BuiltOregon

Category - Food & Beverage

Adding value to Oregon seafood

Something about Oregon’s fishing industry smelled off to Duncan Berry. The one-time salmon fisherman had made a livelihood at the helm of Apparel Source, disrupting the global textile industry by shepherding in large-scale adoption of organic cotton by retail giants like Walmart and Target.

“The one thing that’s missing in America is people who are applying their intelligence to raw materials,” Berry says. “We do great films, and great software companies, but what are we doing with the marine resource off our coast right now—one of the last great savannas of seafood? Well, we cut their heads off and we gut them, and we ship them out.”

Sea change ahead

After selling his apparel business in the mid-2000s, Berry semi-retired to his home at Cascade Head on the Oregon central coast to start an environmental consulting service.

To the south lies the Salmon River where it empties into the Pacific Ocean, and beyond that the 529-acre Camp Westwind. Berry and others have helped restore the camp through a stewardship group that he co-founded. Down the cliffs to the west: the Cascade Head Marine Reserve, established in 2014 to protect marine habitat across 18 square-miles of Pacific Ocean. Berry worked on the task force to make that happen as well.

He knew that through time and dedication, positive environmental change could happen, and that business could help drive that change. Which is why he was so perplexed at seafood industry practices that had evolved so little since his own experiences in the business decades earlier.

With ocean habitat in disrepair and species in steep decline, with coastal communities desperate for economic innovation, and with some of most valuable natural resources right at our fingertips here in Oregon—why didn’t someone do things differently?

That, in a clamshell, is the story of Fishpeople, a fast-growing seafood product company based in Portland, with a processing plant on Oregon’s central coast. Founded in 2012, the company’s goal is nothing short of changing our relationship with the sea through business.

Supply chain of values

Berry and his co-founder, Kipp Baratoff, share a commitment to values-based business. Baratoff, the CFO and COO, comes from a background of blending finance and sustainability that includes stints with Meyer Memorial Trust, real estate developer Gerding Edlen, and Equilibrium Capital.

FishpeopleBoth buy into the credo that a healthy economic system relies on a healthy natural system. But they were also aware that “there’s a graveyard of companies out there” that began with good intentions, Berry says: “No margin, no mission.”

To find that margin, the two began probing every link in the supply chain between the fisherman and the consumer.

“We asked two questions: What’s right about seafood in your life, and what’s not so good?” says Berry.

Over the course of nine months, what they heard from “distributors, grocers, mothers, children, fisherman, processors” began to illustrate the nature of the problems and the shape that a solution might take.

“There’s always a consumer that is moving at a faster speed than the entrenched business interests,” Berry says. “And there are those companies that are very nimble—mid-sized and below—that are able to move more swiftly to reorganize supply chains and connect all the dots to serve that customer.”

“If you could create and aggregate demand at the consumer level you could then drive change through the entire supply chain—if you really understood what the consumer wanted today,” Baratoff says.

A better packaged good

Through those efforts, they recognized the emergence a new customer—one that had not existed previously. It was a consumer who wanted quality and easily prepared meals, but was also concerned about source, safety, and traceability of ingredients. Healthy and gourmet grab-and-go was booming.

Berry and Baratoff saw their opening.

“What narrowed the focus was around providing solutions: A super-healthy form of protein, a social and environmental mission, and delivering a food that was being underutilized only because of the delivery mechanism,” Berry says.

They knew that Fishpeople wasn’t going to make change working at the commodity end of the equation—dominated by a couple of “monopolistic titans” not keen on new competition, as Baratoff describes it. No margin. Retail, at the other end of the spectrum, wasn’t financially feasible either.

But a branded product allowed for a relationship with the customer, while still maintaining leverage back up the supply chain. That’s where the change would need to be made.

“We did an analysis of what it would be like if we just cut off heads and gutted fish and shipped them out of state versus value-added them, and it was a swing between $700 million and $1.1 billion,” Berry says. “So we would maintain $400 million more, in Oregon, if we were able to apply value-add like we do with our pouches,” increasing the value of the fish inside by four or five times.

The “pouches” are vacuum-sealed retort packages that contain a shelf-stable product that can be prepared just by tossing the pouch in boiling water for three minutes. It eliminates spoilage and smell, and makes fish a quick and easy meal option.

However, before they could start packaging and selling, Fishpeople had to address some weaknesses in the regional processing infrastructure, finding partners willing to meet their product standards and specifications.

Processing on the coast

ProcessingOn a Monday in November, workers diced up smoked and frozen fillets of Chinook salmon two at a time, using a high-powered water jet that sliced the slabs into a grid of uniform chunks.

Once the fish is prepared, it’s sent to a manufacturing facility in Salem for packaging.

“It hasn’t come easily, but every day is a little better,” says Adam Hoogewind, a food science Ph.D. who heads up quality assurance for Fishpeople. “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”

Fishpeople’s processing facility opened in the summer of 2014 in the tiny central coast community of Toledo. A $30,000 economic development grant from the USDA to the Port of Toledo helped get the space up and running.

Change here has been a constant.

Since opening, plant employees have had to learn on the fly, rearranging the building layout, swapping out machinery, and experimenting with different processing approaches.

This particular step in the food processing supply chain, which would render fresh-caught fish into mouth-size morsels, just didn’t exist here in Oregon. Then again, neither did the dozen or so jobs that came with solving this problem.

“There’s no reason why a marine resource that comes from the coast shouldn’t create economic development at the coast,” Baratoff says.

Growth and shelf-stability

Today, Fishpeople has nine different products that retail at $5.99 in most major grocery chains on the West Coast, and is working its way back east. The varieties, prepared with input from a “flavor council” of cooks and chefs, include soups and sides such as Alder Smoked Wild Salmon Chowder, Albacore Tuna in a Yellow Coconut Curry, and Dungeness Crab & Pink Shrimp Bisque.

“We were at Kroger the other day,” Berry says, “and we cooked up nine different SKUs in the kitchen in their offices and we brought the buyers in and asked, ‘Do you smell anything?’
‘No,’ they said, ‘why?’

“Seafood.”

And that’s the beauty of the product. No strong fishy odors, great flavors, easily prepared, and good for you. Duncan Berry himself has tweaked the package graphics to better illustrate ease of preparation and to educate customers who hesitate at the unfamiliar retort pouch.

FishpeopleThe company’s story—it’s also a certified B Corporation—is an important part of connecting with consumers, but ultimately the product has to stand on its own.

Berry imagines Fishpeople’s customers saying, “You know what? I love seafood, but it is a real hassle to prepare. So, if you could make it convenient for me, and really healthy, and I could trust you because you are transparent? Then I’ll help you change our relationship with the sea. But do something for me first in my life with my kids and my family.”

With plans for expansion, hiring, and new products later this year, Fishpeople is on a rise buoyed by an Oregon-made product that tastes and smells as good as it is—and only in part because of the good it does.

“The most humbling thing is that are other people who want to walk on this journey with us, because we just can’t do it alone,” Baratoff says. “Our consumers have to walk with us, our supply chain has to walk with us, every employee in this place has to walk with us—if they don’t understand that intention, then Duncan and I aren’t doing our jobs. But if we can set that intention, there’s a pretty strong current going in the right direction.”

Fishpeople has an ongoing relationship with the suppliers for every ingredient in its packages, the majority of which come from the Pacific Northwest. They’ve even included batch numbers on every package that consumers can input online to see the source and producer for everything in that specific serving, from the fish and vegetables to herbs and spices.

That regional supply chain provides transparency, and also solves the issues and expense of refrigeration and spoilage that plague the seafood business.

“There’s value-based reasons for why we try to create things in Oregon or the Pacific Northwest that are deeply important to us,” says Baratoff, “But those are also just byproducts of building a good business.”

For more information, visit http://fishpeopleseafood.com/, follow Fishpeople on Twitter, like Fishpeople on Facebook, or follow Fishpeople on Instagram.

Swimming in business, sustainably

As the daughter of an Oregon fisherman, Laura Anderson spent enough time on boats to learn and respect those who make their living at sea. She also learned such a life wasn’t for her. But a few years traveling the globe—first in the Peace Corps and then working as bookkeeper in Vietnam—conspired to reconnect her future ambitions with her salty past. She eventually returned to Newport, Oregon to earn her living from the riches of the Pacific Ocean, much like her father did.

“Dungeness crab, king salmon, fish prized around the globe and it’s all right here in Newport,” Anderson, 44, says. “Some of the most valuable natural capital of the world – in both quality and quantity – is right here outside our doors.”

Good catch, bad pay

Anderson never shirked from a challenge of succeeding in two industries—restaurants and fishing—that are like the aftermath of great battles, littered with carcasses of those seeking success.

BoatsFormer business partner Al Pazar says when Anderson approached him about a fish market/restaurant across from the marina that would pay for the catch directly, she caught him on the right day. He had just come in with a pristine load of salmon only to find the price paid to him less than half of what a catch like that should warrant.

“I was pissed,” he says. “I just worked really hard and took care of them and got nothing for them.”

He said yes on the spot. Anderson originally was going to work for Pazar. But her dad convinced her to ask to be a 50/50 partner in respect to her unique experience, education and role in operations. Local Ocean Seafoods was born.

“That was definitely the best advice I’ve ever been given in my life ever,” Anderson says. “That was game changing. I would never had the gumption to ask to be a partner.”

An effective supply chain

Pazar helped recruit other fishermen to provide the stock. For fishermen like Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson, the match was ideal. As he grew older he no longer wanted to spend weeks at sea, he says.

“I was looking for something I could fish for a few hours,” he says. “I thought they’d never take all the fish I could catch. Well, I ate my words.”

Another vital piece fell into place when local fish buyer Amber Morris came aboard as the designated “fish goddess.” Her local knowledge and exacting standards helped build the company’s reputation, says Anderson. Thompson agrees, crediting Morris as a vital tie between Local Ocean and the fishermen on the docks.

“She knows who to get and where the best fish are,” Thompson says. “They make sure that I can still sell my fish. It’s a give and take.”

Making sustainable and local profitable

Instead of braving rough sea, Anderson braved a battered economy to forge a thriving seafood restaurant and fish market that has become the state’s standard bearer for locally caught seafood and sustainable fishing practices. Local Ocean is built on Anderson’s own deep roots and the state’s longstanding fishing economy.

“I’m a believer in what she’s done and the model they have there,” says Thompson.

Laura Anderson of Local Ocean SeafoodsHe’s not alone. Pazar credits Anderson’s resolve for the company’s success.

“The reason why Laura was a perfect partner is that she has no fear,” Pazar says. “With that kind of confidence you can’t fail.”

The company combined Anderson’s various interests and experiences with Pazar’s connections to the fishing community. Pazar, a fisherman by trade, is also a successful entrepreneur. The partnership was one of shared philosophy and a strong sense of place.

“That’s kind of the allure of the place,” Pazar says. “It’s a nice blend. You look at the fish while you are waiting for the table. You can take fish home and you can look out and see the boats that caught it. You can roll down the windows on a nice day and feel like a part of the bay front.”

A seafood experience

Anderson agrees, saying the entire experience from sustainable catch, fair wages to fishermen, to sound business practices that benefit the local economy all add up to the unique success of Local Ocean.

Seafood“The vision really has not changed in the ten years we’ve been in business. We give them the best seafood experience they’ve ever had in their life. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear our exact mission statement come out of people’s mouths,” she says.

Though the original idea was a fish market with small deli attached, it quickly reversed into a restaurant with a fish market attached. Interest in sustainable catch helped the company thrive.

“I had no idea when we started this how successful it would be. We’ve exceeded those projections of 10 years ago 20 times over by now,” Anderson says. “They say in business things don’t work out how you plan, and in this case that’s a good thing.”

Pazar says the business still stands for his philosophy that ensures the highest quality. He calls it a “vertical integration” that in effect tells the story of a given fish that’s sold and eaten.

“If you have chain of custody from the minute it’s caught until it’s on a guy’s plate, you are solely responsible for that quality,” Pazar says.

The fisherman have bought into the story as well, he says.

“People are very proud to have their name on a tag on the fish in the case. It’s a big deal. People take pictures of it and it speaks to value, quality and sustainability.”

Ready to scale?

Anderson bought out Pazar a few years back, which Pazar says went reasonably well for a profitable business both felt so passionate about.

“We had an exit strategy built in. We’re both reasonable people. It went well. It was tough letting it go, but I’m still very attached to things I built and that promote my philosophy of seafood and marketing. I know it’s in good hands. It’s a pretty good gig,” he says.

So good that the question is often asked: is this lightning in a bottle or is it ready to scale? It’s a question Anderson herself can’t answer, at least not yet.

“There are no shortages of requests for us to replicate this,” she says. “My gut sense is we have this serendipitous thing here. Local Ocean Portland, for example, may not have the same feel, that kind of terroir that makes this work so well.”

Fishing economy done right

Anyone connected to Local Ocean is connected to the local economy and the greater issues of sustainability. As fishing is threatened around the globe, they say Oregon has set an example for fishing done right.

Boat“What Oregon does better than anybody else is to try to have sustainable fisheries,” Thompson says. “I think it’s up to 95 percent of the fish in the state of Oregon is certified sustainable. That’s a big accomplishment.”

Anderson is as much a part of the advocacy for sustainability as she is a business owner (“I like to think I’m a voice of reason, not an activist,” she says). Her platform adds to consumer knowledge. She is so integrated into the entire ecosystem she never considered cutting corners, she said.

“For me its inherent in who I am, and it comes no doubt from my legacy of fishing with my family. I feel this almost over-arching protectionism toward the industry,” Anderson says.

Part of improving that distribution chain, Thompson says, is changing laws, improving the supply chain and continuing education of fishing practices. All of it has to work together for both sustainability and profitability.

“There’s a big challenge in the state of Oregon,” Thompson says.

So much so that in coming years, Anderson would like to be involved in the ongoing issue of improving delivery of the riches of the Pacific Ocean to inland markets.

“My next step is making that link between valley and coast. Distribution hubs and microprocessing,” Anderson says. “There’s a big disconnect in distribution for the small guy. That’s where I see myself. Is it related to Local Ocean? Yes. But is it the heart of our business? No.”

It seems a safe bet that one way or another Local Ocean and Laura Anderson will be involved in the challenge.

For more information, visit http://www.localocean.net/, follow Local Ocean on Twitter, or like Local Ocean on Facebook.

The heart of Dutch Bros. success

When you are selling love there is no limit to what you can expect to accomplish. Selling amazing coffee doesn’t hurt, either.

But perhaps it’s that love that explains the optimism and enthusiasm of Dutch Bros. co-founder Travis Boersma.

“We are uniquely different,” Boersma says. “The mindset of our service is ‘quality.’ And the product is ‘love.’ Love is the product. I don’t know any other company that love is their product.”

He’s got a point, and yet speaking to a guy who built a coffee cart into a $150 million dollar coffee empire, one quickly realizes he is anything but esoteric. He’s serious and enthusiastic—and more importantly, successful. The man sells love and has made millions doing it. Can’t argue with that.

Coffee talk… or not

I expected to talk to Boersma about coffee. Lots and lots of coffee sold in hundreds of franchises throughout seven states all from a hub in little known Grants Pass, Oregon. Still, I can’t help but drill down just a bit on this love thing.

Boersma is happy to provide specifics.

Travis Boersma“What is love, right?” he says. “To me it’s really just demonstrating your heart for the cause. That’s what our people achieve in so many different ways.”

The product of love, he says, is given when a dog bone is ready for the pooch that’s a regular customer just like the human driving the car. Or when the haggard mom who is always running a bit late drives to the window and the Not So Hot Chocolate is already being made for the kids in the backseat.

“It may just be a quick pit-stop, and the customers are in a hurry,” Boersma says. “But it’s a magical experience that can be a positive aspect of their entire day.”

That’s love, Boersma says, and few things make him so happy as to see the mission exemplified by his employees.

Dutch Bros. Creative Director Dan Buck says this focus is far more than just a slogan. It is the measuring stick for everything an employee does.

“Our philosophy, at its core, is just love our customers. And you are empowered to do whatever you have to do to do that,” he says.

Buck says he sees it play out every day, especially when employees try to “play a role” they think the company expects.

“People have a B.S. meter,” Buck says. “We work tirelessly to coach our people up or move them out. We try to truly love each other. We repeat that over and over again. Talk about it, practice it, coach it, train it, preach it, and teach it. We mean it when we say it.”

Few things thrill Boersma more than when he sees that effort filter through his company.

“One of our new managers had a meeting with his crew and said ‘Two things are most important to me: Love on the customers and love each other as a crew,’” Boersma recalls. “That’s all that needs to be said. That was the message. Everything else then falls into place with the recipes and prices and black and white realities we are conditioned to in the business world.”

Born of caffeine

At 21 years old, Boersma was just kicking around the idea of a career about the same time a grunge band from Seattle launched a whole new genre of music. Boersma didn’t know it, but his Nirvana came in the form of cataclysmic change in the local economy that had sustained his family for three generations.

Roasting“Back in the day, before we got into coffee, my family was third-generation dairy farmers,” he says. “My brother and I were in a place that we had to adapt to a change. That meant selling the cows and doing something different. What seemed devastating at the time was a blessing. The objective is to find the seedling of the equivalent advantage and realize it’s an opportunity.”

The opportunity was that coffee cart. The brothers wanted to be near the main shopping center but ended up downtown. It worked. And the original store that came out of it remains in business to this day.

Boersma credits those early years with his brother Dane, who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2009, and his parents with building the foundation for Dutch Bros.

“Mom and Dad demonstrated love regularly,” he says.

His brother, who Boersma still refers to as “the wise man,” mentored him through the business expansion, leading by example.

“He was my brother and business partner and he was my best friend,” Boersma says of Dane. “He exemplified it. He didn’t just preach it. He walked it.”

Growing the love

Together they set a course for expansion that would honor first Dutch Bros.—affectionately called DB by everyone in the company including the founder—core product of love. They are far more than talking points but a real culture, Boersma insists, for himself, the franchise owners, the corporate staff and the barista’s themselves.

Bags of beans“Culture is never-ending journey and a focus of never arriving,” he says. “The customer experience is everything. The employees and people involved in every area of the business are responsible for providing that experience. The coffee is the product they come for, but they come back for the people—the interactions and the feeling. Generally it’s a day-in and day-out experience.”

But for Buck and others in DB, the culture starts with Boersma.

“Whatever you see with Trav is whatever you get,” Buck says. “He happens to be one of my favorite people because he tells you what it is and tells you what he thinks. He doesn’t spin it.”

Observing and borrowing

Boersma points out that he and his brother didn’t reinvent the wheel of a company culture with an emphasis on the customer experience. He adopted models of success that preceded them, including In-N-Out Burger and Les Schwab Tires, among others.

When Les Schwab died in 2007, former Oregon business owner and retired management consultant Joe Sherlock wrote a blog post that captured this unique approach to business.

“How did this remarkable success happen? Les Schwab formulated an ironclad policy that ‘the customer rules’ and built a culture within every employee and every store which embraced this philosophy… The company actually does what every company ought to do,” Sherlock wrote.

Boersma had already long applied those same lessons to DB, much like he adopted In-N-Out’s culture of quality and service.

Business Week writer Stacy Perman wrote a book about the burger franchise’s success, including treating employees generously, keeping the menu simple and focusing on customer experience, all things central to DB operations.

The DB mission

As Perman wrote, In-N-Out burger’s unique focus on controlled expansion has protected the company’s brand and ensured that quality has not suffered. Expand slowly on your own terms with your own goals, she writes, which might as well be the playbook used by Boersma and the Dutch Bros. team.

Dutch Bros lidsBoersma is well aware that the coffee culture of the Pacific Northwest has started to take on across the country. Drive-thru coffee stands are not yet as ubiquitous as they are locally. Yet he refuses to lose the company culture.

“We probably could have sold 1,000 to 2,000 franchises and made a gazillion dollars that would have rode a wave that is typical today in America, but it likely would have crashed.”

It all goes back to mission, he says more than once. Each franchise is a part of the company’s long-term “compelling future” and also part of the same “compelling future” for the owner, the employees and the local community. All have to fit together or the mission is compromised.

“Ten years from now I see a healthy growth rate that is sustainable with our company that’s providing young people a chance to live their dream, inside of DB or outside of DB,” Boersma says.

This explains why the company only sells franchises to employees and protects the territories of its franchise owners. Buck says the company sold initial franchises to non-employees and the impact on culture was profound and immediate. They quickly adapted a policy of selling only to employees. Buck says every day from points all across the country offers to buy franchises come in.

“We just say, ‘with all due respect, no’” Buck says. “We are just not going to do that. We would just be another coffee company. Our culture is our top priority.”

“Fear has no seat at the table”

Having met most of the ambitions he and his brother first laid out back in the 1990s, Boersma does not lack for current challenges nor see significant changes up ahead. The business works, it fulfills his ambitions and his personal mission statement, which has a lot to do with those principals of integrity and character. Asked about threats to his business, he changes the word to change.

“Fear doesn’t get a vote at our table,” he says. “The objective is to adapt to change and be wired into what’s going on in the world, because the world is changing even faster than before. So we have to adapt to change. If you don’t adapt to change then that’s when you can get blindsided.”

Just as the changing world forced him off the dairy farm and into the business of selling love, he is ready for those challenges that will inevitably arise.

“Life happens,” he says.

While some would say he’s “made it,” it’s a flawed concept as far as he’s concerned.

“The most important thing that I don’t think a lot of people realize is a lot of people think if I can get to this point I’ll have it made,” he says. “We see it all around us. They get to that spot and that’s when they become complacent and that’s when they start to descend. They fall into this fallacy of ‘I made it and now I’m going to live this life on Easy Street.’ Easy Street is a lie. The reality is its constant never-ending improvement and we’re going to grow until we depart.”

That’s why the mission continues. He refers to it often and even at one point recites it verbatim without being prompted. It flows from his thoughts as a normal part of the day. “I Travis Boersma…” he begins. As it concludes it says as much about where Boersma has been as where he fully intends on continuing to go. “… defy the odds to be a force for God and a force for good. I hope to meet the man that I am someday when I die, not the man I could’ve been.”

I still didn’t get to talk about the coffee.

For more information, visit http://www.dutchbros.com/, follow Dutch Bros on Twitter, or like Dutch Bros on Facebook.

Brewing the next great beer town

For months, a group of guys in Salem, Oregon, would meet up on Thursday nights, jokingly calling it “choir practice,” but much of the time the talk turned to one topic: beer.

Most of them were brewing on their own and thought their beers were not only pretty good, but also better than a lot of the craft brews on the market.

“We were basically sitting around daring each other to do this,” says Matt Killikelly, now one of the owners of Santiam Brewing. “Eventually you run out of excuses.”

Santiam Brewing launched in July 2012 with nine locals as equal partners in the business, most of them also serving as employees.

The craft brewery, now one of six in Salem, makes many varieties of beer, as well as a number of cask ales and oak-barrel-aged beers.

Though the choir practice guys had drive and plenty of ideas, it was a quick process once they took the dare.

“It was about 18 months from when we decided to start a brewery to when we served our first glass,” says Killikelly.

As quickly as they started, they found success.

In 2013 and 2014, its Pirate Stout has won the Oregon Garden People’s Choice Award. Its the product of one of Santiam’s other specialties, barrel-aged beers. This one is aged in barrels that once contained Rogue Distillery Dark Rum and also has a “brief encounter” with some coconut before its placed in kegs.

Brew more beer

Santiam’s partners each have a role in the business, but basically each of them is an equal, whether they’re the head brewer, the manager of the tasting room, the legal adviser or, as Killikelly is, the sales manager.

eIMG_7906“There are some corporate titles, but only because running a corporation requires it,” Killikelly says. “They’re meaningless in a group of partners where all are equal and no one is anyone’s boss.”

The lack of titles may be seen as unusual, but it’s worked for them. Almost since its opening, Santiam Brewing has been in expansion mode.

“Once you start a brewery, it’s a neverending growth curve,” says Killikelly. “You make more beer, you get a bigger clientele, and bigger market share … so you make more beer.”

To that end, in October, the brewery converted to a ten-barrel system, and its three-and-a-half barrel system sits in its workspace off McGilchrist and 19th streets, waiting to be sold to a new owner. Meanwhile, the shiny new tanks reach toward the ceiling, dominating the space and serving as a symbol for the greater demand for Santiam’s brews.

“We started out as a brewpub that sold some beer on wholesale,” says Killikelly. “Now we’re turning into a production brewery with a tasting room.”

Their expanded space includes the tasting room, the physical plant containing the brewing equipment, and a grain room that’s walled off to keep the dust from the barley contained. There’s also a laboratory where samples are tested for yeast production, among other things. In another building across the way, Santiam has office space and product storage.

The art of the cask

But the real work is done in the tanks, and—for its most specialized brews—the casks and the barrels.

“The cask-conditioned ales and barrel-conditioned ales and sours are ‘beer geek treats,’ that is, things that make beer geeks happy,” Killikelly says. “We love beer, so we go the extra mile to make unusual beers.”

Santiam’s tasting room typically offers four cask-conditioned ales, and they’re the real deal.

“We create it the old way,” Killikelly says. “We put it in the cask with a little extra sugar and yeast and let it do its thing.”

eIMG_7899“Its thing” is a secondary fermentation that naturally carbonates the beer without having to force carbon dioxide into it and allows it to be served at 52 degrees instead of chilled down to numbing refrigerator temperatures.

Not everyone who claims to be selling such brews is telling the truth.

“It’s annoying to us that others are selling ‘cask-conditioned’ beers and then filling them with carbon dioxide in a bright tank,” Killikelly says. “If I just get clear bright beer, it’s not conditioned. You want to see sediment from secondary fermentation.”

Every bit of extra time and energy is worth it to create Santiam’s small, carefully attended batches.

“There is a differential, whether your taste buds appreciate it or not,” Killikelly says. “There is a lot of flavor for the same amount of product.”

Getting the chance to taste these flavors in all their many varieties is driving a change in the beer market — and not just the craft beer market, he adds.

Variety is the spice of life

“Craft beer drinkers want to try different beers, not drink the same thing over and over again,” Killikelly says. “Brand loyalty drinkers are going down.”

For proof, look no further than the supermarket shelves, where even Budweiser, Coors and Miller are starting to vary their products in response to this demand.

“They have the market share, for now, but not the future.”

Santiam’s own market looks to be continuing its growth curve.

“The next big thing is our Golden Sultan being accepted for the Portland Holiday Ale Festival,” Killikelly says of the event, which ran December 3-7, 2014, at Pioneer Courthouse Square. “It’s a very big deal to get a beer into that event.”

But on a larger scale, Santiam Brewing has a bigger dare in mind: to help build Salem’s reputation as a craft beer town.

“Portland has a great reputation, of course,” Killikelly says, “and then Eugene is growing and Bend, too. Salem didn’t, but now we’re getting the news out.”

One of the first steps is working with the other brewers in town to revive the Salem Brewery Association, which went quiet in the 1950s or so. The group started meeting again in early November.

Next is to create a Salem brew festival—to complement, not compete with the existing Cinco de Micro and Oregon Garden’s Brewfest—and to put the proceeds toward a “Drink Local” campaign.

“We’re trying to carve out that reputation here,” Killikelly says.

For more information visit, http://www.santiambrewing.com or like Santiam Brewing on Facebook.

Finding a market at the market

Portland’s artisan ice cream craze all started, really, with love for a local farmers market.

In 2004, Lisa Herlinger was working at Milo’s City Cafe on Northeast Broadway in Portland when she started doing a farmers market booth with the Portland Chefs Collaborative.

“This is so awesome,” she thought. “I love being on the site of the farmers market.”

Herlinger loved it so much, in fact, that she began racking her brain for a way to participate on a more regular basis. The problem was that she’d gone to culinary school and had no intention of becoming a farmer.

“I thought, okay, what can I do?” Herlinger said. “What can I do to sell something at the farmers market? Because I love it and I’m not going to be a farmer.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.00.38 PMAnd then an idea struck, inspired by childhood memories: ice cream sandwiches. But not just any ice cream sandwiches—artisan ice cream and cookies made by hand from locally-sourced ingredients. A look around the market revealed no ice cream, so Herlinger applied as a vendor and got in.

Milo’s had taught Herlinger how to make stovetop ice cream, and now they allowed her to use their commercially licensed kitchen in the evenings to start her business. In the beginning, Herlinger did everything herself, from picking up ingredients at dairies and coffee roasters and farms to crafting her ice cream base and baking cookies to selling at the market.

“I was working literally crazy, crazy hours,” Herlinger confessed. “And I’d make like 75 sandwiches a week and sell them at the market.”

But all that work paid off: The ice cream sandwiches were a hit, and Ruby Jewel was born.

As the summer wound down, fans of Herlinger’s creations wanted to know how they could get their hands on their favorite treats during the market’s off-season. In the midst of doing research on the state of artisan ice cream sandwiches in the commercial market — result: there weren’t any to speak of — Herlinger entered and won the Food Innovation Center’s first Food Fight, netting herself $2,500 worth of services from FIC including use of their kitchen, access to their packaging lab, and advice from food experts.

From there, Ruby Jewel was able to launch into grocery stores such as New Seasons Markets and Whole Foods Markets in Oregon and Washington (with Herlinger acting as both ice cream maker and salesperson). The following years had Herlinger hiring her first employees—including sister Becky and production gal Alice—setting up a dedicated production facility, and opening an ice cream shop on Mississippi Avenue in North Portland. In 2014, Ruby Jewel has two scoop shops and can be found in grocery stores in Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Texas.

Over ten years into it, they’re about to outgrow their current production space. Herlinger has also just hired her first salaried employee, an operations manager.

“I spread myself way too thin,” Herlinger admits. “But with these new additions, I can focus my energy on product development and sales. We’re definitely at the next stage of growth.”

Growth, indeed. From local farmers market to international grocery chain, Ruby Jewel is a story of passion, creative thinking, and collaboration — oh, and ice cream. Let’s not forget the ice cream.

For more information, visit http://www.rubyjewel.com, follow Ruby Jewel on Twitter, like Ruby Jewel on Facebook, or follow Ruby Jewel on Instagram.

A deeper connection

At the edge of the Wallowa Valley, circled by the awe-inspiring Wallowa Mountains, Cory Carman raises cattle.

It could be just as simple as that, but it isn’t.

For four generations Cory’s family has been raising cattle in Wallowa County, each doing things a little bit differently than the generation before; Cory Carman is no exception to that rule.

Cory raises grassfed registered Herefords and Angus cattle alongside her uncle Kent Carman and husband Dave Flynn on Carman Ranch. She is raising her three children, Roan, Ione and Emmett on the very same ranch her great-grandfather Fritz Weinhard started raising cattle on in 1935.

She nurtures the very same land her grandparents, Ruth and Hoy Carman cared for, and she continues the family tradition her dad, Garth, lost his life for in a farming accident in 1993.

Homecoming

Cory’s uncle Kent and grandmother Ruth had been operating the ranch for many years while Cory was away at college. After graduating from Stanford and spending time on Capitol Hill working with the Ways and Means Committee, then managing several restaurants in LA, Cory decided to take a break from the cities and head back home to the ranch for the summer in 2003. The time had come for her to clear her mind, and figure out what she really wanted to do with the rest of her life.

6877653307_7eb1be7815_oLittle did she realize then, but the ranch seemed to be calling her home. Cory soon realized it was a lot of ranch for just two people to manage, and she was asking a lot of her grandmother and uncle to save it for her until she was ready to come home and take over.

“Once I had a proper career, I knew I would come back to the ranch,” said Cory. It wasn’t until she saw just how much work was on the shoulders of her uncle and grandmother, that she realized it was now, or never. “If I wanted to be here in 20 years, I needed to start contributing that day, or let go. A cattle ranch isn’t something you just put on hold.”

From that moment forward, Cory has been immersed in the cattle ranching business, but Carman Ranch is not a typical cattle operation, and Cory is not a typical rancher. Many cattle operations raise the cattle, load them into semi-trucks, and then send them to auction.

The process continues with the beef being reloaded into trailers, where they are sent to be processed at slaughter houses. The end result is meat that has been subjected to stress, time and time again. This practice works for many ranchers, and most of us are accustomed to buying this type of beef from our local grocery store, but this cattle processing practice does not suit Cory, who is involved throughout the entire life cycle of her cattle.

Part and parcel

Cory is a hands-on rancher: from birth, to pasture, to summer graze land, she is there to watch the cattle thrive as they meander across the meadows of the ranch. Cory’s cows spend their entire life on the ranch foraging on famous Wallowa Valley grass and grass hay.

6877656945_5bac54b4c3_o“We are committed to preserving the natural environment and providing our customers with healthy and delicious beef,” said Cory, who believes in low input farming practices, which includes eliminating chemical fertilizers. The deep-rooted perennial grasses that the Carman Ranch cattle graze on stores carbon in the soil, which also helps to remove it from the atmosphere.

Carman Ranch was the first Oregon ranch to earn grassfed beef certification from Food Alliance, the most comprehensive third-party certification program for sustainably produced food in North America. Food Alliances grassfed certification guarantees that animals eat only grass, never any grain or grain by-products, nor do they receive hormones or antibiotics of any kind. Food Alliance certification also ensures that Carman Ranch meets rigorous criteria for safe and fair working conditions, soil and water conservation, protection of wildlife habitat, and healthy and humane animal treatment.

At the end of fall, as the cattle mature to around 18 months, it is time to call in the local butcher, Kevin Silvieria, a highly regarded craftsman in his trade. Quickly, humanely, and free from the stress of the typical beef processing scenario, the animals are harvested on the same land they were born on. Silvieria, of Valley Meat Services, then drives the meat all of three miles to his shop in Wallowa where he cuts it to Cory’s specifications.

Facilitating connection

This could be the end of the story, but once again it is only the beginning.

“People want a connection to their food again,” said Cory.

Cory knew instinctively there was a market for grassfed beef in Oregon, before there was a market for grassfed beef in the state. Her years of restaurant experience in Los Angeles gave her insight to what customers, who were beginning to become more and more health-conscious, were looking for, so she set out to create the market that would welcome her own 100% grassfed beef.

Contributing to the Oregon economy

In 2009, with packages of Carman Ranch Grassfed Beef, fresh from Valley Meat Services, Cory traveled to Portland where she met with chefs from popular restaurants. One can only imagine the sense of pride, with a touch of butterflies, she must have felt as she approached her first chef. She told each of them the benefits of her grassfed beef, which is free of hormones and antibiotics. With one taste of the beef, all reservations are pushed aside.

Carman Ranch Grassfed Beef is now an ever-present staple on many restaurants throughout Portland, including Dick’s Kitchen.

3730060144_f0c4239728_o“We wanted to have a 100% grass-fed beef hamburger on our menu, mainly because of the health benefits of eating beef raised this way.” said Barbara Stutz, of Dick’s Kitchen. “We wanted people to be able to enjoy the classics without any guilt, and actually be feeding their bodies with great nutrition. We did tastings from several different ranches and found the taste of Carman Ranch beef to be far superior. We also wanted to use a product that was environmentally conscious.

“It turns out that grass fed beef, raised the way they do at Carman Ranch, helps to reverse carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more effectively than any land use. For us it was a win-win. We really respect ranchers that understand the difference and go the extra mile to produce beef this way, the combination of grasses that make up the diet for the cattle create an amazingly flavorful product.”

“Our customers recognize that there is a flavor difference between grass fed beef and commercially produced beef and they enjoy the out and out yummy flavor. Many are thrilled to be able to eat a great burger that is also good for them and some are just happy that it is a great tasting juicy burger.”

In addition to her grassfed beef adorning the pages of menus throughout Portland, Carman Ranch, in conjunction with McClaran Ranch, also from Wallowa County, offers customers a chance to buy a portion of a cow to stock their freezers with through a cow sharing program. The Carman Ranch Buying Club also offers communities in the greater Portland area a chance to buy a smaller portion of the 100% grassfed beef at several locations throughout the city on specified days of the week.

“Growing up in Wallowa County, especially on a ranch, gave me a sense of responsibility and a sense of curiosity. It gave me a sense of independence,” said Cory.

Her love for the ranching lifestyle is just as strong as the generations that came before her, but her way of getting it done is just about as unique as she is.

For more information, visit http://www.carmanranch.com, follow Carman Ranch on Twitter, or like Carman Ranch on Facebook.