After four decades of helping to jump-start and fine-tune the craft beer industry, David Logsdon, the brewer, pioneer in yeast propagation, and owner of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales in Hood River, Oregon, is ready to pass the baton to the next generation of Pacific Northwest craft brewers.
Calling it a retirement is a stretch, given the many chores associated with life on a working farm, but many of the tanks and barrel stacks that used to populate Logsdon’s farm-brewery have departed for Logsdon Farmhouse Ales’ new brewery space in Washougal, on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.
Logsdon charted an impressive course throughout his career, from starting Wyeast Laboratories in 1985 and providing yeast to iconic Oregon brewers like Widmer Brothers, Portland Brewing, Rogue, and Deschutes to launching beer brands like Full Sail Brewing Company in 1987 and his own Farmhouse Ales label in 2009, where he perfected now-fashionable styles like brettanomyces-laced ales, seasonal fruit beers, and wild fermented saisons, before they became trendy.
“I don’t know how we found Dave,” says Rob Widmer, the cofounder of Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland. “But he held our hands during the early years. Many people helped in those days, but Dave helped us sleep a bit better at night when it came to yeast.” Widmer Brothers’ flagship product, Hefe, an American-style Hefeweizen (wheat beer with yeast), wouldn’t have been the same without Logsdon’s yeast expertise. “[Our] Hefeweizen is all about the yeast,” Widmer says. “It makes Hefe hefe [yeasty].”
Comparing the Oregon craft beer community of the late 1970s, when Logsdon arrived, with the current one is almost like comparing horses with automobiles. “‘Craft beer’ hadn’t been coined yet,” Widmer explains. “Very few people had heard of microbrews; there were very few homebrewers—hard to imagine the time, really.” Significant progress has been made since then, and Logsdon has been at or near the forefront throughout, prolific in helping turn what was essentially a hobby—or, at least a novelty—into the production of world-class beer.
In this digital age, we’re rich with torrents of content, as long as we’re within a wi-fi signal or carrying downloads. Much of this content is property, though, which is an immensely overlooked fact, especially where music is concerned. For the thousands of wineries, breweries, and bars treating their clientele to custom playlists, playing their favorite Spotify station in tasting rooms, taprooms, and other on-premise venues, or providing live music, there are strings attached—and they can be costly ones.
An increasing number of on-premise venues are being approached by performance rights organizations (PROs) like BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC for hosting live music or playing recorded music without legal permission. “This area has always been ripe, but the [music] industry really only started to enforce it in the last few years,” says Sheila Fox Morrison of Davis Wright Tremaine, a law firm based in Portland, Oregon, that employs approximately 500 lawyers in offices throughout the U.S. and China. “Restaurants went through a similar discovery period about 10 years ago.”
Morrison believes the biggest misconception involves streaming. “The copyright act provided for some carve-outs, or safety areas, when it was written, but that was back in the 1970s,” she says. In other words, there’s an exemption for radio broadcasting, but the music you might be playing via iTunes or Spotify needs to be licensed appropriately if played in a public space. “The risk is real,” she says. “It may be difficult to prove infringement, but with fines up to $35,000 per work infringed, and you’re playing many songs during a day—well, you do the math.”
Many streaming services, such as Pandora, offer business accounts that keep users compliant by means of subscription fees. Others, like Spotify or your iTunes library, technically demand special licensing if they’re played in a public space.
The Drake Magazine, Spring '17
Ron Johnstad’s obituary covered the bases but left out a few important details. “There were few better than Ron with a gun or fly rod,” wrote the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. It was true, but written from a distant office, likely in the wee hours by an overworked journalist who never thought the dead would be her beat. Almost certainly, the writer never got the first-hand pleasure of Johnstad’s unorthodox war against Yellowstone River whitefish.
Certain sounds remind me of Ron. The arhythmic rattling of his John Deere mower, faithful transport between his Paradise Valley home and the shore of the Yellowstone, about 200 yards away. The subtle slurp of a Montana bonefish taking one of his bizarre, homespun fly pattens. And, later, the rhythmic whoosh of an oxygen tank, which followed him around his deck as he told stories and looked knowingly towards the river. The tank didn’t so much interrupt as keep time as he talked about singing in the Norseman Quartet, playing college football, growing up in Wisconsin, the many merits of his wife, Mary Ellen, and whitefish; which in their best incarnation, ought to be smoked.
Johnstad’s casts were short and sloppy and the shadow he threw nearly forded the river. Surely, the cutthroat had fled long ago, if not for the loudness of his voice than for the ruckus his three golden retrievers amassed chasing killdeer along the bank. Yet, every summer evening, under the idyllic purple-grey light of dusk that’s bright enough to tie a #14, but nothing smaller, the pile of whitefish behind him grew to impressive heights.
“Just making more room for trout,” he would say, removing a tussled fly from another whitefish’s vacuum cleaner of a mouth. Just before dark, as larger fish began to slap the surface behind big boulders and the forked tip of Emigrant Peak was barely a silhouette, he would fumble through his fly box for his favorite creation.