One of the Pacific Northwest’s most beloved breweries is undoubtedly Walking Man of Stevenson, Washington. This is due in huge part to head brewer Jacob Leonard. The talented young brewer however, has recently announced a big career move and will be moving on to brew at Widmer Brothers/Craft Brewers Alliance in Portland. His last day at Walking Man will be on December 15, and to honor the collection of work put forth at Walking Man, Belmont Station will throw a party for Leonard to honor his dedication to the region’s great beer scene and wish him well as he moves forward in his latest adventures. Known for celebrated styles Belmont will tap some noteworthy offering put together by Leonard and company on Tuesday December 14. These include Walking Man’s Portage Pale Anniversary Rye, Homo Erectus Imperial IPA, and a one-off blend of coffee infused Walking Stick and Bourbon Barrel-aged Jaywalker Imperial Stout. Further, the Bier Cafe will exhibit the lauded bourbon barrel aged Brrr…bon from the Widmer Brothers. Since Leonard was the driving force in the success of the Sasquatch Legacy Project in conjunction with the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation to benefit talented and aspiring brewers, $2 from every pint ($1 from every glass or flight) sold will be donated to the foundation. Here is an interview with the amiable Leonard with information regarding his tenure at Walking Man and his future with Widmer Brothers…
How long were you at Walking Man?
Jacob Leonard: 5 1/2 years.
What was your role at Walking Man?
JL: I am the Head Brewer, which means I oversee all of the day-to-day brewing operations. Cellar work, brewing, filling orders for customers and distributors, and desiging recipes.
What was the best and worst part of working at Walking Man?
JL: I don’t think there was a bad part. I’ve had a great time brewing for Walking Man. I’ve learned a lot and made so really great friends in the industry. It’s just time for a change.
Tell us about your new role at Widmer.
JL: I will be part of the brewing staff. I’m not sure exactly where they are going to put me yet, most likely I will start in filtration. The main difference in Walking Man and Widmer Brothers is the scale of production. At Walking Man I am responsible for the beer from grain to glass. At Widmer Brothers, I will be focus on one part of the process, and then learn other processes gradually over time. I’m going to be learning a lot, and I’m really excited about it!
At Walkingman it seemed you had a lot of creative control over the beers that were made, at Widmer you may not have this same luxury. How do you see this changing you as a brewer?
JL: Well I have always, and will continue to home-brew. Widmer Brothers makes a lot of great, creative beers, and learning all about those is going to fill that void too. Plus, all of the new technology and processes that I will be learning will help.
Do you know if Dan (Munch, assistant brewer at Walking Man) will be taking over your role at Walking Man?
JL: I’m not sure who will be taking over at Walking Man. There are a lot of qualified brewers out there that would fit in great at Walking Man.
What has been your involvement in the Falconer Foundation and the Sasquatch Legacy Project?
JL: Bob (Craig), the owner of Walking Man, came up with the Legacy Project about six years ago. After the first couple of years, I took over the organizing of the brew, and hosting the brew-day at the pub. The scholarship recipients design a recipe, I modify it to work on our system, order the donated ingredients, plan the brew date, and throw the party at the pub. The scholarship recipients brew the beer that day, and I am just there to help move it a long.
The Sasquatch Legacy Project has seemed to be tied pretty closely to Walking Man in the past, will this change with your move? Or do you see yourself still being pretty closely tied to this project at Walking Man after leaving?
JL: It is Bob’s project, and I’m sure he will continue to carry it on. I really hope so, it’s a great time, and we’ve made some great beers in the past.
Join Jacob Leonard, Walking Man and Widmer Brothers for a special toast at Belmont Station on Tuesday December 14 from 6-9PM.
Belmont Station is located at 4500 SE Stark Street in sunny Portland, Oregon. For more information, call (503) 232-8538.