5 Tips to Run a Successful Craft Beer Business

Beer fans know that there is a lot of history behind its formation. Some of the beer recipes were developed in early civilizations. Beer is also one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world, and that’s why you are bound to find it in every bar near you. The ready market for this drink has led to the increase in the number of breweries with everyone trying to tap into the craft beer market.

What is craft beer?

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Craft beer is made in craft breweries. They produce fewer barrels of craft beer annually compared to larger companies that brew traditional beer. Another difference is that an alcohol industry member cannot have more than 25 percent ownership if the member is not a craft brewer. Brewers who make flavored malts that have a similar alcohol profile but different flavor profile are not part of the list.

 

5 Tips to Successful Craft Beer Business

Craft beer is gaining popularity, and there is a class of craft beer fans emerging among the millennials. This is one of the reasons there are several craft beer companies emerging. You need to stand out if you want to claim a share of this market. By looking at the website ranking of other craft beer businesses, you will discover that they have some things in common.

Finding your unique factor will help you with your beer and will give you extra points in the market. One factor that can help you with this is the location of your market. A business has better chances of success once it identifies a gap in the market and fills it in a unique manner that puts the customer in mind.

If you want to run a successful craft business, here are several tips that you can use for your business to be successful.

1. Be prepared

Before you get in the craft beer industry, you need to spend time getting prepared. Arm yourself with the right information and tools that will help you stay ahead of the current and upcoming competition. The following information could be useful when you’re starting out in this industry:

  • Understand the business of making perishable goods
  • Get informed on the alcoholic beverage production processes
  • Be marketing savvy to gain an extra edge when it comes to your competition. This includes having a website and taking steps to increase your website ranking
  • Have legal skills
  • Have access to funds that can start and run a brewery, distillery, and cidery

Preparation does not only come at the start of the business. It also comes when your business starts growing. It starts with getting a high website ranking to increase brand recognition and sales. The higher the website ranking, the higher the chances of attracting new customers which translates to more sales.

The more sales your brewery makes, the more revenue you have at your disposal to expand. It also automatically translates to an increase in the operational costs you incur. If you lack information in any of these different factors, you are not ready to have a craft beer business.

2. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is essential for any entrepreneur. Your character and personality go a long way in helping you develop your brand. Your craft beer brand should be a reflection of your personality which means that when you market your brand, you will be selling yourself.

You need to be self-motivated and set high standards for yourself which will help you produce better beer for your customers. You will also need to be strong since the journey will not be smooth. There will be disappointments and failures along the way. But you should learn from your failures and concentrate on your vision. Knowing your identity is essential and will contribute to your website ranking and business success in unimaginable ways.

Craft beer is an alternative to traditional beer. Other than selling a product, you will be selling an idea. Everyone in the craft business brings a new entrepreneurial story with a different approach to its application. You need to have the will to stand tall and have a unique mindset.

3. Set goals

While you are busy evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, you should also spend time setting goals for your business. Ensure you set realistic goals and have milestones that will help you achieve your goals. Once you achieve certain goals, set new ones to ensure that you are constantly growing. Have long and short-term goals that will help you assess the progress you make.

One goal you can have is to increase your website ranking so you can attract more traffic to your site. Any business aims to make a profit by increasing the sales. You will need to use different strategies to achieve this goal among others as long as they are realistic.

4. Work smart

Working hard will get you somewhere but working smart will get you further. Search engines are one place to find craft beer breweries as those with a high website ranking are perceived as the most popular. This means you can have a website where you give your customers information on your beer and any other new products. It will need you to find ways to put your site on the digital map and get it ranked. Here comes websunion.com, who has a great team to improve website ranking on search engines. Their web design team will make your site stand out from the rest and give it a competitive edge, visit to find more information on their services which can help run a successful craft beer business by ensuring your website rank improves and gain you more customers.

Getting feedback from your customers will go a long way in helping you improve your product which gives you a higher chance of pleasing your customers. Giving the right content to customers will also help improve your website ranking.

Distribution could also be a challenge for new breweries. While self-distribution is an option, it has a limited reach. You can partner with a distributor who will help increase your reach to new markets. Also, explore new markets to see if you can venture there.

5. Network

Knowing your competitor will go a long way in helping you with your brand. Take notes from your competitors that will help you improve your brand. Do your research and look at the sites of companies that have a high website ranking. Look at their product and look at customer reviews concerning their products.

There will also be a lot of competition among your colleagues. Different companies use different marketing tactics and knowing what others do can help you improve yours.

Every entrepreneur has a different personality. What matters is how you take these tips and use them to your advantage. There will be lots of collaborations among small brewers to solve distribution issues and cut down on costs. Having a higher website ranking will help you reach your market targets, and these tips will give you a higher chance of succeeding in the ever-growing craft beer industry.

Worthy Brewing’s Grand Opening!

Worthy Brewing knows how to throw a party! In their expansive brewhouse, designed by brewmaster Chad Kennedy, they set up a full stage and live music, a photo booth, face painting for the kiddos, plus knowledgeable staff in more than enough beer stations providing specially released Worthy Saison, two firkins: a one-off Amarillo dry hopped ESP and the Pilot Butte Bitter, as well as their Lights Out Stout, Go Time Xtra Pale Ale, and the Worthy Imperial IPA, among other delicious offerings. Outside in the drizzle that only April can bring, executive chef Mike Harrison kept his eye on a local pig roasting on a spit. Never mind the rain, the party had it all, including a special tribute to Hop Dr. Al Haunold* and as Roger Worthington, Worthy Brewing Owner, put it, his legacy is in every beer we taste, with every sip that passes our lips. Dr. Al Hanuold spoke briefly but passionately. Working with sub par hops in 1945 led him to proclaim, “I will not stand for this!” That is when he realized his purpose in life was to breed the greatest hops in the world. In honor of all that Dr. Al Haunold has done for hop breeding, the on-site Hop House at Worthy Brewing is dedicated to him. It was a great evening to honor Dr. Al Haunold but also revel in a brewery that seems to have a knack for going the extra mile for its guests. This is obvious in their attention to detail, quality, and service–and this is only the first of many parties to come!

Cheers to Worthy Brewing and congratulations on your grand opening!

*Dr. Al Hanold was the leading hop scientist for the USDA’s hop breeding program from 1965 to 1995. Source: http://inhoppursuit.blogspot.com/2010/01/first-of-series-us-hopmeister-in-chief.html

Widmer Brothers’ Omission Gluten-Free Beer

As the gluten-free movement heats up in the Northwest, Widmer Brothers cools things down with the introduction of its new line of gluten-free beers, aptly named Omission to demonstrate the uniqueness of the brewing process, which involves the removal of gluten from grain. Omission is a strong contender in the beer market, introducing a crisp, nutty lager, and a refreshing pale ale.

Producing great tasting, safe, gluten-free beer is a personal endeavor at Widmer Brothers. CEO and craft beer enthusiast, Terry Michaelson, was diagnosed with celiac twelve years ago; and brewmaster Joe Casey’s wife has been a celiac since 2006. It’s only natural that these two men came together to produce a delicious, gluten-free alternative that pleases all palates, including those of average beer drinkers and craft connoisseurs. But is it really safe?

The guys from Widmer Brothers say the brewing process is a secret, but they did explain that they are careful to test every batch to ensure safety. The gluten parts per million (ppm) for the lager and the pale ale is currently 5.0—well below the international standard for safety, which is 20 ppm of gluten protein.

According to Michaelson, he and several celiac and gluten intolerant people have enjoyed Omission beers on more than one occasion, and they have given them the all clear. I am gluten intolerant. I threw a couple back. I have no complaints.

Omission beers are not produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. That made me feel squeamish at first, but brewmaster Casey reminded me that both beers are made from barley to start. To avoid cross-contamination, they brew Omission beers in the morning after everything has been sanitized. To ensure safety, each batch is tested to meet the international standards. That is why they can label their beers gluten-free, even though they’re not made in a dedicated facility and they’re made from barley. Speaking of safety, Widmer Brothers has chosen to sell Omission beers in bottles. This eliminates server error and cross-contamination from taps.

Michaelson and Casey are not only doing their best to ensure safety, because of their relationships to celiac disease; their passions and palates drive them to produce consistently great tasting gluten-free beer. Each batch must pass the standards of a tasting panel for quality control before being bottled and sold to consumers.

Brewing gluten-free has never been easy on the consumer’s pocketbook. Gluten-free grains are typically expensive, which hikes up the price of their resulting beers. I asked Casey if gluten-removal from the barley grain was expensive, and if it would affect the retail cost of Omission beers. He said it did raise the cost, and that each six-pack would be sold at the average price of a typical craft beer. ($9.99 was the rumored price.) If you think that’s expensive, peruse the single bottle, 16 oz. gluten-free beers at your local grocer, and you’ll think Omission is a pretty good deal.

While Widmer Brothers is looking to sell Omission beers beyond the Oregon border, they are staying local for now. Expanding distribution will be a matter of defining what is gluten-free from state to state.

Considering Portland and the local food scene, the Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub is now offering a gluten-friendly menu by request. The kitchen staff is prepared to do everything they can to keep sensitive eaters safe. Michaelson will probably do his best to make sure the kitchen keeps its safety standards high.

If you’re interested in trying Widmer Brothers’ satisfyingly refreshing Omission beers, you can find them at these locations.

Have you tried the Omission yet? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

17 Responses to “Widmer Brothers’ Omission Gluten-Free Beer”

  1. Unfortunately, as of today (April 6), Widmer still does not have the new beer on its website and I am unable to find stores that carry it. Would love to try it, though!

  2. Had a horrible aftertaste – sweet and starchy. It’s better than other GF beers on the market, but not great. I miss beer, but I would rather drink really dry cider or wine.

  3. I’ll take this beer. And I’ll drink this beer.

  4. I’m really excited to try this new gluten-free beer. I just heard about it this week, and now that I know where to get it I’ll be sure to pick some up.

  5. Hi Nicole- Widmer actually has a special website for it’s Omission beers- go to http://omissionbeer.com/find-omission/

  6. Bought a 6er of Omission lager last night. Wow! What a find. Really great stuff.

  7. Stumbled on Widmer’s Omission (the Pale Ale) at Fred Meyer tonight and had no idea they were releasing a Gluten-free line. I’m a former craft beer lover, but had to go GF about six months ago. This is by far the best GF beer I’ve found. Definitely try it!

  8. This is the BEST GF beer I have found that is commercially bottled! It is a MUST try for any beer lover that now has to live GF!

  9. This is by far the best gluten free beer I have had (& I have tried them all.) my wife and I were so surprised that it acually tastes like real good beer (I thought the after taste was fine.)

    I would put this against regular pale ales (& I live in Bend, OR the beer Mecca.)

  10. Jonathon, I’m coming to Bend from Ca. for the weekend. Any tips where I can find Ommision in Bend ? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated !

  11. The Omission is a good beer on its own merits, never mind the special handling required to get it there. It takes basically like a stereotypical craft brewed golden or pale, and that is a good thing.

  12. a secret? they are just using proly endopeptidase to hydrolise the peptite bond involving proline. Its called clarex and anyone can buy it from novozyme and add it to their maturation tanks. Lots of other breweries are going to start do this i think.

    I don’t see why brewing these beers in the morning after “everything has been sanitized” would be any more safe (from a gluten standpoint) than brewing the beer after other batches of beer are made. Organic beers, ya, i get that. but, whatever makes you feel better.

    All that being said, i think its awesome. I can’t wait to try it and i hope they expand it to more brands.

  13. PS, here’s a good link that explains how its perfectly logical to remove gluten after the beer is made.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/gluten-free-beer-reduced-gluten-beer-offers-real-beer-taste-for-celiac-impaired

  14. By far the BEST GLUTEN-FREE BEER OFFERINGS I’ve ever tasted.

    I am Celiac and have an Italian restaurant. We have an extensive gluten-free menu featuring Pizza, Pasta, Beer, Sanwiches and Cakes for dessert. I have had MANY gluten-free beers in a quest to find one that is palatable. We are now serving Redbridge and New Planet. They are good, but this BLOWS THEIR DOORS OFF!….

    It’s on the menu here at Paisano’s starting IMMEDIATELY!!!!!

  15. i’m in livingston montana. any locations i can purchase this beer at??
    thank you for your response!

  16. Since this article was posted there have been some changes in how gluten-free beer is regulated.

    Many breweries start with naturally GF grains such as sorghum, but a few have taken the bolder step of starting with barley malt, and then destroying the gluten during the brewing process. I took a look into the pros and cons of using this approach. The current FDA-approved assay is not suitable for complex mixtures like beer, so an alternative is needed both to test for residual gluten, and, more importantly, the safety of the final product. The TTB, which regulates beer labeling and advertising in the US, has taken a cautious stance in its interim ruling. For more detail:

    Is “gluten-free” beer made with barley malt safe for celiacs? http://goo.gl/yqdp7

  17. I tried omissions in traverse city MI. It was wonderful but I’ve not been able to find it anywhere. I live in Northern IN. Would love to find some.

Sierra Nevada Announces East Coast Brewery Location

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
 

Sierra Nevada Chooses Asheville-Area for Eastern Brewery Expansion

CHICO, Calif. –  Jan. 25, 2012 – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is pleased to announce that it has chosen a site in western North Carolina for the future home of an East Coast brewery. The site, approximately 90 acres in the Henderson County town of Mills River – along the French Broad River, 12 miles south of Asheville – will be home to the new production facility, as well as a proposed restaurant and gift shop

“We are thrilled to have found an ideal location in western North Carolina for our second brewery,” says Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada. “The beer culture, water quality and quality of life are excellent. We feel lucky to be a part of this community.”

The new facility will add much needed capacity for Sierra Nevada, and will allow for the quick shipment of brewery-fresh beer to consumers in the east. The East Coast brewery will start with a capacity around 300,000 barrels, with room to grow. The added barrelage will accommodate wider production of the myriad of seasonal beers and bottled specialties Sierra Nevada has produced in recent years, as well as an expansion of the brewery’s well-known flagship product: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Sierra Nevada began the search for a new location several years ago. The brewery looked at hundreds of potential sites, eventually narrowing the search down to a handful of locations. The list of criteria was long and included quantifiable factors such as ease of shipping and water quality, as well as quality of life issues for its employees. Sierra Nevada has a reputation for a laid-back brewery culture and a love of the outdoors, and the new facility will retain this same tone. The Asheville area offers Sierra Nevada Brewing the perfect confluence of community, recreation and craft beer culture.

Sierra Nevada’s eastern brewery site is expected to employ approximately 90 workers, with additional staff in the restaurant to follow. The brewery anticipates being operational by early 2014.

About Sierra Nevada

Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of America’s premier craft breweries, highly regarded for using only whole-cone hops and ingredients of the finest quality. Sierra Nevada has set the standard for artisan brewers worldwide as a winner of numerous awards for its extensive line of beers including the flagship Pale Ale, Torpedo, Porter, Stout, Kellerweis, four seasonal beers, Estate Ale, Harvest Ales, Ovila Abbey Ales and a host of draught-only specialties.

Silver City Brewing is turning 15!

From the Press Release:

Silver City Brewery; the Kitsap Peninsula, Washington’s premier award winning brewery today announced the celebration of their 15th Anniversary with two events, one at Silver City’s Brewery location in Bremerton, WA. in and the other in Seattle at Naked City Brewery & Taphouse. “We really wanted to present the opportunity for our friends & fans on both sides of the Puget Sound to join us in celebration of our 15 years. That’s why we decided to do two celebrations” said Kurt Larson, Director of Marketing for Silver City Brewery.

The 15th Anniversary & Oktoberfest, will be at Silver City Brewery 206 Katy Penman Ave. Bremerton, WA on Saturday Sept. 10th from 3 – 8pm. This event will also feature 15 Silver City beers on tap and will pair Silver City’s annual Oktoberfest celebration with the 15th Anniversary.

Silver City’s Oktoberfest annually benefits the Kitsap County Firefighters Benevolent Fund. Co-owner of Silver City Scott Houmes said ‘We are proud and honored to couple the celebration of our 15 years with the Oktoberfest & benefit for the Kitsap Firefighters Benevolent Fund. Especially this year with the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 the day ahead. We hope this setting provides a record fundraising year for the Firefighters Benevolent Fund.” The Silver City Brewery 15th Anniversary & Oktoberfest Celebration will also feature live music by Gina Belliveau & Nick Deonigi, entertainment including a bratwurst eating contest, great food, & a silent auction.

The Silver City 15th Anniversary Celebration, at Naked City will feature 15 Silver City beers on tap. The event will be Tuesday Sept. 6th at 6pm at Naked City Brewery & Taphouse 8564 Greenwood Ave. N. Seattle.

Best of the West Coast 2011

IN MANY INDUSTRIES THE PAST FEW YEARS HAVE BEEN MORE CHALLENGING than any in recent decades. But for the West Coast beer industry, the last few years may well be remembered as the greatest yet in terms of growth and popularity.

More than 25 percent of the country’s craft breweries are located on the West Coast, and with easy access to so much beer, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy. So, with all of the new (and old) breweries, beer bars, and beer styles, how and where do you even begin to navigate the scene? A reasonable recommendation would be to explore the beer in your hometown. Well, if you live in Portland, Oregon that means visiting 40 breweries, nearly as many beer bars and bottle shops, and sampling an infinite number of beer styles. The thing is, Portland isn’t an anomaly. Cities up and down the West Coast are experiencing the same kind of growth and it can be overwhelming, while at the same time, extremely exciting.

At Beer West we’ve taken on the task of presenting you with the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the jewel in the crown (you get the idea), in terms of what to drink and where to find it. Picking the best seems a sort of impossible task given the amount of choices, but instead of choosing places that are the most popular, the newest, or the craziest this or that, we took a different approach. We went behind the scenes to look at the history, people, and influence the beer or place has had on the industry as well as their community. For instance, our “Best Brewery” may not produce the most innovative beer, but they’ve single-handedly changed the beer culture in their town. The best “Beer City” isn’t known for the most breweries or the hoppiest beer, but it’s miles ahead of other cities at integrating craft beer into their artisan food and beverage landscape.

Some of our choices may be familiar to you, and we hope others will be entirely new. But isn’t that what craft beer’s all about? It’s an experience of comfortable familiarity or the chance to explore uncharted, delicious territory. So, use our following lists as guides to help steer you toward new beer discoveries, and you just may stumble across a few surprising favorites of your own.

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The Big 5

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 BEST BREWER

King of Karma

Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Co.
Santa RosaCA // russianriverbrewing.com

By Georgia Perry

Photo by Mitch Rice

WHILE VINNIE CILURZO, owner and brewmaster at Russian River Brewing, has been credited in this lifetime with inventing the double IPA—a high-octane version of an IPA—there is speculation that in a past life he may have rescued a king.

“Or maybe he saved the baby Jesus from some terrible thing,” ponders Matt Brynildson, a good friend of Cilurzo’s and head brewer at Firestone Walker Brewing in Paso Robles, California. “Whatever he did is serving him well. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold. The guy has insane karma.”

That’s not too much of an exaggeration. Cilurzo’s beers are coveted across the country; there are lines around the block when any beer store receives its rare shipments of Russian River beers, and the anticipation for special draft-only releases, like Pliny the Younger, a triple(!) IPA, is palpable. The beer he’s best known for is Pliny the Elder, a hoppy but balanced double IPA that has achieved cult status among beer enthusiasts.

Among brewers, Cilurzo is appreciated as much for his attitude as for his product. Sam Calagione owner and brewmaster at the Milton, Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery says Cilurzo is living proof of something called Brewer’s Karma: “The more knowledge and inspiration you give to the craft brewing community, the more success and happiness comes back to you,” something that Calagione himself has also experienced.

Cilurzo is a generous giver of both knowledge and inspiration, and constantly on call for brewers in a pinch. Brynildson recalls a time he had an issue with the yeast in a particular Imperial stout, so he called Cilurzo, who happened to be on vacation in Hawaii. “He went through all the details as he was driving through Kauai with kayaks on his roof,” Brynildson remembers.

Why so eager to share? For one, that’s how the craft beer industry works. There’s lots of openness since everybody is relatively new to the game. Confidence also has something to do with it. OK, a lot to do with it. “We tend to not follow too closely what other breweries are doing,” Cilurzo admits. “That’s not to say we don’t drink other beers, but we really look inward to continue to improve upon our own beers.”

So while everyone else is asking him for advice, Cilurzo is also asking, well, himself for advice. Russian River produces just four styles of beers: IPAs, barrel-aged sours, Belgian-inspired beers, and lower alcohol beers for the pub, also located in Santa Rosa. This paired-down approach is similar to other small breweries, so when asked what sets him, and Russian River, apart from the competition (though Cilurzo himself would never call it that), he says simply, “It’s the customers.”

“We have been very fortunate to have an amazing group of customers who do almost anything to find our beer…And we are very appreciative of that.”

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BEST BEER CITY


 The San Francisco Treat

By Megan Flynn

photo by

THE SUN IS ALWAYS SHINING in San Francisco. Er, at least when I go there. Okay, so maybe it’s just metaphorically shining in my mind. But sun or no sun, I love this city for its beer culture. It’s a tough choice, naming the Best Beer City, especially when the options range from Portland and Seattle to San Diego, and even Eugene and Bend.

And no, San Francisco doesn’t top our list because the Giants won the World Series or because the 2011 Craft Brewers Conference was held there. And while San Francisco may not be home to the most breweries per capita or 10 beer bars within arm’s length of each other, it has captured the award for Best Beer City because of the distinct energy surrounding the craft beer scene and the cohesive way it’s represented throughout the city.

From the revitalization of the iconic Anchor Brewing Company in the late 60s—which essentially kick-started the craft beer revolution—to David McLean’s inspired Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, and more modern additions like 21st Amendment, who’s canning their craft beer, and Social Kitchen and Brewery, which has a delicious food focus, each company represents a unique and welcome addition to the craft beer culture of San Francisco.

“Craft beer is something we have been exposed to for over 30 years,” says David McLean, proprietor of Magnolia and beer-and-cocktail-bar, The Alembic, both located in the Haight-Ashbury district. “That makes it pretty deeply woven into our local culture.”

And this “local culture” extends far beyond just appreciating beer for beer. The craft beer scene just happens to dovetail with a 40-year artisan food and beverage movement (Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse turns 40 this year). “We see good beer in every kind of restaurant around here, plus all kinds of collaborations and dinners,” says McLean. “which casts craft beer in a great light, fosters creativity, and promotes widespread acceptance.”

So, whether you’re after a casual afternoon beer bar-hopping North Beach (try La Trappe, Church Key, and Rogue) or feel like splurging on dinner and an insanely rare bottle of beer at The Monk’s Kettle in the Mission, it’s all here. Even if you’re only in town to watch Giants’ pitcher Tim Lincecum throw a no-hitter, the ballpark’s Public House restaurant and bar has one of the best beer lists in the city, with regional favorites from Marin Brewing Company and North Coast to rare bottles from Europe’s Trappist breweries.

“There’s a je ne sais quoi that transcends this beer community that I can’t quite describe,” says The Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton, who is well-known in beer circles across the country for his elaborate multi-course beer dinners.

With all of the excellent beer and food choices in this bustling city, you’d think there’d be some competition among brewers, restaurants, and bar owners, but alas, that’s another reason San Francisco is so great—everyone works together. “I think we have kind of figured it out; there’s no (or very few) elitist attitudes,” says Paxton. “There’s no ‘this place is better than that place.’” And in an industry that’s bursting at the seams, who could ask for a better city to experience craft beer?

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 BEST BEER BAR


Feels Like Home

Beveridge Place Pub, Seattle, WA // beveridgeplacepub.com

By Heather Reese

photo by Cleary O’Farrell

SHE’S GOING TO ORDER a glass of red wine and he’ll go for a Manny’s beer,” predicted Gary Sink, as he watched a couple walk into his West Seattle pub on Sunday afternoon.

But it was an easy call. “They come in every Sunday,” he added with a smile.

A few minutes later, a man walked in with his dog and pulled up a chair. “Dogs have to be well behaved in here,” Sink explained. “Just like the people.”

It’s almost too easy to feel at home at Beveridge Place Pub. And that’s exactly the point. “We want it to feel really warm and inviting,” said Sink’s wife and co-owner of the pub Terri Griffith, “like somebody’s house.”

Somebody who has 25 local, regional, and international beers on tap and more than 100 bottled selections. “We are definitely Washington focused, but we also find unique beers from outside the state,” Sink explained. “We appeal to both the beer snobs and the everyday beer drinkers.” Only seven of his taps don’t change on a regular basis. One of them—the local Seattle Baron Brewing Pilsner—is even made by an old college buddy.

Beveridge Place has been a labor of love ever since Sink and Griffith opened it inside an existing pub a decade ago. They believed by bringing a quality beer selection to West Seattle that they were filling a void in their corner of the world. What they couldn’t predict was the outpouring of support.

Three years ago they made the big move across—that’s right—SW Beveridge Place to their current location. They only closed down for five days. “A lot of our patrons came to help us paint the walls and stain the floors,” Griffith explained. “The physical and emotional support we got while putting this place together was amazing.”

The pub is divided into two sections. One side resembles a sports bar with a TV and pool tables, while the other side is more inviting for intimate and group conversations. “It’s a place for people to make new friends,” Sink said. Since there’s no kitchen at Beveridge Place Pub, patrons are encouraged to order food from the “menu book” of nearby restaurants that deliver. “Our guests love supporting local businesses,” Griffith said. Plus, it helps them focus on the beer. “We’re not restaurateurs, we’re pub owners,” Sink added.

Both owners still work their day jobs with the Environmental Protection Agency, yet they make it down to the pub almost every night. They regularly organize fundraising events for local charities, along with special beer tasting and release parties. “My wife and I are intimately involved in not only the daily operation of the pub, but also in getting to know our customers and making sure people have fun,” Sink said. That’s why the regulars keep coming back again and again. “We put a real effort into being part of the community,” Griffith said.

So sit down, order a beer, and you’ll be part of their community, too.

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BEST BREWERY

 Craft Beer in Cowboy Country

Prodigal Son Brewery + Pub, Pendleton, OR // prodigalsonbrewery.com

By Megan Flynn

photo by Erin Burzel

WE’RE ON A MISSION. Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub proprietor Tim Guenther and brewmaster Brian Harder are at the wheel. We’ve just left their brewery in Pendleton, Oregon, and are on our way to the nearby town of Helix (population 200) to deliver a fresh keg of Wheatstock Hefeweizen and a bag of grapefruits to a local restaurant and bar that looks like it belongs in the movie No Country For Old Men.

We enter the Helix Pub which has a peace sign made out of wheat stalks hanging on the wall and a slogan that reads “Indulge in Easy Vices.” Five heads turn our direction as Tim wheels in a keg of craft-brewed wheat ale, which he recommends serving with a slice of grapefruit. The regulars at the bar all grip longnecks of Coors Light.

While most people think of the entire state of Oregon as a hub for craft beer, travel anywhere east of the mountains and it’s a barren beer landscape. Sure, there are a few great brewpubs like Terminal Gravity and Barley Brown’s scattered throughout the eastern half of the state, but the vast majority of the beer-drinking population still prefers macro-brewed lagers.

That’s one reason why Tim and his wife and co-proprietor, Jennifer Guenther, moved from Portland, where Tim worked in the financial industry, back to his hometown of Pendleton. “I’d thought about moving back a lot, but what was I going to do [for work]? And then I realized there’s no brewpub here, and Jen and I were used to hanging out at beer bars and brewpubs in Portland.”

Before taking the plunge, Tim connected with childhood friends Matthew Barnes, (the brewpub’s chef and kitchen manager) and Brian Harder, who both also lived elsewhere, and with a little coercing, convinced them to move to Pendleton to open a brewpub. “We bounced ideas off of each other for about two years and then one day I got the phone call [from Tim]. He said, ‘You ready to do this?’ and we pulled the trigger,” recalls Harder, who was mentored by Rogue Ales brewmaster John Maier.

Built in what was once a dilapidated, vacant warehouse with concrete floors and exposed wood beams, the brewpub feels up to date, even if the beer selection is, by Portland craft beer standards, pedestrian: golden ale, pale, stout. It’s not that Harder doesn’t know how to brew a Belgian Tripel or barrel-age beer. “I don’t think a sour or barrel-aging brewery would fly here because honestly it’s still Coors Light country,” admits Harder. “I mean, hefeweizen, I don’t want to say it’s cutting edge, but it’s still a new concept to our customers and a lot of people who come in here are trying [craft] beers for the first time.”

“The concept of a brewpub is a really new idea here,” says Jennifer. “A lot of people think we’re a bar. We’ve been here over a year now and we still get calls everyday from people asking, ‘Can we bring our kids?’ ‘Do you have food?’” But Tim is quick to explain that there are a lot of younger people and young families moving to or moving back to Pendleton who have spent time in cities like Portland, Eugene, and San Francisco, and appreciate craft beer. “People have been wanting something like this—a brewpub—for 10 to 15 years and no one’s been able to pull it off,” says Tim.

In a town whose population quadruples every September when the world-famous Pendleton Round-Up is in town, locals now have a reason to frequent downtown year-round. The best-selling beer at Prodigal Son is an approachable American-style hefeweizen, but it has taken some longtime Pendleton residents time to warm up to the idea of craft beer. To them, Jennifer usually suggests A Beer Named Sue, a mellow, 4.8 percent ABV golden ale, which most people try—and end up loving—a true gateway beer.

April 15, 2011 marked the first anniversary of Prodigal Son and the release of its first Belgian-style beer, which Harder brewed with rose hips and toasted grains of paradise. “We are taking what we do, and hopefully do well, and are bringing it back to our home town.” says Harder. “This is our contribution to this town. I’m excited—we all are.”

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BEST BEER

 Guaranteed Win

Bridge Creek Pilsner, Silver Moon Brewing
Bend, OR // silvermoonbrewing.com

By Uma Kleppinger

photo by Amanda L. Smith

IN A REGION DOMINATED BY HOPPED-UP IPAs and heavy, dark beers, and where winters are long, cold, and rainy, it seems a pilsner would be doomed to a lifespan equal to that of, well, a fruit fly drifting lazily about the mash tun. That is, until a passionate brewmaster who’s crazy about Bohemian-style lagers presents us with a crisp, hip alternative to the same old, same old. That’s exactly what brewmaster Tyler West has created for Silver Moon Brewing in Bend, Oregon.

Owner Tyler Reichert started the brewery in 2000 as a one-barrel “nano” operation out of his brewing supply store, The Brew Shop. By 2005 Reichert decided to focus on brewing, sold the supply shop, and moved Silver Moon to NW Greenwood Avenue. The new facility allowed “The Tylers” to expand their operations to a 10-barrel system, but the brewery is just far enough off the beaten path on Bend’s Ale Trail that many visitors make the tragic mistake of missing it.

West’s commitment to brewing German-style lagers has driven him to produce a clean beer that still offers plenty of hoppy appeal to the West Coast palate. With seven national and international awards to his credit, including a bronze medal for the Bridge Creek Pilsner at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival, West has created many remarkable brews over the years, but when we broach the topic of pilsners there’s a little extra excitement in his voice.

“There’s nearly always a pilsner on tap at Silver Moon, year round, when many brewers drop it to focus on other seasonals. Just this past winter we featured a seasonal beer called Little Red—a noble Bohemian-style pilsner made with dark malts, to provide a distinctive blood red color.” says West. “Generally sales of the pilsner slow a bit in winter months, but we have this amazing German yeast that we need to keep alive, so I’m brewing pilsner year-round.”

Beyond brewing award-winning beer, Silver Moon also takes entertainment a step further by sponsoring a popular event among locals called the Roller Rumble; participants race on stage, side by side, on fixed, stationary bikes. From a dead stop contestants sprint as fast as possible for 400 meters, through several qualifying rounds to the championship match. It certainly solves the problem of what to do when it’s raining outside. But even if you miss Roller Rumble night, be sure to sample a pint of pilsner next time you’re at Silver Moon. It’s a guaranteed win.

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Other Best Of’s

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FOOD

Beer Ice Cream //
Scoops Ice Cream
Los Angeles, CA

Food Made With Beer Ingredients //
BRUBAR
Davis, CA // brubar.com

Pairing Event //
Tom Douglas’ St. Patrick’s Day Beer Blast
SeattleWA // tomdouglas.com

Beer Chef //
Sean Paxton
Sonoma County
CA // homebrewchef.com

Beer Bar Nosh //
The Alembic
San FranciscoCA // alembicbar.com

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TRAVEL

Venue for a Beer and a Movie //
Living Room Theater
Portland, Or // livingroomtheaters.com

Beach-side Pub //
Library Ale House
Santa Monica, Ca // libraryalehouse.com

Beer Adventure Trip //
Schooner Zodiac brewery sail
San Juan IslandsWA // schoonerzodiac.com

Beer Hotel //
McMenamin’s 
Crystal Hotel
Portland
OR // mcmenamins.com

Backpacking Beer //
Fort George Vortex IPA
AstoriaOR // fortgeorgebrewery.com

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BEER BARS

Bottle Selection //
The Bier Stein
EugeneOR // thebierstein.com

Atmosphere //
Hamiltons Tavern
San Diego, CA // hamiltonstavern.com

Entertainment //
East Burn
PortlandOR // theeastburn.com

First Date //
Public School 612
Los AngelesCA // publicschool612.com

Tap Selection //
Brouwer’s Cafe
SeattleWA // brouwerscafe.com

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BREWERIES/BREWPUBS

Brewery Event //
Tour de Fat by New 
Belgium Brewery
Multiple locations, 
U.S. // newbelgium.com

Brewery Grub //
Social Kitchen & Brewery
San FranciscoCA // socialkitchenandbrewery.com

Most remote Brewery //
Brewers Union Local 180
OakridgeOR // brewersunion.com

Most Sustainable Brewery //
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
ChicoCA // sierranevada.com

Most Local Brewery //
Oakshire Brewing
EugeneOR // oakbrew.com

Most Kid-Friendly Brewery //
Hopworks Urban Brewery
PortlandOR // hopworksbeer.com

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BEER

Most Unique Ingredients //
Avatar Jasmine 
IPA // Elysian Brewing

SeattleWA // elysianbrewing.com

Best Sour //
Apricot Ale
Cascade Barrel House, 
PortlandOR // cascadebrewingbarrelhouse.com

Best Barrel-Aged Beer //
The Angel’s Share
Lost Abbey, 
San MarcosCA // lostabbey.com

Best IPA //
Pliny the 
Elder
Russian River Brewing, Sonoma County, Ca // russianriverbrewing.com

For a closer look at all of Beer West’s Best of the West Coast 2011, subscribe today or purchase a copy from your local newsstand.

4 Responses to “Best of the West Coast 2011”

  1. Wow Cowboy’s drink beer with lemons? Not good.

  2. That must be for the Cowgirls