Harvester first came to the attention of the Portland beer community back in November 2009 when a private tasting was held showcasing the gluten-free beers. Almost two years later Harvester Brewing is about to open a commercial brewery. I recently visited with James Neumeister, one of the owners of Harvester, to find out what the process of opening a brewery has been like over the last two years from being a dream to becoming reality.
James Neumeister: It has, of course, moved much slower than I would have liked, but in talking with other breweries it seems that our path is very typical. I grew up in a family business so I am familiar with business ownership to some degree but I'm learning more every day.
ML: Who is involved with Harvester Brewing and what are their roles?
JN: Harvester Brewing is really a two-man operation with a few supporters. I work at the brewery with John Dugan and we like to say we assist each other in everything. We also get a lot of support and help from our friends and families.
ML: What will the beer line up of Harvester Brewing consist of?
JN: We hope to ramp up to 3 styles quickly. We will start with a Pale closely followed by an Amber and our Dark.
ML: Tell us about the brewing system and location of Harvester Brewing. Will there be a tasting room, etc.?
JN: We are located just off 7th on SE Lincoln, near several breweries and distilleries and all kinds of manufacturing. The neighborhood is great, we love being surrounded by so much industry. We do not have any plans for a tasting room. We have talked to other dedicated gluten-free businesses in the area about holding tasting events at their location once we are up and running.
ML: Harvester Brewing is planning on only bottling the beer it brews. What made Harvester take this route on getting its beer to the market?
JN: There are many reasons. Our product is for people who have sensitivities to certain foods and in many cases these sensitivities are severe, by bottling our product we are far more protected from contamination that could occur between our facility and the customers glass. By being in bottles we can ask a retailer to carry our product without asking them to commit to a large volume (like in a keg). We can be available in grocery stores. Another advantage is the portability a bottle offers.
ML: Where should folks plan to look for your beer?
JN: When our beer is released it will be available at Belmont Station right away. We are talking with several other locations around Portland so that very quickly it will be a short trip to find our beer anywhere in the city.
ML: With Portland having a boom of breweries opening the last two years. How do you see this affecting Harvester and their place in craft beer in Portland?
JN: I think it is great for everybody. I believe that more people are embracing craft beer at the same time that more people are discovering their intolerance for gluten and I would like to see all of these people enjoying delicious craft beer together.
ML: Closing statement?
JN: John and I have backgrounds in product development, design, and engineering (thankfully John actually is an engineer) and we plan to continue developing better gluten-free beers. The fact that we haven't tried brewing with hundreds of possible ingredients yet is very exciting for both of us. We encourage our customers to give us feedback and suggestions, let us know what you would like your gluten-free beer to be and we will work hard to make it for you.
Upon stopping in on Harvester on Monday, November 21, 2011 the guys were brewing their first batch of beer. This is a test batch so to find out when their beers will be ready for market visit the web site at http://www.harvesterbrewing.com/home