A Story of Two Breweries: Ghostfish & Outer Planet
You know what we love more than anything? Changing the perception of gluten free and pushing the limits of what people think they can do with non-traditional grains. This fuels us.
As a result, we get to collaborate with breweries in our community to share our experience from the past five years of brewing hundreds of beers with grains that don’t contain gluten. It’s exciting learn from other brewmasters, but also witness the amazement once they taste these unique brews.
At our facility back in October, our Head Brewer, Reid Ackerman, worked to brew a gluten free beer with Ariel Klein, Head Brewer at Outer Planet Brewing. Ariel was an excellent partner as she has a significant amount of experience with lager-styled beer and yeast proposa. Additionally, she was eager to learn the art of gluten free brewing. Partnering to create this beer was a fantastic learning experience and a win-win for all involved.
What did we brew, you ask? A special helles lager we’re calling “A Smokeball’s Chance in Helles” — on tap now at both breweries.
Check out this fun video Outer Planet Brewing produced. It showcases the brewing process and the joy of the day.
Recently, we spoke with the Reid and Ariel about the process. Here’s a Q&A we hope sparks curiosity and the desire to try something new.
What is a helles beer?
Reid: Traditionally helles are very bright, mildly sweet, light hued, full bodied, bottom fermenting beer. We wanted to add a unique dimension to ours, so we included a small portion of applewood smoked red Proso millet.
Ariel: The smoked helles style is one that has intrigued me for quite a while now – I love the delicate balance of light sweet grain and a gentle smokiness. This balance is quite difficult to achieve, and we were excited to present ourselves with a real challenge!
How did brewing day go?
Reid: Overall it was really smooth! And, considering we were unsure how the proportion of smoked malt would play with the rest of the grist, it was a very pleasant surprise that the smoke flavor was balanced and light, but still very noticeable and appreciated.
Ariel: Perhaps the biggest challenge was attempting to get the balance of ingredients right – something which we hem and hawed about over a few frosty pints. We were lucky to have access to some fantastic smoked GF malts – though we did consider smoking our own millet (perhaps we’ll save that one for next time!).
What do you hope customers take away/experience from this beer?
Reid: For those who haven’t tried our beers before, I hope they walk away with an understanding that you can make excellent beer from alternative ingredients. Especially, when aided by some excellent people in the community.
Ariel: First and foremost, I hope that our customers enjoy the beer! Assuming we are able to accomplish that, I hope they take away the knowledge that excellent beer of any style can potentially be brewed with gluten free ingredients and enough group knowledge. I hope to hear people say “this is a fantastic smoked helles lager” rather than “this is a fantastic lager for a GF beer”.
When you think of Oregon, you probably think of hot springs, hiking and BEER! This blog is going to point you in the right direction for things to do and where you can find Ghostfish in the Beaver State and Rose City. Downtown Portland is full of eclectic shops, very PNW cafes and quite a few parks. Make sure to spend some time in the iconic Powell’s City of Books and stock up on Ghostfish for your hotel room at the Whole Foods Market just right down the street. If fine art is your scene, the Portland Art Museum is for you. Their permanent collection is incredible and they have a unique selection of visiting exhibitions.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a beautiful oasis in downtown and totally worth a visit. After you’ve worked up an appetite from walking downtown, swing by either Andina, an upscale Peruvian spot or Imperial, an American restaurant showcasing local ingredients. Both restaurants feature our brews! If residential/city planning is of interest to you, head to south east Portland and take a walk or drive around Ladd’s Addition. It is Portland’s oldest planned residential development and one of the oldest in the western United States. Then be sure to hit up The Beer Mongers, a cozy beer bar on the southwest edge of Ladd’s Addition. If you’re hanging out on E Burnside St swing by The Eastburn Public House for some Ghostfish and a good time.
You can’t go to Oregon and not think about hiking, depending on the time of year. Luckily there are plenty of options for Ghostfish no matter which direction you head out of Portland, just remember to leave no trace and pack out what you pack in. Use our Beer Finder App to see which is closest to your hike or hotel.
If hiking is a bit too outdoorsy for you check out Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Just a few short miles from the center of Oregon’s largest city. The honking of geese replaces the honking of cars. A refuge and special place for both animals and humans.
Oregon Fun Facts
Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in the United States.
At 1949 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.
The Oregon state flag has a beaver on the back. It is the only US state flag with a different image on the reverse side.
The University of Oregon mascot is the Ducks. Go Ducks!
Oregon has the most ghost towns of any state. Booooooo!
It is the only state to have an official state nut, the hazelnut.
Portland is known as the City of Roses. (The nickname grew in popularity after the exposition, where Mayor Harry Lane suggested that the city needed a “festival of roses.”)
The Oregon Trail went from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City. It was 2,000 miles long and was used by people to travel west during the 1800s.
No one knows for sure what the word Oregon means. It was used by the local American Indians to refer to the river.
Ghostfish being available in Oregon is all because of our distributing partners at Columbia Distributing and Bigfoot Beverages. Checkout the list of retailers in the area that carry Ghostfish below!
Heading to Massachusetts most definitely means you’ll probably be heading to “Beantown”. Boston is one of the most exciting cities on the eastern seaboard and offers something to everyone. Whether you’re looking for fine art and performances, or just want to explore the city streets and absorb the city at its grittiest, there is truly something for everyone.
If you’re more inclined to spend time outdoors, the Emerald Necklace is a chain of parks between Boston and Brookline. The consist of 1,100 acres that are on the National Historic Register. It’s a perfect walk after breakfast before heading off for a day of breweries. Nearby, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston houses one of the most extensive art collections in the U.S., ranging from ancient Egyptian to contemporary American works. Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a great spot for people watching, as well as a consolidated place to pick up souvenirs from local artists.
Just south of Boston in Dedham, MA is McGolf, a driving range, mini golf, and simulator facility. It’s a great outing for the family, or for a release smacking some balls. When you’re hungry again, make sure to check out Nebo. They are an Italian restaurant with a gluten free menu in downtown Boston. The Mad Monkfish is a fantastic sushi restaurant in Cambridge that has a gluten free menu as well as standard fare. All in all, don’t be afraid to let yourself get a little lost in Boston. They have some of the most amazing architecture and it’s a culture unlike any other in the United States.
Boston Fun Facts
1. Boston is actually named after a town in England
Little Brewster Island is where the first lighthouse was ever built in what is now the United States. While that lighthouse is long gone, the current island resident pictured above is actually the second-oldest working lighthouse in the United States, dating back to 1783.
3. Boston is home to the oldest public park in the U.S.
In January 15, 1919, a storage tank holding more than 2 million gallons of molasses burst, sending a giant wave of the hot syrupy substance through the North End of Boston. It killed 21 people and several horses and injured more than 100 others, making it the worst molasses-related accident in history.
9. In turn-of-the-century Boston, you didn’t need to take a test to receive a driver’s license
Massachusetts started issuing driver’s licenses and registration plates in 1903, but didn’t make people take a driving test beforehand. In 1920, Boston began requiring a driving test before issuing someone a license.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Mountaineer Magazine and on www.mountaineers.org.
Leave it to a Mountaineer to find a mountain!
This was my thought as I finished reading an email from Web Chang, a staff member at Mountaineers Books. Web’s message arrived shortly after Ghostfish released our third packaged beer of 2015: Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale. In this case, the mountain Web had found was on the side of our can, which vibrantly depicts two trekkers stopping for a moment to take in a majestic view of cloud covered Mt. Rainer (designed locally by Kevin LeDoux).
Web wanted us to know that he appreciated the can design of Shrouded Summit, and as one of three co-founders of Ghostfish Brewing Company, receiving this message was extremely gratifying. Looking back, this early brush with The Mountaineers was foreshadowing of an incredible partnership to come, focused on supporting your nonprofit mission in the most delicious way possible.
Ghostfish Brewing didn’t start out as a dedicated gluten-free brewery. While many people now associate Ghostfish as “the gluten-free brewery”, we’ve always considered our focus to be making the highest quality beer that also happens to be gluten-free. We don’t make beer for people who are gluten-free – we make beer for beer drinkers!
I joke now that in the beginning (2013) we were setting ourselves up to be yet another one of the 7,000+ craft breweries across the United States. The plan was always to be innovative by providing an environment that encourages individual contribution, artful aesthetics, and challenges norms. Sometime into the planning phase, we decided to become a dedicated glutenfree brewery to support our vision and contribute to a more sustainable model of production.
What we didn’t necessarily grasp at the time was that we were pioneers in a growing, yet small segment of the craft brewing movement. When you think about beer made from barley, wheat, and rye, you don’t necessarily think about how much tinkering and transformation has occurred over centuries in beer engineering to get to where we are today.
There was no history of gluten-free brewing, nor a playbook that existed, when we started Ghostfish.
We create our beer using traditional brewing methods, but grains we use are most certainly non-traditional by today’s standards. You’ll find plenty of millet, brown rice, and buckwheat (unrelated to wheat) in our grain room. These grains were used in the creation of beer around the globe for centuries, and in fact, millet predates barley in beer brewing history! All these grains are naturally glutenfree and don’t contain the proteins that cause harm in people with Celiac Disease.
While each of our primary grains have amazing sustainable qualities, millet is particularly drought and heat tolerant. It is a highly nutritious cereal grain that sustains more than a third of the world’s population. Buckwheat, which is a fast grower, thrives in poor soil conditions, and is a wonderful cover crop that maintains soil health, reduces soil erosion, and supports a healthy proliferation of honeybees. If you want to bring bees back to your garden, plant some buckwheat!
I’ll admit that I knew very little about The Mountaineers prior to starting Ghostfish Brewing. Growing up in rural northwest Ohio didn’t lend itself to thinking much about mountains, not unless you count watching the von Trapp family escaping Austria into Switzerland. My first exposure to mountains came during a family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN, right in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It wasn’t until I moved from Ohio to Colorado in my early 30s that I began to appreciate mountain pursuits.
Summiting “14’ers” was something that a low-lander like me could handle and appreciate. If reaching the top of Mt. Elbert (14,440 ft) was one of my proudest outdoor achievements while living in Colorado, summiting Long’s Peak (14,259 ft) gave me serious bragging rights amongst my friends and family. Okay, so I know what you are thinking: ”Yea, but you started at an elevation near 10,000 ft.” Well, you’d be right, and I’ll also admit that none of my 14’er adventures were considered technical feats, but they did give me a deep appreciation and respect for mountains and how unruly they can be.
When I moved to Seattle, my mind was blown once again by the outdoor recreation possibilities of our region. In researching new objectives, I stumbled onto The Mountaineers and was drawn to its mission.
CREATING KICK STEP IPA
I was intrigued by the idea of creating a beer with The Mountaineers from the first mention. In discussing the details with The Mountaineers CEO Tom Vogl over a few Ghostfish beers in 2017, we both grew even more convinced. While I like to think that we were chosen because of our environmentally sustainable grains, our pioneering spirit, or the fact that we already boasted a few mountain-themed beers (Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale and Peak Buster Double IPA), in the end I believe the decision had everything to do with shared values and alignment of our mission to develop community by fostering a sense of teamwork and a place of belonging.
We got right to work, starting with a name. It might seem easy, but choosing beer names has become extremely challenging in today’s overcrowded craft beer scene, and the last thing you want to do is step on another brewery’s toes by duplicating or replicating an existing beer. We brought a group together to brainstorm name options to convey climbing heritage while being modern, edgy, authentic, distinctive, aspirational, and cool. Fortunately, we landed on Kick Step, a technique true to the outdoor community that also lent itself well to a can design (and avoided the standard mountain-themed clichés).
While I can’t take credit for the “romance copy” printed on the side of each can of Kick Step IPA, I will say that it sums up in every way possible why it makes sense for Ghostfish Brewing and The Mountaineers to work together.
Ghostfish and The Mountaineers were both founded on the idea of transcending limits. We thrive on a spirit of wonder, a sense of adventure, and a commitment to the wild places of the Pacific Northwest. We’re powered by strong, passionate communities who support our missions. Whether it’s distinctive craft beer made from high-quality, low-impact grains, or unique, life-changing experiences in the outdoors, we believe life is meant to be lived and lived well – no matter who you are. This is Kick Step IPA: a liquid representation of our shared values.
A DELICIOUS WAY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Any good brewer will tell you that there’s always room for improving a beer. To that point, we’ve been tinkering with the Kick Step IPA recipe over the past 5-6 months, making small adjustments to improve the overall taste, flavor, and aroma. The goal from the beginning was always to create a uniquely Pacific Northwest-based IPA to celebrate the place we call home. To accomplish this, we chose a trio of Washington grown hops to accentuate the blend of millet and brown rice malts that comprise the base of the beer. A healthy dose of Bravo, Cascade, and Simcoe hops creates a pleasant bitterness profile with distinct flavors of candied orange, sweet fruit, and pine. Kick Step IPA is crafted with a sessionable spirit in mind to keep you light on your feet after any adventure.
Today, Kick Step IPA distribution is growing across the U.S. and Canada, and people in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and many other areas not only get to enjoy Kick Step IPA, but get exposed to The Mountaineers mission.
I am extremely proud of the relationship we have with The Mountaineers, a nonprofit organization committed to connecting people with the natural world, and I am honored to support the incredible work you do. That’s why 10% of Kick Step IPA cases and kegs sold go to The Mountaineers. It gives me great pleasure knowing that our contributions, nearly $20,000 and growing, will benefit future generations of outdoor enthusiasts who desire to explore the wild places of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The next time you are out adventuring with purpose, reward yourself with an ice-cold Kick Step IPA!
When visiting Indiana you’ll surely start at the capitol and when you do we’ve got you covered. Indianapolis is a great city for riverfront parks, museums and racing. Whether you’re visiting for an adult trip or bringing the kids, there is something for everyone in this town. If parks and large open spaces are up your alley, then White River state park, Moon Tree and Fort Harrison are all worthwhile checking out. Fort Harrison is a 1,700 acre state park with trails, picnic sites and fishing spots along Fall Creek. Also on the property is the Museum of 20th Century Warfare, housing information on the soldiers who once walked the grounds.
White River State Park is a 250 acre park in downtown Indianapolis. It follows the only completed portion of the Indiana Central Canal, once intended to transport goods. Moon Tree is a quirky attraction, but cool nonetheless. Located in the front lawn arboretum of the Indiana Statehouse is a 30 year old sycamore tree that was grown from a seed that has made a trip to the moon and back.
If indoor activities are more your style, don’t fret, Indianapolis has museums galore. One of the most unique is the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. They have doodles, rejection letters and his typewriter. Also worth checking out is the Indiana Medical History Museum. What started off in 1896 as a center to study the physical causes of mental illness, was converted into a museum with all the equipment left inside in 1969.
For something more kid friendly, there is the Children’s Museum, as well as Duckpin Bowling located in the Fountain Square Theatre Building. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the go-kart racing at K1 Speed, or the option of buying an experience at Indy Racing Experience. Ranging from ride alongs to driving an IndyCar for your own lap! Regardless of how you spend your trip, Indiana is a great state with a lot to offer.
Indiana Fun Facts:
Abraham Lincoln moved to Indiana when he was 7 years old. He lived most of his boyhood life in Spencer County with his parents Thomas and Nancy.
Explorers Lewis and Clark set out from Fort Vincennes on their exploration of the Northwest Territory.
The movie “Hard Rain” was filmed in Huntingburg.
During WWII the P-47 fighter-plane was manufactured in Evansville at Republic Aviation.
Marcella Gruelle of Indianapolis created the Raggedy Ann doll in 1914.
The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871.
James Dean, a popular movie star of the 1950s in such movies as “East of Eden” and “Rebel without a Cause”, was born February 8, 1941, in Marion. He died in an auto crash at age 24.
David Letterman, host of television’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” was born April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis.
Santa Claus, Indiana receives over one half million letters and requests at Christmas time.
Ghostfish Brewing Company 2942 1st Ave South
Seattle, WA 98134
Ghostfish Brewing Expands Capacity, Distribution
Seattle, WA – Ghostfish Brewing Company recently signed with three distribution companies (The Odom Corporation, Marine View Beverage, and Sound Beverage Distributors) to distribute its award winning ales throughout Western Washington. These three companies collaborate as members of the Great Artisan Beverages Company (GAB). GAB is a wholesaler network covering multiple states with a vision to market and sell leading craft and specialty beverage products.
Brian Theil concocted this recipe and says the dressing is absolutely amazing. Sadly, you only need 3 ounces of our Grapefruit IPA, so I guess you’ll have to drink the rest of it. I know you’re shedding a few tears over that!
As you can see on our map, our beer is now being sold in almost 100 retail locations across the greater Puget Sound. Although we don’t currently ship our beer, one of our retailers, Marina Market, does.
To our very patient and loyal followers, we finally have the news you’ve been waiting for:
As of Thursday, February 5th, our taproom will be officially open for business! The inspections are passed, the beer is kegged and ready, the taproom is complete, all systems are go and we are cleared for take-off!
Once we’re open, our regular taproom hours will be Tuesday-Saturday, 3 PM to 9 PM, so come on in and enjoy our awesome beer and some gluten-free pizza! We’ve got our three flagships on tap, including our Watchstander Stout on NITRO and a Randall tap to add some crazy herb, fruit, spice, and hop infusions to our beers. We can’t wait to see you here!