Oregon Breweries by Brian Yaeger
Date read: 08 February – 19 March 2015
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Paperback, xx, 396 pages
Published 1 December 2014 by Stackpole Books
Source: Own (Amazon 3 December 2014) [According to WorldCat neither Deschutes Public Library or COCC’s Barber Library have it.]
- Northwest Portland
- Southwest Portland
- Southeast Portland
- Northeast Portland
- Portland Metro
- The Gorge-Eastern
- Willamette Valley
- Bend and Central
- Beer Festivals
- Bottle shops and Taprooms
- Breweries to Come
- Portland Coffee Roasters
Let me state right up front that I enjoyed this book. More importantly, I find it valuable. For me, the factual data—the listing of so many of Oregon’s breweries in one place along with information on them—is what matters. The individual “story” of every brewery, or at least as told by the author, is not my main focus by any stretch, even though some are quite interesting.
I also appreciate how amazingly difficult it would be to write so many entries of basically the same information for all these breweries all the while trying to make them sound different. I would not relish that task. That said, the strain shows on occasion. And sometimes I imagine others might appreciate the author’s humor more than me.
Some “factual” and other issues first:
Full Sail is included in the Coastal group when it should be in The Gorge-Eastern, while Oregon Trail is included in Southern instead of Willamette Valley.
There are two listings of the breweries. The first is in the table of contents where they are separated into areas/regions (such as, Northwest Portland or Bend and Central) and then listed alphabetically. The second is the Brewery Locations map which lists them all alphabetically and then gives each a number that corresponds to, basically, the county it is in. That means all of the Portland breweries have one number (2) on the map.
A separate map of Portland, divided by quadrants, would be most useful!
I also realize that alpha order is easy but that doesn’t make it the right organizational tool, especially if you have multiple tools available. Some of the areas/regions would be harder than others but Coastal could go north to south or vice versa and The Gorge-Eastern could also easily go east to west, etc. That would make “small,” regional visit planning easier. This is not everybody’s use case though so not sure this is an entirely fair critique.
Each section has an intro that gives a quick overview of the region, along with a nice listing of non-beer-related places to visit. Each brewery entry generally consists of the following sections of info: Name and address, contact info, logo; textual entry; Beers brewed; The Pick; and a listing of other info like hours. Each full entry is from one to three plus pages and a few do not have The Pick and a few also do not have Beers brewed.
In the textual entry we get Yaeger’s impressions, perhaps an origin story or some other hook, and other facts or interesting tidbits. Beers brewed is what it purports to be, while The Pick is Yaeger’s pick from his visit. May not be available when you visit, of course.
The textual entry makes up most of the space in a brewery’s entry once past one page, so it is kind if interesting to see who gets more pages and who doesn’t (see, e.g., Ale Apothecary and Barley Brown’s). The final bit of info contains: Opened (year), Owner(s), Brewer(s), System, Annual production, Distribution, Hours, Tours, Takeout beer, Gift shop, Food, Extras. Some have less info at the end but most contain the same bits of data.
As I said up top, the strain of writing so many similar, yet hopefully different, entries took its toll once in a while. I certainly am not going to point out all of the minor distractions but I do want to point out a few.
Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
“In the mid-eighties, Logsdon cofounded neighboring Full Sail Brewery, then colaunched yeast industry giant Wyeast Labs, so naturally the beers he and partner Chuck Porter make are yeast-forward saisons” (207).
Um, no, that doesn’t follow. “Yeast-forward” follows, perhaps. But “saison” most certainly does not. Full Sail is not particularly known for saisons and Wyeast has quite a few strains of yeast.
BricktownE Brewing Co.
“BricktownE’s location was built in the 1890s, according to owner and craft beer crusader Craig McPheeters, and a brothel used to operate upstairs. You could call their Workin’ Gal BrownE Ale, which busts a nutty flavor and mouthfeel, an homage.” (344).
Um. OK. He really did go there.
Caldera Brewing Co.
“Another amazing treat from my last visit was intended to be a replica of Red Sea, just like Mills brewed in Kona, but they accidentally left Mogli’s bourbon, chocolaty oak spirals in the fermentation tank. The resulting warming vanilla …” (347).
Wait. I’m supposed to drink beer from a brewery that can’t even begin to clean a fermentation vessel properly? If they leave physical items in their tanks accidentally, deity only knows what else is “left.” I think the story is probably something else and worded poorly. At least I hope so.
“He has experience at some small-by-most standards breweries including Lost Coast and Mad River, both in Humboldt County, which makes sense since he’s originally from Northern California. Mad River happens to be one of my favorite breweries from that area, so it stands to reason that he has folded some of the tricks he picked up there into his own operation” (350).
Not the way causation, or grammar, works. The last clause follows from the first clause of the first sentence but not from the clause it follows. The author’s liking of Mad River has nothing to do with any of the other clauses. Stackpole’s editors seem to be nodding off once in a while.
Walkabout Brewing Co.
“Nearly as popular is Jabberwocky, perhaps with the implication that each 22-ounce bottle implores you, in its best Lewis Carroll voice, to “drink me” (374).
Wrong character in a completely different work. Easy cultural references and allusions aren’t always good ones. And,, yes, I know that most people won’t get the difference, or care. But literature matters. Literary allusion matters.
Again, this had to be a very tough job and the author has done a fine job with a limited amount of space for each entry on the many, many breweries we have in Oregon. I’m not trying to nitpick by pointing out the above but show that there are some small issues; reasons for which I only rated it 4-stars.
Breweries to Come
[Keep in mind this book was released 1 December 2014; that is, is quite new]
This is a two-page listing of the breweries in the process of becoming operational; that is, in planning and/or outfitting.
Of the two mentioned for Bend, one (North Rim) has been open a while now and at least one other not listed (Monkless Belgian Ales) is also already open.
Also not listed, Craft Kitchen and Brewery is replacing Old Mill Brew Wërks, which is out of business.
Immersion Brewing has been announced.
Redmond’s scene is definitely growing. See the bottom of Jon’s post here for some new ones.
The problem with these sorts of books is that they are out-of-date as soon as they are published. For a place like Oregon even before publication. Remember, release date was not even four months ago.
I would really love to see this sort of thing as a wiki, with accompanying map(s), and various ways to slice and dice the data. Perhaps the Oregon Brewers Guild should do such a thing (just do it well!) and you could get access with SNOB membership. Wouldn’t help out-of-state visitors or the simply inquisitive and not-yet-converted.
Honestly, I just want it open and available. But who will maintain it? A definite early-21st century issue. This is not a dig on Yaeger’s book but on the entire class of book like this. His has superseded, at least partly, two other books. Neither of which is that old. His will be too. Soon.
Anyway, for the most up-to-date listing of Central Oregon breweries (and their order of operation) just look in Jon’s sidebar at the Brew Site.
Again, I think this is a darn fine book of its type. For me it will serve as a reference book (I did purchase a copy after all). I have already used it extensively in making plans for our trip this week to Portland.
This post is cross-posted at my other blog, Bend Beer Librarian, since that is where the beer writing (mostly) goes.
This is the 17th book in my