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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Admittedly, It's No Munster, Indiana

Update to the update:  I missed this, from that same BeerAdvocate thread.  It comes from Josh Noel, who originally quoted Floyd in the Chicago Tribune.  Caveat reader:

"I like and respect Three Floyds’ work, as evidenced by my story in the Tribune this week. I stand by how I quoted Nick Floyd regarding Portland beer in the blog post that accompanied the story."

Update:  Hat tip Matthew DiTullo for spotting this at BeerAdvocate:
I would like to say I do not hate Portland or the Portland brewers or brewing scene. I was misquoted in a remark I made about ONE early McManamins pub I didn’t care for.  I f%$@ing love Portland and all its beer I am a good friend of Van Havig.  I drank many times with Don Younger (RIP) and loved him and the Horse Brass, Tony Lawrence from Boneyard ( I know it's in Bend) is a best friend. Portland was the first place I traveled as a professional brewer--to the old Flanders street pub.  Bridgeport is one of my favorites.  It's the first place I saw nicros on draught 9 to 1 over macro beer and at a stripclub.  Portland rules! Put a bird on it!  I love it! Aorry I was misquoted
-- your humble narrator, Nick F 3Floyds
A classic case of blaming the media.  :-)  I'd still like to drink some beers with Nick the next time he swings through--


Thanks to an eagle-eyed Matt Wiater, we have this fine quote to consider.  It comes from Nick Floyd, founder of Three Floyds Brewing:
"If you're not traveling and learning new stuff, you're sort of stuck," he said. "Look at Portland. It's still based on Willamette and Cluster (hops). It's the same (bleeping) beer you were drinking 30 years ago!"

"Portland was great in the 80s and 90s when there was nothing like it," he continued. "It used to be inspirational. It still is. But the more you travel and learn, the better."
A post-1980s barrel room.
There are certain personality traits that make for successful entrepreneurs: brash self-confidence, drive and energy, the risk-taking of a riverboat gambler.  They can even benefit from willful ignorance--of risk, for example.  These traits are not uniformly prized in other areas.  In this case, for example, we might note that a Google search might have disabused Nick of some strange views; and a little humility might have prevented him from offering opinions on topics he has no recent information.

I mean, cluster hops, really?  Quick, aside from that novelty beer Double Mountain made with them last year, can anyone name me a single Portland beer that uses Cluster?  Willamettes are not as vanishingly rare, but suffice it to say we've managed to get wind of some newer strains out here.  (Partly by visiting the hop fields one hour south.)

The great irony is that the reporter led into this quote by explaining that "Floyd loves traveling because it is stimulating and challenging, which he explained by slightly denigrating what's being poured these days in craft beer's early mecca, Portland, Ore."  I have no idea where he might have gotten his ideas about our fair city, but it's clear the one place he didn't get them was Portland.

A stimulating and challenging trip to Cascade Barrel House, Hair of the Dog, The Commons, Upright, Breakside, et al is exactly what I recommend to Nick.  Come on out, man, we'll show you what remains the best beer city in America, two decades running.  No Willamettes or Clusters need be harmed in the making of your adventure.


  1. I should add that I would love love love to try some Three Floyds, but have only ever tasted Gumballhead (a lovely example of American wheat). This is one of the quandaries of craft brewing--with limited distribution, we are always a little clueless about what's happening even a few states over. (That's a good thing, too.)

  2. My favorite gem is the quote about New Zealand hops being a "secret weapon." In all fairness, he can be excused for not having heard of an obscure little brewery like Widmer..

  3. If Nick Floyd, a 5% owner of Boneyard Beer, thinks Portland is so out of touch with the current state of hop usage, maybe his brewery should enter our market that is so hurting for his cutting edge beer. I mean most of the other major players already have. Further, when I was on tour at 3 Floyds a few years back, I asked their guide where they sourced their hops, as in which hop company, and he confusedly responded "The Pacific NW I think." This Tribune article the quote came from makes him sound hella douchey. I'm so tired of brewers, breweries, and regions hating on Portland because we so clearly own them when it comes to beer. Have Greg Hall serve Floyd up a special "pint" of his "brew."
    3 Floyds makes great beer, but much like Cigar City, the main reason they are as well known as they are is because they are serving it up in a beer and cultural wasteland. Good day.

  4. For Livin' in the 80s . . . the Midwest is not a cultural wasteland.

    Given the ongoing pissing match between Oregon and Washington hop concerns it is interesting that Floyd pointed to a hop (Cluster) grown in Washington.

    But somebody is using it - beyond Block 15, for one - because production was up 22% last year. And it provides some of the distinctive "American" character that marks 3F beers. A lovely hop when used right and blended with others - such as in the Wynkoop IPA.

  5. Hey now, I may not know much but I know that Cluster is a New York state hop. It may have wandered over the decades but it has a home:

  6. Of the 30+ beers that actually listed their backbone at the HR Fresh Hop Festival in 2010 (2011 guide didn't have them), I count one beer that had Willamette (Hopworks with an 'Oktoberfest') and none using Cluster.

  7. So definitely the Mid-west isn't a cultural wasteland and definitely they are picking up their microbrew game. I also think that it's a a natural outgrowth of the regional aspects of microbrew that we are going to see some serious regional pissing matches over time.

    At the same time Nick Floyd's comment is simultaneously completely ignorant and completely douchy. Knocking Portland out of ignorance is just tacky. It's doubly tacky considering that Munster is the point of reference.

    Some of Greg Koch's comments grate from time to time, but at least there is a kernel of truth to his braggado and he has reason to brag about his region of the universe.

    Floyd, Koch, Calagione. There is no shortage of ego in the brewing world.

  8. Three Floyds is overrated. Is he gonna tell me that Dreadnaught even holds a flame to anything coming out of Boneyard? Get out of here man.

    What about that collaboration they just did with Mikkeller? That was a pristine waste of cash...a horrible beer...a wheat wine? Come visit Portland, buddy...try our sours on for size or one of the face melting IPAs that are crushing classics like Pliny the Elder.

  9. For him to suggest that Portland brewers, or brewers in the Pacific Northwest in general, lack creativity and are no longer innovative is a very clear sign that he has no clue what's going on around here. He can say what he wants, but in 5 years he'll be doing whatever it is we're doing now.

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  11. Ok, this riled me up. Having to be in Chicago, I try to have local beers.

    Three Floyds is good, Robert the Bruce is a good scotch ale, Alpha King is good IPA. But to act like they are better than what you can find locally in Portland is ridiculous.

    Bell's and New Glarus make better beers.


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  13. Nick Floyd states he was misquoted:

    I give him more respect for calling out McMenamins on their shitty beers.

  14. Stan, I wasn't saying that the Midwest isn't a cultural wasteland. But Munster isn't exactly progressive. I certainly didn't mean to start a pissing match between the PNW and the MW. Widmer and Deschutes, two of the largest craft breweries in the country are utilizing a lot of experimental varietals on a regular basis. And yes, all hops have a place in beer, no matter what 3F, Stone, or any other arrogant brewery has to say.

  15. Sorry for the double negative. Should've read: I wasn't saying that the Midwest is a cultural wasteland.

  16. I just figured somebody should defend the vastly under appreciated Munster Municipal Symphony. And Cluster hops.

    Anybody can step up and use a hop with numbers, but to the credit of Widmer and Deschutes they provided funding to get Citra onto significant acres. An essential hop in Zombie Dust, BTW.

  17. Evidently some of his best friends are Portlanders.

  18. Joe Blow from Idaho1:56 PM, April 27, 2012

    This is entertaining in a mind numbing kid of way. First, we have Jeff, Mr. Switzerland, who's been blogging about beer for a 100 years but hasn only had a Floyd Wheat beer!? Sad! From that point on, I'm trying to figure out which party is more offensive here. Mr. "hella douchey"? Is this guy old enough to drink beer? If so, I would still question his seasoning of beer experience. Then we have negative blank statements about Portland's antiquated hopping. Is he saying,Oregon can grow hops, but can't do much with them? Hmmm? Which side to take? Junior "Douchey" who may have to borrow Mom's car to get to the pub or Nick's narrow opinions? Wow! At least someone commented that MCM's beers sucked, there's some lofty observations going on here!

  19. That said, after not setting foot in a McMenamin's property for years, I was at the Kennedy school for a function a few days ago and not only was the service good, the food serviceable (if not particularly good---as can be said for the vast majority of brewpubs in town), the Yardstick IPA was a damn tasty beer. Like many in Portland, I cap on the McMenamin's experience, but sometimes I think that the negative stink obscures the fact that at times their beer is no worse than many of the brewpubs in town.

  20. Suppose I shouldn't get into this argument as it seems it has nearly become a thing of the past. But it would seem that everyone is entitled to an opinion, albeit an uneducated one. If people recorded every uneducated douchey comment I've made throughout my life I'm sure the list is quite long. Does the fact that the comment comes from a well respected brewer make it any more significant, in a kind of he-should-know-better way? I don't know. It's all a matter of opinion. But, the one thing that is a fact is that there are some incredible beers coming out of Portland. It would seem in this case perhaps both parties should make a trip because we all need to "travel and learn new stuff" :P That's my two cents anyway...