99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
OK, maybe 99 is an exaggeration, but Portland is seeing an increase in bottle releases from smaller breweries. From the serving tank to the pint glass, draft sales at local small breweries are an easy way to keep the cost of beer down. But many breweries have to turn to bottling in order to reach new markets and gain exposure for their beer. But it ain't easy.
Smaller breweries that consider bottling turn to contract bottlers that bring the bottling equipment into the brewery for a day and bottle small batches. Though an on premise bottling line would help keep the costs down in the long run, the initial expense is high. Even more important it the amount of floor space required, and most small breweries don't have a single square foot to spare.
So we see some seasonal releases pop up now and then, such as Laurelwood's Moose and Squirrel Russian Imperial Stout, or Lucky Lab's Old Yeller Barleywine. Breweries can offset the cost a little easier on these runs and price the beers a little higher due to the limited availability. But what about year round standard beers? These beers need to be able to compete on the shelves with other high volume releases, so the margins for the breweries get a little lower and production gets higher. This effort is sometimes hard to balance into the existing brewing schedule, which already has many constraints on time and capacity. Because of this, many smaller breweries will hand bottle very limited batches, contract bottle a few seasonal releases, or not bottle at all.
Of course, we see Portland beer on the shelves all the time: BridgePort, Deschutes, Widmer. It's really hard though, to support smaller breweries at the local bottleshop or supermarket as many of them just aren't bottling their beer. But this is starting to change, hopefully permanently. Roots' Woody IPA and Island Red has been sharing shelf space for a year or two with a couple of Alameda's beers such as Black Bear XX Stout and Klickitat Pale Ale. More recently, Laurelwood has joined the game with Free Range Red, Tree Hugger Porter, and Mother Lode Golden bottles.
- C-Note Imperial Pale - This HUGE Imperial Pale Ale (100 IBU!) is a hop head’s dream. Using Crystal, Cluster, Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus, and Challenger hops. (6.9% ABV).
- Lompoc Strong Draft - Portland’s new cult beer. LSD is an American strong ale with big body, a touch of smoked malt and a generous hop profile. (6.9% a/v)
Hopefully, this trend will grow into a thriving business for smaller breweries as they look to expand and test new markets for their products. We at portlandbeer.org welcome the new Portland beer bottle options to the shelves as it gives us even more ways to support our local breweries, and more ways for us to share our beer with the world!
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