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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Putting the "Micro" Back in Microbrewing

Angelo reports on a new brewery--SKW Brewing in Newport.
SKW is the brainchild of brewer and founder Steve K. Wilson. After spending the better part of two decades as production manager and cellarman for the town’s world famous brewery Rogue under John Maier, Wilson is currently living his dream of brewing at his own beers.... Across town at the house where he lives with his wife and co-founder Cindy, Wilson brews a variety of beers on a small one-and-a-half barrel system.
Far out.


  1. Didn't Clinton Street start out with a 15 gallon system?

    I wonder what loops you would have to start jumping through to sell you homebrew under the new self distribution laws....

  2. Derek,

    I've actually researched this a bit and it would require all of the licensing typical of starting up a brewery, i.e. OLCC BRN license, local gov't, etc.

    What I don't understand is how Rick Allen has been self-distributing his beers since 2007.

  3. You could self-distribute if you made less than a thousand barrels. The new law extends that to 5,000. Pelican apparently sells about 1,500 and were caught in a bad situation--too much to self-distribute, too little volume to go into larger distribution in places like Portland.

  4. @ DA

    Clinton started out with a 15 Gall SABCO (probably the recirculating type)system. Basically an advanced home brew setup. I've brewed on that system before and it's wasn't "all that and a bag of chips." If using all-grain in one of those systems you could possibly squeeze out 12 gallons of beer. I don't think trying to open a pub or anything for that matter with that small of a system would be very realistic or profitable. As JOSH states, you have to go through all the legal licensing no matter what size the brewery. A lot of home brewers brew 10 -12 gal batches, but few would ever consider creating a pub with such a small system. Never could figure out the point....

    Even a barrel and half system is fairly unrealistic for pub production. That's 90 gallon of beer if we assume that a 1.5 barrel system produces 1.5 barrels of beer. That's 3 - 15 gal kegs! What's your turn over time? 2-3 days a keg? Wouldn't be fairly labor intensive to maintain 4-6 styles of beer on tap?

    A 1.5 barrel would make a nice "pilot" experiment brewery for testing new recipes and the such. Not much room for future expansion with out a purchase of a new BIGGER system.

  5. The new self-distribution law (and its two predecessors that set the limits at, first, 500 barrels of production and then 1,000) pertained only to brewery publichouse licensees (brewpubs) Breweries, without the pub component, have always been allowed to self distribute. There are a couple of other differences between what holders of each license can and cannot do and, luckily, OLCC is blissfully ignorant that holders of each license routinely flout cewrtain parts of the laws.

  6. _a visit to a nano-brewery's pub_
    My brother-in-law [visiting from Fla.] and I stopped at SKW late Friday afternoon. Wives and a 7 year-old waited [tired] in car.

    I asked Steve if he sold 'take away'. Answer: "Yes, in pint Mason jar [both Mason and Kerr 'self sealing, wide mouth' jars]. A $1 deposit unless you commit to returning the jar."

    We purchased four pints, 3 beer types: California steam style lager, ESB, pilsner. SKW stated all were variations/twists on their type.

    I liked the lager best; then, the ESB. The pilsner, not so much. And, I look forward to sampling other batches/other types/other times.

    SKW reported he 'hoped to offer keg by end of summer'.

    SKW will be a routine stop when I pass this way again.