De Garde Brewing
Address: 114 Ivy Ave, Tillamook, OR 97141
In 2012, Linsey and Trevor Rogers founded de Garde Brewing in Tillamook, Oregon. De Garde is often considered the first exclusive spontaneously fermented beer producer in the United States, despite initial intentions to also produce conventional beers . Due to the positive progression of their first spontaneous beer batch, the Rogers decided to solely focus on spontaneous fermentation because it is a "representation of [their] heart and soul"  (~11 min in).
The first de Garde beers were released to the public in 2013 . Notable releases include Bu Weisse, a Berliner Weisse-inspired low-alcohol beer (often fruited), Saison Premiere, a saison-inspired blend (often fruited), and The Broken Truck, a gueuze-inspired blend of one-, two-, and three-year-old beers. Roughly 90-95% of de Garde's beers are sold directly out of the tasting room  (~9 min in).
Trevor Rogers is a former assistant manager of Pelican Brewery  but boasts an original affection for wine - even working several wine industry jobs and at one point planning a career in wine  (page 2 post #22). He credits Brouwerij Rodenbach for opening his eyes to mixed fermentation beers , 3 Fonteinen, Cantillon, and Tilquin as the catalysts to encourage his exploration of spontaneously fermented beer  (page 1 post #4) , and Upright Brewery and Block 15 Brewing for introducing wild beers to consumers in Oregon .
Before selecting a physical home for the brewery, Rogers wanted to qualify potential locations for spontaneous fermentation character. He exposed sterile wort to ambient microflora along more than 100 miles of the Oregon Coast (from Newport to Astoria)  (~5 min in) , originally targeted for its consistent year-round temperature and climate . Using a grist of pilsner and wheat, Rogers brewed 15-gallon trial batches on a MoreBeer! Tippy-Dump BrewSculpture. The wort was chilled and split into food grade buckets, standardized to 1-gallon volumes for consistency. The buckets were brought to prospective locations and left uncovered overnight, emulating the function of a coolship. Once retrieved, the beer was allowed to ferment for approximately 12 months before undergoing sensory assessment to understand the unique representation of ambient microflora from that area  (~5 min in). Rogers noticed a distinct sensory difference in spontaneously fermented trial beers in as few as 10 miles apart  (~4 min in). This trial batch method allowed Rogers to refine his list of prospective locations and repeat batches to qualify consistency . Ultimately, Tillamook was selected for its desirable microflora character and shorter fermentation timeline .
De Garde initiated brewing operations in 2012 in downtown Tillamook using a 7 bbl brewing system. Their initial focus was to brew a wide variety of clean beers and spontaneously fermented beers , however the early success of initial spontaneous batches encouraged the shift to a singular focus. Rogers specifically credits the first batch of Bu Weisse, brewed on a whim to determine brewhouse efficiency and specifications, for reinforcing his desire to pursue spontaneous fermentation exclusively  (~2 min in). By 2015, the Bu Weisse beers represented 15-20% of total production, quickly becoming de Garde's flagship beer  (~2 min in). In 2014, they closed the 2nd St. location and moved to a new 3,000 sq ft facility four miles south, next to the Tillamook Air Museum . They expanded to a new 10 bbl system, which can squeeze out up to 15 bbl of wort due to the modest gravity and alcohol content of many of the beers  (~26 min in). The expansion also included a 14 bbl coolship fabricated by Practical Fusion of Hillsboro, Oregon  (page 22 post #421). In 2017, after more than two years of renovations, de Garde returned to downtown Tillamook with the opening of their new tasting room and brewery. Their existing 10 bbl brewhouse was moved to this new location which promises to hold more than 2,000 oak vessels, including dozens of [Foeder | foeders] . With the expansion, they intend to shift from using small format oak vessels (~60 gal) in favor of large format ones (~130-550 gal) in an effort to increase efficiency and limit oxidation .
Today, de Garde is motivated to be as close to an authentic lambic brewery outside of Belgium. They rely strictly on ambient microflora to create a local manifestation of spontaneously fermented beer  (~23 min in). As the brewery matures, production and sales should converge to approximately 1,300-1,400 bbls per year  (~7 min in).
The name de Garde is inspired from the concept of beers destined for keeping, holding, and cellaring – a reference to the breweries who have inspired Rogers in both process and product. De Garde purposefully brews beers that will evolve over time, giving credence to both inspiration and reality  (~19 min in).
De Garde brews spontaneously fermented beers year-round due to the steady, cool, wet climate in Tillamook .
90-95% of of the grist used in de Garde's beer is Northwest grown and/or malted  (~33 min in) and only some recipes use raw grain, such as unmalted wheat in Saison Premiere  (~22 min in). Oats are sometimes used to reduce dryness .
De Garde prefers three or four-year-old aged Cascade or Willamette hops for most of its recipes. Rogers is not particularly fond of the cheesy character of aged hops, instead preferring a wild, earthy, and herbal character  (~31 min in). In his experience, aged hops can also contribute noticeable tannins, particularly in more aggressively hopped beers  (~52 min in). Beers are hopped at 1.5-3.0 lb/bbl (0.8-1.5 oz/gal), with the latter representing the rate used in lambic-inspired beers  (~31 min in). Brewers have progressively increased the hopping rate over the years to prevent beers from becoming too acidic  (~30 min in). Bales of aged hops are lab-tested for de Garde to ensure they are not too aggressive or mild . Occasionally, non-aged hops are used at the end of the boil, in the whirlpool, or dry hop for fresh hop character. This is common in some saison-inspired recipes  (~31 min in), such as Azacca in Saison Troisieme, designed to marry the fruity yeast esters with fruity hop flavors  (~22 min in). In Spears, de Garde used a total of 5.0 lb/bbl (2.6 oz/gal) of hops  (page 4 post #80).
Rogers is not averse to using imported ingredients, such as European malts and hops, when no suitable domestic substitute exists since it contributes to the overall quality of his beers  (page 7 post #138).
Tillamook water is mineral deficient much like distilled water. Rogers does not treat the water for the vast majority of recipes because he wants the beer to be an authentic representation of the environment. Exceptions include hop-forward and saison-inspired recipes where gypsum and calcium chloride is added in nominal amounts  (~32 min in).
Rogers experimented with traditional turbid mash regimens but switched to a modern approach instead . He uses a typical mash procedure, featuring a higher-than-normal mash temperature  (~24 min in), bordering on the edge of denaturing conversion enzymes, for most beers  (page 4 post #71). In general, de Garde produces wort that "could be found at any brewery" with the exception of more adjuncts, such as wheat. Mash pH is adjusted on occasion, specifically for the Berliner Weisse/ gose-inspired recipes since brewers intentionally avoid the enteric bacteria phase of spontaneous fermentation to shorten fermentation duration and produce less funky character. It is important to note, however that no pH adjustments are made after the mash  (~26 min in). The Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired beers are mashed at 150°F for a longer duration for a more fermentable wort. The lambic-inspired beers are an entirely different recipe designed to be slightly less fermentable  (~25 min in). A hot sparge is used to rinse the grain  (~52 min in).
Brewers do not oxygenate the wort  (~27 min in). Post boil, the wort is transferred into the coolship, typically around 3-4 pm. Upon entering the coolship, the wort is still at near-boiling temperature. The next day the wort is removed from the coolship around 12 pm (after ~20 hours), though overnight ambient temperatures can impact the cooling rate and exact removal time  (~24 min in). Every de Garde beer runs through the coolship  (~23 min in)  (~3 min in). The ~14 bbl coolship was built by Practical Fusion in Hillsboro, Oregon  (page 22 post #421). Prior to having the coolship installed, de Garde used their 7 bbl Hot Liquor Tank and Boil Kettle (which featured removable tops) for spontaneous inoculation. They equalized the volume between the two vessels to give a higher surface area to volume ratio  (page 6 post #111).
For the Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired beers, the coolship inoculated wort is transferred back into the kettle and held between 100-120°F (with 110°F as a target) for approximately 48-72 hours to encourage acidification from ambient lactic acid bacteria. This contributes to a relatively clean, yet still slightly funky character in the beer. After the warm temperature hold is complete, the wort is transferred to oak barrels and allowed to cool naturally  (~22 min in)  (page 12 post #227).
Rogers believes that most of the ambient microflora comes from the brewhouse itself. He looks for a re-supply of enteric bacteria via coolship for added complexity of character .
The inoculated wort is transferred directly into various sized oak vessels including standard wine (~60 gal) and spirit barrels (~53 gal), puncheons (~120 gal), or foeders (~1,800 gal)  (~25 min in)  (~3 min in)  (page 5 post #92). Consistency between beers aged in barrels and foeders is very high  (~28 min in). The brewery nearly exclusively uses Northwest-sourced barrels  (~33 min in). Some non-neutral barrel types used include cognac  (~45 min in), gin  (~28 min in), rum  (page 3 post #59), and bourbon . De Garde especially enjoys the synergy between gin and hops which is why they age most of their hop-forward beers in gin barrels  (page 4 post #78). All oak vessels go through a full sanitization regimen before first use and between subsequent uses. A high pressure wash of 180°F is applied to inverted barrels for 20-30 minutes. Despite this process, Rogers has noticed Brettanomyces character expresses itself earlier in subsequent barrel uses  (~15 min in). Barrels are stacked to a maximum of three levels high to help maintain consistent temperature throughout  (~30 min in). Most of de Garde's beers go through a ropy period in the barrel, indicating the presence of Pediococcus  (page 2 post #29).
De Garde often fills empty foeders with multiple batches over as long as a week. Often by the third batch, vigorous fermentation is already occurring inside the foeder  (~26 min in). The foeders typically contain Bu Weisse and Petit Desay to take advantage of economies of scale to offer better pricing to customers  (page 15 post #287),  (~6 min in).
Brewers prefers cool fermentation and aging temperatures to discourage acetic acid production, but peak fermentation temperature can creep up to 84°F in the foeders  (~29 min in). Ambient warehouse temperature is consistently 55-60°F, allowing de Grade to skip climate control . Beers are fermented and aged on the lees  (~25 min in) and the ambient microflora is never repitched into subsequent beers  (~28 min in). The Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired beers complete fermentation in as little as three months  (~23 min in).
Approximately 15% of production is set-aside for off-flavor rectification  (~14 min in), and a bare minimum of 5% of production will be dumped . Brewers see intense butyric acid and isovaleric acid character early in fermentation but expect flavor resolution around the one-year mark. However sometimes these off-flavors are persistent and the beer is dumped. Any beers demonstrating acetic acid are immediately discarded  (~14 min in), including the barrel  (~15 min in).
Overall, spontaneous fermentation character is consistent year round but intra-batch variation (from barrel to barrel) varies widely. It is rare to dump an entire batch, often just individual barrels from a batch  (~14 min in). Rogers has intentionally left barrels exceed the four-year mark to see how they will evolve. His willingness to gamble at times is a direct desire to make the best beer possible  (~16 min in).
De Garde commonly adds fruit to their spontaneous beers, using ratios inspired from Belgian lambic producers. Their default fruit-to-beer ratio is 2.0 lb/gal with exceptions for aggressive fruits (cranberry and currant) at 1.0 lb/gal and delicate fruits (peach) as high as 4.0 lb/gal. Brewers use a variety of fruit formats but prefer fresh or frozen. Purees are occasionally used for beers due to seasonal limitations  (~30 min in). Rogers prefers frozen fruit for its enhanced color and flavor  (page 22 post #421). He is particularly fond of wine grapes (due to his love of wine), especially grapes that express a strong sense of terroir  (page 2 post #22). Beer is conditioned on fruit until the desired character is obtained, ranging from one week to three months  (page 12 post #227).
Rogers' greatest goal is to produce drinkable beer with character  (~50 min in). He craves depth of flavor, funk, and nuance - not just aggressive acidity or fruit  (~24 min in). Blending is a collaborative process at de Garde  (~44 min). Rogers tries to utilize everyone in the brewery for input and admits to being occasionally "outvoted" on blend compositions. He has a deep respect for the nuanced palate of his wife, Linsey  (~45 min in). Beers are blended just before packaging and are neither filtered nor pasteurized. For beers spending less than one year in oak, wine yeast is added to the blending tank just before bottling. This helps supplement the ambient yeast to out compete the high ambient bacteria population  (~28, 34 min in)  (page 21 post #412).
Rogers believes that the bottle conditioning process is one of the most fragile states of spontaneous beer production  (~15 min in). De Garde originally packaged beers in 750 ml Belgian-style amber bottles with a crown but have since moved to amber champagne bottles with a cork and crown. The brewery would eventually like to package beers in cans to allow for greater portability and lower cost, further emphasizing Rogers' goal to produce the least expensive beer he can  (~1, 4 min in). Ideally, Rogers would like to target a $10 4-pack of 16 oz cans  (page 15 post #287). He aims to price de Garde beers so that it does not require a special occasion to enjoy but rather creates one  (page 11 post #208). Bottles are gravity filled, capped individually using a pneumatic capper, hand-labeled and stamped .
Brewers target a carbonation level of 3.0 volumes but given the variability of spontaneous fermentation they realize that beers could end up between 2.0-4.0 volumes  (~35 min in). They experienced some early issues with over-carbonation for this reason  (page 9 post #168). A large percentage of bottles undergo a second ropy phase, once again hinting at the presence of Pediococcus in de Garde beers  (page 2 post #29). The Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired beers spend between 2-8 weeks in bottles before being released  (~23 min in). Rogers recognizes there is going to be a natural blend-to-blend and bottle-to-bottle variation with spontaneous beers and that it's not a flaw rather just part of the process. He believes you lose the greatness of spontaneous beer if you try to produce the same thing every time .
De Garde regularly brews about one dozen different base recipes with slight variations , though in 2014 they brewed over 100 unique recipes, a testiment to their willingess to try new processes and techniques  (~20 min in).
Recipes are categorized into three general styles; Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired, saison-inspired, and lambic-inspired. The Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired beers are designed to be highly fermentation to encourage lactic acid production. The lambic-inspired beers are the opposite; less fermentables encourage a greater depth of Brettanomyces character  (~48 min in). As the brewery grows and matures, Rogers plans to phase-down or phase-out the Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired beers, giving more focus and attention to saison- and lambic-inspired beers. The former were produced out of necessity for quick turnaround production but it is not where de Garde's heart is  (~24 min in). The brewery recognizes the Berliner Weisse/gose-inspired beer popularity with customers, therefore still plan to produce several batches per year  (~26 min in). The end goal is to have the lambic-inspired beers represent a significant majority of the production  (~46 min in).
Additional Articles on MTF Wiki
- Spontaneous Fermentation
- Turbid Mash
- Berliner Weissbier
- The Beer Temple Episode #264: On Location at De Garde Brewing
- The Sour Hour Episode 20 - De Garde Brewing
- The Sour Hour Episode 21 - De Garde Brewing
- Talk Beer- AMA De Garde Brewing
- Tillamook's De Garde Might Be the World's Quirkiest Brewery. Retrieved 3/5/2018
- The Beer Temple Episode #264: On Location at De Garde Brewing
- Interview with Trevor Rogers of De Garde Brewing. Retrieved 2/25/2018.
- RateBeer Top Brewers In The World For the Year 2015>
- [https://www.ratebeer.com/ratebeerbest/BestBeers-State2016.asp 2016 RateBeer Top Beers, Brewers, New Brewers By Subregion. Retrieved 3/5/2018.>
- De Garde Brewing Opening Soon With a Wild/Barrel-Aged/Farmhouse Focus. Retrieved 2/25/2018.
- Talk Beer- AMA De Garde Brewing. Retrieved 2/25/2018.
- Trevor Rogers of de Garde Brewing. Retrieved 1/28/2017.
- de Garde Goes Wild in Tillamook. Retrieved 2/25/2018.
- Breakout Brewer: de Garde Brewing. Retrieved 2/25/2018.
- The Wild Wizards At De Garde. Retrieved 3/5/2018.
- An Inside Look at De Garde Brewing’s New Tasting Room & Brewery. Retrieved 3/4/2018.
- Inside de Garde Brewing’s Expansion. Retrieved 3/4/2018.
- The Sour Hour Episode 20 - De Garde Brewing.
- The Sour Hour Episode 21 - De Garde Brewing.
- The Spontaneous Files: De Garde Brewing. Retrieved 3/3/2018.