Southern Oregon Micro and Nano Brewing Scene Fall 2014

It can’t be denied that there is definitely a small craft brewing movement going on in every state in the union. It is also recognizable that any town with a measurable amount of populace or growth is also part of the boom. Medford, Grants Pass and Ashland can’t be denied of that growth.
Just this year alone I know of two new breweries coming to Grants Pass, one new one to Medford, and at the end of last year Swingtree Brewing opened in Ashland.
Lets look at some demographics in regards to population and Breweries. According to beermebend.com there are 19 total breweries in Bend, Oregon. With a total population of 76,639 people within Bend city limits this is 4033 people per brewery. Using this as a base number it becomes apparent that Medford could have more breweries and potentially sustain them. With a population of 74,907, and 7 total breweries in Medford city limits this year, this yields 10,701 people per brewery.
Of course there is always the everlasting rumor of the next opening and impending brewery, however I think a lot of times it is usually just bantor and here say, and even perhaps day dreaming. The cost of taking on such an endeavor is generally cost prohibitive and the returns are usually quite dismal for at-least the first two to five years.

The brewing boom continues beyond the borders of Southern Oregon. The most significant growth at the current moment is more than likely occuring in the state of Texas. Of course I don’t have any concrete evidence of that, this is strictly my observation. The professional publications I receive seem to giving a lot of play to the breweries in Texas.

It is my observation that Oregon is slowing down in regards to brewery growth. This can be attributed to a couple of different things:

1.) Brewery saturation per the population of Oregon.

2.) Due to Oregon’s long standing tradition of having great breweries and beer, the trend and excitement has worn off. It now becomes an expectation to the consumer that Oregon should and always will have the great beer we have come to know and love. The great challenge now for breweries is to come up with new and innovative beers that tantalize and excite the craft beer drinker to pry that hard earned money out of their pocket. As a result of this challenge breweries are becoming novel in their approach to beer aging. They are using whiskey and wine barrels, and some are even mixing different strains of yeast to create an acquired sour flavor. (However in ancient times this was traditionally the way the beer was stored. This is nothing new to beer, it’s just new to the typical beer consumer in America.)  We as hard working beer loving and beer drinking America are not quite yet used to the sour flavor in our beer.

Next week we are going to dive into the new trend of barrel aged and sour beers, as a general rule it goes hand in hand depending on the type of barrel they use. So until next time may your pints always be full and your taps always flowing.

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  • About the Author

    Craig McPheeters

    Craig J. McPheeters is a freelance writer, founding brewer of Bricktowne Brewing Co. and a registered Beer Judge Certification Program beer-competition judge. He is actively authoring two publications set to be published by 2018. When he isn't ... Full Profile
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