Quick, name the top five largest breweries in the State of Oregon.
If you said Ninkasi in the fourth place, you’d be right. And as all good breweries should come about, this one started in a German Restaurant. Yeap, a couple of guy talked about beer, meet up later at a place called “the Bier Stein” and laid plans for Ninkasi.
Ninkasi is now 10 years old, brewing it’s first batch called Total Domination and now selling beer in 13 states. Ninkasi has a 55 barrel brew house which means one person couldn’t drink that much beer in their lifetime. Water comes from the local river which is known for it’s clean, soft water (as almost all Oregon water is) and the cows benefit from the spent grain called mash. (Those lucky cows.)
I was impressed by several thing on the tour, but two items really stuck me.
1- The Employee lounge, headquarters area. As a long term State employee, I was impressed with the large lobby with a pub and several taps for beer and most importantly, a growler fill station somewhat next to the Rock Climbing wall. Like who doesn’t want to take a break at work and climb a wall? Also, they have a recording studio. A full functioning, sound proof studio. Doesn’t everyone need one of those to really set their Go-Pro videos to life with an awesome sound track. Ninkasi currently has 115 employees.
2- Distribution of beer. Thanks to the old, outdated laws on Beer Distribution, it has become a three tiered system, essentially selling beer to itself twice before you drink it at the tap house. Now you know why American beer was so shitty for such a long time; who wants to make beer in large batches and then deal with the complexity of distribution laws???
What does Ninkasi mean? Naturally, the ancient Sumerian Goddess of Fermentation. The Ancient Sumerians worshiped the beer they made and praised the goddess Ninkasi for the miracle of fermentation. They understood the value of beer: it gave quality to life. Ergo, beer is Love!
Without future ado the top Four largest breweries in Oregon are: Deschutes, Full Sail, Rouge, Ninkasi. If you placed Widmer in the top, you might be correct if it was still a Craft Brewery. However, the Craft Beer alliance was purchased by a large mass produced beer maker. Did you notice I didn’t list a fifth place??? Well…. because it seems the internet is a bit fuzzy on 5th place. It was 10 Barrels but they were recently purchased as well. Don’t count on Hop Valley either; same reasons.