-soaked vanilla beans and cacao nibs (also getting the bourbon treatment) is a show-stopper from first chilled sip to last warmed drop that has the sweetness to not just pair with dessert but replace it, yet the bitterness and roastiness to enjoy snifter after snifter.
At the southern end of the coast in Brookings is Chetco Brewing Company. Michael Frederick and his wife Alex Carr-Frederick launched Chetco as a nanobrewery using their friend James Smith’s 1.5-barrel homebrewing system as their commercial setup. It’s how they make their super-small batch but mighty Block & Tackle. This stout achieves a unique viscosity after aging for six months, and the resulting notes of Baker’s chocolate achieve the right balance between a sweet and dry stout -- just ask the World Beer Cup judges who awarded it a silver medal.
Speaking of award-winning south coast breweries, the aforementioned James Smith is the brewer at Arch Rock Brewing Company in Gold Beach. Although he medaled at last year’s Great American Beer Festival for his lager, State of Jefferson Porter pours a chocolaty brown hinting at the deep chocolate flavor buried under the mocha aroma. Yes, there is a robust maltiness that suggests molasses and brown sugar, but it’s not syrupy on the tongue. The brew is rich from the roasted malts and holds up from first sip to last, then back to first.
In mid-Willamette Valley, two tiny breweries are making some of the most unique stouts in the state. Santiam Brewing is the passion project of nine buddies, only some of them homebrewers, who collectively formed the brewery and cozy tasting room in Salem. Pirate Stout is a rum-barrel aged “tropical export stout” (7.9% ABV) with a fudgy base of chocolate malt and de-bittered black malt that sails through the Bahamas in a dark rum barrel picking up a crew of toasted coconut flakes. Fans of Malibu Rum and Mounds bars are the obvious targets, but the allure of this rich, sweet, voluptuous stout is very easily enjoyed as the meal, not just dessert.
While farther down I-5 in brewery-happy Eugene, Viking is technically a brewery but I like to call it a braggotery since every brew they make has a large honey content. They make a bourbon-aged stout with Meadowfoam honey, which naturally tastes like toasted marshmallow giving it an overall s’more character. But they also make Winter Squash Porter featuring 150 pounds of delicata squash that is hand-roasted and given a honey backbone courtesy of turnip honey. The result is reminiscent of Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter from their neighbors at Oakshire Brewing but bottles are even rarer to find.
One last pick from a brewery truly off the beaten path is the Chocolate Stout from Dragon’s Gate Brewery in Milton-Freewater near the northeastern corner of the state. Le Morte D’Arthur is a milk stout with cocoa nibs that was once described as a “Fudgsicle, but beer” and has developed a local cult following. Therefore, if you’re heading to this farm-based brewery near Washington’s wine country, bring a growler to share this decadent treat with friends.
Finally, even in Portland there are rare jewels to be treasured. Ex Novo Brewing Company is the most altruistic brewery, donating 100% of its profits to local charities -- but their new Moonstriker is still pure hedonism. This stout is a collaboration with Moonstruck Chocolates and debuted at the Holiday Ale Festival. It features nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and, of course, Moonstruck cocoa along with a fiery kiss of habanero. The result is a creamy, dreamy Mexican hot chocolate stout.
Clearly, the force is strong on the dark side of Oregon’s less-heralded brews.
Above, Workers at Crosby's Hop Farm near Woodburn.
Following -- Emily Engdahl put this great list together for the Oregon Beer Growler's print edition. Those who want to hold this list in their hands can pick it up Oct. 1 here. If you want to see Emily's list on her website, go to http://oregonbeercountry.org. Thanks Emily!
List compiled by Emily Engdahl
For the Oregon Beer Growler
10 Barrel | Crosby Farms Harvest Ale | 5.5% | 55 IBU
Base Camp | Golden Hopportunity Belgian IPA | 10%
Base Camp | In-2-Tents |
Base Camp | Hopularity Contest Pale Ale | 5.3%
Breakside | Fresh Hop Citra | 6.5%
Brewers Union 180 | Little Green Men Cask Cond’d IPA | 5.5%
Bridgeport BridgePort | Hop Harvest | 8.0% | 60 IBU
Claim 52 | Whoa-Dang Fresh Harvest Ale | 5.5% | 55 IBU
Coalition Brewing | Green Pig Fresh Hop Pale Ale | 5.0 % | 50 IBU
Coalition Brewing | Simply Dank Fresh Hop ISA | 4.0% | 40 IBU
Crux Fermentation Project | Cruxtennial Belgian Pale Ale | 7.0% | 35 IBU
Crux Fermentation Project | Off the Fence
Crux Fermentation Project | Crystal Zwickel
Deschutes Bend | Hop Trip | 5.4% | 38 IBU
Deschutes Bend | Chasin’ Freshies | 7.2% | 65 IBU
Deschutes Bend | Cinder Cone Red | 5.9% | 47 IBU
Deschutes Portland | Fresh Hop Bitter | 5.0% | 43 IBU
Deschutes Portland | King Cone Deluxe | 6.4% | 55 IBU
Deschutes Portland | Fresh Hop Mirror Pond | 5.0% | 40 IBU
Deschutes Portland | Oktoberfest | 6.1% | 30 IBU
Double Mountain | Killer Green IPA | 7.5% | 75 IBU
Double Mountain | Killer Red IRA | 7.2% | 97 IBU
Double Mountain | Killer Brass IPA | 7.9% | 88 IBU
Falling Sky | So Fresh, So Green Fresh Hop Lager | 5.7%
Falling Sky | Nuggets of Wisdom Fresh Hop | 5.5%
Fort George Brewery | Co-Hoperative Ale | 5%
Fort George Brewery | Fresh Hop Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale |5.3%
Fort George Brewery | Fresh Hop Belgian | 7.5%
Fort George Brewery | Hopstoria | 5.6%
Full Sail | Full Sail Fresh Hop Pilsner | 6.0% | 60 IBU
Gilgamesh Brewing | Fresh Prince of Ales Fresh Hopped DIPA | 6.9% | 100+ IBU
Harvester | Harvester Fresh Hop Meridian Pale Ale | 5.3% | 30 IBU
Hop Valley | Citra Self Down “Fresh Hop” Pale Ale | 6% | 40 IBU
Hopworks | Bitchin’ Camaro Fresh Hop Lager | 6.0% | 60 IBU
Hopworks | Fuggin’ A Fresh Hop IPX Single Hop Ale | 5.7% | 48 IBU
Humble Brewing | Larch Creek Harvest Ale | 7% | 66 IBU
Laurelwood | Fresh Hop Mother Lode Golden Ale | 5.1% | 25 IBU
Laurelwood | Workhorse IPA | 7.5% | 80 IBU
Laurelwood | Fresh Hop Pale (Project 21) | 5.9% | 35 IBU
Laurelwood | Free-Range Red | 6.1% | 60 IBU
Lompoc | Harvestman Red | |6.1 % | 60 IBU
Lucky Lab | The Mutt | 3.6%
McMenamin’s | Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale | 6.9% | 44 IBU
McMemamin’s | Roseburg Station | Hopqua | 6.8% | 67 IBU
McMenamin’s | Old St. Francis (Bend) | Golden Sparrow Fresh Hop | 5.2% | 45 IBU
Migration | Glisan Street Fresh Hop Pale Ale | 5.1% | 33 IBU
Migration | Wild Style Fresh Hop Farm House Ale | 6.1% | 39 IBU
Migration | Better Off Fresh IPA | 7.5% | 85 IBU
Ninkasi | Total Crystalation IPA | 6.7% | 65 IBU
Ninkasi | Hop Fraiche | 5.2% | 40 IBU
Oakshire | ‘Bout a Hunerd Hops Pale Ale
Oakshire | Rogue Red Rye IPA
Old Market Pub | Schrader Brau Fresh Hopped Oktoberfest | 4.5% | 12 IBU
Old Town Brewing | Cent’s and Centsability Pale Ale | 5.5%
Old Town Brewing | Freshtoberbrau | 5.8%
Pelican Brewery | Elemental Ale | 5.4% | 55 IBU
Pfriem | Fresh Hop Mosaic Belgian Wheat | 5.1% | 18 IBU
Pints | Seismic Upgrade Imperial IPA | 8.2% | 100+ IBU
Pints | Oktoberfresh | 5.7% | 17 IBU
Pints | Crystal Lite Lager | 4.1% |10 IBU
Portland U Brew & Pub | Freshy Foystons Pale Ale | 5.8%
Portland U Brew & Pub | Papa Paul’s White Wall Pale Ale | 6.0%
Salem Ale Works | Triple F IPA | 6.0 %
Santiam Brewing | Hoppy Froppy | 6.3%
Santiam Brewing | Hopville Rye Pale Ale | 5.2%
Santiam Brewing | Fresh Hop Brown Ale | 4.8%
Sasquatch | Oregon Session Ale | 4.7%
Sasquatch | Woodboy IPA | 6.8%
Sasquatch | Red Electric IRA | 6.7%
Sasquatch | Healy Heights Pale | 5.6%
Sasquatch | Celilo CDA | 8.0% +/-
Silver Moon | Hoppopotamus Fresh Ale | 6.5%
Sky High | Fresh Hop Ale | 5.0% | 25 IBU
Solera | Chubby Bunny Fresh Hop DIPA | 9.5%
Stickmen | Single Malt – Single Hop (SMaSH) | 5.8% | 34 IBU
The Commons | Fresh Hop Myrtle | 5.3%
Three Creeks | Cone Lick’r Fresh Hop Ale | 5%
Three Creeks | Hop Wrangler Fresh Hop Red | 5%
Upright | The Hop and the Abstract Truth Belgian style pale/triticale saison | 5.1% | 30+ IBU
Vertigo | Hop Harvest IPA | 5.3% | 45 IBU
Viking Braggot | 100 Day Anniversary ESB | 5.5% | 50 IBU
Widmer Brothers | Dark and Dank Fresh Hop Lager | 5.1%
Widmer Brothers | Bring the Boom Fresh Hop IPL | 6.6%
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