Portland- based Awesome Ales has managed to take me by surprise twice already, first by catching me completely off-guard with its announcement and second by becoming one of the only gypsy/contract breweries in Oregon.
There are a number of curiosities about Awesome Ales, beginning with the cheesy name, but then again Gigantic Brewing has made its boastful moniker work. The logo is also strange; the bold red spot on a white background looks like the flag of Japan, but as far as I can tell Awesome has no Japanese influence. Strangest of all is that the operation is embracing contract and gypsy brewing.
As near as California, contract brewing is popular, and gypsy brewing is a thing across the world, but for some reason it has never caught on in Oregon. Contract brewing is, of course, the business of hiring another working brewery to produce your beers, usually without a brewery of your own. International brewers like Mikkeller have made a name for themselves by traveling around brewing at multiple places, which is called gypsy brewing. In Oregon, Laurelwood is contracting bottled beers out at Widmer, but still produces a lot of its product in-house. I know of some startup brewers in Bend who have begun by contracting out, but no established brands. Apparently Awesome Ales founder David Lederfine has found someone who does have some extra tank space, and his beers will be available soon on draft. Where the beer is being made is a mystery for now, but Lederfine is a known quantity.
The rest is from the official statement about Awesome Ales and I will update when I know about how, when and where the beer is coming from:
UPDATED 10/24/13: Awesome Ales is being brewed in Silverton, OR and due to the government shutdown their TTB licensing was on hold. Beer will hopefully be available in the next few weeks in early November.
After falling in love with great beer in college in the mid 1980’s, mostly French, Belgian and German beers, he started looking at what was going on locally. “Micro breweries and brewpubs were just opening up and the beer wasn’t always great but it was always interesting. Quickly I realized that I wanted to open a brewery.” With each brewery visited and each beer consumed, the concept behind Awesome Ales grew. It wasn’t long before he began to brew at home learning the process, building his experience.
In 1995 he got his first professional brewing job with McMenamins. Three years later he and fellow brewer Mike Hogan opened the Snake and Weasel; a Celebrator Beer News top ale house and renowned music venue, attracting such national and local acts as Andrew Bird, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Jerry Joseph. “The Snake and Weasel was close to what I wanted. We had planned to build out our own brewery but between the daily rigors of running a coffee and ale house twenty hours a day, connecting with the beer and music community, our plans became bogged down.”