Charlie Devereux, the co-founder of Double Mountain Brewery and Wayfinder Beer, has teamed with the founder of the first-year Hood River brewery Kings & Daughters to start a new Portland-area brewery: Via Beer.
Devereux and Kyle Larsen say they are “pursuing beers that are modern and mostly hop-focused, with an eye for unique approaches and ideas,” accompanied by dynamic graphics and design. Via’s first beers, Spiral Light West Coast IPA and Special Pils Hoppy Pilsner, will hit the market this week.
Via will brew on the 20-barrel system at Barrett Beverage in Clackamas, a contract brewer and distiller that debuted last summer when Kings & Daughters’ began brewing there. Devereux said a taproom will open “when the time is right. Now’s not the time, but hopefully that will change soon.”
Devereux had been advising Larsen with Kings & Daughters and eventually began helping out in the brewhouse, something he said he hadn’t done full time since the 1990s. He said he will also be involved with brewing for Via along with a staff of Barrett brewers, and Larsen will serve as a consulting brewmaster.
The two breweries, however, are operating independently from each other at Barrett on an alternating proprietary agreement, meaning they have full ownership and control of their own production. And Devereux said after spending so many years on the business side, it’s good to be back in front of the fermenters.
“I had forgotten how much I loved it,” he said. “Working on your feet, making beer is a really fun, demanding and at times frustrating job, but it’s a gas. I thought I’d never be back in boots again, but I’m super excited about it.”
Devereux, now 56, in 2007 founded Double Mountain, where Larsen would eventually become a brewer. In 2013, Devereux left the Hood River brewery and began putting together Southeast Portland’s Wayfinder, which he founded in 2016 with partners Matt Jacobson of Sizzle Pie pizza and Rodney Muirhead, of Podnah’s Pit Barbecue and La Taq. Under the guidance of brewmaster Kevin Denny, Wayfinder has become a prestigious lager-centric brewery that also makes award-winning Northwest ales.
Larsen, who is 40, in 2016 left his head brewer job at Double Mountain and moved to England with his family, where he worked at Siren Craft Brew. After three years and “an incredible family adventure,” the clan returned to Hood River, where he began planning for Kings & Daughters, which opened last summer.
Wayfinder, meanwhile, was running smoothly, said Devereux, who is still a co-owner but not involved in day-to-day tasks. With the brewery in Denny’s hands and the hiring of Lindsay Allen, formerly of pFriem Family Brewers, to oversee sales, he had time to think about a new project.
“We made a loose plan to see if we could collaborate on a new venture for me while he pursued (Kings & Daughters) with his wife, Kacie,” Devereux said.
Devereux said Via plans to brew two limited-release beers about every three weeks, and “do our best to keep it always fresh,” Devereux said. “And always have fun with it.”
Future beers envisioned include another West Coast IPA with a different hop bill, a triple-hopped Hazy IPA, and collaborations with other start-ups, such as Foreland Beer and co-founder Sean Burke.
Graphic artist Orion Landau, who designed Wayfinder’s distinct branding and labeling, was tapped to “work his magic” for Via, Devereux said. The new brewery’s branding “explores bold color and altered photography in a way that’s different from Wayfinder, fusing themes of art, nature and psychedelia as brand totems,” the brewery said in a news release.
Southeast Portland-based Day One Distribution will handle sales throughout Oregon, and Via will self-distribute in Western Washington.
“I’ve watched Robby Roda with admiration as he’s grown his business from humble beginnings,” Devereux said about the Day One founder. “He’s built a great team, and they are doing something special. Hopefully Via can be a big part of their success going forward.”
Devereux said Via will focus on Oregon and Washington, with some sales in California. The ultimate vision is for Via Beer to reflect the Northwest.
“I want to be an exciting new brand,” he said, “that succeeds in the Oregon way of having a neat following, lots of local love, very local focus, and very invested in the Oregon scene.”
About the beers
The first two releases will be available this week on draft and in cans through Day One’s distribution network of bars, restaurants and stores. Here are the brewery’s tasting notes:
Spiral Light West Coast IPA: A light-colored and supremely hoppy 6.2% ABV version of the style with Simcoe, Mosaic and Strata hops.
Special Pils Hoppy Pilsner: A 5% ABV straw-colored lager that daringly pairs German malts and Spalt Select hops with a generous dose of Simcoe and Mosaic in the dry-hop.
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