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Craft Beer in Oregon Still in Expansion Mode

Monday, April 13, 2015

 

In concert with the Craft Brewer’s Conference converging on Portland, the Oregon Brewers Guild announced 2014 craft beer sales numbers. Good news: sales were up (again). Last year Oregonians bought 585,000 barrels (a barrel is equal to two full sized kegs) of beer produced in Oregon, a nearly fifteen percent increase over the previous year. Additionally, in 2014 overall production of Oregon beer was up by seventeen percent, a number that is consistent with the national average.

“The numbers don’t lie, Oregon Craft Beer is #1” said Brian Butenschoen, executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “20 percent of the beer sold in Oregon is craft beer made in Oregon.  We were the first state to reach this milestone goal.  We also added 800 new jobs in Oregon, a 12 percent increase over the same quarter in the previous year. ”

While some are concerned this level of growth cannot be sustained, only eleven percent of the total volume of beer brewed in the United States in 2014 was from a craft brewer.

The Brewers Guild Also noted that a new milestone was met in 2014. Fully 20 percent of the beer — both bottled and draft — consumed in Oregon was brewed here. For draft beer, that percentage is three times higher, with Oregon breweries producing an estimated 60.0 percent of all draft beer consumed in Oregon!

The Brewers Guild wisely points out, it’s not just about how much we brew and drink here, but exports, both domestically and internationally that help drive the health industry. Oregon brewers shipped over a million barrels outside the state in 2014. 22,000 barrels were exported to 32 countries around the world.

In 2014 Oregon had 220 breweries operated by 179 brewing companies in 71 cities, including 58 within the Portland city limits. The brewing industry contributes $2.83 billion to the state’s economy and employs roughly 30,000 people directly and indirectly. Oregon’s breweries not only help drive Oregon’s economy, but the Brewer’s Guild also reports they contributed $2,450,000 in product and cash to local causes.

 

Related Slideshow: 9 Of Portland’s Top Brewers

Here's a look at 9 of Portland's top brewerers and their best creations.

All photos are courtesy of the breweries. 

Prev Next

Jason McAdam, Burnside Brewing Company

Jason McAdam from Burnside Brewing Company is a quiet craftsman. His lineage includes being at the helm of Roots Brewing. A fan once said of him "if he could get away with putting a cat in a batch of beer, he'd want to try." Even without that, his beer is the cat’s meow. From a big bold IPA as Burnside's mainstay, to a smoked wheat Gratzer, and a more than few things in between, McAdam, should be toward the top of any list of Oregon Brewers.

Recommended: Oatmeal Pale Ale

Prev Next

Doug Rehberg, Widmer Brothers Brewing

It is said Budweiser may have the best brewers in the world. You'll never hear their names. Unlike in the craft brew world, macro brewers aren't considered rock stars. Doug Rehberg at Widmer Brothers Brewing is somewhat of a crossover. He brews beer for Widmer, who brew just shy of a million kegs of beer annually. Over the past decade when Oregon Brewers entered the recent "creative" era, Doug has ensured these big boys didn't rest on their laurels. If you want to really know what I mean, go visit the brewery, where they have nearly 30 beers on tap on any given day.

Recommended: Ginger Brrrrbon 

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Mike Wright, The Commons Brewery

There is nothing common about Mike Wright, the owner and brewmaster of The Commons Brewery. He started his business in his garage less than five years ago and is already preparing for his second major expansion. That is great news.

Commons zigs when most of Portlands breweries zag. Farmhouse style ales are a gateway drug to the Belgian beer revival that seems to be occurring. Maybe not always as sour as your typical Belgian but decidedly different than your average Portland brew. 

Recommended: Flemish Kiss

Prev Next

Alan Taylor, Pints Brewing

Pints Brewing at times seems more busy during their morning coffee hour than happy hour, which is a shame. Head Brewer Alan Taylor learned the craft while in Germany and his hiring brought new life to the fledgling Pints - literally. Pints recently opened an out of state off shoot and are in the works to open a second Portland location (each under a different brand name). Pints as a name may not ever become a household name. Taylor’s beer just might.

Recommended: Seismic IPA

Prev Next

Ben Love and and Van Havig

Ben Love was at Hopworks when Van Havig got foolishly ousted from a chain brewpub. Together they opened Gigantic. Soon the rest of the city learned what beer insiders had long known: Van is the real deal. Ben, no slouch himself serves as an equally talented brewer.  

Recommended: Pipewrench Gin Barrel IPA

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John Harris, Ecliptic Brewing 

John Harris at Ecliptic Brewing has the longest credits of any Portland brewer. Put shortly, he is legendary. In a beer world where the brewer can be a rock star, Harris stands out for not standing out. Instead of shaking hands and retail politics with those who've enjoyed his products for decades, Harris remains behind the kettle further perfecting the craft at a level other brewers should aspire to. Haven't heard of John Harris? You may recognize some of the names of beers he's credited with creating: Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter and Jubelale for Deschutes Brewery. He went on to spend 20 years at the helm of Full Sail before setting out on his own in 2013.

Recommended: Phobos Extra Red Ale

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Ben Edmunds, Breakside Brewery

If you gain an audience with Ben Edmunds, a former teacher, of Breakside Brewery, you'll walk away knowing that he blended that career with his current one and will have learned a few new things about beer. You'll also gain an appreciation for the creative mind that grew Breakside from a nano-brewery on Dekum to a large production facility in Milwaukie in just a few years. The array of beers that Edmunds produces is impressive. Be careful though, my recommended brew is a might bit spicy.

Recommended: Aztec Amber Ale

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Christian Ettinger, Hopworks Urban Brewery

Christian Ettinger left Laurelwood Brewery to open up his first brewpub, Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB). Apparently he lived by the motto "go big or go home,” and therefore didn’t face the challenge of other brewers on this list spending their early years building out new space while trying to brew and serve. In what surely was considered a risky location, HUB saw gold in their SE Powell location. They were right. Having a good product surely helps.

Recommended: Organic Abominable Winter Ale

Prev Next

Alex Ganum, Upright Brewing 

Alex Ganum at Upright Brewing is another chain brewery expatriate and opened shop in the basement of the Left Bank Annex in 2009.  Upright Brewing “specializes in farmhouse inspired beers rooted in France and Belgium but made with a Pacific Northwest twist, while also dabbling in both classic and quirky projects from around the world.” Their limited taproom hours includes before each home Blazers game.

Recommended: Engelberg Pilsener

 
 

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