Portland Kettleworks Launches Labrewatory

portland kettleworks

Portland Kettleworks is getting into the other side of brewing. The Pacific Northwest manufacture of brewhouses is trying its hand at making beer with the opening of its Labrewatory right around the corner from their headquarters in Portland, Oregon.

Although, it won’t be its own beer on tap, but instead a collaboration with current brewery clients and breweries looking to work on test batches. Portland Kettleworks’ head of marketing, Chris Sears, explained that some breweries just don’t have the money to build a pilot system or the room to house it.

That’s where this innovative concept emerged after a client they were working with was driving an hour from its brewery to a university setting to work on experiments. The problem was, that because it’s a teaching brewhouse, the beer either had to be given away or dumped.

That’s a loss of money for the brewery and where Portland Kettleworks now hopes to step in.

“We thought there is a market for that, here in Portland or in any other heavy beer market like Cleveland, Denver or in the New England area,” Sears said.

They say they see it as a good way for brewers to make new beers at essentially no cost. Sears explained that a local brewer could go to the Labrewatory and fill eight kegs of the beer. Four would stay with the brewery and the other four would go back to the brewer.

“They can take the beer and sell it because it’s made from two fully-licensed breweries,” Sears said. “So they can recoup the cost of what it took to make the beer and the cost of using the system at the Labrewatory. So it’s kind of a wash for them.”

If it was a out-of-town brewery looking to use the system and it could not ship its kegs back home, the kegs would be sold to local distributor Point Blank, and those kegs will be given to aggressive accounts that have rotating taps. “It’s a benefit to [Point Blank] and, let’s say it’s a brewery from Vermont, they can say they have beer on tap in Portland,” Sears said.

The showpiece brewhouse is a 3.5 bbl. steam system “with all the bells and whistles” according to Sears. He envisions it almost like a Portland’s UBrew, but with a bit more umph. “They can then scale up to their system a lot easier than maybe running it on a Sabco or their old homebrew system,” he said. “Potential clients can hop on the system down there and play around.”

Sears also believes this would be a great step for a startup brewery that may only be producing small homebrew batches and want to see what they next level is like.

Along with the brew system, Portland Kettleworks has reached a deal with Oregon Brew Lab to run diagnostics on the beer brewed. Along with customer feedback, a full analyzed report on the beer will be made available.

“Everything from IBU, ABV, clarity, down to calories.” Sears said.

The Labrewatory plans to open June 19, 2015 if all goes well with licenses and building permits. A”handful” of PK clients have already stepped up and said they would be involved, while Sears said a soft opening during Portland’s Craft Brewers Conference in April garnered non-PK client that wants to do a collaboration already.

“I think it will help up the game for the brewing industry in Portland,” Sears said. “Portland has been on the forefront of pushing the craft beer scene, but we may have gotten a little complacent. We have some great beer, some good beer and some not some great beer that maybe needs a little more refinement. This is a cost-effective way that will lead to better beer in our area and up the game for everybody.”

 

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