10 of the Country’s Most Interesting Breweries
The Ale Apothecary
Barrel programs are common at breweries across the country these days, with all kinds of beer resting and aging inside the wooden vessels.
Then there’s The Ale Apothecary, which actually brews all its beer in them. From mash-in to bottling, beer made by Paul Arney spends little of its 14-to-18-month journey not touching wood, including about three hours in a copper boil kettle and a few days resting in a stainless steel tank before being hand-packaged in 750-mL glass bottles. Along the way, beer is made in a variety of personalized creations, including two oak barrel mash tuns. For Arney’s Sahati beer, he also uses a lauter tun made from a 200-year-old spruce tree with branches as a filter bed.
“The first thing people often ask when they meet me is if I’m the dude that ferments in a tree,” Arney jokes. There’s a fitting truth to it, however. His brewery is located just outside Bend, Oregon, on the footprint of the Deschutes National Forest.
Each batch of beer takes about 40 hours to brew, from grinding the grain to pitching yeast, every step focused on the intimacy of the manual labor involved. Arney starts at 4 or 5 p.m. one day and will let his wort sit for 12 hours before it goes into open fermentation the next day in oak puncheons or a Douglas fir tank. It then rests for more than a year in one of 120 barrels, each bearing the first name of a person who has influenced Arney or his family over the years.
“Patience is a value I hold pretty dear,” Arney says. “I don’t want to let go of what the word ‘craft’ means.” –Bryan Roth