|| Print ||
|On the Scene|
|Tuesday, June 29, 2010|
BY JOSEY BARTLETT
Neon pink wrist-banded beer lovers teetered around North Portland’s Overlook Park this weekend for the 6th annual North American Organic Brewer Festival.
One Californian beer was supposed to taste like bacon, but didn’t, and lots of beers tasted like, well, beer (or sort of like peaches, or sort of like coffee). The nation's first organic certified brewery, Eel River Brewing Company of Fortuna, California, brought an acai berry beer to the festival that tasted like Sour Patch Kids. Roots Organic Brewing Company is Oregon’s first certified organic brewery and host of this merry event. On a whole the beers were delicious and the music was awful. But the party at the park was about more than just boozing; the organic beer market is growing quickly.
“Organic goes with our whole philosophy: energy efficient, bike friendly and organic comes with that. When you look around you can see it’s a trend that’s picking up,” says Matt Speckenbach, assistant brewer at Hopworks Urban Brewery.
In 2009 $41 million in organic beers sold nationally, up $22 million since 2005. Organic beers are more expensive for the consumer, but this increased price does not fully cover production costs. Currently profit margins for organic beers are leaner, according to Jim Solberg, co-owner of Indie Hops, a Portland company that recently built Oregon's first hops pellet mill.
Some breweries cut down on costs by not using all organic ingredients. An organic beer is composed of 95% organic ingredients, not including water and salt that can’t be classified. Hops are the only allowed non-organic component, making up that 5%. This is for good reason since organic hops are the most expensive ingredient to grow and buy: an interesting quirk for an organic product. Hopworks rarely uses organic hops for this reason.
On average organic hops are about twice as expensive because the labor and organic sprays cost about double.
Brewing organically is no small investment. Larger breweries at the festival like New Belgium, Widmer, and Deschutes create a few organic beers, but brew largely non-organic beers. Even though the profit margins for organic are smaller, big companies get good publicity for supporting a sustainable practice.
Over three days 20,500 filled the park (up from 15,000 last year) to sample from 35 venders, 21 from Oregon. Cars were discouraged and helmets encouraged. A cornstarch biodegradable taster cup cost $6 ($1 off with a MAX ticket, proof of bike parking, or three cans of food). The festival benefited the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and the Oregon Food Bank.
Even with the high costs and lower profit margins the mob at the park showed that at least in the Northwest "beeries" are willing to support the cause. “We are still crunching numbers and paying all the bills, so we won't know about profits for a few days, but we can safely say it was a big success,” said Chris Crabb, Roots Organic Brewing Company brewer. (Editor's Note: Unfortunately, the festival's success was not enough to keep Roots Organic in business. See the update below.)
Josey Bartlett is an associate writer for Oregon Business.
UPDATE, JULY 14: Roots Organic Brewing, forefather of the North American Organic Brew Fest, shut its doors Monday night, July 12. Portland beer fans were shocked, but those who have gone there in recent weeks knew something was up when beers sold for a mere dollar. One reporter described the atmosphere as "very bro, lots of guys with flip flops." That's a stark contrast to Portland's family-friendly pubs filled with babies, bikers (the cycling variety), Reedies, and friends and families of every age.
|Child care challenge|
|Is there life beyond Reed?|
|Back to School|
|Ninkasi grows to NY|
|Eco challenges facing Oregon|
|Adidas produces special shoe for upcoming Timbers/Sounders match|
|Intel invests $60M in drone company|
|Congestion should be expected|
|How many devices are using Windows 10?|
|Aftermath of the Ashley Madison hack|
Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
Every once in a while we receive a letter in the (fictional) mailbag that is tough to describe and quite compelling. This week, Isabel, the new HR manager at LabCo (and someone who is new to HR), wants to know whether she may fire the owner’s son for having an Oregon medical marijuana card. In passing, Isabel also makes a number of alarming admissions about her motivation. Here is Isabel’s nerve-racking question and our response to it.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.