The scene at the North Forty Beer Co. building downtown was nothing short of a close family coming together to do what they do best — make beer. Sawdust was still flying inside the almost-ready North Forty building and beer was flowing as brewers and brewery owners from Douglas County gathered Tuesday morning to start a collaborative beer in remembrance of the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting.
The beer will go on sale at the end of the month, and all the proceeds will be directed to grants in honor of the nine victims.
Old 99 Brewing Co., Draper Brewing, North Forty, Backside Brewing Co., Lookingglass Brewery, Two Shy Brewing, Salud Brewery and McMenamins Roseburg Station all participated in the collaboration, agreeing to make a Hazy IPA — a semi-sweet beer with citrus and fruity tastes.
Old 99 contributed the hops — a mix of Mosaic, Idaho Seven, and Ekuanot — while Country Malt Group donated the grain. Umpqua Strong purchased the yeast, Salud fed the team lunch, and everyone contributed their skills, hands and “tons of love,” according to Draper Brewing owner Sam Eslinger.
The day started with 815 pounds of grain being milled, an hour of mashing, testing, and then finally the boil. After that, the beer was moved to the fermentation process. With a lot of waiting in between, the guys sat around the bar, trying each other’s beer while talking and laughing about work, family, community and life.
“It’s just cool to be able to say this was the first collaboration with all of us — it is a beautiful thing,” said Salud Restaurant and Brewery owner Manny Anaya. “Everyone has a great rapport with each other — we have organic conversations.”
All of the brewers were living locally when the UCC tragedy happened. One thing they all commented on was how strongly the community joined together afterward.
“It’s this amazing community thing, and this is another opportunity for the community to come together – the breweries to come together. We make each other strong,” said Chad Northcraft, a brewer for Salud.
In 2015, Eugene-based brewery Hop Valley collaborated with Old 99, Draper, Two Shy, Backside, and Salud to produce the Umpqua Strong Ale. After kegs were tapped, the beer raised thousands of dollars for Umpqua Strong.
“All the brewers are community members who, like everyone, were affected by 10/1 and want to express that feeling of compassion in whatever way they’re able,” said Randi Feland, president of the Umpqua Stong board and coordinator for the Umpqua Strong 9K and 5K Run/Walk. “They put their heart and soul into what they do. I think this beer is just a way for them to showcase what they love doing, do it together, and do it for a good cause.”
The brewers agreed that their relationships go beyond just working in the same industry. They are friends who help each other grow and want to bring the town together, and see the county prosper.
“The teamwork is amazing to see, because while they each run their own businesses and are basically competitors, they have such a great camaraderie and everyone pitched in to make this custom beer possible,” Feland said.
Pouring of the Umpqua Strong Hazy will commence Sept. 29 at O’Tooles Pub in Roseburg for the Umpqua Strong 9K and 5K Run/Walk post-event. Afterward, it will be available at all the local breweries and various other locations. A limited amount will be available, and the tap handles of the charity beer will be given to those that finish off the last of it.
“The beer might be ‘Hazy’, but the truth is clear — that this community knows how to come together,” said Matt Hill, co-owner of Old 99.