In its 25th year, Deschutes Brewery joined the ranks of fellow breweries around the country that are employee-owned. Founder Gary Fish, who launched the brewery in Bend, Oregon in 1988, offered up shares of the company in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The trend is on the up-and up for the craft beer industry, with powerhouses like New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado, to Deschutes’ Oregon brethren Full Sail jumping on board. The theory is simple: to empower from within, give ownership and create a better product employees are proud to make.
In honor of the ESOP, Deschutes teamed up with fellow employee-owned brewery, Harpoon in Boston, for the EHOP Amber. In September, Deschutes brewer Ryan Schmiege flew to Boston to brew Harpoon’s version of the collaboration beer and, two weeks later, Harpoon’s brewer Ethan Elston came to Bend to help with his rendition. The partnership was released in October and pools together regional resources like Oregon sage, New England thyme and four Oregon-grown hop varieties. The beer itself takes on aromas and flavors of creamy caramel, sweet herbs and spicy hops that recall flavors of rye. Festive and warming for the season, the medium-bodied ale finishes with a hit of bitter, soothed by sweet malts and spice to whip it clean.
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