When did you become Head Brewer at Buoy Beer?
“I moved here at the end of August 2013. They had just started the remodel and construction on the building.”
When did you brew your first beer?
“I made the first batch when I was 22 or 23. My girlfriend at the time bought me homebrew setup through a local homebrew shop. We just read a book and went for it.”
How did it turn out?
“Looking back, it wasn’t very good beer.”
You were a 3rd grade teacher at one point, how did you become a brewer?
“My degree was in elementary education. I graduated college and started teaching at 22. While I was teaching, I started brewing at home and I just fell in love with the process and everything about it. I was still pretty young at the time and figured it was the ideal time to give brewing a shot. It took me a while to get a job but I finally did.”
What’s been the biggest change between teaching 3rd graders and brewing?
“It’s a lot less stress. Teaching is hard work mentally. Brewing is more physically demanding.”
What has brewing beer taught you?
“It’s taught me that hard work goes a long way. It’s not easy. Brewing requires attention to detail. You can have a beer that you’ve worked years to make and you can mess it up in an instant if you do something stupid.”
Have you had any learning experiences?
“Thankfully I haven’t had anything too major. I did come close one time to collapsing a tank. That was pretty scary.”
“When you’re transferring the beer out of the tank it needs to be pressurized or vented in some way. I hooked up the pump and started transferring the beer, but I hadn’t vented it. I heard a loud ‘pop’ noise. I shut it down and walked up on the catwalk and could see the stainless tank was caved in. My heart nearly stopped. I vented the tank and it popped back out where it was. This was at another brewery.”
How did the experiences at other breweries prepare you to come to Buoy Beer?
“I had been in the industry a little shy of 20 years. I worked at three different breweries honing the different techniques and processes. The last one was BridgePort (Brewing Company) in Portland. I was there for 14 years.”
Are there common misconceptions about being a brewer?
“It’s not as glamorous as people think it is. People ask, ‘So do you just sit around all day and drink beer?’”
What’s your favorite beer?
“That’s a tough one. A lot of depends on my mood or weather. I joke with people that it’s like having kids … you probably have a favorite, but you don’t say it publicly.”
What’s the most popular beer at Buoy?
“Our IPA is our top selling beer. IPAs as a top seller is pretty common for Northwest brewers. Our Czech Pilsner lager also does well. With our recent expansion, we’re trying to increase volume. We can sell more of it if we can make more of it.”
Why do you feel IPAs are so popular?
“People have fallen in love with the hops. There are just so many flavors you can get out of different varieties. The trend for a while was the really bitter, high-alcohol IPAs. The trend now is to have more emphasis on the flavor of the hops so you’re not having that big bitter sensation and a lower alcohol content.”
Where do you feel the craft beer industry is moving as a whole?
“It’s an industry that’s still relatively young. It’s only really been 40 years. The amount of new breweries popping up is amazing. Everyone keeps wondering when the bubble is going to burst. It’s going to be hard for places to grow production-wise, but I think every community can support a brewery. We have five breweries in town, three in Cannon Beach, one in seaside and another across the river. People can come out here and hit 10 breweries without having to go far. And I think there’s room for more.”
How have you experimented with flavors?
“We had one beer that we put whole marionberry pies into the brew. The idea was to make a stout taste like a marionberry pie.”
Did it work?
“Eh, sort of. It didn’t scream pie, but the flavor components were there.”
The brewery has undergone a recent expansion, what did that entail?
“This year we installed seven new tanks. Each one holds 100 barrels (and each barrel is 31 gallons). It’s allowed us to increase the overall capacity of beer we can make. We’ve also installed our own canning line.”
Why prompted you to start canning your own beer?
“It just made sense with our volume. It also gave us the flexibility to can when we wanted to. We had to rely on a mobile canning service out of Portland previously. We still use the same company for bottling our beer.”
How much did the expansion impact production?
“We basically doubled the amount we’re able to produce.”
How long have you been doing your own canning?
“Only a couple of weeks. We’ve only done a handful of runs with our own line.”
How often do you can?
“A couple of times a week. It just depends on when the beer is ready.”