My entire drive out to Logsdon Farmhouse Ales this afternoon was spent thinking about how I would describe that trip during the blog post I knew I’d write. Phrases like “Mt. Hood peeked up over the valleys of apple orchards” and “a sign for Glassometry gallery and gardens made me want to postpone the trip for a detour” popped into my head. I was prepared for a lovely drive, and I was treated to an incredibly lovely drive. I was also prepared to arrive at a lovely farm brewery, but it exceeded my expectations.
**Scroll down to the bottom if you want pictures, this next chunk is going to be text heavy.
Except for this first picture, which I did not take but like because it captured the guy I met today. Thanks to Kendall Jones of the Washington Beer Blog — both for taking the picture and writing an article that warned of “ROAD CLOSED” signs!
I spent the early (very early) part of the day writing a blog post on my trip to the OSU germplasm, belatedly writing up a post on the second day of my Bend trip last week (yes, I will post it soon), and researching David Logsdon and his Farmhouse Ales. Did I double-check my facts before posting? Not really, but you can read through my sources at the bottom of this post. I did crash in on Logsdon’s work cutting some wood when I arrived this afternoon, and he generously led me on a short tour of the farm and facilities, adding a light touch of the primary in the source material below… But if I was a student writing a paper I’d have to pretty much count these as once removed from the actual source.
From that research I learned that Logsdon’s career as a brewer started with homebrewing in 1978 while at Mt. Hood Community College. He was studying Food Science & Technology (also traveling to OSU for a few classes) and came to the conclusion that homebrewing meant “free” or “customized” beer, experimentation with fermentation was good for school, and scratching the itch of curiosity for microbiology could be done with yeast. The microbio itch was further scratched with a part-time job learning to maintain bacteria and yeast cultures. I also learned that his early homebrewing equipment was enhanced by a trip to a surplus store, where he picked up an Army issue stainless steel coffee maker, and the addition of a “v wire” supplied by his friend Kurt Widmer. To reciprocate, Logsdon offered the gift of yeast, which was used for the first beer brewed by Widmer.
In the 1980s he collected yeast strains from breweries and cultured his own brewers’ yeast; the collections came to business fruition in 1985 when he opened a yeast lab. In 1987 he started at Full Sail as one of their founders and brewer, but he left a couple of years later to found the well known Wyeast labs. He didn’t stray far from brewing, of course, and his work with yeast allowed him to brew in the lab’s pilot facilities and consult directly with the brewers who (obviously) use yeast. He sold his shares in Wyeast in the last 2000s and travelled through Europe to start a new yeast collection. One might even use “yeast library” in that previous sentence?
In 2011 he started up a new brewery, this one with no “employees” but several “partners,” an organic mission, and contracts with local hop growers. And that’s where I went today.
What I haven’t mentioned is the location itself. This brewery lives in a barn, hence the name, but that barn also housed Wyeast until it moved in 2001. The original farmstead dates from 1905 and barn from the 1940s. This truck? I don’t know.
The farmland itself has had many occupants and I found references to an orchard, dairy land, pig farm, and marijuana “farm.” The family has lived on the land for many years (not as marijuana growers!), raising highland Scottish cattle and Sharbeekse Cherry trees (imported from Belgium).
They use spent grain to feed the cows and compost their hops and yeast sludge.
Other fun fact I learned?
- To qualify as organic you have to scrape and toast the wine barrels because the wine may have contaminated the wood.
For the good of the historical record, I did have a small tasting flight and bought a bottle, and if you like the sour funky beers you will agree that these are divine.
I have plans to come back to Hood River in the late fall and look forward to doing an oral history so I’ll have some primary sources to share rather than these regurgitated facts and lovely photos!
This weekend I will be checking out some Charlotte area breweries, including NoDa and Olde Mecklenburg!. I’m also hoping to pop over the border to pickup some SC brews, like Westbrook and (if I’m lucky) COAST. If anyone has any local tips or insight, feel free to let me know!
The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company is a brand new microbrewery located in the historic steel town of Braddock, PA. I’ve been wanting to animate an entire lineup of beers for awhile and their awesomely designed labels provided me the perfect opportunity. When visiting them I highly recommend having the Build & Destroy (wheat stout) and White Sky (a chai wheat beer). And of course check out the ever changing Rapid Prototype Factory series!
Want to see the fine details? You can view the individual labels on their beer page!