Medford, Oregon: Portal Brewing and BricktownE Brewing

This past weekend (OBF weekend, in fact) was spent in Southern Oregon on a family vacation-slash-birthday trip, and while in Medford we managed to slip in a couple of mealtime brewery visits: Portal Brewing for lunch, and BricktownE Brewing for dinner. I’m not writing full reviews, but I have some thoughts on each, the beers, and took a number of pictures.

First though, a quick note about Southern Oregon in general. It’s a beautiful, temperate region, hot in the summers, green and fertile—the Rogue Valley region in particular is one of Oregon’s great wine regions. It’s relatively sparsely populated, with Medford and Roseburg being the most populous cities (with about 78,000 and 22,000 people, respectively), which means it’s fairly agrarian and rural in atmosphere, which is fairly apparent when you cross over into the State of Jefferson area.

Which for a lot of years translated into, “not having very many local breweries.” That’s been changing quite a lot in recent years, which a plethora of new breweries and brewpubs popping up in Roseburg, Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland, and elsewhere. Seeing that develop is always fun.

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Huge changes at Logsdon Farmhouse Ales

Logsdon Farmhouse AlesBig breaking news regarding Hood River’s Logsdon Farmhouse Ales today, as reported by both Brewpublic and the New School: the brewery is being bought out by Portland-based Uptown Market along with current partners/investors John Plutshack and Jodie Ayura, with founder Dave Logsdon retiring and brewer Charles Porter leaving entirely.

A snippet from Brewpublic:

Plutshack is also an owner of Tin Bucket in North Portland. In a deal that is still being finalized David Logsdon will retire from the brewing industry and will sell his stake of the brewery while Porter will completely walk away from the business he proudly founded.

Today is Porter’s last day at the brewery he founded with Logsdon four years ago. The recipes that he developed over the years with Logsdon will continue on with current Assistant Brewer Aaron Gilliam and the new ownership, but Porter will have no involvement with Logsdon Farmhouse Ales after today.

And Ezra at the New School has more:

Chuck Porter said in a statement “Today is my last day as Head Brewer at Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. I’ve put head and heart into building this business since we started this partnership in 2011 and while our beers have never had my name on them, they’ve always had my soul in them. Along with Dave, and as Founding Brewer, I’ve played an essential part in the face, taste and character of our beers. I’m proud of my contribution to our success and to the impact we’ve had on the American-Style Brett Beer category.”

What does this mean for the brewery? Logsdon Farmhouse Ales as a brand will continue, in fact they are planning to open a new Barrel House taproom in Hood River any day now and are receiving a brand new bottling line and recently installed an awesome coolship open fermenter.

I have to say this is pretty surprising news to me, especially considering it’s Uptown Market making the buy—the bottleshop turned recent (small) brewer is pretty under the radar. And then Logsdon itself is relatively young, and specialized enough that I would have expected them to continue their artisanal efforts. I’m sure there will be plenty more written up about this sale, stay tuned.

Update: As has been making the rounds, Stuart Faris of Uptown Market has issued an update from Dave Logsdon: “This is an agreement between two private, family-owned companies, with the Logsdon family remaining involved. There is a restructuring of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, in which Dave Logsdon will continue as the Founding Farm Brewmaster, to sustain the growth and exceptional quality Logsdon fans respect and covet. New members will join the current Logsdon Team in management and operations, as Dave is stepping back from directing the day-to-day operations full-time and Charles Porter has indicated his intent to leave his position as farmhouse brewer.”

Oregon Beer News, 07/31/2015

Oregon BeerI hope your Friday is going well, for this last (HOT!) day of July. Do you have plans for the weekend yet (other than staying cool)? A number of things are going on; here’s the weekend’s beer news. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day with the latest news, so check back often. And if you have news to share, please let me know and I can get that updated as well.

Of course BenFest is taking place at Belmont Station in Portland tonight from 6 to 9pm, an event I just wrote about earlier; this fest features beers exclusively brewed from Portland brewers named Ben, including: Ben Parsons of Baerlic Brewing Co., Ben Edmunds of Breakside Brewing, Deschutes Brewery’s Ben Kehs, Gigantic Brewing Co.’s Ben Love, Ben Flerchinger of Lucky Labrador Brewing Co., Ben Engler of Occidental Brewing Co., and Ben Dobler of Widmer Brothers. It’s sure to be a fun time with beer and other activities, make sure to check it out if you’re in the area!

McMenamins Blue Moon Tavern (Portland) is celebrating its 30th birthday all day today! Aptly enough they’re calling this their “Once in a Blue Moon” party (if you didn’t already know, today is indeed the blue moon) and in addition to drink and food specials, they’ll have live music tonight from 5:30 to 10pm. And a special beer, of course: Blue Moonberry! “Happy 30th Birthday Blue Moon! For 30 years now, the Moon has shone down on Nob Hill and we’ve brewed up a little something sweet, tart, and fruity to celebrate. Like her cousin, Ruby, Blue Moonberry is a light golden ale- but instead of raspberry we’ve added locally produced blueberries and blackberries. This brew was designed for the heat of summer and pairs well with birthday cake.” This was brewed up by the Edgefield brewery and is only $4 per pint all day long. Happy birthday indeed! (Trivia: the Blue Moon was among the first McMenamins establishments I visited, back in the late 90s.)

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BenFest returns today at Belmont Station in Portland

BenFest 2015

One of the most unique beer fests I’ve seen spawned in Oregon, BenFest, returns today for its fifth annual incarnation, taking place at Belmont Station in Portland from 6 to 9pm. This is a beer festival featuring all beers brewed by, you guessed it, brewers named “Ben” in Portland—of which there are an unusual number!

Here’s the rundown from Belmont Station:

BenFest serves as the official closing ceremony of Oregon Craft Beer Month and features new or special-release beers from seven Oregon brewers named Ben: Ben Parsons of Baerlic Brewing Co., Ben Edmunds of Breakside Brewing, Deschutes Brewery’s Ben Kehs, Gigantic Brewing Co.’s Ben Love, Ben Flerchinger of Lucky Labrador Brewing Co., Ben Engler of Occidental Brewing Co., and Ben Dobler of Widmer Brothers

This year’s theme is “Which Ben Are You?” and will feature two awards that will be announced during the event. Event attendees are invited to take the “Which Ben Are You” quiz, and a special “Ben of the People” award will be announced at the event for the Ben whose personality is most popular in the quiz. The second award will name the “Best Ben 2015” for the Ben whose beer is the most popular at the event (as determined by sales that evening). The event will showcase each Ben’s personality as exemplified through their beers, including: “Bentropy” Kehs’ dry-hopped lager, a wheat beer from “Bentertaining” Flerchinger, a Mexican lager from “Bendejo” Dobler, and “Tiny Benpire” Love’s super-dry-hopped India Session Ale.

“Benmont” Station will be selling the Bens’ beers in three sizes: 5-oz tasters, 25-cl glasses, and 16-oz pint glasses, and will feature the beers as the “Flight of the Day” for a discounted price. There is no entry fee. There will also be a free door prize raffle including glassware, gift certificates and goodies from Belmont Station and from the breweries.

Such a fun, goofy idea for a mini-brewfest. Here’s the “about” blurb (yanked from New School):

BenFest originated in 2010, when a candid group photo from the Craft Brewers Conference happened to include several of the brewers who currently participate in BenFest. Currently in its fifth year, BenFest offers a unique “meet the brewers” opportunity for Portland beer fans and promises a boisterous bounty of Bens.

I met Widmer’s Ben Dobler recently, and in an offhand moment asked him about BenFest. He related the story of how it came about—if I can remember it properly: him and a number of other Bens were together (as described above) and Angelo De Ieso of Brewpublic declared, “It’s a Ben-pocalypse!” (At least I hope that’s what Ben said, because I rather like that quote!)

Oregon Beer News, 07/30/2015

Oregon BeerHere’s the Oregon beer news for the penultimate day of July, Thursday the 30th. As usual, I’ll be periodically updating this post throughout the day, so check back often. If you have news to share, please contact me and I can get that posted as well.

The Bier Stein (Eugene) is hosting Spokane’s No-Li Brewing for a tasting from 5 to 8pm tonight: “Come hang with the inventors of the Spokane Style Ale, which is a beer made in Spokane with ingredients that come from within 300 miles. They will be in the house raffling off some swag, and we’ll be running a $1 pint glass deal. Beers are: Poser Pale Ale, Crony Northwest Brown Ale, and Brass Monkey (Strong ale brewed with orange peel)”

The Green Dragon (Portland): Their meet the brewer event at 5pm tonight is featuring Rick Allen and Patrick Harkins of McMinnville’s Heater Allen Brewing: “Heater Allen is a small, artisan brewery from McMinnville, Oregon known for their unique interpretations of German and Czech style lagers. Heater Allen uses a German-style step-mashing process that, when combined with long, low temperature lagering, results in maltier and naturally clearer beer without filtering. Join us at the Green Dragon and discover the love of lagers.”

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