As a native Oregonian and Portlander, I did not learn a lot about what it meant to be Jewish growing up. I remember learning that they didn’t celebrate Christmas and something about pork, and we all learned to light a Menorah and play with a dreidel. When it comes to kosher foods, though, I had no idea how seriously they took it, and now with a kosher craft brewery opening in Portland called Leikam Brewery, I am learning a lot more. Unless you’re a big follower of Schmaltz/He’Brew Brewing, you might not even know there such a thing as kosher beer, but inner southeast Leikam Brewing (pronounced Leik-am) is to be one of the few kosher certified in the nation.
The New School first reported on Leikam Brewing back in August of 2014, but we did not realize the brewery’s Jewish leanings and instead focused on the fact that it would be a CSB, or Community Supported Brewery (details below). This should come as no surprise to those who know Sonia and Theo Leikam and their tight knit family. Sonia’s heritage is Jewish and Theo’s is not, though he has followed his passion for brewing in a strictly kosher method. From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem simple–nothing you brew with, either ingredients or tools and materials, should have been in contact with any product considered un-kosher. In the brewing process, gelatin is often used as a clarifying agent, but that is made with fish bladder, which is forbidden. Anything processed in an un-kosher way is also not admissible.
Sonia and Theo Leikam in front of their newly constructed brewery building
Though the Leikams are not a strict kosher family, they have felt it important to live by the standards set forth in the spirit of family and community. This creates even more hurdles, like Sonia being not able to work on Shabbat or Holy Days in observance of the Sabbath. Since she is Jewish she is forbidden from owning grains during Passover and must symbolically self half of her ownership of the brewery over to her husband Theo, who is not Jewish. After Passover she buys it back for a token amount.
Thankfully the beer that Leikam Brewing makes and the method they will distribute it through seems worth the hassle (my words, not theirs). Theo and Sonia are both dedicated homebrewers producing ales of a refined quality that they hope to share with neighbors and members of their CSB, as well as a very limited number of local accounts. Theo Leikam, a scientific and mathematical brewer at heart, makes a clean and focused beer that is exemplary by homebrewng standards. His roots are in classic styles like pale ale, porter, and stout, but he occasionally likes to experiment.
Leikam Brewing is a true family endeavor. By investing their own money into the project, Theo and Sonia have built a guest house-sized building in their backyard to house a 5 barrel brewery. Pavement is laid for a delivery driveway for kegs and grain delivery, and a 2-floor brewery space has been built out to house an upstairs office as well as the brewhouse, two 5 bbl fermenters, and two 2 barrel brite tanks in a cold conditioned room.
The location of Leikam Brewing is easy to find, but it’s not open to the public. It’s behind a quiet family home and across the street from a school. Neighbors might not be so stoked about beer geeks showing up for a tasting, and Leikam does not have a license for a tasting room. However, the Community Supported Brewery aspect of the business guarantees subscribers a certain amount of growler fills per month. You can schedule a time to fill your growler, perhaps come by and taste the beers (but don’t bring all your friends), depending on your level of membership, 12 or 24 times per year. Eventually Leikam Brewing may open an off-site tasting room or brewpub with strictly kosher food; wouldn’t that be something truly unique?
Leikam’s Brewing Regular Beer Line-Up:
Janis Hoplin IPA– Raise your hand if you love hops! Made with NW hops, a pint of Janis Hoplin IPA will for sure take a piece of your heart.
Mob Barley Stout– Satisfy your soul and find your one love while sipping on our Mob Barley Stout. Roasty and bold.
Shoreline Pale– Smooth, fresh and full of nostalgia, our Shoreline Pale reminds us of watching live shows on sunny days. Jerry, Santana, Lilith Fair and Lollapalooza….
Hey Porter– Throw down your cash and grab our Hey Porter. You won’t be able to wait any more for a second pint once you taste this unique blend of coffee, chocolate and wheat malts.
Grateful Red- Our Grateful Red reminds us of a scarlet begonia. This ale will ripple through your taste buds with the fragrance of Cascade, Willamette and Columbus hops.
Leikam Brewing CSB Memberships:
Memberships run in 6 month (half) and 12 month (full) increments. Along with monthly growler fills, a CSB membership includes discounts on merchandise and beer purchases (additional growlers and/or kegs). The option exists for our community in addition to direct sales. The “share” is paid for up front and the growlers are filled as needed, a bit like a punch card.
- Full Share (including 64 oz growler)
- 24 growler fills over a 12 month period – $250
- Half Share (including 64 oz growler)
- 12 growler fills over a six month period – $135
You also get
- An adventure with beer and it is only possible with the support of our CSB members. We want your input on the next beer for CSB members!
- Spent grains for your pizza crust or to make your own dog treats by request
- A fabulous Leikam Brewing 64 oz growler to collect your share
- 10% off any kegs ordered or additional growlers filled
Full share subscribers also get
- All of the above plus…
- A sweet Leikam Brewing T-shirt
- 10% off additional Leikam Brewing Swag
Leikam Brewing will officially begin brewing and releasing beer later this month with an official launch party in the planning at Growlers Hawthorne. However you can be one of the first to try their beer and consider signing up for a beer subscription when they pour samples for FREE of their beer on Wednesday February 18th at People’s Co-Op Farmers Market from 2-7pm at 3029 SE 21st Ave. Portland, Oregon.