Hood River's craft beer boom

Hood River's craft beer boom

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Logsdon Farmhouse Ales are sold, like wine, in elegant 750ml bottles.
// Photo by Joseph Eastburn





Years ago these brewers would have had shoulder seasons and quiet weekdays to help meet demand, since Hood River tourism had been largely a weekend affair, but the breweries themselves have helped turn area tourism into a year-round reality. Each brewery now reports a noticeable rise in weekday and off-season tourism over years past. “Every week there are beer nerds driving out here from Portland on what might otherwise be a slow day,” says Jason Kahler, Solera Brewery’s brewer and part owner.

With the region’s beer reputation solidifying, brewers are looking for continued growth in Portland, Seattle and other major markets that are crucial to long-term success. Double Mountain’s new bottling and bottle-return program launched in October 2012. Logsdon is widely distributed and continues to look for new outlets, while Pfriem begins to push hard into the wholesale and production side of the business, looking to soon brew and distribute about 9,000 barrels annually. Everybody’s and Solera are looking to move further into the wholesale game as they catch up to the local demand and space constraints that hold them back. Kahler knows that Double Mountain and Pfriem are working hard in the Portland market now, and he is fine with letting them do the legwork of spreading the Hood River name and driving visitors to the area to experience the beers.

If the growth continues, the niches in the local market will narrow. For now, the brewers and owners believe strongly in the quality of their neighbors’ beers and breweries, and it makes promoting the area as a whole a painless prospect. The opening of a low-quality brewery or a new brewery that competes directly with the styles and atmosphere of one of the establishment may rock the boat, but for now, a high tide raises all ships.

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Matt Werbach is a journalist based in Hood River. He last wrote on Turtle Island Foods for Oregon Business. He can be reached at editor(at)oregonbusiness.com.">editor(at)oregonbusiness.com.