By Michael H. Kew
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Might as well hit the ground drinking.
After weeks in the tropics enslaved to Bud Light, I am desperate for some fresh Oregon IPA. Luckily, I know Scott Saulsbury.
I grab my bag and eagerly hail a taxi for the 3-mile ride from Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport to RAM, Southern Oregon’s newest brewpub. There I find the smiling Saulsbury, 49, lording over RAM’s shiny 10-barrel JV Northwest system.
Immediately he hands me a pint of tasty Table Rock NWIPA, his first seasonal recipe for the new 7,245-square-foot building that hosts a busy restaurant, a large multi-televisioned bar and Saulsbury’s brewhouse. Open since December 2016, the Medford site is Oregon’s fourth RAM, the chain that launched near Seattle in 1971. There are 30 other RAMs across Washington, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Naturally, RAM’s newest brewmaster is thrilled with his gig.
“Many of the regular Southern Oregon Brewing drinkers are coming to RAM,” he says. “They sort of followed me here. It’s really surprising and great. Been nice seeing the familiar faces. And they want some of the SOB beers to resurface here as specialties, so I’d like to do some knock-offs of what I was making over there.”
Over there is the once-popular Medford taproom fed by SOB’s 20-barrel brewhouse where, until a year ago, Saulsbury made popular flagships. With the property’s owner Tom Hammond, a Medford anesthesiologist, Saulsbury had helped start SOB in 2007, after working in real estate for a few years. SOB’s sales were steady through 2012, then dropped 10 percent annually until 2015, when Hammond chose to sell.
“We don’t have the resources to compete in today’s beer market,” Hammond told Medford’s Mail Tribune last September. “The idea of scaling back to be just a local brewery was not a possibility. Being in a smaller market made us very dependent on distribution to other parts of the state and region … we were never able to establish and maintain a big enough part of our local market to be stable in the long-term.”
“Tom hung on as long as he could,” Saulsbury tells me. “He loved it and wanted to keep it going and it got to a point where there wasn’t a way forward without a lot of capital. The business model working today is more of this heavy-on-the-retail/growler fills, because shelf space is so jam-packed. A good model for SOB would’ve been — if there was money — to own two or three retail outlets where they just serve SOB beer. More SOB beer sold over SOB taps, less through distributors, because you’re just not making money after they take their sales percentage.”
SOB poured its last pint the night of Sept. 30, 2016. The business remains for sale, turnkey and intact.
“I show it to prospective buyers all the time,” Saulsbury says. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens. It’s a beautiful brewery.”
Last summer, after brewing his last SOB batch, Saulsbury worked for O.A.R.S., a major outdoor outfitter and tour guide offering multi-day whitewater trips through the pine-forested canyons of the lower Rogue, from Galice to Foster Bar, the river’s official Wild and Scenic section.
“It was epic. I had a great six-month period exercising and being outdoors. If I could afford to, I would retire today and be a dirtbag river guide,” he says with a laugh.
The job stemmed from the company’s craft-beer rafting trips. “I’d gone on some of those,” he says, “being the beer guy with the jockey box.”
Makes sense. Growing up in Grants Pass, Saulsbury was raised on the Rogue, running right through town. Tailing a short college stint in Santa Barbara, Calif., he studied philosophy at the University of Oregon. “Then I needed to get a job,” he says. “I’d been homebrewing a little, and I thought brewing would be a fun career. I was lucky to be in on that early-1990s microbrewery wave.”
By 1993 he was an assistant at Eugene’s Steelhead Brewing Company, then moved to Bend and became brewmaster at Bend Brewing Company. But Saulsbury owned property off Highway 66, east of Ashland, and wanted to build a cabin there, so in 1997 he zoomed south to launch Caldera Brewing with Jim Mills. “I knew Jim just from the local Ashland scene,” Saulsbury said. “Caldera was his baby, and he needed someone to make beer. Good timing.”
But initially the business dragged, so in 1998 Saulsbury found another job back in Bend, this time at Deschutes Brewing. “My time there was probably my most creative. We had a group of brewers interacting constantly, talking about the possibilities. We were able to put quality ahead of cost. Carrying that along through the years has allowed me to keep that alive in all the brewing opportunities I’ve had.”
Amid river guiding, Saulsbury got wind of the RAM slated for Medford. “An ex-Deschutes friend of mine was the brewmaster at the Salem RAM, so I contacted him, then RAM directly through a recruiter before they’d even posted the job. The building hadn’t been built, and RAM likes to hire locally, so they were sort of waiting for people to come out of the woodwork.”
“One of my questions for them during my interviews was: how much creativity will I be able to bring to the table? With the flagships, RAM wants people who have had RAM beers elsewhere to have the same experience here. But with the seasonal specialties here, RAM is definitely encouraging me to make crazy stuff and have fun. It’s going to be great.”
RAM Restaurant & Brewery
165 Rossanley Drive, Medford
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When it comes to college football, there is one place to be: Eugene.
ESPN's College GameDay program has broadcast from the city nine times, and earlier this year, GameDay’s Lee Corso declared that Eugene was “my favorite place, for me personally, to see a ballgame.” Average attendance in 2015 was 57,324 fans. The University of Oregon's Autzen Stadium is not only Oregon’s largest sports arena, it’s the loudest stadium in the country. It’s been called “intimidating” and “where great teams go to die.”
It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
Tailgater Magazine agrees. In its 2016 list of Top 25 “tailgating meccas in college football,” the No. 1 spot went not to Alabama or Michigan State or Notre Dame. It went to Autzen Stadium.
It’s no surprise. Autzen is where, at the end of the third quarter, the crowd dances while the toga party scene from “National Lampoon's Animal House” (filmed in Eugene, by the way) plays — complete with the song “Shout” blasting. Autzen is where a foghorn sounds every time the Ducks score. (OK, granted, that foghorn’s been getting leaned on less this season than usual, but it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, right?)
Autzen is also set in one of Oregon’s meccas not only for tailgating and college football, but for craft beer. Eugene is where game day turns the city green and yellow, from the flags flying on vehicles driving in from all over the state to the face paint and clothing covering fans marching to Autzen en masse.
So wherever you are in the Eugene area, here are tips for enjoying the game and a good beer, whether it’s pregame, around town, tailgating outside Autzen, or finding the party inside at the Moshofsky Center (the "Mo") next to Autzen.
Transportation tip: Parking at Autzen is no picnic. The stadium is walkable from many parts of the campus area and downtown Eugene. Check your favorite mapping app for directions. Lane Transit District also offers a park-and-ride shuttle to and from the stadium.
Depending on kickoff time, you may need anything from a hearty breakfast to a little pregame snack. Maybe you aren’t going to the stadium and need to know where to be. Or, maybe you’re watching at home, but need to stock the beer fridge. Bring your growler! Eugene’s got you covered. All hours listed are for Saturdays.
The Bier Stein
1591 Willamette St., 541-485-BIER, thebierstein.com, 11 a.m. to midnight
With more than 30 taps and 1,000 bottled beers and ciders from all over the world (plus many staff are certified Cicerones), The Bier Stein is your spot to stock the beer fridge.
1689 Willamette St., 541-343-1542, brailseugene.com, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Since The Bier Stein opens at 11 a.m., cruise a block down and have breakfast first. Brails is a perennial fan favorite, taking Eugene Weekly’s “Best hangover breakfast” top spot for years running. That’s good to know — you might need to go there tomorrow, too.
20 Centennial Loop, 541-484-4355, thecoolerbar.com, 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Oddly enough, few bars are near Autzen. The closest is The Cooler, a large sports bar that prides itself on big-screen TVs; a simple, yet tasty, pub fare menu; and booze aplenty.
263 Mill St., 541-636-3889, coldfirebrewing.com., noon to 11 p.m.
One of Eugene’s newest breweries, ColdFire, is catching fire with their European beers, Northwest flair, imagination and solid brewing chops. Located just across the Willamette River near Skinner Butte, hit ColdFire for a pint or growler fill. You’re also near the city’s riverside bike paths and can walk the 1.3 miles from ColdFire to Autzen in about 30 minutes.
Elk Horn Brewery
686 E. Broadway St., 541-505-8356, elkhornbrewery.com, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Bordering the UO campus, Elk Horn was founded by the folks behind Eugene’s popular Delacata food cart. Elk Horn bridges the gap between beer, cider and wine. Also check out their Southern–Northwest fusion food menu.
Falling Sky Pizzeria
UO Erb Memorial Union, 1395 University St., Room #46, 541-485-1275, fallingskybrewing.com, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
After opening this past summer, Falling Sky’s third location has quickly become a popular spot for UO students and faculty, as well as the greater community. Enjoy game day on campus with a pint and an innovative pizza.
McMenamins North Bank
22 Club Road, 541-343-5622, mcmenamins.com/northbank, 11 a.m. to midnight (opens 10 a.m. home game days)
You’ll be able to hear Autzen while sitting by the Willamette River. Just a hair over a mile from the stadium, McMenamins North Bank has a spacious restaurant and cozy bar. Weather permitting, don’t miss the riverside deck, and TVs inside will make sure you won’t miss the game.
444 E. Third Ave., 541-653-8509, ryeon3rd.com, 5–10 p.m. (bar opens 4 p.m.)
If you want something a bit more refined for your game day pleasure, or an evening spot, Rye offers French-style cuisine, craft cocktails and a selection of Oregon beers in a rustic-chic setting.
Steelhead Brewing Company
199 E. Fifth Ave. #1, 541-686-2739, steelheadbrewery.com, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Located in Eugene’s Fifth Street Market area, Steelhead has been serving tasty pub fare and pouring beers (racking up 24 medals) for 25 years. Head here before the game or hole up in a comfy chair and watch the action unfold.
Sidelines Grill & Sports Bar
77 W. Broadway, 541-654-4690, sidelineseugene.com, 11 a.m. to midnight
Keep it simple: food, drink, sports. In the heart of downtown Eugene, Sidelines focuses on the fundamentals with pub fare and beer and 10 HD TVs ensure you don’t miss a moment.
SweetWaters on the River
1000 Valley River Way, 541-341-3462, valleyriverinn.com, 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Coming from out of town or just want a scenic riverside spot to enjoy a pregame meal and a nice beverage? Head to Valley River Inn and its SweetWaters restaurant (there’s also a lounge and bakery). One fan’s tip for early game days: head to SweetWaters for brunch (and a Bloody Mary), then walk it off on the riverside path to Autzen. Another plus? If you need to stock up on UO gear, The Duck Store is across the parking lot in Valley River Center shopping mall. You can also park there and take a shuttle to the stadium.
Tailgating Outside Autzen
Four hours before kickoff, Autzen Stadium’s parking lot opens — and is promptly taken over by thousands of tailgaters, many with RVs and tents that are ready to hold the party. Some people come just for the tailgating and aren’t even going to Autzen for the game. It’s easy to see why.
“Being outside of Autzen is a different experience on game day,” says John Procopio, a longtime Eugene resident and Duck fan. “The lead up to the game is like getting ready for a vacation or the night before Christmas. All this excitement and anticipation builds. It’s one of the best parties and people watching to celebrate not only Duck football, but being in Oregon.”
Procopio is one of many fans who come to the tailgating area with their own six-packs, growlers, bombers and plenty of cups — after all, game day is about the community and what says community more than sharing good beer with friends? “I want my ‘A’ beer — something special, something nice, like you’d want for your birthday,” says Procopio.
To get the best experience, bring something to share and just start talking with people. Offer a frosty beverage, strike up a conversation and you’ll be part of the tailgating team in no time.
Want your tailgating a bit more laid-back? In nearby Essig Field, a free, family-friendly outdoor area holds a food court, complete with a tent dining area, a beer garden highlighting local beers and televised game coverage. Some fans stay here the whole time.
In the Moshofsky Center
Once inside Autzen, you can’t have beer at your seats. No matter. That’s what the Moshofsky Center is for. The 117,000-square-foot Moshofsky, or “Mo” for short, opened in 1998 as a covered practice area for the Ducks. Today, UO uses the Mo as a massive area for food, drink and other entertainment. From sit-down meals to live music, beer taps for grownups and bouncy castles for kids, the Mo accommodates thousands of fans on game day. Your ticket to the game is also your ticket for the Mo, and fans can go back and forth throughout the game. You won’t miss the action either — there are TV monitors and even a scoreboard synced to Autzen’s scoring system.
The Mo opens three hours before kickoff and 90 minutes before the stadium itself is open to fans. Head there early to scope out a spot at one of hundreds of tables. You’ll find the beer garden in the back, with a range of craft and standard beers.
Whether around town, tailgating or in Autzen, for Procopio “it’s all about the sharing, the social experience and in our state we have such amazing access to get good beer. Game day is the perfect day to celebrate Oregon and Oregon beer.”
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Sometimes newlyweds return from their honeymoon and immediately prepare a room for a baby. But for Kiley and Michael Gwynn of Eugene, they returned from their 2008 honeymoon/first anniversary trip to Hawaii with a passion for a new hobby: homebrewing.
“We fell in love with Maui Brewing’s CoCoNut PorTeR, and that started us because it wasn’t available in Oregon,” says Michael. What began as a way to keep a beloved beer in the pantry, though, became an extension of something else. “It’s one more way for us to be connected,” he explains. “There are very few things we do separately. This is one more way to collaborate with each other. Like with any couple, you have so much going on, you don’t always see each other during the day, so this builds that connection even more.”
The couple focuses their time on work, craft beer, homebrew, “beercations,” and their dog, a red heeler named Penny. Today that Maui porter is a regular homebrew for the Gwynns, but their hobby has grown far beyond one clone. They started basic, but a “good tax refund” coincided with information that someone in Salem was getting out of brewing. The Gwynns bought his 10-gallon, single-tier, all-grain setup (though they now use a 26-gallon brew pot to accommodate larger batches). Their garage houses four 60-gallon wine barrels and a full-sized bourbon barrel. They maintain one bottling line for standard yeasts and a second for beers made with wild microbes. Members since 2009 of Eugene-area homebrew club the Cascade Brewers Society, in 2015 Michael, a learning specialist at University of Oregon’s University Teaching and Learning Center, became club president. (The Gwynns also keep the club’s Flanders barrel, and various other member barrels, in the garage.) A social media strategist at Oregon Community Credit Union, Kiley has promoted Eugene Beer Week and runs the Eugene chapter of women’s craft beer group Barley’s Angels.
“We brew things that aren’t as easy to get locally,” says Kiley. “The last year we’ve done a lot of Belgians, saisons, more beers for their sour character. This year we’re doing lots of British beers — ESBs, milds, real ales on a homebrew scale. It’s not something we’ve done before.”
Every year Michael and Kiley brew a different beer for holiday gifts. For 2015 they brewed a Belgian breakfast stout, modeled after Founders Breakfast Stout from Michigan. The Gwynns developed a variant they called Vanilla Latte, brewed with coffee beans and vanilla beans. Kiley designed labels and Michael worked with a mobile canner out of Salem for canning.
The couple met in 2001 while attending UO. “We met at a party, slowly got to know each other over the course of a year,” says Kiley. “It wasn’t an instant thing, but grew over time.” Six years after meeting, Kiley and Michael married in 2007.
A love of craft beer has been a constant. “Growing up in Oregon, you’re more steeped in craft beer than other places,” explains Kiley. “The cheapest thing I ever drank was Henry Weinhard’s.” When Kiley turned 21, her “first legal beer” was a growler of Bombay Bomber IPA from Steelhead. The next day Kiley went to High Street and brought home a Mason jar of Ruby. “My father was a Coors Light drinker,” Kiley recollects with a laugh, “and he just talked about how bitter it was.”
Michael came to craft beer in part through his love of cooking. “I’ve never been an exceptional cook, but I enjoy tinkering with food and flavors and have the do-it-yourself mentality,” he says. Already wading the shallow waters of the growing ocean of craft beer, a barrel-aged stout “blew me away with the flavors,” says Michael. “We had it with a meal where everything just worked together perfectly. I was heading for homebrewing, and that got me there.”
As with the rest of their relationship, both Gwynns cite collaboration as key to their homebrewing. Brews begin not over the kettle, but over discussion, says Kiley: “What do we feel like? What’s in season? What do we have? What could be different from what we have? We talk about recipe formulation together — hops and yeast.”
From there, the couple goes into a mode of division of labor. One gets a yeast starter going, one goes to the homebrew store. Brew day is on the weekend, after a full work week. “He does most of the work on brew day,” says Kiley. “He does the manual labor while I get other stuff done around the house or run errands. Some days we have a brew day together, but we are involved in so many other things related to beer, that we find those brewing hours work best with him brewing and me cleaning the house.”
For other homebrewing couples, both Kiley and Michael suggest collaboration as a top priority.
“Make sure you’re doing something that works for both people,” says Kiley. “If you only brew one batch at a time and you don’t have multiple years of beers to rely on, make sure you brew something you both can enjoy.”
Honest feedback is also key, says Michael, who considers his “nose and palate” to be less refined than his wife’s. “I’ve gone to Kiley multiple times with beer ideas,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many times she’s shot me down. And I don’t take it as a slap to the face. With our relationship, we are each other’s best friends and we can be blunt with each other.”
They also make time to talk back and forth, bouncing more ideas off each other until they have a concept and recipe. Then, once the beer is in a glass, they compare notes and discuss the final product: Did it work the way they both intended? What worked well? What can be improved next time?
“Everyone has something to bring and be part of the conversation,” says Michael. “Things will work out.”
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
No beer was flowing, but more people were getting in line.
The culprit at Eugene’s 13th Sasquatch Brew Fest? A jockey box had run out of gas. “It took me a long time to find a CO2 wrench,” says Doug Fuchs. “Then I found another CO2 bottle. I swapped out the dead bottle for the new one and the beer flowed. It took about a half an hour, but every single person in line was still there, waiting patiently in good humor. Beer nerds are good folk.”
For Fuchs and the rest of the team behind Eugene’s annual one-day festival, that’s what it comes down to: meticulous planning, hauling heavy kegs, on-the-spot problem solving, and above all, trusting in the best of the industry and the public.
Bringing together breweries and cideries, finding a location, arranging food and entertainment, organizing dozens of volunteers, setting a beer dinner, collaborating on a homebrew competition, complying with Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) regulations and drawing in the public is no easy feat. “Beers festivals are back-breaking work,” Fuchs says. But every year the Northwest Legends Foundation (NLF) -- the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes Sasquatch — makes it happen.
It Takes Four Months to Make One Day
Four months of planning culminated in 2015 Sasquatch, held on Saturday, June 6 during Eugene Beer Week. More than 100 kegs — 1,550 gallons — from 50 breweries and cideries poured for more than 3,000 people who braved temperatures rising above 90 degrees to celebrate craft beer at the Hop Valley Tasting Room. For Fuchs, of Eugene-based publicity and marketing firm Flying Ink Media, it was not only a celebration of the craft beer industry; it was another year commemorating a renowned figure in the local brewing community.
“Glen Falconer was a dear friend,” says Fuchs. “I met him during the first employee meeting just before Steelhead Brewery opened in 1991. Glen was the first assistant brewer. I was the first head bartender. Glen and I became friends quick and stayed that way.”
The two also worked together at the now-closed Wild Duck Brewery, Fuchs as an assistant brewer and bartender, and Falconer as the head brewer. When Falconer died suddenly in 2002, Fuchs was one of the first to realize something was needed to honor his memory, and Sasquatch was born. Fuchs has served as the publicist and marketing director for the festival since its inception in 2002. In 2014 Fuchs also joined the Northwest Legends Foundation board of directors, and this year became the festival’s brewery and beer coordinator.
Three people are in charge of organizing Sasquatch: Fuchs, John “Chewie” Burgess (operations manager) and Steve Ditmar (NLF president). They coordinate with an event operations board, which manages both big picture and minutiae.
“We start planning in early February of each year,” explains Fuchs. “Working together, we put the festival together in about four months, from February to the first week of June. February through March is mostly planning. April and May are fulfillment.”
Early festivals were held at the now-closed Wild Duck Music Hall, then outside in Kesey Square, moved inside the Hilton Eugene, and then switched venues back outside, first at Ninkasi in 2014, then at Hop Valley this year. “We plan on keeping the festival outside from now on,” says Fuchs. “When the festival is outside, we have a larger footprint, and then can pour more beer and entertain and educate more folks about beer culture and craft-brewed beer. These past two festivals, 2014, 2015, may very well be the largest ever.”
Different venues pose different challenges. “Every year is a learning experience,” Fuchs says, “Since we are pouring an alcoholic beverage outside in public, we have to have permits, oversight, fencing, security, all of which have to come together to make the festival a success.”
The Lifeblood of a Beer Fest
The lifeblood of Sasquatch comes down to two things: breweries and volunteers. All kegs are selected by head brewers and donated to Sasquatch (all proceeds from the festival go to area charitable organizations and to brewing scholarships for institutes such as Siebel and the American Brewers Guild).
Brewery support doesn’t end with the keg delivery though. “Brewers and their employees, representatives, and friends show up early, set up their own jockey boxes, haul their own kegs, ice down the beer, and inform and educate folks that show up to taste their brews,” says Fuchs. “The breweries are the real force behind the festival, and we give each brewery an opportunity to show off their craft.”
Beer fans show up initially to support their favorite breweries, but quickly turn to exploration of other breweries and styles. By providing so many different beer styles to try from so many different breweries, Sasquatch’s broad range provides something for everyone.
Alongside the brewers are 100 volunteers who handle all the big and small tasks on the day of the event. They set up the festival, work front of house, haul ice to keep the beer cold, pour beer, tidy up after the festival closes and show up the next day to clean the venue and break down all remaining equipment. “Volunteers make the festival happen,” says Fuchs. “I am amazed each year at the sweat and work put in by people — sometimes I don’t even know their names — who just make it work.”
As Fuchs and the Sasquatch team come off another year, they are icing their backs and glad to be out of the heat for a while, but the pain has been worthwhile. “Beer culture is an exceptional place with a lot of heart,” Fuchs says. “Eugene is a wonderful place. And the best way to reveal the heart of the community is to ask for help. Eugene jumps right in every time.”
The Empowerment Project documentary, produced by Heartfelt Productions, was in McMinnville filming Teri Fahrendorf and the Pink Boots Society in 2013. The organization was at Heater Allen Brewing doing a collaboration brew with Lisa Allen, the assistant brewer and daughter of the brewmaster and owner, Rick Allen. Photo courtesy of Teri Fahrendorf
By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The day I caught up with Teri Fahrendorf, she was fielding phone calls, filing reports, handling customer requests and troubleshooting right and left -- a typical day in the life of the multitasking female beer pioneer. When we finally connected after a day of phone tag, she talked freely and fast -- so fast I struggled to keep up.
Ever the trailblazer for women and beer, Fahrendorf took on a new role about six years ago as a sales rep for the Country Malt Group. She handles nine different malt brands as well as hops and other beer supplies for the company, a subsidiary of Great Western Malting.
Recently business has been hopping (pun intended), so her territory of Oregon and Washington was reduced by about half to Washington only. Fahrendorf sees herself as a good malt ambassador and consultant in the brewing process. After spending nearly 20 years as a brewer, she has plenty of credibility and experience to draw from.
She was the first female craft brewmaster who was not an owner, hired in 1989 at Golden Gate Brewing in California. The two women craft brewers who preceded her were Mellie Pullman, a brewer and partner at Schirf Brewing Company in Park City, Utah, and Carol Stoudt, brewmaster and owner at Stoudt’s Brewing in Adamstown, Pa.
Fahrendorf’s interest in beer grew out of homebrewing. Tired of working as an analyst, she decided to go to the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago to see if she could get a job as a brewer. Of the 24 people in her class, she was one of two women, the only microbrewer and one of the few who weren’t working for a large, domestic brewery.
“The first day of class, they asked what brands do you brew? I didn’t brew brands, I brewed styles. I looked up all the breweries in Chicago and organized brew field trips -- a beer of the world tasting tour with all different styles,” said Fahrendorf. She also organized a class brew. Her classmates recognized her initiative and selected her as the first female class president.
Once she got her start, she was off and brewing, working 17 of her 20 years at Steelhead Brewing in Eugene. Then she shifted gears to take a brewing road trip, allowing her to visit women brewers around the country, before launching the wildly popular nonprofit Pink Boots Society with the sole purpose of supporting women in beer. To become a member, you simply have to earn some income from beer and membership is free.
In its eighth year, Pink Boots is growing faster than ever, with chapters all around the globe. At the beginning of the year there were 1,350 members and now there are 1,700. That’s about 100 people joining each month. The networking benefit of Pink Boots is huge, but other pluses are educational seminars, meetings, the Craft Brewers Conference gathering and scholarships. “We award one new scholarship a month in the United States. We have two selection teams of volunteers that review the scholarship applications,” said Fahrendorf. ” Often the scholarships are for residence-based brewing courses. “We try to cover at least $250 a day, “she said.
In exchange for the scholarship, recipients are expected to “pay it forward.” This payment can take many shapes, from writing an article to giving a talk at the Craft Brewers Conference. “We are creating women leaders. Many of these gals haven’t been in that role before,” said Fahrendorf.
The organization is all-volunteer with the exception of the executive director Emily Engdahl. As the founder and executive director, Fahrendorf is the face of the organization, even though she is always trying to “get it off her plate.” The more it keeps growing, the more she is called in to help put out the fires.
One of the recent fundraising events for Pink Boots was a collaborative brew in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8. More than 100 breweries participated in making the same recipe. This year it was the 2015 Unite Red Ale. A portion of the sales from the beer go to Pink Boots.
In Oregon, the participating breweries were Lompoc, Green Dragon, Fort George, Chetco and Wild River. The brewing was open to any Pink Boots member, not just brewers. Breweries interested in participating in 2016 should check the Pink Boots website this fall.
What comes next for Fahrendorf? So many adventures await. “I feel like my whole life has been a Joseph Campbell ‘hero’s journey.’ I love what I’m doing right now, my job with Country Malt,” she said. Still, she would like to cook and homebrew more and wants experience with barrel aging and sours and, of course, she is always ready to help emerging people in the beer business.
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