What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am brewmaster and one of the founders of pFriem Family Brewers [in Hood River, Ore.]. When I was 20 years old, I fell in love with craft beer and started homebrewing immediately. I knew after that first batch of beer I wanted to become a brewmaster and own my own brewery. I was studying business at the time and picked up science on the side. After I graduated from college, I hit brewing literature hard and was homebrewing like crazy. I was ski bumming in Utah and trying to land a brewing job. One day I caught Jen Talley (then-brewmaster of Squatters) while she was brewing a batch of beer. We spent the morning talking about our love for beer and she wanted me to meet the crew at Utah Brewers Cooperative. Jen had me run home and grab some beer to meet the guys that afternoon. It was an epic interview with Dan Burick, the brewmaster of UBC, and the rest of the brew crew. We drank my beer, I answered their questions, and we had a lot of laughs. The brewers went back to work and Dan said to me, “I think this is going to work out just fine.” It’s been a pretty wild ride since then…
What’s new at pFriem Family Brewers?
Whew, everything and more! We are just getting production, our tasting room, and the Oregon beer market under control. We have new 45-bbl fermenters arriving any day now. We are releasing several new beers over the next couple of weeks, getting our barrel aging program rolling, expanding our kitchen, trying to lock up another 4,000 square feet of production space next door, releasing our beer into the Washington beer market in tandem with British Columbia, along with working toward releasing our first round of packaged beers! Meanwhile, we are trying to spread the great word of pFriem beer and food by booking out beer dinners all over Portland.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
I love people, beer, and everything in between! It’s incredible to be part of a community that is working together to craft something great, help each other out, support our local communities, all while having fun and drinking beer!
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
My heart yearns for the mountains when I am not at the brewery. I love skiing with my family or taking deep powder turns with my buddies in the backcountry. I also love hanging out cooking amazing food, having great conversation, and drinking wonderful beer with family and friends. Or just good old playing rough with my kids when I get home from work.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
Penn Cove mussels and frites with pFriem Belgian Strong Blonde is my easy standby pairing, but we live in a foodie mecca, so there are many possibilities!
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
My kids…I love those kids!
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Duvel. It is my desert island beer, so drinkable, yet so complex. Fresh or traveled across the world, it’s an amazing beer.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
Going to Belgium and drinking the beer fresh was a game changer for me. I have always loved Belgian beer. I have always been intrigued by the diversity and the flavor profiles that they could achieve, but being there and experiencing the quality, craftsmanship, pride, and balance changed my world forever as a brewer. A large part of opening pFriem Family Brewers has been paying homage to the greatness of the Belgian brewers and their history of beer excellence.