5 Questions for pFriem Head Brewer Gavin Lord

Gavin Lord is the head brewer at one of Oregon’s most prestigious beermakers — pFriem Family Brewers, and he is a native Oregonian from Silverton to boot. “Like many in the Brewing industry, I home-brewed for the first time at a fairly early age,” says Lord, who received a homebrew kit from his father when he was 19 and first brewed a brown ale. “In hindsight, it was pretty lackluster, but at the time it was interesting enough to get me hooked on a hobby that would later turn into a career. I home-brewed religiously for the the following decade.” Lord moved to San Francisco to study and get a degree in Graphic Design and after he graduated in 2007 he opened a Cooperative Art Gallery and Studio Space called Big Umbrella Studios with some friends, ” We had twenty resident artists, monthly exhibition openings, art walks and satellite shows around the City. It was a blast,” recalls Lord. But after two years the founders wanted to pursue other endeavors and for Lord it was pursuing a career as a professional brewer, “We sold the gallery to the resident artists for a six pack of Anchor Steam.”

Lord moved back to Oregon and began studying the art of brewing, he took multiple courses, volunteered for beer for experience, worked for a mobile bottling company and was accepted into the UC Davis Master Brewers Program. “Within a week of graduating and passing the IBD Diploma in Brewing Exam, I started as a Shift Brewer at Full Sail,” says Lord, who counts himself lucky for the experienced team he learned and worked with at Full Sail. It was there in Hood River, Oregon where he met another brewer named Josh pFriem who would go on to become a co-founder and lend his name to pFriem Family Brewers. Lord would later join pFriem and become the head brewer.

This is chapter thirteen in a monthly-ish series in which we check in with brewers on what they are drinking, eating, enjoying and what’s currently bubbling away in their fermenters.

Gavin Lord picking fruit

Q: How long have you been with the brewery and how have you seen it change?

Gavin Lord: I’ve been with pFriem for a little more than four and half years. When I started we were producing a little more than 2,000 BBLs (draft only) with a production crew of four. This year we’ll produce close to 20,000 BBLs, spread over 100 unique styles, 45 of those in bottles, with a production crew of 21. Josh started our Barrel program, just before I arrived, with 14 Pinot Noir barrels. Our Barrelhouse now holds over 650 barrels, two foudres and 9 fruit tanks. It’s been a wonderful and wild ride. The one thing that hasn’t changed is a top-down, relentless commitment to quality. HUGE shoutout to our incredible, talented and hard-working team!!

Q: What’s your favorite beer ever made at pFriem?

GL: Our next batch of Pilsner.

Q: What’s your favorite food or restaurant in the Hood River area?

GL: Nashi Ramen. Lovely ramen and fixings currently popping up at the HR Farmers Market. Rack and Cloth. Delightfully nuanced, dry cider and fresh, seasonal produce on the best pizza ever. They also have Khao Soi on Mondays. It is crazy delicious. Lake Taco. Authentic Mexican food, pFriem Mexican Lager on tap, three blocks from my house. 

Q: What beers are you currently enjoying (pfriem and others) ?

GL: This time of year, I’m looking for complex, lower abv, dry, and drinkable. I’m loving our 2018 Druif, Sauv Blanc barrel aged golden ale and our 6th Anniversary Brut IPA. Other beers I’m loving this summer are Wayfinder Hell, the Alesong Touch of Brett series, and Sunriver Rippin. 

Q: What beers are currently in the works or planning stages at pFriem that you are excited about?

GL: We’ll be working with Black cap raspberries, Marion berries and Huckleberries for the first time this summer! I can’t wait for our Export Lager and our Oktoberfest, which are both right around the corner, and we just tasted our Maple Barrel Aged Smoked Porter for the first time. I’m so excited for people to try it. Cheers!. 

Josh pFriem and Gavin Lord in the orchards

Check out our past Q & A’s with Whitney Burnside (10 Barrel),Brett Thomas (Sunriver)Ben and Rik of Baerlic BrewingAusten Conn of Buoy BeerMichael Kora of Montavilla Brew WorksScott Sieber of Falling Sky BrewingCoren Tradd of Pelican Brewing Cannon BeachSarah Resnick of Freebridge BrewingTyler West of GoodLife BrewingNatalie Baldwin of Breakside BreweryJustin Leigh of Dwinell Country Ales and Chetco Brewing’s Mike Frederick.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com