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Friday, January 07, 2011

Sad News: Van Havig Leaves Rock Bottom

John Foyston has the news:
One of Oregon's most innovative brewers, Van Havig, is suddenly at liberty today after leaving Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, a national chain of brewpubs, after nearly 16 years with the company. "I just don't fit with the company," he said today, "I've been asked to leave."
John's story is worth a read, so consider this effectively a referral to his nice reportage. But I'd just like to add my regrets. Oregon is blessed with an embarrassing richness of good brewers. Van is that, but beyond brewing, he's one of the real characters in this region, a guy who injects joy and wit (dry, Beckett-like wit) into everything he does. I have no doubt he'll land on his feet, but it's a sad statement about a company going through corporate re-shuffling that they would decide a guy like Van doesn't "fit." Guess who just ended up on Beervana's shit list?

Hang in there, Van--


  1. It's a blow to those of us in Portland who were aware of how good Van's work was at Rock Bottom. But we are such a small fraction of Rock Bottom's business that I'm sure the new management didn't think twice about letting go of someone they saw as a loose cannon.

    Van, I hope you stick around here, man.

  2. Great brewer, great guy. Rock Bottom's loss, no doubt about it. I can't wait to try the next Havig pint.

  3. Well that sucks. But is a huge opportunity for someone to hire him. If I had the cash I'd bring him up to WA in a heartbeat.

    Van was an instructor of mine for craft brewing class through Chemeketa Community College, he was inspiring.

  4. I´m not a hippie... but brainless corporations suck! LEttin Van go is the same than letting Picasso go away without the consideration for his work.

    Van will surely go on. AS the corporation... well.. we surely can´t say the same. A very big thumb down for these guys! You deserve the sitty list!

  5. I hope RB realizes later what a huge loss this is for them since he's an incredibly talented and creative brewer. I hope Van stays in the area and doesn't go somewhere else, although I know he has been in touch with the management at Oud Heverlee in Belgium. Let's just hope he stays here.

  6. Here's some good news for Van and San Diego...the head of Stone's production brewery just e-mailed me asking for Van's contact info...let's hope something similar happens here in Oregon soon...And yes, Bill: Oud Heverlee...I still have the brochure. Did Van make that whole thing up? Including printing a fake tourist brochure of a Flemish town whose cathedral has been destroyed three times and whose biggest tourist attraction is the sewage processing plant?? as Jeff pointed out, Van's dry wit might well lead to such a slyly hilarious thing...

  7. It's true, I have been in contact with the brewery in Oud Heverlee. The problem is that the EU hiring rules require finding applicants from within the EU unless the employer requires a special skill set from outside the EU. That brewery is so old and traditional, that only flemish speaking brewers from the greater Eastern Brabant region really have the right knowledge to keep things like Vloer Suipt hops alive. I mean, we did it at the Rock Bottom, but I wouldn't say the quality of the hops was as good as what Jakobus and Hildegard Froening are able to produce right there in Oud Heverlee.

  8. John, it's all legit. I'd read about it but never had it. It's an old style that comes from the farmhouse tradition and is supposed to be similar to some saisons, but it does use some more traditional ingredients. Most of the references I've seen are in the mid to late 1800's but there is one brewery still making the traditonal beer. Van told Chris Johnson and I about them at last years Portland Cheers for Belgian Beers. He'd been in contact and got recipe info, but he was trying to get their actual yeast strain. Chris and I were hoping to get a pitch of it since it's not available here, but they weren't able to get him a yeast sample.

    Van, as awesome as it'd be to brew in Belgium, I hope that measn you're sticking around here. I never thought I'd praise the EU's bureaucracy.