Hood River, Oregon’s Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, founded in 2010, is no dinosaur in brewing years. But its influence belied its age: It garnered GABF gold medals, plenty of acclaim and had a strong hand in shaping the Brettanomyces boom in American brewing. Much of that was thanks to the yeast obsession of two of its founders: brewer Charles Porter and eponymous founder Dave Logsdon (Dave founded Full Sail Brewing and Wyeast Laboratories, a yeast bank, prior to Logsdon Farmhouse Ales). In summer 2015, the brewery considered an ownership sale; Dave Logsdon stepped back from daily operations though he today remains the brewery’s majority owner. Simultaneously, Porter left to start his own project: Little Beast Brewing. We talked with Porter to find out what to expect from his new venture, which is set to open in spring 2017 in a space adjoining The Westgate Bourbon Bar & Taphouse in Beaverton, Oregon.
Did the Logsdon sale influence your decision to leave the brewery?
We [myself and my wife] were either going to start our own company or get more involved with Logsdon. I was planning to start my own thing, but then the possibility came up to potentially buy Logsdon, but the other partners won that bid so I decided to leave to work on my own thing.
What have you been doing since you left?
Looking for a location. Location is important, but it’s also been a very tough thing in the Portland market because there’s a really reduced [real estate] inventory in that market. It’s at an all-time low. So the question was: Do we want to pay a higher rent in an area that’s more desirable and only have a small part of that space be production? We did want to have a tasting room, but not a brewpub. We didn’t want to start two businesses. My forte is production and recipe development and that type of thing. The situation we have right now is we’re in a brewpub that closed down and we’re subleasing a portion of that from the people who took over that lease. It gives us the ability to get our products in line and to build more of a reputation.
What can people expect from Little Beast’s beers?
We’re definitely doing farmhouse and Belgian styles as well as some conventional styles, with the main emphasis on mixed-culture fermentations. We want all of our beers to have distinctly different profiles; you wouldn’t say it’s strictly farmhouse or strictly sour, but an array of beers leaning toward the more traditional farmhouse styles but with a twist. The emphasis being on beers that are of different flavor profiles within that American Brett or mixed-culture category.
I heard you might also be including some foraged ingredients.
It’s been interesting to see fruit and spice beers develop over the years. They used to be either just fruit beer or just spiced beer. As time’s gone on, the whole aspect of that in the U.S. has changed. It’s not just a strawberry wheat anymore, it has some tartness or vinous character. Since I was a teenager, I’ve been foraging for stuff like mushrooms or leeks, so I’m looking forward to being able to incorporate those as well as traditionally grown stuff. As for regional ingredients, I’d like to work with those but also incorporate regional ingredients from other areas as well. I did grow up in the Midwest, so maybe incorporating some of the ingredients from there.
Where will drinkers be able to find your beer?
Initially in Oregon; we plan on finding distribution early on, and then Washington and probably California would be the next step after that, but not all at once. We want to grow the company slowly; we don’t want to launch with a lot of barrelage. We’ve been working with Imperial Yeast out of Portland, a relatively new person on the block but they’re super qualified. They’ve been banking yeast and bacteria strains for me so at this point I want to take the time to be able to really hone in on the different flavors produced by the microflora.
The microflora … that’s where the name Little Beasts comes from, right?
You know how brewers often call the critters or microflora “bugs”? So they’ll ask each other, “What bugs are in this?” The French term for that is petit bête, the translation is “little beast.” I do also hope to do wild yeast fermentation, too, at some point. One of my biggest inspirations since I started my brewing career was lambic and gose-style beer, which was just further influenced by my time over in Europe. It taught me that it’s so important to do something with local microflora that represents the local terroir.
Editor’s note, Dec. 8, 2016: This article has been updated to reflect Dave Logsdon’s continued majority ownership of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales.