Portland, Oregon – Laurelwood Brewing Co. began a relationship with Widmer’s Craft Brew Alliance in 2013 to expand Laurelwood’s brand into 12oz bottles and 6-packs produced at CBA facilities. Now with Craft Brew Alliance looking to get out of the contract brewing game, Laurelwood is switching up its contract brewing partner, moving to Hood River, Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing.
Since late 2011, the Craft Brew Alliance has been producing both Laurelwood’s Workorse IPA and Free Range Red on draft, as well as all of Laurelwood’s 12oz bottles in 6-packs. Laurelwood brews the rest of its draft beers and the Red Elephant IPA, which is canned at the flagship 57th and NE Sandy location in Portland. When Laurelwood began contract brewing with CBA, the quality remained the same or even improved, but hop varieties changed slightly and the beer lost its “organic” designation. Will the move to brewing at Full Sail mean any substantial differences?
Laurelwood owner Mike De Kalb said, “Full Sail is known for its quality and innovation in brewing. This will also allow us to have more flexibility than we did with CBA and put out a seasonal line of 6-pack glass.”
More variety and flexibility is good. Full Sail Brewing previously brewed the Henry Weinhard’s brand until 2012, when Henry’s owner MolsonCoors elected to take the brand national and have it brewed at its larger corporate facilities. Then just this past spring Full Sail was acquired by a new questionable private equity firm. It is too early to tell whether the company’s sale will have larger effects on the breweries and their brands. In the short term, it should be good news for Laurelwood, which can brew locally, keep quality up, and perhaps even brew more efficiently in a greater variety.
As of now there is no clear end date for Laurelwood’s relationship with CBA or the beginning of the partnership with Full Sail Brewing, since Laurelwood has to apply for a new TTB license to brew at Full Sail. This process could take a while, with a record number of brewing applications being processed by the Tax and Trade Bureau these days.
“Our brewing arrangement with Full Sail will be different than it was with CBA. We’ll have more control of the process and outcome,” said Mike DeKalb on the new contract brewing arrangement. “I can’t tell you a date when this will take place, but we’re hoping for early spring.”