|Six Barrel Brew System from Heater Allen|
|Future bar location in tasting room|
The Wolves & People name is as full history and memories as the barn. Wolves and People was a nighttime tag game Christian played as a child on the farm with his siblings. It is still played by his younger family members and Christian occasionally jumps in. The Latin name for hops is humulus lupulus or "little wolf among weeds" because of the plants rapid growth. In addition it is also a reference to the Wolf Meetings held a few miles from the brewery by early settlers. These meetings, eventually lead to the founding of Oregon as a state. In a more philosophical sense Christian states that,
"In moderation, beer relaxes our inhibitions and inspires healthy laughter and goodwill. Meanwhile, a prevailing tension in human life is often between wildness and society, order/disorder, socialized 'acceptable' behavior versus the hunt for untamed creativity and exploration... in my mind, the latter is a journey that should never end. Otherwise we are just following the rules. Giving up. In this day of computerized, gadgetized everything, it's far too easy to forget that we are quite literally part of nature, part of the animal kingdom, yet we tend to be far more aware of cellphones and screens than the real people and (disappearing) natural world around us. Out here on the farm, we do our best to stay focused on people and place, music, and a sense of where are and what we are doing right now, not blips and beeps we have to 'upgrade' every 6 months. "
|Wild yeast donating plum tree|
One of the first expansion that will be made after the brewery becomes fully operational is the installation of a coolship in the back corner of the barns attic, behind the SoulBoat. Louvers will be installed the end of the barn, so the south-easterly prevailing wind can blow across the coolship. The yeast that comes in with the wind should have a distinctly different character from the fruit propagated strains. Since the brewery is surrounded by fruit orchards, there will be a variety of wild brett to feed the coolship. Christian plans to bottle condition almost all beer that is produced.
Wild yeast are sometimes unpredictable and can vary with the season, so the number of wild and spontaneously fermented beers Wolves & People will produce may as well. Early tests suggest the yeast is very viable so wild beers will hopefully be a substantial part of their portfolio. A list of the six beers, already on the schedule can be found below:
Coup de Foudre: Meaning “lightning bolt,” or “love at first sight”, a wild golden ale fermented in foudres in the barn and seductively dry-hopped.
Sebastian: Dry-hopped saison made with estate yeast “Sebastian”, harvested from our oldest plum tree and aged in pinot barrels for at least 4 months. Later versions will transform with farm fruit additions.
Lupercal: Meaning “she-wolf”, this is a refreshing, complex, spruce-tip infused wild ale with fresh lemon peel, subject to a mixed fermentation with Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and our house wild yeast, Sebastian.
Brutaal: Brutaal, meaning “bold” or “audacious” in Dutch is our homage to De Ranke’s XX Bitter, which is itself a tribute to the original character of Orval, the Belgian pale ale that first captured our founder’s imagination and inspired his love for Brettanomyces beers.
Corylus: Imperial hazelnut stout with Magnum, Columbus, and Mosaic hops aged on estate hazelnuts in a mix of bourbon, port, and sherry barrels; approx 11-12%abv.
Landbouw: Meaning “farming” or “agriculture”, this is a dry-hopped, harvest beer based on grisette with a sociably low ABV of around 2.8% ABV.
Wolves & People will be self-distributed in the Portland area and throughout the state if possible. Most of the beer will be reserved for local consumption in the Oregon market. In addition, they will be working with Shelton Brothers, who only distribute a hand full of elite american breweries, to send the rest out to key accounts in the world. Jordan Keeper, the former head brewer at Jester King, moved from Autin, TX in October to work with Wolves & People.
Portland Craft Beer: What made you decide to transition from writing about beer to starting a brewery?
Years of writing about beer and breweries and writing my first book especially pushed it into overdrive, I've been writing about beers and studying beers since I was 18. That experience when you walk into a brewery, that’s amazing, it’s a beer you’ve tasted and you’re getting to see where it’s made for the first time and getting to meet all the people that make it around the world and some of them are just incredible personalities. I always wanted to get back into the production side of things." Even though I became a beer journalist in 1998 as well as a travel writer I always thought I would come back and get in the production side. I've written hundreds of articles and that’s great. But sitting in a chair and writing more articles is not what I want to do at this stage in my life; Even if they are amazing assignments and I know I’m lucky to get them, but this is a totally different level of interacting with beer having a chance to make it and share it is like a dream.
How did you recruit former head brewer at Jester King, Jordan Keeper to come brew?
Jordan and I met at the What the Funk Festival in Denver a couple years ago. We were just standing in the middle of the room tasting some beers and we got to talking. We were enjoying the incredible selection they had and I was peppering him with questions about Jester King, one of my favorite breweries in the world. We ended up talking for a couple of hours talking shop about his beers. I started telling him about my dream to do this and at that stage I was definitely planning to do it but I was not where I am now. He was really enthusiastic and excited to hear about it and we kept in touch. He let me know that he was leaving Jester King to pursue his own thing. I sent him a note right after I heard to have him let me know if he was coming through Oregon. We chatted and then it just went from there. We spent so much time talking about it he came up here and visited the farm for a day. By the end of the day we were convinced we had to make it work.
|Sliding door to tasting room|
Building a brewery in Oregon is an intimidating thing. There’s already so many great breweries and so much great beer, great brewers, and great products everywhere. Wolves & People is going to be different because it’s a farm based brewery and it’s still a working farm. It’s out in this beautiful chunk of countryside. A lot of great breweries don’t have the luxury of this open space, so I think that will set it apart. There's not very many breweries here in the wine country. A few breweries are popping up but this is a region that could definitely use more brewing destinations. There’s 400 wineries in 30 miles radius of here. I think that will set it apart a little bit, the location. The ability to use our own well water, our own multiple strains of wild yeast as well as just spontaneous beers. We're going to use our own hops to the extent that we can. Like Agrarian has an acre I think that’s the extent of it for now. We're not going to be a hop forward brewery, I can tell you we're going to be more yeast and fruit driven and acid driven beers. I just see it as one of many great breweries in Oregon.
Being a working farm Wolves & People is striving to be as self sustaining as possible. They will be using and treating their own well water. Christian had the well water sent to a lab to be analyzed. After the results came back he sent them to brewing author John Palmer, to confirm his suspicions. John confirmed they had great neutral chemistry, which is ideal for brewing. I sampled a glass and it was very clean and refreshing. After all, need great water to make great beer.
If you would like to get involved in the CrowBrewed campaign you can find more information CrowdBrewed site that launches today.
A huge thank you to Christain DeBenedetti for taking the time to show me around the brewery and farm. I look forward to trying the beers the Wolves & People Brewery is going to make.