Here’s a story from Anne Creighton of the News-Review in Roseberg, Ore., on Tom Johnson, head brewer at Roseburg Station Pub and Brewery, which is part of the McMenamins chain in Oregon and Washington. Johnson, who went to the University of Oregon to study finance in the ’80s, decided he needed to take a different career path so he followed his love of brewing. It’s always nice to someone who follows their passion and succeeds, especially when beer is involved. Enjoy.
ROSEBURG, Ore. – When Tom Johnson starting brewing beer on the kitchen stove at his Eugene home in the ’80s, the University of Oregon finance major never thought he would end up working for one of the top craft breweries in the United States.
“I was never really big on wearing a suit and tie to work,” Johnson said. “My first attempt at beer was good enough, so I decided to stick with it and try some different recipes.”
Johnson, 48, is now 10 years into his career as head brewer at Roseburg Station Pub and Brewery, one of nearly 60 McMenamins brew pubs in the Northwest. Along with making the chain’s standard ales, he also concocts his own specialty brews using ingredients such as locally grown Asian pears or McMenamins coffee, giving them names such as Spearhead Molly, Pull Up Your Shwartz and Arrogant Beaver.
“Sometimes a name will just pop into my head, and I think, ‘Oh, that’s a great name for a beer. I should try and make a beer to fit that name,’ ” he said.
Roseburg pub manager Lisa Brannon, who has worked for the company for five years, says she has tried beer from many of the other brew pubs, but their pints just don’t compare to Tom’s.
“I think brewing beer is an art form, like painting a picture,” Brannon said. “Two different artists can paint the same picture, but they perceive it completely different, and I think that’s what Tom does with beer. He just has something amazing.”
Johnson said his road to employment wasn’t an easy one. He spent six years trying to find steady work in the industry. After earning a master brewer’s certificate from the University of California at Davis in 1995, Johnson job shadowed several Eugene brewers, hoping he would stumble across a job.
He eventually got a one-day-a-week gig in Corvallis for Oregon Trail Brewery, but Johnson said the cost of commuting was more than his paycheck. “I was just about ready to give up and become a FedEx driver,” he said, laughing.
One of the contacts he had made during his job search called him one morning with an opportunity. “He told me the McMenamins in Roseburg might be looking for a brewer, so I gave it a shot,” he said, and “the rest is history.”
Over the years, Johnson has won several awards for his home-brews, including a blue ribbon at the Oregon State Fair for his blackberry porter and a Best In Show award at the Douglas County Fair for a steam beer, a highly effervescent ale.
Johnson said he sometimes thinks about starting his own brewery, but doesn’t know if it’s something he wants to tackle at this stage in his life.
“Maybe if I ever happened into a lot of money, but it’s an incredible undertaking, and I would be working seven days a week until it got off the ground.
“I enjoy working at a small pub where I can get to know all the people who come in, and I think I have pretty good job security here,” he said, knocking on the wood dining table.
Brannon attributes the pub’s loyal patronage to the beer that Johnson brews. “This McMenamins has had its ups and downs, but Tom’s beer is what has kept those people coming back,” she said.
Roseburg resident Matt Fortune said he has frequented the Roseburg McMenamins since it opened in 1999 and keeps coming back for the beer. “Tom’s beers are great,” he said, sipping a pint of the Arrogant Beaver. “It’s just good quality.“
Michael Widman of Glide, another 11-year patron, said he’s had several conversations with Tom throughout the years in the pub. “He’s the most humble person. He lets the beer speak for himself.”
- Matt Pritchard
With Halloween only a few days away, it’s prime time for everything pumpkin: muffins, pie, bread (with cream cheese, please) and, of course, beer.
Kettlehouse Brewing Co. just released this year’s version of its pumpkin beer and head brewer Paul Roys mixed things up by changing the recipe and brewing an ale rather than a lager.
Chelsi Moy of the Missoulian talked to Roys this week:
Flowing from the kegs this weekend is the Kettlehouse’s seasonal pumpkin ale, made with 60 pounds of chopped and toasted pumpkins. No puree. No artificial flavoring. Last year, the seasonal pumpkin brew was a lager, said head brewer Paul Roys. This year, the brewers produced an ale and changed the recipe, adding more pumpkin and spices to boost the natural flavors.
It’s available on tap over at Myrtle Street right now. Kettlehouse also plans to bourbon barrel age some for next year.
Other seasonals on tap now include:
- Festival of the Dead Pale Ale
- Garden City Pale Ale
- Matt Pritchard
Glacier Brewing Co. is holding a costume party on Friday for kids, adults and … beer? Yep.
This year in time for Halloween, head brewer Dave Ayers played around with three of Glacier’s flagship beers by putting them “in costume.”
For our current specialty beer, the Dunkel Hefeweizen, we import a hefe-yeast strain from Germany. This year, when I made this beer, I reused some of this wonderfully unique yeast on one keg-worth of each beer: Golden Grizzly Ale, Glacier Select Oktoberfest, and Slurry Bomber Stout and turned them into a HefeKolsch, HefeOktoberfest, and a HefeStout.
If you want to try try any of these special editions you’d better head to Polson, because Ayers says “once these kegs are gone, they are gone for a long, long time!”
The party starts at 5 p.m. with food and candy, and costume judging is set to start at 6 p.m. Enjoy.
Get ready for some good beer and some good stories. Sapphire Lutheran Homes in Hamilton is hosting Steins and Stories on Wednesday, where residents, family and friends will share tales behind their classic German beer steins. The event features Bitter Root Brewing’s Oktoberfest and German fare. Here’s the lowdown from Will Moss:
By WILL MOSS Ravalli Republic
HAMILTON – Cole Hardin knows the residents of his retirement center have some stories to tell, he just needed a way to tap into those memories.
So … he’s decided to tap some kegs.
On Wednesday, Sapphire Lutheran Homes in Hamilton will host a Steins and Stories event featuring ornate German beer steins, traditional German meals and extra helpings of fellowship and storytelling.
“It’s a fall celebration as well as a chance for people to get to know one another and the public to get to know Sapphire,” explained Hardin, Sapphire’s director. “We’re trying to eek out some of the wisdom from some of the residents here.”
The basic premise is this: Residents and their families and friends are encouraged to bring classic German beer steins down to the retirement center and share the stories behind them.
“A lot of folks of retirement age are World War II veterans who have brought back a lot of memorabilia and stories from (Germany),” Hardin said. “Sometimes it’s a simple as ‘I got this from a German town during a tour of duty,’ other times it was something somebody’s grandfather sent back.” (more…)
Just back from a great trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, and I have to say there’s not much in the way of craft beer down there. However, I did manage to check out the only brewery in southern Baja California, Baja Brewing Co. It was started in 2007 by several guys from Colorado who went down there and realized it was dry when it came to microbrews.
They now have two locations, one in San Jose del Cabo, which is where the brewery is, and another new location in Cabo San Lucas. Both locations have food, everything from burgers to pizza.
At the San Jose del Cabo spot last week they had seven beers on tap:
Baja Blonde - a Mexican style light lager, which also comes in a bottle. ABV – 4.5 percent, IBU – 20
Raspberry Beer - ABV – 4.5 percent, IBU – 14
Escorpion Negro - a black lager that’s smooth and light. ABV – 4.5 percent, IBU – 18
Peliroja Red - a malty, hoppy, fruity ale. ABV – 5.5 percent, IBU – 40
Burro Brown - a brown ale made with four kinds of English barley. It was smooth and just a little sour. Had a few over the trip. ABV – 6ish percent, IBU – 25
Mango Beer - comes with a chunk of mango. It wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t my favorite.
They also have a drink where they mix their Raspberry Beer with the Escorpion Negro, the waitress called it the “girly warrior.” It basically tasted like raspberry soda.
David Hatfield, who manages the San Jose location, said it wasn’t easy setting up the brewery with all the red tape in Mexico. He said there are only two craft breweries in Baja California, their brewery and one in Tijuana. And even now it’s not all smooth, they have trucks drive all their ingredients (hops, barley, etc.) down the treacherous Mexican Federal Highway No. 1.
Baja Brewing Co. also must have the one of the best logos of any brewery, in the U.S. or Mexico. Hatfield said they looked at around 100 possibilities before settling on their choice.
It’s a fun place to check out if you happen to be down that way. I know I’ll be thinking of it all winter, just to stay warm.
- Matt Pritchard
The Myrtle Street Kettlehouse is no doubt one of my favorite haunts. I love going there, drinking a Double Haul and hanging out with friends. It’s always a great time.
The Montana Kaimin, where I worked for a time in college, recently interviewed brewer Thomas “Patches” Pacholik at work. Here’s the audio slideshow, enjoy:
And more from the Kaimin, reporter Josh Potter takes a look at the Missoula beer scene.
Craft beer and college, what a great match. And some nice work from my alma mater.
This weekend’s Tamarack Festival in Seeley Lake features its inaugural brewfest with beers from Kettlehouse, Great Northern, Tamarack, Big Sky, Bitter Root, Blackfoot and Glacier, among others.
The events kicks off Friday with a brewmaster ceremony at Double Arrow with brewers talking about their beer and demonstrating how they’re made.
The brewfest lasts Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. around Lindey’s Steak House.
It’s looking like it’s going to be a nice fall weekend in western Montana, so head to Seeley and taste some beer.
The UM law school’s Environmental Law Group is hosting its annual “Bulls, Blues and Brews” benefit and silent auction this Friday at the Missoula Children’s Theatre Center at 200 N. Adams St. in Missoula and will be featuring kegs from Bayern Brewing.
“Bulls, Blues and Brews” is held each year to promote putting Montana’s laws to work to protect the state’s environment. Admission is $10. Those who attend must be 21 or older, and IDs will be checked at the door. Live music will be provided by the Discount Quartet, with special guests Chuck Florence and David Horgan.
This year’s event will raise funds to assist the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, a newly formed nonprofit law firm based in Bozeman that is dedicated to preserving wild lands, wildlife and wild waters. Proceeds also will be donated to the Environmental Legal Education Network, an organization that works to enhance connections between law practitioners and law students. (more…)
If you have tried or are going to try this year’s version of Big Sky Brewing Co.’s seasonal Powder Hound, you’re going to notice some changes.
Matt Long, head brewer at Big Sky Brewing, says it was “just time to change things up.” He said they haven’t changed the recipe in five or six years.
He’s calling the new Powder Hound a “transcontinental pale ale.” It looks lighter this year (a reader described it as a “light golden color”), but is still flavorful, Long says. This year’s version has malts and barley from Belgium, Germany and the U.S. And features hops from Germany and the U.S.
At 55 IBUs and 7.2 percent alcohol by volume, Long says the beer has a hoppy, almost lemony flavor.
I’ve yet to try this year’s Powder Hound, but would love to know what you think.
- Matt Pritchard
After much speculation, Paul Marshall and his business partner are hoping to open their new Missoula brewery, Hellgate Brewing Co., in the early part of next year if all goes according to plan. They have their site picked out, 806 W. Spruce St., and are waiting to sign the lease and have a few other legal issues resolved.
Marshall, who is co-brewer along with his partner, says the brewery will feature five beers: a pale ale, an IPA, a pilsner, a wheat beer and an oatmeal stout. They also plan some seasonal beers and several Hellgate high-gravity creations.
A tap room and some outdoor seating are planned at the location, and Marshall says the brewery will distribute its beer starting out with a few vendors and moving on from there.
Hellgate Brewing Co. incorporated early this year and has been in the works for a while, but with the location nailed down and a few more investors, Marshall says he’s optimistic and excited about the opening.
Marshall is a 1988 graduate of Hellgate High School and a graduate of the University of Montana. He and his partner are both graduates of the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, which is known for its brewing program.
Keep reading Grizzly Growler for more updates.
- Matt Pritchard