Portland’s Wayfinder Beer is known for their German-style lagers, but brewmaster Kevin Davey is increasingly leaving tank space for adjunct heavy beers that you wouldn’t expect. Over the next few weeks Wayfinder releases a hazy pale, a Great Notion brewing collaboration, and a lite American lager in 6-packs.
Number 6 is the appropriately named American lite rice lager that will be released as Wayfinder’s first beer in 12oz cans and 6-packs. For a brewery obsessed with traditional European all malt craft lagers, an adjunct lite beer is an unusual choice brought on in part because of the Coronavirus.
Some people may be surprised to learn that many small craft brewers often reach for a cheap mass market corporate beer after a hard day over the boil kettle. The increasingly dire situation that craft brewers face after the pandemic drove Davey to rethink that habit.
“After the covid-crisis hit, I turned to buying beer from my friends and colleagues in the craft beer business. I saw the fear and stress in their eyes and felt like it was in mine, too,” says Davey. “I was afraid many of us wouldn’t be in business after this. It was more important than ever to support local business and I reflected on some of my favorite beer to drink: simple American lager.”
Though Davey didn’t need a pandemic to make him obsess about lagers any more than he already does, it did make him rethink simple pleasures like enjoying cheap corporate beer like Miller High Life.
“I kinda told myself I wasn’t going to buy another Hi-life ever again and that hit me hard,” he said. Still, Davey had trouble putting down that ice cold and crushable crispy boy. While Davey is mostly a purist when it comes to brewing his own beers, often espousing the virtues of the often maligned Reinheitsgebot, he doesn’t often follow that faith when it comes to his own drinking. But then it hit him…
“Beer is supposed to be fun! It’s nearly summer! So I was like, ‘fuck it, let’s make a sixpack lager’. It’s like the end of the world or something and dammit, big beer doesn’t get to be the only ones who make easy-drinking can beer.”
Number 6 Lager Beer 4.7% Incredibly drinkable, crowd-favorite, can of enjoyment. Backyard crushed, shotgunned, fireside or shower-beered, this one is for the masses. Our rebel forces rescued this style from the Dark Side and made it our own. We hijacked our favorite parts and added the Wayfinder Crispness® you expect with delicate amounts of German noble hops and long, cool ferments. Celebrate this time we have under the sun.
Wayfinder has been brewing an adjunct IPA called Flower in the Kettle since early on, but the Shamanic Whip series has been more of a hazy playground for Davey. The draft-only rotating pub series of hoppy and hazy pale ales was just released in 16oz cans for the first time in it’s 3rd iteration: The Quest for the Elusive Whip.
“Instead of having a rock solid base style of beer, we’re trying to have this beer change with the trends or pave a little new territory itself,” says Davey.
Shamanic Whip 3 is a version that was brewed with some of Wayfinder’s favorite hops and hopping techniques from the hazy tool kit.
“It’s been a fun challenge to make IPA and Pale this way; very different from how I made those styles at Firestone and I feel like we’ve really hit our stride,” says Davey, who brewed at Firestone Walker Brewing previously.
Shamanic Whip 3 The Quest for the Elusive Whip Hazy Pale Ale 6.0% Big punches of tropical fruit, marmalade, juice and low bitterness, with a cavalcade of Mosaic, Galaxy and Simcoe. Fermented cleanly with gentle fruit esters and left unfiltered.
Cold Kush Faded & Decocted IPA
In June we can all look forward to what may seem like an unexpected Wayfinder collaboration with the adjunct masters at Great Notion Brewing. Though each brewery is often pigeonholed into their respective boxes of German-style lager and adjunct heavy pastry or hazy beers, their tastes do sometimes converge.
Cold Kush Faded & Decocted IPA brings both breweries interests together into a socially distant collaborative brew. Davey has been pushing a sub-style of lager fermented IPA he calls “cold IPA” for awhile now. With Cold Kush, they take on the juicy and hazy IPA flavors and appearance in an adjunct heavy malt liquor. More info on this fun collaboration is coming soon.
Wayfinder Beer Canning Schedule:
May 13: Hell, Shamanic Whip May 22: Relapse, Number 6 Light Lager six-packs June 2: Cold Kush (Great Notion collab), CZAF June 11: Hell, more Cold Kush June 18: Doomtown, Terrifica
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.