Friday, June 8, 2007

The Creamery/Klamath Basin Brewing

"Writers and travelers alike are mesmerized by knowing of their destinations." ~Eudora Welty

Lonnie Clement is pretty proud of his brewery and pub. He has reason to be. Lonnie and his partner Del began as homebrewers, then upgraded to professional status, brewing on a 2 barrel system on weekends, selling the kegs, and working all week at their "day jobs."

I met Lonnie in 1998 when Steelhead opened a brewpub in Fresno, California. My owners bought the old Red Tomato brewing system in Sacramento, planning to put it in Fresno. Then they decided to buy and convert an existing Rock Bottom brewpub instead. One of my duties as Steelhead's Brewmaster was to sell off the equipment they no longer wanted. Lonnie was the buyer of this 15-bbl JV Northwest system.

In those days there was a lot of brewing equipment for sale, and Lonnie was on a budget. I knew my boss wouldn't drop his price, but Lonnie was beginning to look elsewhere. I like a win-win situation whenever possible. The solution was elegant: The boss got his full price, and Lonnie got a bonus that didn't cost the boss any extra money. The bonus was three weeks of training for Lonnie and Del at Steelhead in Eugene. When I visited Lonnie on June 5th, he told me he uses his Steelhead training and my operations manual all the time. I was happy to hear that.

Their brewpub opened two years ago and Lonnie's been trying to get me to visit since then. I was impressed with his place. Some extra investor money gave these two hard-working guys the opportunity to create a show-piece brewpub in a small town. Lonnie had 11 great beers on tap when I was there.

With both Mia & Pia's and The Creamery: Who woulda thunk that Klamath Falls was such a great beer town?

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