Hood River's craft beer boom

Hood River's craft beer boom

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Above: Double Mountain Brewery was founded in 2007 by Charlie Devereux and Matt Swihart.
Below: Devereux and Swihart brew agressive, comples, robust beers.
// Photos by Joseph Eastburn
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The success of the Hood River brewing industry comes from the melding of experienced brewers with premium beer ingredients. Thanks to Full Sail, Hood River has had plenty of skilled brewers for the last quarter century. “I think they are all exceptionally well trained,” says Brian Butenschoen, the executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild, a nonprofit trade organization that represents the state’s breweries.

“Full Sail hires pretty stinking smart and ambitious folks,” says Josh Pfriem, brewer and part owner of Pfriem Family Brewers, Hood River’s newest. Firmat says Full Sail believes in hiring brewers with an entrepreneurial spirit. The company is and always has been employee owned, so as brewers, these employees were provided more access to the inner workings of the company than would be traditional.

Experience alone would not yield the high-quality beers the region is producing, and that is where the access to premium ingredients comes into play. Each of the town’s brewers uses the best of what Hood River and its Northwest neighbors have to offer. “We’re in such a great location,” says Jamie Emmerson, executive brewmaster at Full Sail. “We are situated between the two great hop-producing areas of the U.S.”

The Hood River brewing teams use grains from the Northwest, Idaho and Southern Canada. The hops are grown almost entirely in either the Yakima or Willamette valleys, with a few foreign exceptions for rare strains or seasonal needs. When the grains and hops meet, it is in water pulled from three springs on the northern slopes of Mount Hood, less than 20 miles south of downtown Hood River. “It’s the best water in the world,” Pfriem says.