Alex Ganum

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I am head brewer and owner of Upright Brewing [in Portland, Ore.]. I started off homebrewing and within a year did a short internship at Brewery Ommegang. After returning to Portland I worked at BJ’s for about three years before taking some time off and later opened Upright Brewing in early 2009.

What’s new at Upright?

We filled about 20 used Pinot Noir barrels in our first year of production before our demand picked up, which was a nice way to keep the brewhouse rolling. Many of those barrels are being drained and refilled this summer. One barrel actually housed an Old Tom style gin produced by a local winemaker and distiller. We put a farmhouse style apricot beer in there (our first anniversary beer) and plan to keg it up for Oregon Craft Beer Month.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

There’s no best part to me necessarily—it really is all good! I guess I could say that my favorite times are either moments in the brewery when I’m really connecting with the beer making process in a personal and genuine way or afterward when someone pops into the tasting room and a great conversation is going over a few glasses with the lingering smell of spent hops and fermentation in the air.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

I’ve been enjoying traveling lately, especially to some of our local winemaking regions. Portland has nice weather for gardening as well so I like to maintain a variety of flowers and a few vegetables growing throughout most of the year.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

Anchor Steam and plain cake donuts are amazing together. Pairing beer and cheese is a blast too. I love how some cheeses change over time much the way some bottle conditioned beers do as well. I think that separates craft products from seriously industrialized ones in a way that more people seem to be coming around to—embracing a bit of variability or seasonality.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

I worked for about a year as a caretaker for disabled children, and being able to give the parents some relief as well as showing the kids a fun time felt great. I would consider developing a high level of patience in order to do that a decent accomplishment, especially as a 20-year-old.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

I’ll never commit to an all-time favorite beer but have been enjoying a California Common style beer from the new Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon, Wash. lately. It’s called Daily Bread.

What’s the most exotic travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

I’ve tried beers from some very small producers in northern Argentina where much of my family still lives, one of which is pretty high in the mountains and has a water supply that gives his blonde and red ales a lovely finish.

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