Quality, Flexibility Paramount for Port Brewing/Lost Abbey Brands

When The Lost Abbey launched its brand 15 some years ago, the notion to be “celebratory” and “shareable” came to mind when opening a large-format bottle.

Bottles were the hallmark of the San Diego brand and placing the bottles in specialty beer stores — which nomenclatures were “bottle shops” — housed the brand across the country. Yet, as the brand has grown and found that changing with the times is needed, the glass user has found aluminum in its portfolio at last as a Czech Pilsner called Noble Tendencies. But it will be just the first.

“It’s not going out past Southern California at this point and we are getting ready to actually put a couple of sour beers in cans,” said co-founder Tomme Arthur. “We have the ability to put live beer in a can and still be very proud of that.”

The brewery — which launched out of the former Stone Brewing home — has an interesting business model because it has four separate packaging lines. Arthur touts that the facility has a clean canning line and clean bottling line, a sour bottling line, and now a sour canning line.

That shows that flexibility is key for the company, which Arthur runs along with the Port Brewing brand — which houses the lines of The Hop Concept and Tiny Bubbles (both canned brands) as well.

“Our flexibility is really ridiculous at this point,” he said with a smile during the interview for the cover story of the May/June issue of Brewer. “Now we kind of need to just sit back and wait and see where consumerism is going. We’ve gotta get through the noisy seltzer world and understand what kombucha is gonna look like or not. And then we can make those decisions.

“But again, we have flexibility inherently. We get out of bed every day, we could do almost just about anything.”

The clean packaging line has four different glass formats, the canning line on the clean side does two different formats.

“We can run up and down about 10 different size packages, clean and sour both,” Arthur said. “And that’s just not very common.”

Having four lines and the ability to bottle and can various sizes means making sure there is consistency across the entire portfolio.

So the brewery has a fairly substantial lab for a brewery its size in terms of equipment and capabilities, Arthur pointed out.

“We can plate anything. We’ve got a full Anton Paar machine that allows us to measure CO2 and DO in bottles and packages,” he said. “We have the ability to count yeast on a cellometer and keep looking at more ways to do so.

“But I think our comfort is part practicality. This is what we know — Brettanomyces — and this is how we deal with it. Then we come back over the top and we can test and plate and look at things analytically under microscopes and do stuff like that. That gives us predictability.”

Arthur feels that Abbey and Port has a pretty solid foundation given how much time they have had on the Abbey side to help formulate success through the newer lines and packaging.

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