(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
As September gallops along, it reminds me of the ambivalence we face each year with Autumn in the Northwest — do we stay home or go to the Oregon Coast and enjoy the wonderful weather before our eight months of daily drizzle commences?
Do we journey to other parts of the country – either road trip or by air – and enjoy the less-crowded National Parks and scenic wonders in other parts of our wonderful country?
This year the decision is easy because of the renewed strength of COVID throughout the US and more importantly, the impending birth of our fourth grandchild in the second week of October.
But at the onset of this post, I want to depart from bars and breweries and relate a great story about a relatively young, but thriving distillery in Portland. I’ll finish with another one of the innovations that Adam Milne of Portland’s Old Town Brewing has just sprung which will put additional fizzle into the fall……
Freeland Spirits of Northwest Portland
While it’s probably obvious that I love to raise a mug of almost any malted brew whether it be an IPA, a lager, pilsner, etc. on occasion, I’m also very partial to distilled spirits – gin martinis (up with olives) — scotch and bourbon also periodically come to mind.
Thus when my son-in-law, Ryan, gave me a 750 milliliter bottle of Freeland Bourbon for my birthday in May, I was in for a wonderful surprise. The bourbon superb – the best I’ve ever consumed in over seventy years on this earth (okay – during the fifty + years where I could imbibe legally….),
But it’s produced by two woman entrepreneurs who have a compelling story AND a high-quality product from the distillery they founded in 2017. (External photo attribution at end of post *)
As stated on their website:
“Freeland Spirits celebrates the women of the craft. From the gals who grow the grain, to those who run the still, we’re creating superior spirits that celebrate all the Northwest has to offer.
After COVID subsides and I can make on-site visits again, I hope to interview both CEO and Founder, Jill Keuhler and Master Distiller, Molly Troupe at their site and devote a full post to their vision for the future.
“Freeland Bourbon pays homage to the South, and to Grandma Freeland, the namesake of Freeland Spirits. Soft caramel, vanilla and spice dance into the whiskey from charred American oak barrels.
A final rest in Oregon’s Elk Cove Pinot Noir barrels adds an element of Pacific Northwest terroir. Blended with precision by our Master Distiller, Molly Troupe, to achieve balanced texture and harmony of flavors.
But I admit, I’ve become so fond of the bourbon, that I developed a routine of sorts during COVID, when I’ve become enamored with jigsaw puzzles – after all, I’ve got a lot more free time since I’m not making personal visits to watering holes at this time.
Before bed, I often spend a session at one of the 1000-piece puzzles accompanied by a “generous” pour of their bourbon. When my wife saw how quickly the bottle had disappeared, she decided my shots would be less fulsome……although this led to a genteel debate about the term “generous.”
For example, according to Wikipedia, a small shot of liquor in the US ranges from 30 to 44 ml whereas a double will fill a glass with about 59 to 89 ml. So if I had an average of 55 ml shot each session, the bourbon would have been consumed in only 14 sessions.
Since I only spend about forty-five minutes each night, it certainly has taken me that long to get this far in one of the most challenging 1000-piece puzzles we have done to date (Galison Puzzles “A Day at the Bookstore.”)
And Speaking of Northwest Entrepreneurs…..
One of my favorite Portland breweries in the eleven years I’ve been Beerchasing is Old Town Brewing. And only part of that sentiment is because of its great beer and pizza. Like Freeland Spirits above, a major factor is the creativity and resourcefulness of the founder and owner, Adam Milne.
He has demonstrated this entrepreneurial spirit, from the time he bought Old Town Pizza in 2004, when this Marcola, Oregon native was only thirty-three. (He mortgaged the equity in his house and sold a rental unit to buy the establishment.)
The almost twenty-year history of this enterprise and Adam’s resilience, innovation and creativity is a remarkable story which took me two Beerchaser posts to chronicle: https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/26/new-energy-and-ideas-at-old-town-brewing/.
And from my own experience meeting and interviewing him over beers at his Eastside brewery and pub in late 2018, Adam is also a great human being who is the epitome of an enlightened owner and manager.
Before telling you about Adam’s latest adventure, I will use the words of Carson Bowler his college Sigma Nu fraternity brother at the University of Oregon, and my colleague at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, (shown in the photo above) who has also represented Adam and Old Town on legal issues:
“I’ve known Adam for more than twenty-five years. We were in the Sigma Nu house and his reputation then was that he was the nicest guy in the fraternity. Unfortunately, that reputation was accurate.
One could never lie to, or ‘borrow’ from or prank Adam without the everlasting worry that God, Himself would punish any such shenanigans with eternal damnation.
Adam always had one great idea too many until he didn’t and launched Old Town Brewing. It was in this enterprise that his ambition, good taste, generosity and entrepreneurial spirit blissfully collided to produce pure-love in a pint. Adam makes good beer because only good things come from Adam.”
Adam, like most small business owners has faced incredible challenges in the last two years. At the height of COVID’s initial wave and when Portland was enmeshed in the lawless protests (a continuing saga), he was forced to shut his Old Town location down in July, 2020:
“‘The moment of a temporary closure became, sadly, clear on Thursday when our revenue for the day was $18.75,’ he says…..’Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard with the high density, vandalism and tents in front of our business.’”
But he rebounded and in May of 2020, Old Town Brewing launched a Drive-Thru Brewer’s Market with seven different breweries and cideries. Every Saturday from 11am-4pm, Old Town’s parking lot off of Killingsworth in northeast Portland – a contact free drive-up experience with rotating selections from local breweries is filled with enthusiastic patrons.
And in February, 2021, he purchased Baby Doll Pizza on Southeast Stark – known for its’s New York style pizza. He didn’t change the name although it now features a number of the excellent Old Town beers on tap.
Well, the innovation continues and this time it’s “Out of the Barrel…” As featured in Oregon Live’s Andre Meunier’s new column on beer and breweries (which is an excellent column you should check out) “Portland’s Old Town jumps into hard seltzer market with Upper Left”
“‘On Thursday (9/15/21) (Old Town Brewing) will release its Upper Left hard seltzer brand, becoming one of the first small breweries in the nation to do so,’ (Adam Milne) said. Old Town, no slouch when it comes to brewing awards, will continue to make its full line-up of craft beer, but it will augment that with an initial offering of two seltzers: Cotton Candy and Key Lime, with more flavors to be introduced.
‘The flavors are a throwback to the candies of the ‘70s,’ Milne said. He wanted to capture the retro flavors of confections like Now and Later, Laffy Taffy or Bazooka, or even the vibe of the corner pop shop or a saltwater taffy store. He wants the Upper Left brand to appeal not only to young adults but also to those who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
Now, I loved Bazooka Bubble Gum when I was a kid and I’m going to give it a try, but I don’t know if a hard seltzer is going to replace my Freeland Bourbon when I embark on my next jigsaw puzzle.
That said, I might substitute a mug of Old Town’s Paulie’s Not Irish (American Red) Ale which recently won a Bronze Medal at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival.
External Photo Attribution
*1 – 3 Freeland Spirits Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/freelandspirits/photos/?ref=page_internal)
*4 Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shot_glass#/media/File:Three_shotglasses.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. Author: Kelly Martin 16 November 2006
*5 – 9 Old Town Brewing Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby%20Doll%20Pizza/1409561956008482/photos/)
*10 – 11 Baby Doll Pizza Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby%20Doll%20Pizza/1409561956008482/photos/)
*12 – 13 Upper Left Hard Seltzer Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/upperleftseltzer/photos/?ref=page_internal)
*14 Old Town Brewing Website (https://www.otbrewing.com/beer_pnir)