Above: Ken Whiteman's strong engineering and entrepreneurial background served him well in helping open Pfriem Family Brewers.
Below: Pfriem offers several glass styles to accommodate their stable of clean, layered beers.
// Photos by Joseph Eastburn
Despite their common roots and ingredients, each of the area’s breweries provides an experience that little resembles Full Sail. Not only is the delicate, organic, multiyeasted Seizoen from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales impossible to compare and contrast with Double Mountain’s unfiltered, robust India Red Ale or Pfriem’s balanced and clean Belgian Strong Blonde, but their tasting rooms, business plans, personalities and menus all differ starkly from Full Sail’s and from each other. “We all make our own beers,” says Doug Ellenberger, brewer and part owner at Everybody’s Brewing. “We all have our own take on it.”
Locals and tourists can sample a wide swath of the current craft beer market in a few close stops. This allows brewers to work together to provide a broader range of experience without stepping beyond their comfort zones. “I absolutely love that [Pfriem] is doing more Belgian stuff, because it takes the heat off me,” Ellenberger says.
Creating a well-rounded Hood River beer menu is not an intentional collaboration, but the stark differences in brewers’ preferences makes for almost no overlap in taste or style. “When you have a bunch of breweries you can do more unique things,” Pfriem says. He notes that each crafter brews what they would want to drink. Their differing tastes allow them to fill the voids in the market while keeping direct head-to-head competition at bay. It is a far more supportive than competitive market — for now.
Logsdon was the founding brewer at Full Sail after he moved to Hood River in 1985. He may be the clearest example of a brewer doing what he loves the way he wants to do it. In February 2011, Logsdon and his co-op brewery partners launched a farmhouse ale operation out of an old red barn in the sloping mountains that create the Hood River Valley’s eastern border. They are the only brewery with no employees and no pub, yet they aim to brew and distribute 3,000 to 5,000 barrels of organic, elegant and somewhat expensive beer annually throughout the West. After a 200-barrel first year, “We became profitable in the last quarter,” Logsdon says. “Things have worked as expected for the most part.”