5 Oregon Brewers Inventing The Future Of Beer

From creative artisans incorporating experimental hops and fermentation techniques, to companies brewing unique sours from locally grown fruit, Oregon is home to several independent breweries at the forefront of the craft. In no particular order, here are a few pioneers in the state innovating the beer industry.

Starting off the list at #1, Standing Stone Brewing Company is a family-owned full-service brewpub located in the heart of Downtown Ashland. The company's beers comprise a full range of ales and lagers, made on-site in small batches using over 85% organic grains. Likewise, Standing Stone's menu focuses on high-quality, pesticide-free ingredients from local family farms.

Both seasonal and year-round beers complete the brewer's portfolio. Favorites include the port-like Darth Vator dark lager, as well as the Kommuter Kolsch, which is a German-style ale with a bold character of malts and Hallertau hops. Through its responsible brewing practices, Standing Stone claims to reduce its eco-footprint and meet its long-term goals of zero net energy use and zero waste.

Next at #2 is Buoy Beer Company. Located in Astoria, the independent brewery is the brainchild of local entrepreneurs and investors, working in collaboration with founding brewer Dan Hamilton. According to the company, its workers are dedicated to making good beer, great food, and a cultural space for the community. Since 2013, the brewery has crafted numerous offerings, including the original recipe, a helles lager.

Using only a few quality ingredients, Buoy Beer Company claims to produce a brew that is distinct to the region. The brewpub welcomes guests to not only savor and share the exclusive suds, but to enjoy the surrounding area and share the experience with each other. Large windows in the dining area look out at the river, while an open kitchen and brewery allow visitors to get a look at the artisan process.

Coming in at #3 is Cascade Brewing. Established in 1998, the company prides itself on being a pioneer of the sour beer renaissance, claiming to be the inventor of the Northwest Sour Ale. The Cascade Brewing line features fruit-forward, barrel-aged ales that offer a complex array of flavors derived from Northwest-grown ingredients. Brewed at the original facility in Portland, each blend is stated to capture the unique subtleties that vary from one growing season to the next.

The Cascade Blending House holds more than 1,600 oak barrels for aging a range of sours, from Kriek, Apricot, and Cuvee du Jongleur, to Sang Royale and Sang Noir that incorporate Bing and pie cherries from local orchards. Meanwhile, Cascade Brewing's Bourbonic Plague and Vlad the Imp Aler were awarded gold and silver, respectively, in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

Entering the list at #4 is pFriem Family Brewers. A Northwest- and Belgian-inspired 15-barrel brewery and tasting room, it offers lunch and dinner in Hood River. Founded in 2012, the brewery has earned prestigious awards, including the 2018 Great American Beer Festival's Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, as well as numerous medals in national and international competitions.

The pFriem Classic selections include a triple IPA, hefeweizen, lemon zest farmhouse ale, kolsch-style ale, and others. Elsewhere, the brewer's barrel-aged variety is matured from one to three years. Offering hearty brews aged in rum, rye, scotch, or sherry barrels, the line is designed to evince a remarkable complexity.

Lastly, at #5 is Crux Fermentation Project. Situated in Bend, the brewery is built for non-traditional brewing methods like decoction mashing, open fermentation, and barrel aging. Using wild yeast strains and experimental hops, the company offers over 20 original craft beers. Bubble Wrap, for example, is a hazy IPA that features a balanced body of flaked oats and wheat, accompanied by Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy hops.

Guests may visit the tasting room located in the middle of the brewery, and be immersed in the sights, sounds, and aromas of the brewing process. Meanwhile, visitors can enjoy sunsets and an expansive panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains from indoor and outdoor dining areas.