Monthly Archives: April 2011

style, control, & america

These 3 words go together quite well, don’t they?

Historically speaking, America has exhibited both style and control in ways that have shaped the world ten times over.
Influencing nations, influencing people.

I picked up 1350# of malt yesterday.  That’s a heck of a lot for a 10 gallon system!
I’m realizing that having any sort of plan in this entrepreneurial venture is impossible, yet completely necessary at the same time.  I’ve got a million things that I should be doing first.  Anytime I try to plan out the completion of one of them, another pops up and forces my hand.  The important part is that things are getting done.  We are moving this ship forward.  Like the malt!  It’s there.  I can look at it and imagine the future.  Soon, when the pilot brewhouse is completed, I’ll begin a phase of research and development that I’ve been waiting my entire brewing career to accomplish.  But why obtain so much already?
Working the R&D thing at Deschutes was incredible.  Truly any ingredient, at any cost, at any time.  It did wonders for my knowledge of brewing and building a beer, there is no question about that.  If I thought of something that I might need, I ordered it.  If Brewmaster Larry Sidor wanted us to trial something, we ordered lots of it.  Anyway, when I decided to leave the company, there was a pallet of malt that I had brought in a few months back to do a brew or two of something that I’d been chewing on for a while.  Needless to say, I haven’t got around to brewing that beer.  And with the pricing the brewery gets on this stuff, I couldn’t not ask if they minded if I took it off their hands.  Especially since there were no plans for the stuff there anyhow.  I cut the brewery a check for almost exactly the amount of my quarterly bonus, and loaded my 1993 Toyota with it and drove it up the hill.  Now this malt is a wonderful reminder of the path that I’m going down…which is what, exactly?

1. Style:  I’m trying to embrace the aesthetic values of  a truly unique expression in the field of beer and wine.  At the same time, I am doing my best to avoid conforming to particular genre criteria that would make Sahalie a ‘Farmhouse Ale’ or ‘NW IPA’.  The word that keeps coming to mind is ‘transcendence’.  The goal is to transcend conventional beer styles as well as blurring the distinction between beer and wine.

2. Control:  I’m wielding two types of control in this process.  Firstly, an obsessive-compulsive control over this ale’s make-up.  I have said that we are only making one type of beer.  Perhaps I should be making clear that this journey is to discover what we know about ‘beer’ through one very specific product.  A product that I understand well enough to bend it in every conceivable direction, in every experiment possible.  This is where OCD meets laissez-faire (French for ‘leave it alone’).  This behavior is becoming more accepted in beer, but not quite to the point where wine resides.  Most breweries strive for consistency with a constantly changing flow of raw materials.  This, of course, is wonderful for our beer that we grab in six-packs and in 12-packs.  It might not be very necessary in the 24 packs, but I digress.  Could you imagine wineries striving for a consistent product year after year?  What would be the point?
With the arrival of the celebration of microorganisms that can influence it’s flavor profile over the span of years, beer has arrived as a viable drink for the most special of occasions.  What are we going to get when we open the bottle?  This question, and the anticipation of a unique experience combined with a very special drink creates a sensory smorgasbord that might be remembered for a lifetime.  Sensory smorgasbord.  One more time: Sensory Smorgasbord.  This ale, Sahalie, is our vehicle where raw materials and the influence of yeast, oak, and our acceptance of some very wonderful and interesting critters will continually expand our conventional knowledge of this drink.

3. America:  Originally, I conceived this word to be Oregon.  My goal someday is to provide all raw materials from within the state of Oregon.  I’m not talking just malt, hops, water here.  I’m talking EVERYTHING.  Bottles, closures, services, whatever.  Anything that the brewery undertakes will make an effort to keep our money circulating as close to home as possible.  I believe this to be a healthy commitment for this business and our community.  Currently, we cannot source everything from Oregon.  In lieu of that, we will do our best to produce an All-American product (minus the cork, for now).  As I have mentioned before, this is a journey, and we hope to share what we learn, share who influences us, and perhaps influence others.  Without a commitment to doing things right, this journey would cease to exist!

You made it to the end!  Congrats.
A couple of notes for future posts:  Currently I need to keep the recipe and processes a secret.  My apologies.  If you find me in person, I’ll gladly give up facts.  Once we  are licensed and producing beer, I’ll start kicking down specifics.
Also, we are going to eventually get photos to play a big part in this blog so you don’t have to read so much.  Staci (my darling wife) is a photographer, and we are developing a strategy on how best to present ourselves and Sahalie to the world.  With our respect for this journey and beer, everything that is identified with it has to uphold our collective vision.   And that, my friends, is that.


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