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Oregon Craft Beer Production Breaks Records, Helps Economy

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon’s brewing industry is strengthening our local economy one beer at a time.

According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, our breweries have contributed nearly $2.5 billion to the state’s economy in 2011.

In Corvallis, both Flat Tail and Block 15 brewers say they’ve increased production significantly over the past year. They both attribute their success to their loyal customers.

The Oregon Brewers Guild reports Oregon’s 110 brewing companies crafted more than one million barrels of beer during 2011, a 7.5 percent increase over the previous year.

Flat Tail’s brewmaster says their rise in production is even higher.

“To give you an idea of how we’ve grown as a brewery, in a year and a half, our initial production was roughly 30 barrels a month, whereas now we’re producing anywhere from 100 to 140 barrels a month,” said Co-owner and Brewmaster David Marliave with Flat Tail Brewing Co.

The increase in production, in turn, allows them to expand their options.

“We’re brewing a lot of special one-off beers, barrel fermented, barrel aged, sour beers, things like that that previously were kind of unknown to most of the Oregon beer drinking culture,” Marliave said.

The state’s brewing companies also added more than 600 jobs last year.

One of those new employees now works at Flat Tail as the lead brewer.

“We’re selling more and more beer every day. We can hardly keep up with production,” said Lead Brewer Sean Martin with Flat Tail Brewing Co.

Just up the street, Block 15 is also seeing an increase in production.

“We go through a lot more beer here in the restaurant. When we brew a special style, we tend to brew two batches of it now, whereas we used to just brew one batch,” said Lead Cellarman Matt Williams with Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery.

Both breweries have the same idea as to why they’re doing so well despite the not-so-good economy.

“I think the variety has a big thing to do with it. There’s a lot of the creativity. A lot of Oregon brewers are brewing stuff that’s never really been made before,” Williams said.

“People are opening up to craft beer, and not just the IPAs and Pale Ales, but all kinds of craft beer,” Marliave said.

Block 15 and Flat Tail customers agree with the brewers.

“There’s a lot more experimentation in small breweries trying new ingredients that you’ll never see,” said Nick Blake.

“The beers change with every single season, and so they really fit with what’s going on here,” said Ben Wessel.

Flat Tail and Block 15 brewers say they expect production to continue to increase over the coming years, which in turn would lead to the creation of even more jobs.

There’s even more good news for our local economy as a new brewery and pub, called Sky High, will be opening in downtown Corvallis at the end of July. It’s expected to create about 50 new jobs.

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