Until recently, Portland has eschewed the growing popularity of gypsy brewers (no disrespect to the Roma community; it's become the industry vernacular for itinerant brewers who brew at existing breweries with excess capacity, instead of buying their own system). In fact, hardly any of Oregon’s 200-plus breweries are “tenant” or “contract” breweries—beer brands that distribute and sell product without owning their own physical production facility—despite how common the practice has become elsewhere. Slowly, that’s changing.
Perhaps the best known gypsy brewery is Denmark’s Mikkeller from Mikkel Borg Bjergsø alongside Mikkel’s twin, Jeppe, the brother behind Evil Twin. Stateside, there’s Baltimore “based” Stillwater Arisanal and myriad California brewing companies like Almanac, which uses a Type 17 wholesalers license. These are proof that the lack of mash tuns and kettles don’t lessen the beer's quality, or the affinity enthusiasts have for certain beer, even if they like the notion of brewers toiling away by mashing and sparging by hand—which rarely happens even at the most enchanted craft breweries.
Even Boston Beer Co., makers of Samuel Adams, started out contracting their production; their stuff today mostly comes from Cincinnati and a brewery near Allentown, but, fun trivia: At one point they contracted from the Blitz-Weinhard Brewery (RIP) right here in Portland.
Joining brands like Awesome Ales, Royale, and Beer for My Horses (that one may have been more ephemeral), Brewed By Gnomes is the forthcoming project from Shay Hosseinion. And this thoroughly modern model is “inspired by ancient traditions.” I was actually tipped off to it by my chiropractor, because this being Portland, everyone’s clued into what’s new in beer. Although Hosseinion was toying with the notion of opening a tasting room in the shadow of Apex and BeerMongers, the current plan is for the gnomes to distribute locally for the first year or so, starting this fall.
It is hoped that Belgian-based Duvel Moortgat, owners of Brasserie D’Achouffe (drinkers of La Chouffe know this means "The Gnome"), won't object to this gnomadic brewer's name.
Said Brewed By Gnomes' chief gnome, “I don’t have my own brewhouse, but I brew the beer... I just put in my TTB and OLCC applications, so it’ll be a couple months before I brew a 10-barrel batch.” Hosseinion did not disclose the specific brewery where he'll employ his "old world alchemy." Early pilot batches of the all-herbal and -organic brewing company include Honeysuckle Saison, Elderflower Red Rauchbier, and Mugwort Brown Ale. Other spice and herb-forward recipes include beers made with fennel, cardamom, yarrow root, and more honeysuckle (as found in an IPA and a kolsch).
Such beers are the subject of the book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, and these types of herbed and spiced beers can be found locally at Rogue’s Buckman Botanical Brewery tucked inside the Green Dragon, where recipes star roots and tea leaves in lieu of hops.