With Portland, Oregon, as their epicenter, America’s genius brewers are opening new tasting rooms, taprooms and massive beer gardens. Here, exciting updates in the craft-beer movement.
A New Brewery in Oregon Pinot Land
Christian DeBenedetti has immersed himself in all things beer for the past 15 years: traveling to visit breweries around the world, writing books, blogging and home brewing. So when he finally decided to embark on opening his own brewery, he knew exactly what he wanted. In the course of a year, he transformed the beautiful 1912 barn on his parents’ hazelnut farm in the Willamette Valley into Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery. He filled it with barrels from local wineries and whiskey makers, which allow him to create the kinds of beers he loves best: wood-aged, sour and fruited ones. Working with Jordan Keeper, former head brewer at the spectacular Jester King in Austin, DeBenedetti’s first release is Sebastian, a saison. He made it with yeast he propagated from a plum tree next to the brewery. “I’m hoping I can create a form of terroir for beer by using yeast from our fruit trees, water from our spring and even some hazelnuts from the property,” he says. For now, the tasting room is in the middle of the brewery, among the barrels. Visitors can also sit at picnic tables outside near the orchard trees, and there are plans for a new space that will be very similar to a winery tasting room. Tireless in his devotion to beer, DeBenedetti also has a new book, Beer Bites, out next month. 30203 NE Benjamin Rd., Newberg; wolvesandpeople.com.
Future of Hops
The huge boom in American craft breweries (there are more than 3,600, with 1,700 more in the works) has led to enormous competition for hops—the flowers from the Humulus lupulus vine that give beer its bitterness. Brewers have been forced to buy hops futures, placing orders up to five years in advance for the most popular types. Some ambitious brewers, like Ken Grossman of California’s Sierra Nevada, have been planting their own hops fields—not to avoid the shortage but to have more creative freedom. Meanwhile American scientists are working to breed new varieties. Some of the most popular come from the Hop Breeding Company, based in Washington state, which has invented Equinox, Citra and Mosaic.