Ben Edmunds

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

I’m the head brewer at Breakside Brewery, a small brewpub in Portland, Ore. I moved into craft brewing after working in teaching, nonprofits, and outdoor education. After homebrewing for years in Colorado and Oregon, I attended Siebel in Chicago and Munich before returning to Portland to “go pro.”

What’s new at Breakside?

Everything! We’ve been going full bore this year: we opened our pub in May 2010 and installed our brewhouse last fall. Since December, we’ve been brewing at capacity or over. We have new fermenters, new barrels, new beers. We tap a new experimental beer each Wednesday. And, we have two exciting projects in the works. The first is our series of cocktail beers, all of which are barrel-aged beers that are designed to resemble a classic cocktail, like the Sazerac. Second, we’re working on a series of collaboration beers with people in the Portland beer community who are not currently professional brewers. We’ll be holding a small “collaboration beer” festival at the pub on June 4. We’re also working on two bottle releases for the summer that are on completely different ends of the spectrum—an India malt liquor and a sour blonde brewed in the old Uytzet style.

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

I can’t say enough good things about my peers. They’re willing to share everything—ideas, equipment, recipes, tricks. In Portland especially, there’s a strong community of brewers and beer lovers, and the dialogue is always stimulating.

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

My days in outdoor education may be behind me, but I still have the bug for getting outside as much as I can. I’m a backcountry skier, climber, trail runner, canoeist, and cyclist. I also love to take advantage of the phenomenal food scene in the city; I seek inspiration for new beers from kitchens as much as I do from breweries.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) and Uerige Altbier in Dusseldorf is a pretty unbeatable combination. Closer to home, I love the way a great Pilsner pairs with fresh sheep cheese.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

I completed a Half Ironman triathlon. I’m also really proud of the work that I did to introduce kids to the outdoors—exposing them to the value of wildlands, places that they wouldn’t otherwise visit. Wilderness and outdoor experiences like that are really positive for making people good community members.

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

I don’t know that I can choose just one! Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is my “desert island” beer. Portland’s Upright brewing makes some barrel-aged beers, like Four Play, that are astoundingly good. And New Belgium’s new bottled version of Le Terroir will almost definitely be the best beer that I taste in 2011. It was spectacular.

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

Visiting Brussels was a dream come true. I was there for about 48 hours and must have spent 40+ of that time awake and seeking out beer. I can’t wait to get back.

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