Eight years ago, a party at Dylan Goldsmith's house meant bottles of his free homebrew in the fridge and punk rock in the basement. When his housemates finally labeled a jar atop his fridge "The Sustainable Alcohol Fund," he knew he needed to turn his hobby into a job. Today Goldsmith, 34, is the sole employee of Captured by Porches, Oregon's smallest brewery, filling every position from owner to keg-washer. It's a lot of work: He spends 30 hours a week brewing eight barrels of beer (248 gallons) by himself in the back room of Clinton Street Brewing, using an old dishwasher as a mash tun. To put C.B.P.'s small stature in perspective: one batch of Goldsmith's IPA is four barrels, one batch of Deschutes Brewing's Inversion IPA brewed their plant in Bend amounts to 150 barrels. Goldsmith pays rent by filling Clinton's taps with his beer; and pays his bills by selling around 10 kegs to his distributor and a handful of pony kegs to the public each week.
Given the time and effort it takes for Goldsmith to produce his beers, seeing one of them on tap at a local bar like the Horse Brass Pub or the Green Dragon is like chancing upon a rare bird. If you haven't already, you'll get to try Captured by Porches' Belgian brown ale at Rogue Ales' Bones and Brew festival this Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2-3. WW caught up with Goldsmith to find out if size really matters when it comes to breweries. He'll experience the difference when he expands to his own brewery space on Northwest St. Helens Road sometime in the near future, or as he puts it, "as soon as freaking possible."
WW: As a one-man brewery, where are you on the map of craft brewing in Oregon?
Dylan Goldsmith: I hate saying "craft beer." Breweries that started out small but now have these huge factory-sized things say, "Oh, we're craft beer." You know what? You're just beer. When the Widmer brothers and people like them were starting out, there wasn't any map. I don't like to follow a map either.
OK, so why do you brew beer?
I like solving problems. I wouldn't want to make more beer to expand my market; I would just want to see if I could figure out how to do it. The enjoyment in brewing is seeing if I can create something good using counterintuitive techniques. For example, there is a British tradition and a German tradition [in brewing] and the two don't mix, historically. But they can mix just fine when experimenting. That's where my Belgian brown ale came from.
Will your new brewery space give you more freedom to experiment?
I don't want to invest any money into my current system. That would be focusing on the past, there just isn't the room. The future is my new space. It's an old service station with a lot of room. As far as experimenting, I can say that the IPA will stay [$54 for a retail pony keg]. It pays the rent.
We're in the middle of beerfest season in Portland. How important are festivals for beer culture? You weren't even part of the Oregon Brewers Fest last week.
I think festivals are great. It's fun for the public, it's a good way to get thousands of people to sample your work. However,1 the relatively large ones are pretty expensive to participate in, like the Oregon Brewers Festival.
It costs $600 to get in and they buy 15 kegs, that's at least some profit.
Right, but with a brewery of my size, I don't have extra kegs. I could sell those 15 kegs to a distributor and not lose $600. Plus, that would be a week's worth of work for me, taking out of circulation a large amount of beer. I would have customers calling up and I would be out of kegs. The long-term damage isn't worth it.
Why are you doing Bones and Brew, then?
Because it's a lot smaller. They just straight up buy the kegs from you, so it's cheaper, too. And they want just four kegs. I can do that.
What's in your fridge at home?
Two bottles of Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA—which I got as a trade for an antiquated keg that [Hair of the Dog brewmaster] Alan Sprints swears by—and the Polish porter Black Boss, my wife and business partner's favorite beer, hands down.
Any beer you won't drink?
I can't disassociate the taste and smell of heather ale [a beer that uses heather flowers instead of hops] with the memory of a bad batch I had to pour out. It just tastes like rotten beer to me. Oh, and I hate smoked beer. It makes me think of smoked fish.
Does being a one-man brewery pay the bills, or do you need a day job?
No, this is my day job. I make enough money for myself and my family, and expanding to the new brewery space should help pay the taxes I'll incur once my liquor permit comes through. The OLCC has two jobs: keeping drinks out of the hands of minors and taxing alcohol. They're really good at one of them.
How far from Southeast Clinton Street can Captured by Porches be found on tap?
We almost made it to Beaverton once.
CAPTURED BY PORCHES TASTE TEST
Full body with caramel and biscuit tones. Flavored and dry-hopped with Cascade hops leaving a strong grapefruit flavor in the bitterness. The citrus is a welcome presence that cuts the full body. Goldsmith brewed an IPA first because it was what he was used to drinking. He knew he was onto something when a blind taste test of only his second homebrewed batch fooled his girlfriend. "It's not hard to sell IPA in this town," he says.
Tart and full of citrus. If you try hard you can taste coriander, but most of the flavor comes from the sourness of fresh orange peel and malted wheat combined with the fruity esters imparted by the Belgian yeast. "I needed a summer seasonal and I was desperate to do something that interested me," says Goldsmith with a shrug.
Belgian brown ale
"Fuck the Reinheitsgebot, " Goldsmith says. He asserts that this beer, a specialty ale that came from Goldsmith's desire to mix different brewing traditions, is a reaction to the Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law of 1516 that limited the ingredients of the beverage. If he were working back then, this brew, which is 50 percent malted rye, wouldn't have been called beer. Inspired by a story by local sci-fi author Ursula K. Le Guin in which a frozen body is revived with "hot ale," Goldsmith also created a "hot brown": equal parts cold Belgian brown and hot Belgian brown from the microwave. It tastes like really bitter hot chocolate, but with a kick.
Rogue Ales' 14th annual Bones and Brew beer and barbecue festival takes place on Northwest 15th Avenue between Everett and Glisan streets. Hours are 11 am-9 pm Saturday and 11 am-7 pm Sunday, Aug. 2-3. $3 donation. Visit capturedbyporches.com for more info on Goldsmith's beers.