Old Town Brewing Brewmaster Bolt Minister Parts Ways With His Award Winning Brewery To Start His Own Brewing Project in SW Washington

Brewmaster Bolt Minister
By Angelo De Ieso & D.J. Paul

Over the weekend we were privy to some sad yet positive news regarding the Portland area beer scene. As of Friday, Bolton “Bolt” Minister left his position as Brewmaster at Old Town Brewing in Northeast Portland.

This news caught us by surprise as Minister has been garnering some major national and international brewing awards over the past few years when he has been at the helm at Old Town Brewing. These have been various medals at both the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. Not too shabby of a resume for his short tenure at Old Town Brewing Co.

Now with Old Town Brewing in his past, Minister begins work in full to get things moving along with the opening of his own production brewery. No specific location has been found but he will open the brewery north of the Columbia River in Washington’s Clark County. This will allow him to brew his fabulous lower gravity beers closer to home
and his family outside of Vancouver.

Below you can read more about how Minister got into brewing and what lies ahead for one of Portland and the Northwest’s most personable brewers.

Where are you from originally?

BM: I was born, raised, and still live in Clark County Washington.

Tell us about your work history in the craft beer industry? Where did you work first? What got you into brewing?

BM: Finding brewing as a career was a funny route for me. I was a history major at Washington State University in Vancouver, where I wrote several papers on German immigration and the brewing industry. So it was a historical interest in the growth of the American brewing industry that first got me brewing beer with my wife at home. After that first batch at home I realized that I wanted to learn much more and soon became focused on pursing brewing as a career.

My first job was at Philadelphia’s in Sellwood where I brewed once a week, but mostly I was making cheese-steaks and reading any brewing book I could get my hands on. After Philly’s I moved to Astoria Brewing Company where I was able to work with some wonderful people and get a practical knowledge of how to helm a small craft brewing shop. From Astoria I went to Rock Bottom Brewing in Portland. It was at Rock Bottom where I really got a proper education in how to become a brewer by working for Van Havig and later Charlie Hutchins.

What beers have you won national awards for?

BM: The following medals have been awarded:

Gold – 2013 Great American Beer Festival – Cent’s & Censability Fresh Hop Pale Ale

Silver – 2014 World Beer Cup – I’d Like to Buy the World a Kolsch – Kolsch-style Ale

Bronze – 2014 World Beer Cup – Paulie’s NOT Irish Red – Irish Red-style Ale

Silver – 2014 Great American Beer Festival – I’d Like to Buy the World a Kolsch – Kolsch-style Ale

Cheers at Denver - Old Town Brewery's award winning craft beers under Bolt Minister

What are your favorite styles of beer to brew? Favorites to drink?

Bolt Minister of Portland's Rock Bottom BreweryBM: I always enjoy brewing fresh hop beers. You only get to brew them once a year and each one is so unique, they’re a lot of work but the reward is always phenomenal. I also love brewing non-style beers, or beers that have no real style. Styles tend to fence brewers and drinkers alike in, all too often, so it’s fun to buck convention and brew something that straddles various styles but can’t really be put into a box.

BM: As far as drinking, I always love to drink lower gravity beers. Favorites are always Sierra Nevada Pale, Trumer Pils, anything from Occidental, anything from Commons, and Hamms of course. It’s the water.

Do you have a particular philosophy regarding beer?

BM: Like what you drink, and drink what you like. Don’t complicate beer or beer drinking, beer is simple and wonderful and it should be enjoyed with people that you enjoy.

What are some of your favorite breweries in Portland? How about nationally or even globally?

BM: I love what the Commons does. Same with Occidental. Lucky Lab is a perennial favorite, as is BridgePort.

So we hear you have left Old Town Brewing to attempt your own brewing outfit in Washington State. Is this so? Whereabouts?

Adam and Bolt with Old Town Pizza (back in July 2014)BM: Leaving Old Town was hard and the departure was tough. I am however happy to be moving on to a project that I’ve had envisioned for a very long time. The brewery will be located in Clark County, Washington.

How long have you been planning for this move and when do you foresee a new brewery coming to life?

BM: Since I started brewing I’ve wanted to open up a brewery close to home in Clark County, so planning has been ongoing since I’ve been in the industry. Seeking investors and funding the brewery will be the first step, but I’m confident that it won’t be too long before there will be product in Washington and Oregon.

Have you any idea of the work involved in opening up a brewery. It must be a lot of hard work and planning.

BM: The work and planning is substantial and should not be understated, however it’s also exhilarating to be in the position to bring my vision to fruition and I’m excited for all of the work.

Any names or themes picked out for your new brewhouse?  Will the new spot be a taproom strictly production, any other details or dreams you have?

BM: It will be a production brewery with a taproom and beer garden. The taproom will not offer food, but there will be a food cart on site. I can’t wait to roll out more details, as it gets closer.

What trends in the current craft beer landscape and especially in Washington (and Oregon too) do you see impacting your vision for a new brewery?

Rock Bottom brewers Bolt Minister (left) and Charlie HutchinsBM: It’s the variety of the craft landscape in the Pacific Northwest that makes it so unique. Although we love our hops, they’re not the only thing we do well.  So exploring that variety, be it barrel aging, souring, using fruit, or just making plain easy drinking beer, it will all find a spot in the brewery.

Who will be taking over the brewing duties at Old Town Brewing?

BM:I’m not sure who will be taking over the reigns. I would however like to thank each and every employee and customer at Old Town Brewing and Old Town Pizza for being so supportive and generous to me during my time there.

We have had the pleasure to know and call Minister a friend over the years and wish him luck on this exciting endeavor for him and his family. Soon we will be raising a glass of beer from his new brewery!

You can stay up to date with what Minister is up to from following him
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/VivalaGoldens