Heart in the art: Brewers share a passion for their craft

April 2013 Posted in Food & Drink
Woodchuck Hard Cider

Vermont Hard Cider

By James Day

So how do you get noticed in a microbrew world in which another brewer seems to sprout up daily behind the nearest hop pole? How do you acquire space on the shelves or taps in the taverns when everyone else is clamoring for the same thing?

And where do festivals such as The Oregon Garden Brewfest, which runs April 26-28, figure into the plans of brewers, cidermakers and meaderies?

Our Town checked in with more than 15 of the 60-plus brewers who will be pouring for the Silverton event. Most are from Oregon and the Northwest, but Vermont will be represented as well as Chicago. And Silverton, with hometown favorite Seven Brides Brewing.

What did we find out? That the brewing culture is as much about collaboration as competition. That the people involved in such enterprises display an inspiring passion about what they do. And that being in touch with your customers is crucial.

“Oregon is very unique in the way breweries and brewers work together, rather than work against each other,” said Bolt Minister, head brewer at Old Town Brewing in Portland.  “While there are more and more small breweries opening up, our brewing community remains quite tight and supportive of one-another in an effort to grow Oregon beer as a whole. With that said, differentiating yourself from other breweries is the obstacle many of us face.”

That’s where events such as The Oregon Garden Brewfest help fuel the marketing push.

The Oregon Garden Brewfest
April 26-28,
Friday and Saturday
noon-11 p.m.;
Sunday noon-6 p.m.
The Oregon Garden,
879 W. Main St., Silverton
Tickets: $15 Friday and Saturday
until 5 p.m. and all day Sunday.
$20 Friday and Saturday after 5 p.m.
Admission includes a mug and five
tasting tickets. Additional tasting
tickets are available for purchase for $1.

Parking/shuttles: Parking at the Oregon
Garden costs $5 and the lots are expected to fill.
The festival will operate shuttle buses every half
hour to free auxiliary lots. The gravel lot north
of Roth’s will be available all three days.

The lot at the First Baptist Church,
229 Westfield St. will be available
Friday and Saturday.

The lot at Robert Frost School,
201 Westfield St., will be
available Saturday and Sunday.
Information: ogbf2013.blogspot.com

“We attended last year for the first time and found it to be a very well-run and well-received brewfest,” said Ty Barnett, co-owner of GoodLife Brewing in Bend. “The festival brings out a large group of dedicated beer lovers. As a newer local brewery, getting our beer into those folks’ hands is a top priority. That way if they like it and see it again at their local store or pub they may choose to have another try.

“It’s all about the beer. Sure, having cool labels and brands is important. The quality of the beer is the most important thing a brewery can focus on.”

It’s also all about the cider and the mead. The Oregon Garden event will have a good representation from those sectors.

“On one hand, marketing it is very difficult,” said Nick Lorenz, owner-brewer of the Nectar Creek Honeywine meadery in Corvallis. “There are a lot of people who do not know what mead is, and there are also a lot of people that give mead a very negative connotation and refuse to even try free samples of our products.

“But one of our best tools is education. We are happy to be a part of this education process, not only teaching about mead itself, but also about honey, bees and the agriculture that helps create our final product.”

It’s a long way from Silverton to Middlebury, Vt., 3,039 miles to be exact if you Googlemap the distance between Seven Brides and Vermont Hard Cider.

“Events like The Oregon Garden festival stand as a first point of contact for many people with our ciders,” said Bret Williams, president and CEO of Vermont Hard Cider.  “Oregon’s craft beer and cider culture is one of the best in the country.

“It’s about getting the bottle into people’s hands. Just getting them to try it.  In addition to beer and cider festivals, we attend major music and art festivals across the country. We also focus heavily on social media channels, delivering our fans content and the latest news about our products as fast as we can. With social media we can reach them direct, and that has been a great tool for us.”

Standing Stone of Ashland will be bringing its I ♥ Oregon Ale, which includes hops from Goschie Farms of Silverton.  Photo by George Rubaloff

Standing Stone of Ashland will be bringing its I ♥ Oregon Ale, which includes hops from Goschie Farms of Silverton. Photo by George Rubaloff

Laura Bryngelson, owner-president of Calapooia Brewing in Albany, says that the festival scene is valuable because it puts brewers face to face with their customers.

“Festivals, especially (those) like The Oregon Garden festival, help us reach a viable targeted market,”  Bryngelson said. “If someone comes through those doors, you know they are there to try new beer, so we don’t waste our scarce time or valuable marketing hoping to reach a couple of craft brew drinkers amongst nondrinkers, domestic beer drinkers, or wine drinkers.

“The time and money we spend for festivals hits our exact demographic.”

One of the veterans of the beer scene, BridgePort, which opened in Portland way back in 1984, is linking up with another great American pastime, baseball, to stay in the public eye.

“Recently we partnered with the Hillsboro Hops, the new minor league baseball team in the Portland area,” said BridgePort brewmaster Jeff Edgerton. “We signed a contract as their official beer and we hope that this will help expose guests at the ballpark to our beers if they haven’t tried them yet. We’re working on a recipe for a beer that we will sell only at Hops games. We love the family feel of this organization and are looking forward to a great relationship with the Hops.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum from a powerful industry veteran such as BridgePort is Bend’s Rat Hole Brewing: It’s so small it calls itself a “nano” brewery.

“Since we are too small for a distributor we must ‘go door to door’ to market our beer,” said co-owner Susan McIntosh.  “We do tastings, pour at charity events and festivals. These events expose our product to a lot of people.”

Sometimes the key can be the truck the beer rode in on. Rusty Truck Brewing of Lincoln City mainly works northwestern Oregon, focusing on the coast from Pacific City to Newport as well as inland in Portland and Salem. The company self-distributes using its own refrigerated beer trucks, including a red 1956 Ford F350.

Ben Love is brewmaster/owner of Portland’s Gigantic Brewing, which is known for its creative labels, as well as its beer. Like most of his peers, Love sees a bright future for craft brewing.

“Luckily for us, beer drinkers in Oregon love their local beer, and I don’t just mean beer made in Oregon,” Love said. “They love the brewery that is just down the street from their home, which is one reason why there’s still plenty of room for more brewers in Oregon.”

Beers and ciders to watch for during the brewfest
Our Towntook an informal survey of the more than 60 breweries, meaderies and cider makers who are participating in this year’s festival. Here is a look at some of the offerings that will be on hand:Logsdon Farmhouse Ales of Hood River will be bringing an oak-aged beer.

Stone Brewing of Escondido, Calif., will have on tap its Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale and 2012 Double Bastard Ale.

Old Town Brewing of Portland has a special Boysenberry Black Ale, which uses Oregon boysenberriees.

Good Life Brewing of Bend will be pouring Sweet As Pacific Ale, a light pale ale that uses hops from New Zealand and Australia.
Rusty Truck Brewing of Lincoln City will be bringing its Stupiphany Imperial Red Ale, an 8.5 ABV workhorse “massively malty and hopped over the top.”

BridgePort of Porland will be offering Smooth Ryed, a seasonal beer that was introduced in January that features Centennial Hops from Crosby Farms near Woodburn.

Calapooia Brewing of Albany will bring back its Chili Beer, a Silverton people’s choice winner the past two years.
Rat Hole Brewing in Bend is set to pour its Chocolate Oatmeal Porter.

Golden Valley Brewery in McMinnville will pour its just-released 85 IBU Bald Peak IPA, which uses local Cascade and Columbus hops.
2 Towns Ciderhouse in Corvallis will be unveiling one of its most popular seasonals, Made Marion, a hard apple cider with Marionberries added after fermentation.

Fort George Brewery in Astoria, Calif., is revving up its Spring Seasonal Tender Loving Empire NW Style Pale Ale, which is lower in alcohol than the IPA but “packed with hop flavor and aroma.”

Standing Stone in Ashland is bringing its I ♥ Oregon Ale, which uses hops from Goschie Farms in Silverton.

– James Day

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