Oregon’s Brewing Bounty
March 27, 2013
It’s March madness and I hope you all participated in the ELGL bracket challenge. My bracket has 12 teams heading for the Sweet 16. For my first installment this year, I have chosen a subject close to my heart, mouth, belly, and liver. I’ve been brewing beer at home for more than a decade. It started after a summer trip to Belgium. The beer was amazing and I had to do it for myself. Over the years, there have been unexpected excellent beers as well as potable but not tasty ones. Moving to Oregon over a decade ago came with it a desire to immerse myself into a craft brewing culture I had begun to read about online and through my various home-brew friends in Austin, TX. It’s 2013 and Oregon’s brewing bounty continues to thrive. The beer industry contributes $2.44 billion to Oregon’s economy. Is your municipality ready to support the home brewery turned entrepreneur?
As a municipal, public service professional, who may or may not specialize in economic development, this is an industry growing in depth and breadth. I’ve interviewed a handful of new breweries over the past several months that have opened in the Metro area. Make sure your zoning, permitting, utility, and public safety services are primed for supporting these businesses in your city or county. That’s the number one grouping of issues they had the most heartburn over and delays with.
For example, one brewery informed me that they had all the City permitting taken care of and ready to drop $1m on capital improvements when the Fire Marshall shows up for a final run through only to tell them they needed to build another side door. The brewery had already gone through the pre-app conference, engineering and design reviews with the City and Public Safety, and when all was to be finalized…oops you need to redesign everything in order to build another side door. This delayed the project by 8 months and an additional $250k. Yes, we want safe buildings. Yes, there should be some adaptability built into development plans to account for unforeseen issues. Nonetheless, someone dropped the ball somewhere in the process and this should have been avoided. The brewery owners are left with a very sour impression of the services provided by this City. This lingering negative impression, especially in this segment of the artisan economy, gets retold to others in the industry and supports a larger narrative that municipalities are in the “no” business.
Be in the “yes” business, especially when it comes to start-up breweries.
The Oregon Brewer’s Guild is a great resource to engage when supporting the growth of a small, independent brewery. The State of Oregon, Business Oregon, provides another set of tools and resources that successfully supports these businesses.
- Total economic impact: $2.44 billion
- 2nd largest producer of craft beer in the USA.
- 3rd largest craft beer market in the USA
- 2nd largest hop growing state, 2011 crop value of $23,497,000.
- 3rd highest percentage of draft beer consumed in the USA.
- 1 brewery for every 23,000 people
- 24 of 36 Oregon counties have brewpubs.
- Oregon has more beer jobs per capita than anywhere else in USA.
- 184 total breweries employing 4,643 Oregonians (2,709 in Portland alone)
- Top 4 Oregon Breweries (production):
- Craft Brewers Alliance, Portland (aka Widmer Brothers, Kona, and Red Hook)
- Deschutes Brewery, Bend
- Ninkasi Brewing Co., Eugene
- Bridgeport Brewing, Portland
- 52 operating breweries (more than any other City in the World)
- 69 breweries in Metro area, largest craft brewing market in the USA.
Some Familiar & Some Not So Familiar Choices:
- The Prodigal Son Brewery (Pendleton)
- Terminal Gravity Brewing (Enterprise)
- Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales (Hood River)
- The Ale Apothecary (Bend)
- The Commons Brewery (Portland)
- Block 15 Brewpub (Corvallis)
- Oakshire Brewing (Eugene)
- Caldera Brewing Co. (Ashland)