Monthly Archives: March 2012

Family, Land, & Skilled Trade

Well, the wind finally picked up.  And how!  The Ale Apothecary went from something I was working on to something I am working with.  These are two very different concepts (especially for someone who likes working alone).  The last two weeks have been full of the busiest type of brewing…bumping around my equipment, tripping over hoses, losing track of time, breaking glass, cursing inanimate objects.  This is the ‘getting to know each other’ rendezvous that my little brewery and I are having together.  I feel much like Dr. Frankenstein: while the creature I have created may look a little different, it not only works, it has a soul.

My business?  A Soul?  Where’s the bloody capitalizm?The two 400L puncheons (made in Oregon) are named after my grandparents.  Paul and his father, CB Neihart (of Coulee City, WA fame) were both independent drug store owner/operators.  On the other side of the family, my father supported his wife and 3 boys operating his own pharmacy.  There’s an old German saying that, “The brewery is the best drug store”.  Our brewery is located in wilderness, our water is our own and unbelievably good.  Our wonderful hop originates from Oregon and it is grown by a progressive & historical Oregon farming family.  The beer is named after my daughter and one of Oregon’s best waterfalls.  I’ve had a some darn good training in the nature of brewing beer.  My wife is too agreeable.  These are just some of the things that I am capitalizing upon…

As we are nearing April and the unveiling of the mysterious Beer Club, I feel compelled to make an effort at stating some central tenets so we’re all clear on what’s really going on here.  This is probably more for me than you, unless you also have a love of lists.

  1. Through The Past, The Future!  The Ale Apothecary is envisioned to rediscover and represent the art of brewing in the face of the industrial revolution as we move further into the future.
  2. Family First (even though it’s second on this list).  Beware:  Engaging in business with us is engaging in a bona-fide relationship (I sometimes might put off brewing to play with small children).
  3. Local & Sustainable.  What does that mean?  I have no idea, but plan to find out.  Originally, the goal was to make our beer out of Oregon-only ingredients (including bottle, closure, etc.).  This was prohibitively expensive, but we are committed to doing the best we can.  Right now, our malt is grown in Idaho & Washington, and our hops in Oregon.  Our water source couldn’t get any closer.  Glass and cork come from far away.
  4. What Is Pure?  Our journey of discovery.  We do not use any additives or processing aids typically found in many breweries.  No irish moss, no mined calcium sulfate, no fining agents or haze stabilizers.  This is also why we choose to take an extremely long time to carbonate in the bottle…it’s the beers’ natural CO2, not forced or injected gas from industrial power plants.  Due to the small size of our brewery, we’re able to treat our own wastewater.
  5. Bottles only.  You will not find ales from The Ale Apothecary in a keg.  There are plenty of great breweries making beer in bulk…especially here in Bend.  Ridiculously tasty.  I’m really not much of a capitalizt, so why would I want to compete with that?
  6. Art for Beers’ Sake.  Take our Sahati we plan on brewing in the fall.  Cutting a tree down to make beer with?  It’s for the spectacle, to see if we can do it.  This carries down to #7…
  7. The Beer is Secondary.  What a better way to support our values than with world-class beer?
  8. House Brewery.  The Ale Apothecary is part of our home in Oregon wilderness…we are not an industrial factory.  This circles back up to #1 now.

See you in April with details about this so-called Beer Club…