And beer often comes first for the winemakers, he pointed out. “The number of kegs we sell to wineries goes up pretty dramatically once harvest starts.” The wine-tasters like it too, and often come for a beer once they’ve returned to Portland after a day of sampling in the nearby Willamette Valley, he added.
“A little crisp, clean beer with some CO2 in it helps restart the palate at the end of the day,” said Kennedy.
Organic beer is about 50 percent of all production at Laurelwood; there are also 50 to 60 seasonal brews. Some are standard like the coffee porter and the organic Green Elephant IPA, but there’s also a Green Mammoth―an imperial version of the Elephant.
Eight or nine regular beers are on tap at Laurelwood, as well as rotating specials. Kennedy tries to have as many styles of beer as possible. “Craft beers are all about pleasing as many people as possible with many different flavors. The commercial beer makers try to have one macro flavor,” he said.
The specials, he said, are “one offs that are totally shooting from the hip.” He also makes some single-hop beers with a different varietal each time to see how they work. “It’s been a good education for us and the people drinking the beer, to see what different hops do.”
These aren’t the only breweries making organic beers, but the trend is even bigger than that. Wander out into the heart of the Willamette Valley and you’ll find wineries such as Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Evesham Wood Winery and Sokol Blosser growing organic grapes.
There’s certainly a growing demand for wines made with organic grapes, according to Barbara Gross, marketing director for Cooper Mountain Vineyards, who claimed that now, one-fifth of wine producers in the valley are farming organically.
For the ultimate in Portland’s organic beer scene, visit Hopworks, operates out of a sustainable building that features everything from composting to rain barrels. The brewery uses onlylocal ingredients―which is the usual practice for vintners (hence, the relevance of terroir), but rare these days in the beer world.
There are six standard beers and four seasonals. The standards include Hopworks IPA (spicy, dry hops and malty with some citrus and pine flavors), Survival Stout (containing barley, wheat, oats, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, kamut and espresso) and Crosstown Pale Ale (with caramel flavors).
For the seasonals, brewer Christian Ettinger likes to make more unusual foreign beers like German-style brown, English cream ale and Belgian abbeys, always featuring a good mix.
Hopworks particularly appeals to cyclists. The bicycle bar (no caps) is made from 42 scrap bike frames, formed into a canopy over the bar. There’s also a bicycle repair stand at the door, inner tubes and energy bars for sale and even a bicycle seat headrest over the urinals. And outside, there’s parking for up to 92 bicycles.