Laurelwood Brewing Co. in Portand, Ore., announced a major expansion deal, contracting with the Craft Brew Alliance in order to increase its production by as many as 15,000 barrels (bbls) a year, as well as package Laurelwood brews in 12-0z bottles for the first time.
“We were looking to expand on our terms,” said Mike De Kalb, owner of Laurelwood. “We didn’t want to change our line-up or the fact we are a Portland business by selling shares to outside interests. Instead we found a way to increase our production and keep Laurelwood a locally owned independent company.”
Craft Brewing Business reached out to Laurelwood to learn a little more about the deal. The talks with the CBA started several months ago and De Kalb believes the alliance is the perfect partner for getting Laurelwood where it wants to go.
“We wanted to stay local and work with someone we know,” said Micah Bell, director of sales and marketing for Laurelwood. “CBA has a great reputation for brewing award-winning quality beers and this will allow us access to their state of the art brewing facility. Most importantly, though our brewing team will be able to oversee all production and quality assurance of the Laurelwood beers brewed there.”
To clarify, this is just a production deal. There has been no change in Laurelwood’s ownership and the company is not affiliated with the CBA other than through the use of its facility.
“Laurelwood’s team of brewers are overseeing all aspects of our production to ensure the quality and consistency that Laurelwood is known for,” Bell said. “We will oversee and handle all distribution and expansion into new markets. Our goal this year is to fill any holes in our current Oregon and Washington markets while expanding to Idaho and Alaska.”
By working with CBA, Laurelwood gains access to the kind of equipment that can ensure quality and consistency, as well as close oversight by Laurelwood’s team of brewmasters. By using their own yeast strain, as well as carefully sourcing their ingredients, Laurelwood’s beer will continue to be distinctive, delicious and daring. Also, brewmaster Vasili Gletsos’ experience overseeing large-scale production while at Pyramid is an added bonus.
“By moving the production of these beers to the CBA facility, we will free up much needed space allowing our brewing team be able to continue Laurelwood’s tradition of brewing innovative and small batch specialty beers,” Bell said.
With the rise of production though, there will be one notable product change: The brewery’s flagship, Free Range Red, will no longer be a certified organic beer. Laurelwood plans to continue offering organic beers at its public houses. With regional organic hops in tight supply, as well as 2013 changes in the Certified Organic standards, De Kalb and his brewers decided to concentrate their organic program on beers such as Organic Tree Hugger Porter and a line of small batch specialty beers, allowing for greater creativity and innovation.
With their increased capacity, Laurelwood sees a bright future for Oregon brewing. The brewery that earned its reputation for being a neighborhood pub will be able to spread the Oregon brand while staying true to its values: community, taste, consistency, sustainability and keeping jobs in Portland. With its beers becoming increasingly accessible to more consumers, special beers like Megafauna Imperial IPA bringing home impressive awards and the continued loyalty and success of the local Laurelwood Pubs, there are more opportunities to raise a pint every day.
The official kick off of the deal comes this fall.