Clark County’s Loowit and Amnesia brewing companies will be part of a four-round taste-off competition between regional brewers at New Seasons Market this summer.
Each weekend for three weekends, visitors to the New Seasons Fishers Landing store at 2100B SE 164th Ave. can vote for one beer to qualify for a final weekend taste-off. The competition will be held at several New Seasons locations but the local brewers will only be at the Fisher’s Landing store. The first round begins this coming weekend (June 28-29, 2014) and continues each subsequent weekend.
In the final elimination, held on July 19-20, voters will pick a winner to be crowned the 2014 Neighborhood Favorite brew.
Last year, six Oregon breweries won in 12 New Seasons Market stores. Visit New Seasons Market on the Web for more information.]]>
FIRST IN A SERIES OF CLARK COUNTY BREWERY ENTREPRENURIAL INTERVIEWS
By Cody Gray
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Eric Surface, owner of Mt. Tabor Brewing, to discuss what it’s like to be a Brewery Entrepreneur.
With some assistance from my friends Kim Bishop, Debbie Garrett and Tammy Cleveland, I created a list of questions that I will use to interview each brewery entrepreneur in Clark County over the next year.
I have the contacts because I host the Vancouver Brewfest at Esther Short park, always the second weekend of August, and I’ve become friends with all the local brewers.
I spent 10 years working for the Portland State University Business Outreach program and have always been interested in small business ownership: entrepreneurialism.
Part of this blog series is to research entrepreneurial characteristics and see if there are any patterns specific to micro brewery entrepreneurs, beyond a love of beer.
Eric grew up in Vancouver on the East side and worked for his grandfather’s HVAC company starting in grade school. He’s held other jobs as well including cook, driving range attendant at a golf course, ski instructor, salesman in fire protection/plumbing industry and as a sales manager.
Eric knew he didn’t want to work for someone else and knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur from and early age. He just didn’t know what he was going to settle on until a few years ago. While working full time for someone else, he decided to start his own brewery with a friend.
They first found a location over by Mt Tabor in Portland. When they outgrew that location he opened the doors at at 113 W 9th Street in downtown Vancouver.
He worked full time in sales for his plumbing company and overtime to open the Vancouver spot. Along the way, his business partner had other opportunities and Eric bought him out and is now the sole proprietor.
As one of his top 10 recommendations for someone considering opening a brewpub, he says, “be sanitary and keep on top of the paperwork with a good accountant.”
His most eye-opening discovery was how little brewing you actually get to do compared with all the other business functions needed to create and grow a micro-brewery.
He did confess that one interesting and fulfilling job when owning your own brewery is escaping into the simple job of cleaning kegs, saying, “I like cleaning kegs,” and how relaxing that simple task can be after working on the business.
Eric has plans to self distribute locally as well as expand through wholesaling outside the Vancouver/Portland metro area. He also retails from the tasting room where he will soon have 12 of his own beers on tap.
He’s a salesman at heart and really enjoys getting out and talking to people, interacting and teaching others about his beer.
Like so many other brewery entrepreneurs, he is not a full-time employee at the brewery. He has set some short and long term goals in order to one day achieve that dream of solely working for himself and bringing home a paycheck.
His deciding factor, given his unique circumstances, is when he reaches 100 barrels a month in sales – that’s about 3,000 gallons of beer.
He has been able to stop working for the plumbing company, relying on family savings and other income as he invests (and Risks) it all for the future.
His short term goal, which is in the works, is to open a production facility by the end of November 2014 in the heart of micro-beer land, inner SE Portland.
From there he wants to reach his long term goal of running 3 brew pubs across the metro area and reaching 200-350 barrel a month production.
He has found that 15 barrel brewing systems work great for him.
I say, “Go get’em Eric!”]]>
Vancouver’s Loowit Brewing Company has won two medals in the 2014 Washington Beer Awards.
The company won gold for its Two-Sixteen Red Ale in the Irish Red Ale category and bronze for its Shimmergloom Stout in the Irish/British Stout category.
In 2013, Loowit also won gold at the same event for Vandalia Summer Ale in the fruit beer category.
Loowit Brewing was the only SW Washington brewery to receive medals in the competition.
Here are the beer descriptions:
ABOUT TWO-SIXTEEN RED ALE
A very approachable beer featuring a well balanced malt profile rounded out with Northwest hops of the
Willamette and Cascade varieties. This beer is distributed in bottles and kegs in western Washington between
Vancouver and Tacoma.
ABOUT SHIMMERGLOOM STOUT
An oatmeal stout with rich chocolate notes and smooth, creamy mouthfeel. This beer is distributed in kegs in
western Washington between Vancouver and Tacoma. Shimmergloom will soon become the third beer offering in
Loowit’s bottle lineup beginning Summer of 2014.
ABOUT WASHINGTON BEER AWARDS
A professional beer competition open to all of Washington’s breweries. This inaugural competition drew over 400
entries from 75 breweries spread all over the state. The competition was held at Elliott Bay Public House &
Brewery with around 40 trained beer judges evaluating beers spanning over 90 styles from the Brewers Association
Beer Style Guidelines.
The competition was held with the endorsement of the Washington Beer Commission as a way to celebrate
Washington’s growing brewing culture and recognize excellence in the craft. All of Washington’s craft breweries
were invited to submit entries to the competition held in a similar format to other craft beer competitions like the
Great American Beer Festival® and World Beer Cup®.
ABOUT LOOWIT BREWING COMPANY
Founded in 2010 by longtime Vancouver residents Devon Bray and Thomas Poffenroth, Loowit Brewing Company
is the latest significant addition to underpin a revitalized downtown Vancouver, Washington. Loowit began
brewing commercially and opened its doors in October 2012. The company specializes in brewing small batch,
hand crafted ales that are developed with a thoughtful approach balanced by a Pacific Northwest flair.
By Phil Chou
Dirty Hands Brewery
Now that we’ve been open for 6 months, it’s time for some reflection. Number one; please accept my apologies for being a slack blogger. Many other tasks always seemed to push blogging down the priority list. That said, it’s been quite a journey! Many adventures were experienced in all aspects of our operation from brewing to finances.
The first hurdle to be overcome was learning our brewing system. Every system has its quirks and ours was no exception. The first thing that you learn is that there is no handy-dandy owner’s manual that will walk you through the system. You basically learn by brewing and making a lot of calls to the vendor and friends in the industry. Needless to say, operations procedures have changed a bit from our first brew to current operating procedures!
Once we got rolling with the system, we had to decide what beers to brew. All the beers that we make have to be consistent with our core beer values of being full flavored, yet very drinkable. We saw an opportunity to brew a wheat beer, since no other downtown brewer offered a wheat beer. It was winter, so it was a no brainer to have beers of color on tap, in our case, a brown and stout. Being a Pacific Northwest brewer, you must also offer an IPA. Of course, we brewed our IPA after the beers mentioned above, which meant that we didn’t have on tap for our grand opening last November! Definitely, a lesson learned in planning production schedules.
When the grand opening hit, we were not prepared for the chaos that ensued. Now, when I speak of chaos, I mean the good chaos, not the bad! The minute we opened our doors, we were, as my Irish friends like to say, “jammers”. Now this was what I meant by good chaos, I’d rather have a lot of people show up than not. With the huge crowd that we had, it caused my dinosaur-sized brain to begin to lock up. I had never worked a cash register or keep track of multiple orders in any previous job that I’ve held (and neither had my business partner, Grant)! To say that we were overwhelmed is an understatement. However, we managed to make it through the night and were extremely grateful for all of the people that had come out to sample our wares.
In the few short months since our opening, we’ve had a great time! It’s been awesome developing beer recipes and seeing them come to fruition. Seeing people enjoy the beers that we make is very gratifying and spurs us on to make more! The Brewery has given us the opportunity to meet new people every day. We especially appreciate our regulars! We’ve also tried to give back to the community by participating in events such as Brew Fest for MS and the Clark County Food Bank Tacos & Taps.
The next step in the evolution of Dirty Hands is transitioning from a tap room to a brewpub. We’ve spent the past few weeks putting in a kitchen! Being neophytes in the restaurant game, we brought in some great consultants in Bill Hayden and Chef Rob DeLaura. They helped us out big time in setting up the kitchen, as well as developing a menu.
The food will be awesome! We like to call it eclectic pub food. Some of the items that we’ll be offering include Brewschetta, Kettle Chip Nachos, Beer Cheese Soup, Chicken and Apple Sausage Cobb, the Dirty Dog, Sicilian Dog, Duck Sausage Hash, and Brewmaster’s Meatloaf.
Looks like beer marinade doesn’t just make meat tastier, it’s also good for you!
Here’s a recent press release from the American Chemical Society:
Beer marinade could reduce levels of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
The smells of summer — the sweet fragrance of newly opened flowers, the scent of freshly cut grass and the aroma of meats cooking on the backyard grill — will soon be upon us. Now, researchers are reporting that the very same beer that many people enjoy at backyard barbeques could, when used as a marinade, help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
I.M.P.L.V.O. Ferreira and colleagues explain that past studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill. And high levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it’s uncertain if that’s true for people. Nevertheless, the European Union Commission Regulation has established the most suitable indicators for the occurrence and carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food and attributed maximum levels for these compounds in foods. Beer, wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.
The researchers grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a charcoal grill. Black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half compared with unmarinated pork. “Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy,” say the researchers.
The full research paper is online at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jf404966w
The authors acknowledge funding from Universidade do Porto.]]>
The second annual Brew Fest for MS is coming to the Brickhouse Bar & Grill in downtown Vancouver at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12.
The craft brew fundraiser, organized by the volunteer athletic group Team Road Kill, benefits the Oregon/Southwest Washington chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
It will feature six Clark County brewers:
● Mt Tabor Brewing
● Loowit Brewing Company
● Heathen Brewing
● West Highland Brewing Company
● Dirty Hands Brewing Company
● Beerded Brothers Brewing
“We’re excited to partner with so many great breweries,” said Team Road Kill member Ron Haye. “We appreciate their support, and we’re excited for a fun community event.”
Admission is $10, which includes a tasting glass and four tasting tickets. Additional tickets will be available for purchase at the festival.
Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1397411973843853/ for more information.]]>
Dirty Hands Brewing will hold its grand opening from 3 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9.
The taproom, at 114 E. Evergreen Blvd., will have a selection of beer and food for the event.
Here are a few teasers from their Facebook page:
We’d love to see your pictures. If you’d like to share them, I’ll add them to this post on Monday. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heathen Brewing eyeing brewpub
Plans for Salmon Creek project hinge on county fee holiday
By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter
A local beermaker’s dream of showcasing his brew in a Salmon Creek-area pub could be realized next year if his plan meets criteria for Clark County’s fee holiday.
A 100 percent waiver of traffic impact and permit fees could make the project — estimated at between $1.2 million and $1.6 million — pencil out, said Sunny Parsons, owner of Vancouver’s Heathen Brewing. The direct-sale brewery is one of the fastest-growing in the local craft beer industry, expanding from Parson’s hobby to a three-employee operation during its first year of business.
Parsons now operates the brewery in a commercial building next to his Vancouver home. He said Heathen Brewing participates in direct sales to pubs and private parties all over the Portland-Vancouver-metro area and as far south as Eugene, Ore., and east to Bend, Ore.
“As fast as we can make beer, people are buying it,” said Parsons.
Now, he also wants a restaurant setting to feature his beer. Preliminary plans call for a 9,400-square-foot building at 2311 N.E. 119th St., southeast of the Klineline Bridge. About 5,400 square feet would include space for a restaurant, bar, kitchen and brewing, with the rest considered flex space to be used by the business or leased to a tenant.
“We’re hoping to add an additional 22 jobs between the restaurant and brewery workers,” Parsons said.
He co-owns the project site on the south bank of Salmon Creek with his mother, Cindy Severson. The 0.58-acre tract, which cost them $400,000 in 2006, is next door to the Cascade Flooring America business, also co-owned by Severson and Parsons.
Earlier talk of developing the site never came to fruition, due to high traffic impact fees, Parsons said.
“It just didn’t seem feasible,” he said.
At first glance, the development meets all the requirements for exemptions, said Marty Snell, director of Clark County’s Community Development Department.
Snell said the project would be eligible under the resolution to waive all fees, which can range from $25,000 to $300,000. He added that the holiday was extended in June to all commercial developments, including retail projects, which previously only qualified for a 50 percent reduction.
First adopted in 2012, the original fee holiday also stipulated that employers had to generate between 10 and 15 jobs in order to receive the fee waiver. In June, the county’s three-member board of commissioners did away with the job requirement and voted to exempt all commercial projects from fees as a way to generate jobs.
“If it’s a commercial or office building or if they’re opening a storefront or processing facility, they would be eligible,” Snell said. “Currently, there’s no minimum employer number you have to hit. It’s more open-ended.”
Projects developed under all versions of the fee holiday so far have generated about 450 jobs and total about $58 million worth of new construction, Snell said.
Parsons said it’s too early to say for sure whether the fee waiver will spur development of a restaurant and production facility for Heathen Brewing. He expects to know more after a Nov. 21 meeting with county development officials to go over his plans.
“Right now, we’re more in the wish phase than we are in the breaking-ground stage,” Parsons said.]]>
By Phil Chou
Dirty Hands Brewery
Sorry about the delay, lot’s of stuff going on!
Anyhoo, as promised, here are some thoughts on our equipment install day. It started out with a drive down to our vendor in Camas, OR, Global Stainless. We got those good folks to load up the brewhouse and cellar tanks on to our friend Mark’s flatbed trailer (thanks Mark and Rob, we couldn’t have done it without ya!).
Luckily it wasn’t raining and the flatbed was just big enough to fit all of the tanks!
Next, we hit the road taking the tanks back to Vancouver. We had nightmare visions of the tanks coming loose and spilling on to the freeway, so there was a lot of nervousness along the way. We felt a little like Jed Clampett moving his family out to Beverly Hills!
Once we got to the Brewery, then more fun ensued. None of the doors were large enough to get the the tanks through, so we had to hire a glazier to remove one of the large windows on the side of the building. No worries, right? Wrong! We were plenty worried! If the window broke, that would have been a another few thousand shekels that we would have to pony up for a replacement. In order to get the tanks off of the flatbed, we had to rent a crane. With the flatbed/truck and crane, we had to take up a goodly portion of the block by the building, which meant that we had to get some permits from the City to take up the parking spaces and also to block off the sidewalk while we were working. For a change, doing the right thing actually paid off. A C-Tran stormtrooper stopped by and was about to tell us to move our vehicles and crane, until we showed him our permits, which caused him to walk away, sorely disappointed!
With the petty bureaucrat out of the way, we were able to start moving tanks. This involved craning the tanks off of the flatbed to the open window, leaning the them through the opening, then pulling the tanks through to the taproom space.
The next challenge was getting the tanks downstairs to the production area. There was no way we could get them down the stairs, so we had to have a hole cut into the floor (Shhhhh! Don’t tell our landlord!). The tanks were then winched into the basement.
After repeating this procedure multiple times, we managed to get all of the tanks into the basement. All in all it was one of our best days. A lot of bad and expensive things could have happened, broken glass, dented tanks, electrocution, crushed feet, C-Tran citations, etc…but they didn’t! If everything we did went this well, we would have been open months ago! Nonetheless, you are thankful for these kinds of days!
Here’s what the production area looked like after we arranged all of the tanks.
Check out our story from Sunday’s paper about the growth of the craft liquor industry in Clark County:
Alcohol having spirited growth in county
Recent proliferation of breweries, wineries, distilleries helping to put growing craft scene on the map
By Sue Vorenberg
Over the past few years, the malty smell of brewing beer, the earthy air of growing grapes and the coppery scent of distilling vodka have spread across Clark County like a permeating fog.
But there’s something more growing in that quiet mist — in the form of a scrappy young industry and culture that could be a big part of Southwest Washington’s future.
There’s no question that our beer, wine and liquor industry is taking off.
Since 2010, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has recorded applications from Clark County for nine new microbreweries, eight new wineries and two new distillers, with most of those requests coming in between 2012 and 2013.
There are now at least 13 breweries, 18 wineries and two distillers licensed in the county, with more on the way.
And the past three years have seen at least seven new locally focused outdoor beer and wine festivals, with others in the planning stages for 2014.
Joining them are a handful of new gourmet beer and wine shops carrying Southwest Washington products.
And there’s room for more — of everything — people in the industry say.
“It’s just been booming,” said Andee Mowrey, manager of English Estate Winery. “It’s pretty cool to watch.”
It was a very different scene four years ago, when the area had three breweries, three wineries, no distillers and no locally focused outdoor festivals.
“Four years ago, when Rusty Grape came in, it was just us and Bethany Vineyards,” Mowrey said. “Within a year of Rusty Grape opening, there were seven or eight new ones. And the list keeps growing.”
At the same time, new businesses started to appear in the beer scene, which had seen limited growth until Eric Surface moved Mt. Tabor Brewing from Portland back to his hometown of Vancouver in 2011.
“When Eric opened Mt. Tabor (here), we thought, ‘This is great. Vancouver has something local,’” said Devon Bray, co-owner of Loowit Brewing, which opened in 2012. “And now there are a lot of new breweries. I think part of the success is that Vancouver never had much compared to Portland and now we do. It’s ours, and we don’t have to go to Portland to find it.”
Behind the growth
The rapid expansion could be credited to a variety of things, including a more supportive and affordable environment for downtown businesses, a growing emphasis from the community on buying local products and, of course, a strong desire to not have to drive south over that bridge.
“Vancouver, especially downtown, hasn’t always been a friendly place to start a small business,” said Perry Bee, a Vancouver resident who blogs about regional beers at http://www.brewmancenw.com/. “Only recently has the city realized how it could benefit from lowering prices and trading off perks to new business owners.”
Part of that was the introduction about four years ago of “pre-lease team meetings” between property owners, small businesses and government officials, said Lee Rafferty, executive director of the Vancouver Downtown Association.
“If somebody’s thinking about bringing in a business, the property owner and tenant meet with every department of the city, state and county to make sure that every single issue about that space is talked about,” Rafferty said. “It saves a lot of time because the business doesn’t have to go out and meet with everyone individually.”
One of the first businesses to take advantage of that was Niche Wine Bar on Main Street. And many others have followed, including Mt. Tabor Brewing, Loowit Brewing, Burnt Bridge Cellars, East Fork Cellars in the Slocum House and the newly opened Cellar 55 tasting room, Rafferty said.
Other things including tax breaks, improvements to Esther Short Park and the restoration of downtown buildings have also helped draw new businesses to the industry, Bee and Bray said.
“I don’t know if you remember what it was like here (downtown) 15 years ago, but it wasn’t pretty,” Bray said. “Esther Short Park was scary. It was dangerous. Now, everything is much nicer. Even the new residential projects coming downtown, it’s just exciting to see.”
New brewery tap rooms and wine tasting rooms have turned into neighborhood gathering places, where workers, residents and a small but growing number of tourists are coming to hang out and enjoy the scenery, Rafferty said.
“It doesn’t mean our community is becoming booze dependant; we’re becoming relationship dependant,” Rafferty said. “It really is the ‘Cheers’ (TV show bar) model. These new breweries are very good at the social part. They’re cross-promoting with other businesses, restaurant owners, and we’re starting to get a very good reputation for being a place to have a good time with good beer and great food.”
And the homespun liquor industry growth isn’t just happening in downtown Vancouver.
John Vissotzky, owner of the recently opened Double V Distillery, said he was drawn to locate his distillery and tasting room in Battle Ground because of its business-friendly environment.
“I’ve lived in Brush Prairie since 1986, but Battle Ground had the right zoning for us,” Vissotzky said. “The rules are a little different for us as a distiller. Because it’s hard liquor, we can’t partake of brew- or winefests, but we are selling to about a dozen bars already, mostly in Clark County.”
Wineries are also part of the countywide equation, cropping up in a variety of spots including Ridgefield, Yacolt and Battle Ground and bringing a more rustic, rural feel to their customers, Mowrey said.
“I think people love the romance of a winery,” Mowrey said. “I think the general public, they want something local. I know I do. When I eat dinner out, I want my money to go to the local economy.”
Many of the businesses in the wine industry are homespun, run by small entrepreneurs who are following their bliss as a retirement career, Mowrey said.
“A lot of the people that are starting wineries here are in their second stage of working, after having jobs in the computer industry or other sectors,” she said.
Vissotzky’s distillery also falls into that later-life career stage. He’s using money he saved through his career to build an occupation that always fascinated him, he said.
“I’ve been interested in distilling since I was young,” Vissotzky said. “This is a fun retirement for me. It’s not making money yet, but it will.”
He also hopes it can turn into a career for his son, who works with him, Vissotzky said.
Clark County’s brewers tend to be on the other side of the spectrum. They’re mostly younger people in their 20s through 40s looking to build a dream career while also holding a regular job to pay the bills.
Loowit’s Bray and his partner Thomas Poffenroth are in that category — at least sort of. They have yet to be paid after a year in business, but both credited their ability to spend time growing the brewery to their “very generous wives,” who have good jobs and can support them while they get Loowit off the ground.
Mt. Tabor’s Surface also has a day job that pays the rent, although his brewery tap room continues to expand.
Sunny Parsons of Heathen Brewing, which is probably the county’s fastest-growing brewer, is in the same boat. He has a side business that supports his family.
But Parsons’ business has grown enough to let him hire three paid employees in its first year, he said.
“I think what (draws people to the craft-brewing industry is) that we all fall in love with this social-business model,” Parsons said. “You think it should make money, but you really don’t care because you just love it so much.”
Nobody really goes into the industry expecting or even wanting to get rich. It’s more about creating a job that doesn’t really feel like work, Parsons said.
Still, it’s nice when things start to take off, he added.
One reason he isn’t drawing a paycheck yet is because the brewery is growing so fast. Any profit has been put back into the business to buy more equipment.
In December 2012, his monthly sales were about $1,800 a month. In September 2013, he was averaging about $20,000 a month.
“That doesn’t mean it’s just profit, but the numbers are certainly good,” Parsons said.
Both Heathen and Loowit are in the early stages of selling bottled beer after doing business mostly through keg and growler sales at their taprooms.
“I’m really excited to see what’s happening here,” Bray said. “With the wineries, too. Burnt Bridge Cellars just got into Fred Meyer. We just started ramping up our bottle production. Things are going well.”
Parsons is also looking at opening a brewpub that sells his beer and offers a variety of food. Right now, he’s looking at Salmon Creek, but he may consider other areas in the county depending on how things work out, he said.
“If that happens, we’ll probably be adding 25 to 35 jobs to the area,” Parsons said.
The rapid growth is a bit different than what he was expecting, but it’s certainly not a bad thing, he added.
“When I started, I was worried about dumping beer, wasting beer,” Parsons said. “Clark County, it’s doing so well that I actually can pretty much pre-sell all our beers. That appetite is only growing.”
Into the future
It’s no coincidence that “Cheers” bar references crop up often when people talk about the emerging sector.
At its core is the local community coming together to support local businesses and create something that has a very specific Clark County feel.
That’s evident at English Estate Winery on a Friday afternoon, when visitors trickle in, swap stories and share a few glasses of wine on the patio. The winery has been expanding Friday evening events with food and music, which has been popular.
“Going to a winery, it’s something fun to do in the neighborhood,” Mowrey said. “It really is like ‘Cheers’ in Boston. People come, meet friends and neighbors. It’s great.”
Krista Ravengael, who recently moved into an apartment near English Estate, agreed with that sentiment on her first visit to the East Vancouver winery.
“This is great,” Ravengael said. “We’ve driven by a few times and I decided to come in and check it out. I think I’ve found our new neighborhood bar.”
Mowrey grinned as she answered Ravengael’s questions about the winemaking process and let her sip a wide variety of vintages. As other customers stopped in, Ravengael turned into a wine ambassador, sharing what she’d just learned and telling others which wines she liked best.
It’s that sort of word-of-mouth, check-this-out synergy that is pumping through much of the Clark County industry.
Parsons notes the same “Cheers”-like feel at his Glenwood-area brewery. He sells kegs and growler fills from his business, which runs out of a barn on his property.
“No matter what, people are always happy to see you when they come to the brewery,” Parsons said. “It’s a meeting place and somewhere that’s fun to hang out.”
And where the locals are going and growing, tourist revenues are also starting to follow, which is never a bad thing, Mowrey said.
“You have to understand that we feed off of Portland, too,” Mowrey said. “It’s a quick trip over the bridge to come check out our wineries and breweries.”
“Yes, it’s just a bridge,” she added with a quick eye roll.
In some ways, it’s about time the region took off on its own, Bee said. Despite the new growth, Clark County still lags behind our larger neighbor to the south, he added.
“Portland blew up over the last decade or so, and is now only finally starting to slow a little,” Bee said. “Vancouver has only just blossomed, with new breweries, winemaking establishments and soon-to-be distillers.”
Clark County is in a good position to draw people from the slowing scene in Portland, Bee said. Members of that crowd love to be the first to explore new venues, and they’re just starting to learn that there’s high-quality breweries and wineries to their north, he added.
“(At the same time) people in Vancouver are getting tired of dive bars that simply serve plain macrobrews,” Bee said. “I see a huge trend of (beer and wine drinkers) always going right for the local stuff. Even if there is a beer they may like better, they want to support the local guy.”
That said, there are still some business areas where Clark County is lacking, most specifically in local brewpubs that serve beer made on the premises, he said.
Right now, those venues are limited to McMenamins on the Columbia Brewing, the rebooting Old Ivy Tap Room downtown and possibly Heathen’s new brewpub, if things work out.
The rest are mostly taprooms or tasting rooms that don’t have kitchens or much entertainment.
“It takes a lot of capital to fire up a kitchen and a brewhouse,” Bee said. “Many are just starting with beer, and it is working because the beer is good.”
The small businesses — wineries, breweries and distillers — also tend to be supportive of one another.
“To just start with a small system and make only beer is a rough thing to do, especially when the competition is full steam ahead now,” Bee said. “(But) it’s nice to see a more established brewery such as Loowit Brewing host an event for people to taste the beer from a brand new brewery which is about to open, Dirty Hands Brewing. That to me just screams good and friendly business. Locals like that.”
Loowit isn’t the only one that’s more than willing to help newcomers. Mt. Tabor helped Loowit with brewing when it first got off the ground, and new breweries just entering the market often seek out the advice of Surface or Bray. Heathen has worked with local businesses including Northwest Liquid Gold to come up with unique products. The Old Ivy Tap Room often sells beers from other local brewers at its pub.
It’s kind of a love fest, Bray said with a laugh.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Bray added. “Vancouver is finally coming into its own. I don’t know why it took so long.”
Have a drink in Clark County
Bethany Vineyards and Winery, 4115 N.E. 259th St., Ridgefield, 360-887-3525
Burnt Bridge Cellars, 1500 Broadway (15th and Broadway), Vancouver, 360-600-0120
Cellar 55, 1812 Washington St., Vancouver, 360-693-2700
Confluence Vineyards and Winery, 19111 N.W. 67th Ave., Ridgefield, 360-887-2343
East Fork Cellars, 24415 N.E. 10th Ave., Ridgefield, 360-727-3055 (also East Fork Cellars Vancouver, Slocum House, 605 Esther St., Vancouver, 360-750-8000)
Emanar Cellars, 1113 SE Rasmussen Blvd., Battle Ground, 360-513-2448
English Estate Winery, 17806 S.E. First St., Vancouver, 360-772-5141
Evergreen Wine Cellar, 2608 E. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver,
Gouger Cellars, 126506 N.E. 10th Ave., Ridgefield, 360-909-4707
Heisen House Vineyards, 28005 N.E. 172nd Ave., Battle Ground, 360-713-2359
Moulton Falls Winery, 31101 N.E. Railroad Ave., Yacolt, 360-713-3616
Olequa Cellars, 24218 N.E. 142nd Ave., Battle Ground, 360-666-8012
Rusty Grape Vineyards, 16712 N.E. 219th St., Battle Ground, 360-513-9338
Seventh Son Cellars, 120 N. Third Ave., Ridgefield, 360-887-2901
Three Brothers Winery, 2411 N.E. 244th St., Ridgefield, 360-887-2085
Amnesia Brewing, 1834 Main St., Washougal, 360-335-1008.
Beerded Brothers Brewing, Vancouver, 206-235-6106.
Brothers Cascadia Brewing, 1120 S.E. Rasmussen Blvd, Battle Ground, 360-771-3479.
Dirty Hands Brewing Company, 114 E. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, 360-258-0413.
Doomsday Brewing Company, Vancouver. (Coming soon)
Ghost Runners Brewery, 2403 N.W. 125th St., Vancouver, 360-573-4872.
Heathen Brewing, 5612 N.E. 119th St., Vancouver, 360-601-7454.
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery, 1401 S.E. Rasmussen Blvd., Battle Ground, 360-723-0937.
Loowit Brewing Company, 507 Columbia St., Vancouver, 360-566-2323.
McMenamins on the Columbia Brewing, 1801 S.E. Columbia River Drive, Vancouver, 360-699-1521 (also McMenamins East Vancouver, 1900 N.E. 162nd Ave., Suite B107, 360-254-3950).
Mill City Brew Werks, 325 N.E. Cedar St., Camas.
Mt. Tabor Brewing, 113 W. Ninth St., Vancouver.Old Ivy Tap Room, 108 W. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, 360-696-0012.
Rail Side Brewing, 421 C St. 1B, Washougal, 360-907-8582.
West Highland Brewing, 18012 N.E. 22nd Way, Vancouver, 360-883-5357 or 360-433-7147.
Double V Distillery, 1315 S.E. Grace Ave, Suite 118, Battle Ground, 360-723-5282.
Craft and other stores:
A Beer at a Time, 2926 E St., Washougal, 360-835-5200.
Bader Beer and Wine Supply, 711 Grand Blvd., Vancouver, 360-750-1551.
BevMo, 700 S.E. 160th Ave. No. 111, Vancouver, 360-553-4910.
By The Bottle, 108 W. Evergreen Blvd., Suite C, Vancouver, 360-696-0012.
Caps ‘n Taps Camas, 337 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas, 360-210-7244.
Northwest Liquid Gold, 11202 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver, 360-326-4281.
Total Wine and More, 4816 N.E. Thurston Way, Vancouver, 855-330-6673.
Holiday Craft Winefest (Nov. 3, 2013), http://www.facebook.com/CraftWinefest or http://thecraftwinefest.com
Vancouver Winter Brewfest, Esther Short Park. (Dec. 13-15, 2013), http://energyevents.com/
Who’s Your Daddy Brewfest (in association with By The Bottle), Turtle Place Park. (June 2014), http://bottledbrews.com/
Vancouver Summer Brewfest (in association with the Vancouver Marathon), Esther Short Park. (June 2014), http://energyevents.com/
Craft Winefest of Vancouver (June 2014), https:// href=”http://www.facebook.com/CraftWinefest”>www.facebook.com/CraftWinefest or http://thecraftwinefest.com/
Vancouver Brewfest, Esther Short Park. (August 2014), http://vancouverbrewfest.com/
Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival (August 2014), http://www.vancouverwinejazz.com/
Shorty’s Garden & Home Oktoberfest (September 2014), http://www.shortysgardenandhome.com/
Oktoberfest at Alderbrook Park (September 2014), http://visitalderbrook.com/]]>