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How the Pfriems Built a Real Family Brewery

Though it's never bottled or canned one of its beers, Pfriem now distributes to locations throughout Oregon and as far north as Seattle. It's a testament to the hustle of Josh Pfriem, who'd set up the brewery in the morning, go out on sales calls himself during the afternoon, host events until late in the evening and make a trek through the Columbia River gorge that sometimes forced him to pull over for a nap at 1 a.m. At the Oregon Brewers Festival in July, Pfriem was one of fewer than a handful of brewers on the floor in full brewery-branded gear shaking hands and handing out cards.

It's paid off not only in sales and expansion, but in the faith of those around him. Though Josh Pfriem spent much of the past decade formulating the beers that make up his regular lineup and working on them in his test brewery, his dedication was enough to convince business partners Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner to invest and his former Full Sail Brewing coworker and current brewmaster Dan Peterson to come along for the ride. Peterson had brewed at Magic Hat in Burlington, Vt., and helped Brooklyn Brewery develop its Local series line of big-bottle, small-batch beers while brewing there. Peterson had a family of his own and moved them out to Hood River to get his kids out of the 353-square-foot apartment he and his wife shared and to take a job at Full Sail, where he developed a Belgian IPA for the brewery's experimental batch program.

If the beer connection wasn't enough, Peterson and the Pfriems' children also attended the same pre-school in Hood River. That shared love of both Belgian beer and family led to the partnership, but also makes Pfriem Family Brewers feel more like home than a place laden with steel holding tanks, large hop freezers, elevated grain mills and towering pallets of kegs probably should. Annie Pfriem balances her Pfriem marketing and staffing duties with brewery and brewpub design incorporating reclaimed bits of farmhouses and wine barrels from the surrounding area, while Josh Pfriem still drags around pallet loaders laden with kegs of Blonde IPA, Wit and Belgian Dark Strong as if they are just tools in his garage.
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