|Hood River's craft beer boom|
Above: Irene Firmat's former employees are working to advance a market she and her co-founders at Full Sail Brewing helped create in Hood River.
// Photo by Denise Farwell
Below: David Logsdon was the founding brewer at Full Sail in 1987.
// Photo by Joseph Eastburn
For many of the other breweries, things have not worked as they planned, because the local market is booming. While trying to please hundreds of draft accounts at bars and restaurants throughout the Northwest, Double Mountain, Everybody’s, Solera and Pfriem have all been burdened by the unexpected success in their pubs. It is a combination of local loyalty and proximity to Portland that has filled the restaurants, and the brewers simply cannot make enough beer to meet the demand beyond Hood River’s borders.
When Double Mountain opened their tasting room in 2007, they hoped to be bottling soon after, but owners Matt Swihart and Charlie Devereux had to sell their 1975 bottling machine they dubbed the “boat anchor” because they needed room in the pub. “You don’t really expect it,” Devereux says. “When you start growing at a consistent clip, you have to start thinking about what happens if that continues.” In their case, the growth meant a large expansion of the brewery, a sizable pub expansion, a new bottling line, a new bottle reusing program and a staff of almost 30 year-round employees.
Their story hardly differs from the others, where brewers have had to put off some of their ambitions just to crank out enough beer to supply pub patrons. Ellenberger, Pfriem and Swihart all had trouble meeting beer demand at the end of the 2012 summer season. In most cases, far more staff than was originally intended had to be hired for the restaurant side of their businesses. Everybody’s employs 26 full-timers to keep up with the restaurant demand. Pfriem has already had to purchase 4,000 square feet of additional storage and refrigeration space since their opening last summer.