The Ale List: Beer updates: ‘Big Swig’ and beyond

Josh Pfriem, left, toasts “Craft Beer Country” with visiting author Kirk Richardson, at the brewery.

“It wasn’t one thing; it was 10 small things.” — Josh Pfriem

This comment, on a beer gone wrong and how it got fixed, readers will find in one of the newest entries into beer journalism, “Craft Beer Country,” by Kirk Richardson, an Albany food and travel writer who was in town last week to sell and sign copies of his book.

Richardson relates the brewery’s first foray into lagers, and how that initial batch was far below Pfriem’s standard of quality.

Discouraged but not defeated, Pfriem said, “I called up everyone I knew in the industry to round up ideas.

“Then we got it,” Richardson reports Pfriem saying. “It wasn’t one thing; it was 10 small things. We learned a lot about our process through that; we became incredibly better brewers, and this brewery prevailed!”

The book contains a chapter on pFriem Family Brewers, describing Richardson’s arrival in the middle of the January 2017 ice storm, and his typically warm reception at the brewery by Josh Pfriem. Richardson visited again this week with his wife, Lisa, who took many of the photos in the book, before heading east to Baker City and other locales.

(Mascot Books, 2018, 278 pp., $24.95.)

For more details, see

‘Big Swig’ and new tastes

My stops at last Saturday’s Breweries in the Gorge third annual “Big Swig” were limited to two: one of the county’s oldest breweries and its newest: Solera in Parkdale and Ferment in Hood River, respectively.

Ferment’s Jenn and Dan Peterson welcomed visitors with samples of beer and oolong-based kombucha, two elements of the suitably-named brewery’s growing selection of ales and other fermented products.

The event was their first major public event since opening for lunch and dinner service in August.

The oolong starts with a nutty note and ends like the essence of Bartlett pear, all crispness with little of the funk. The Saison they served to Swig-gers paired well with the crudites embellished with a fermented compote of beets, cherries and cilantro and a dollop or dill-enhanced Ferment yogurt. The Petersons’ menu is as closely connected to its wide selection of beers as any tasting room menu you’ll find.

At Solera, they served the latest batch of the tart Peche ale — suffice it to say this delicious concoction is the next best thing to a fresh peach.

I talked with Jason Kahler and John Hitt of Solera, and learned of their new coffee ale collaboration with Jessica and Conrad Harley of Moby coffee roasters, titled Parkdale Plunder, from Moby’s medium roast, a fair trade coffee from Uganda, noted Jessica Harley. The Plunder will be on tap by Oct. 30.

Tasting notes, Turkey Day edition: Here’s an idea if you’re starting to plan your Thanksgiving turkey recipe: Pfriem notes on the brewery website, “One of our favorites over the years is doing a hearty brine with pFriem’s Belgian Strong Dark 24 hours before we bake the turkey.

This creates a rich, moist, decadent bird. Every year we are amazed at how well the beer takes the turkey to the next level!”

Solera hosts its first “Chantarelles and Ales: A Celebration of Wild Mushrooms and Beers” on Nov. 3; tickets are limited, available online.

Participating breweries will include Logsdon Farm Brewery, DeGarde Brewing, Upright Brewing, and Ale Apothecary, and restaurants 80:20 Fine Foods of Parkdale and Toro Bravo, Grain & Gristle, and Coopers Hall of Portland.

“It’s kind of driving itself, a little different than what we initially set out to do. It’s exciting,” Kahler said.

‘200 Years of Beer’ opens

Opening at the Oregon Historical Society on Oct. 26, “Barley, Barrels, Bottles, & Brews: 200 Years of Oregon Beer,” profiles the people, companies, and legislation that have made Oregon the innovative center of craft brewing that it is today.

“Barley, Barrels, Bottles, and Brews” is on view through June 9; Oregon Historical Society is located at 1200 S.W. Park Ave. Portland. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is currently discounted to $5 (through Feb. 14) during the renovation of the museum’s permanent exhibition. Admission is always free for OHS members and Multnomah County residents.

The history of beer in Oregon and the passion Oregonians hold for brewing extends back over 200 years. From the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the 19th century European immigrants who established Oregon’s first breweries to the craft brewery revolution centered here today, this hoppy beverage has been a cornerstone of Oregon’s agriculture and economy.

‘Craft Beer Country’

“We’re super honored to be a part of a great mission and journey. Kirk was really intentional about finding great beers and story and share a story. We’re always about making great beer and bringing people together. We’re honored to stand along with the greats, the Russian Rivers and Sierra Nevadas, people who have inspired me over the years. It’s fun to be part of the story.”

Among plenty of brewing industry insights and a lively description of Josh and Annie Pfriem’s fermentation journey, Pfriem notes via Richardson that people helping others in the industry is de rigeur, but that cooperation has a creative dynamic: “There is collaboration just within the spirit of being connected with people in the industry that you really respect and have similar minds,” states Pfriem.””We’re trying to solve the same problems and creating some of the same solutions but coming from it in entirely different ways. You want people to break your bubble and bring in new thoughts that will challenge your ideas.”

Richardson said he found pFriem Family Brewers through “the web of brewers who know each other.” He continued, “I was talking to Tyler Brown at Barley Brown’s who recommended I come out and meet Josh, and that’s part of the story, it was during the ice storm. To make it out, here I had to drive I-84 past cars that had skidded off the rod. And Josh led me to other brewers. That’s the culture of it. People are very connected. And here in this pub, people are talking, they’re not on their iPhones. Beer brings people together.”

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