In Portland, OR (aka Beervana) we are truly blessed to live in an area where new breweries open just about as often as it rains. Well, maybe not that much but sometimes it sure does feel like it. The latest in new brews in Portland is something a little different. Harvester Brewing is the creation of James Neumeister and Katrina “Kat” Jensen and is Portland’s first all-gluten-free microbrewery.
Now, put your skepticism away because this brewery is for the celiac and surprisingly non-celiac beer lover alike. Unlike other gluten-free beers Harvester’s selections actually taste like beer! At a recent tasting attended by Brewpublic, the line-up included a Nut Brown, American Brown Ale, Amber, Pale, Pumpkin Ale and a Scottish Ale. While Neumeister has no allergic issues with gluten, he says “Kat is a celiac, as opposed to having a food allergy to wheat or gluten, she cannot have any gluten.”
Neumeister is the main brewer at Harvester and in order to assert variety among the beers he brews, he actually roasts all of his own sorghum. Neumeister himself draws from a long background in manufacturing and engineering only recently heavily focusing on beer and food. He adds “Kat has spent most of her career working as a project manager and has a lot of experience in printing.” And while Neumeister does a bulk of the brewing, his partner is well versed in the brewing process. “Our roles are not that easy to define,” he says “Kat has brewed wonderful batches of our gluten-free beer without my help.” The partnership seems to be quite symbiotic. “We recognize that we have different strengths, we like to know about everything that we are both doing but know when to let the other take the lead on a task. I think that our ability to let the right person do the job, even if it isn’t one of us, comes from our experience as project managers.”
Notable, the Pale ale is full of hop flavor and aroma, done in a distinctly northwest style. Harvester is in its planning and developmental stages but hopes to be fully operative in the near future. Once production is in full swing, Harvester would like to bottle their brews to ensure that the product is entirely gluten-free from the mush tun to the consumer, never once being contaminated by wheat products.