Ferment Brewing Company Opens on Hood River Waterfront
Ferment Brewing opened in August of this year on the waterfront in Hood River, Oregon. Owners Dan and Jennifer Peterson put down roots in the area several years prior, working for area breweries and restaurants before deciding to open their own joint venture. Dan’s brewery background includes Brooklyn Brewing, Full Sail Brewing, and pFriem Family Brewers. Jennifer was co-owner at the defunct Pine Street Kitchen in Hood River.
The aim of the brewery and restaurant is to focus on all things fermented. They offer their own beers, kombucha, and a food menu with focus on what the local Columbia River Gorge has to offer. Sourcing locally for non-edible items is also important to them, as they utilized the community for things like lumber and screen printing.
Ferment Brewing Company: 403 Portway Ave, Hood River, OR, 97031
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm
The Petersons began their work on Ferment Brewing in 2015, hoping to open in the Yard Building near the Eastside of the Burnside Bridge. Plans changed (as they often do when starting a brewery), and they ended up choosing Hood River for their production space.
Before they were up and running, they brewed at Zoiglhaus Brewing Company and PINTS (now Ascendant Beer Company). This arrangement allowed them to have a full beer menu for their opening. Brewing began on their own equipment in late August.
They still intend to open a Portland tasting room in inner NE, likely in Spring or Summer of 2019. There is a long-term plan of opening a satellite pub in Japan, but that’s looking far into the future.
Ferment Brewing Beers
Knowing of Dan’s history working with pFriem, I asked about how their style would differ from their closest brewery neighbor.
“The concept here is a little different than pFriem and I think we complement them nicely,” Dan Peterson said. “I like traditional beers brewed with ingredients from those places where they originated. Whether it’s English, German, Czech or whatever, we strive to use ingredients native to those areas.”
On this visit, I tried the following (descriptions provided by the brewery):
- 🍺 12° Pils Czech Lager 🌟🌟🌟 (3.75) Ferment 12° Pils Czech-Style Lager uses barley raised and malted in Bohemia and the revered Saaz hop grown in Czech Republic. It’s brewed with the naturally soft and pure water from Mt. Hood to achieve a truly authentic European-style lager.
- 🍺 India Pale Ale 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4) Carefully crafted to fully express its curated hops and yeasts, Ferment India Pale Alebrings the hops without being buried by bitterness. The biscuity, lightly sweet malts and fruity, dry yeast notes impart an herbaceous aroma to give the ale a complex nose of peach, tangerine, and red cedar.
- 🍺 White River Saison 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4) Ferment White River Saison Ale follows in the tradition of the small farmhouse breweries of Wallonia. We combine malts and hops from the Belgian, French, and German countryside, which then ferments with yeast captured from the wind on the slopes of Mt. Hood to create a truly unique ale that is both refreshing and wonderfully complex.
- 🍺 ESB 🌟🌟🌟 3.75 Ferment ESB English-Style Ale is almost paradoxically complex. Rich flavors and aromas are complimented by a clean, dry finish that makes it a perfect pair with a wide range of foods. Yes, you have permission to have another.
- 🍺 Dry Stout 🌟🌟🌟 (3.75) Ferment Dry Stout embodies the spirit of the extremely quaffable, midnight-black ales of Dublin. A pale mash and unique black sparge technique imparts a gentle acidity to the beer along with a clean, delicate roast character in this surprisingly refreshing dark ale.
I’m a big fan of good branding, and was happy to hear that the local Portland agency, OMFGCO, was responsible for Ferment’s. They nailed it with their modern simplicity, in both the logo and application. Every detail was considered, including color, taster trays, tap handles, and packaging.
“Once we are fully up and running, we’ll push a limited supply of beer out into distribution,” Dan Peterson said. “We’ll use 500-milliliter bottles for our packaged product. I’m not interested in chasing trends. I like the feel of glass. No liner to worry about. Beer poured from bottle to glass is elegant.”
The pastels are unexpected, but work nicely paired with the dark metals and woods used throughout the restaurant.
During the build process, they started to experiment with kombucha. Three, tea-based options are available: Sencha, Oolong, and Assam.
“We kind of fell in love with it,” Jennifer Peterson said. “We eventually decided to incorporate it since it falls into the ‘fermented’ category. It has great health benefits and tastes pretty good, too.”
Jennifer had a big part in planning the restaurant portion of Ferment Brewing, and hired Aaron Woo to helm the kitchen.
“We wanted to create a menu that would pair with the wide variety of beers,” she said. “The approach to food needed to mirror the approach to beer and I think we’ve done that. It is, of course, a work in progress that will evolve and roll with the seasons moving forward.”
The menu includes several locally-sourced, farm-fresh items. Slow-roasted rotisserie meats are served with pita, in a salad, or on a platter with rice and house ferments. Burgers and sandwiches are accompanied by sharable bites and house made frozen yogurts.
Ferment Brewing installed a 20-barrel, 3-vessel brew system, made by Specific Mechanical Systems of British Columbia. They also have four 20-barrel fermenters.
“There isn’t a lot of automation here,” Peterson said. “I like simple controls and a hands-on feel in the brewery. To me, a big part of craft brewing is someone mindfully taking part in the brewing process. That was the concept with this setup.”
The brewery is on the ground floor of the building, with plenty of large windows to let in a generous amount of natural light. One of the coolest features of the space is that you can view the brewery from the restaurant above.
“It was a fun challenge to make a brewery work in this space,” Jennifer Peterson said. “We have a lot of windows all around and garage doors on the main floor. We made it all work by situating the brewery in the middle. Views of the brewery and surroundings were a definite consideration.”
The atrium is a unique design here in Oregon, setting Ferment apart from not only their neighbors but the entire state. I found it fun to watch the brewing process in action, as I’m sure others will too.