Beer Guide 2015: Portland-Area Breweries From A to Z

 


88 Breweries Within an Hour’s Drive of Portland

(Click the links below the map for reviews and descriptions.)

 

10 Barrel

13 Virtues

 

A

Alameda Brewing

Ambacht

Amnesia

Ashtown

Awesome Ales

 

B

Backwoods Brewing

Baerlic Brewing

Base Camp

BJ’s

Boring Brewing Co.

Brannon’s

Breakside Milwaukie

BridgePort

Broadway Grill & Brewery

BTU Brasserie

Buckman Botanical

Bunsenbrewer

Burnside Brewing

 

C

Captured by Porches

Cascade Barrel House

Chehalem Valley Brewing

Coalition

Columbia County Brewing

Columbia River Brewing Co.

The Commons

Culmination

 

D

Deception

Deschutes Portland

Dirty Hands

Doomsday

 

E

Ecliptic

Edgefield (McMenamins)

Ex Novo

 

F

Fat Head’s

Fearless

Feckin Brewing

Fire on the Mountain

Five Dons

FlyBoy

 

G

Gigantic

Golden Valley

Ground Breaker

 

H

Hair of the Dog

Heathen

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Humble

 

K

Kells

Krauski’s Brewskis

 

L

Laurelwood

Lompoc

Long Brewing

Loowit Brewing

Lucky Labrador

 

M

Mash Tun

Max’s Fanno Creek

Migration

Mill City Brew Werks

Mt. Tabor

 

N

Natian Brewery

Northwood

 

O

Occidental Brewing

Old Castle Brewing Company

Old Ivy

Old Town Pizza

Oregon City Brewing Co.

 

P

Parker’s Steakhouse & Brewery

Pints

Portland Brewing

 

R

Raccoon Lodge

Rail Side

Ram

Red Ox Brewing

Rock Bottom

Royale

 

S

Sasquatch Brewing

Stickmen

StormBreaker

 

T

Thunder Island

Three Mugs

Two Kilts

Tugboat

 

U

Upright

Uptown Market

 

V

Vertigo

 

W

Walking Man

Widmer Gasthaus

Beer Guide 2015: Bend Beer Escape

Deschutes

901 SW Simpson Ave., Bend, 541-385-8606, deschutesbrewery.com

As in life, so in Bend, the best things are free. Any day of the week, you can show up at Deschutes’s sprawling factory and take a tour of crazy machines that crank out your favorite beer and stop in the bar for free samples. Which is to say, Deschutes will give you a free beer every day that you care to visit, no questions asked.

Crux Fermentation Project

50 SW Division St., Bend, 541-385-3333, cruxfermentation.com

This brand-conscious brewery won fans with its large line of intensely farmy IPAs and pale ales, often sold in pricey wax-dipped bottles. If you’re into that, check out this opulent, faux-industrial pub where people from California go to get $12 nacho plates on a base of Fritos and with a stanky concoction called Pilsner alfredo sauce.

10 Barrel

1135 NW Galveston Ave., Bend, 541-678-5228, 10barrel.com

Dylan goes electric! KISS takes off its makeup! Hulk Hogan goes Hollywood! OK, 10 Barrel may have sold its soul to the devil—er, Anheuser-Busch—but, for now it’s same as it ever was at the Bend pub. It’s packed. They have a huge host of IPAs on tap, nachos with steak and bacon and tasty Neapolitan pies.

Silver Moon

24 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend, 541-388-8331, silvermoonbrewing.com

The low-key Silver Moon isn’t a tourist draw, but it’s worth a visit. Unkle Pilsner is sweet and honeyish. The Hop Knob is kick to the face. And it’s across the street from Glazed and Amused, where you can tend to your drunchies with doughnutty obscenities such as the Car Bomb, topped with Baileys cream cheese, triple-chocolate brownies, whiskey-caramel drizzle and crushed toffee peanuts.

Boneyard

37 NW Lake Place, Bend, 541-323-2325, boneyardbeer.com

Boneyard is in a corrugated metal shack in a quiet neighborhood. There’s no food or place to sit down. You can’t even order a pint. But you can get tasters for a buck (the first one’s free), buy a shirt and fill up growlers with super fresh RPM.

Cascade Lakes

1441 SW Chandler Ave., Ste. 100, Bend, 541-388-4998, cascadelakes.com

Cascade Lakes is on the highway to Mount Bachelor. Even if it’s not a convenient pit stop from the slopes to your hotel or your buddy’s house, it’s worth a visit. Blonde Bombshell might be ubiquitous enough up North, but they have plenty of tasty, less well-known offerings. Paddleboat Porter is creamy and grainy.

2015 Oregon Beer of the Year | Favorite Oregon Beers # 2-10 | Oregon Beer Awards  

Portland-Area Breweries from A to Z | Astoria  | Bend | Hood River | Portland Beer Bars

An Oral History of Cascade Kriek | Celebrity Oregon Beer Picks | Beer Calendar

Best Growler Spots | Homebrew Shops | Kid-Friendly Brewpubs | Beer Bodegas

Top of the Shelf: Saisons | Imperial Stouts | Imported IPAs | Wheat Beers | Barleywines

Beer Guide 2015: Hood River Beer Escape

Pfriem

707 Portway Ave., Suite 101, Hood River, 541-321-0490, pfriembeer.com.

Pfriem’s industrial-chic pub seems to be in a continuous state of expansion, and it isn’t hard to see why. Waterfront views, beer-steamed clams and some of the best beer in the state make this a must-hit. Snack pairings run the gamut from a Pilsner with house-cut fries to the Belgian Strong Dark with bacon blue cheese dates.

Double Mountain

8 4th St., Hood River, 541-387-0042, doublemountainbrewery.com.

The best food in Hood River is nearly always at brewpubs, and Double Mountain brings its knowledge of Wyeast yeast to bear on its char-crusted, New Haven-style, brick-fired pizzas that rank highly even among Portland’s best. Pair the Jersey Pie—with hot capicola and Mama Lil’s peppers—with one of a raft of seasonals, whether Devil’s Kriek, Pale Death Belgian Imperial IPA, or an anise-richroot beer blend for kids.

Logsdon

4785 Booth Hill Road, Hood River, 541-490-9161, farmhousebeer.com.

You know the oil painting of Mount Hood on every bottle of David Logsdon’s farmhouse masterpieces? They’re painted by Icelandic artist Seaberg Einarsson. At the actual Logsdon farmhouse, down a little road between Hood River and Parkdale, one can see that same view and drink those same beers, poured by the people who make Logsdon happen. Last time we were there, it was Einarsson himself.

Full Sail

506 Columbia St., Hood River, 541-386-2247, fullsailbrewing.com.

The Portland offshoot of this lager-maker has been shuttered for a year, meaning you’ll have to head to Hood River for ultra-fresh Session and a wide selection of special-edition beers and cask ales with experimental hops.

Rack & Cloth

1104 1st Ave., 541-965-1457, rackandcloth.com.

Yes, Double Mountain has the booze-and-pizza game locked down in Hood River. Next time, drive five miles east to a tiny cidery and pizza shop in the town of Mosier (pop. 433). The flagship cider is an admirably dry and quaffable drop called Stony Pig. The bare-bones menu listed on a posterboard is always in flux, but on our visit included a very nice hummus plate, a sturdy broccolini salad and a very nice pizza of roasty eggplant, feta and basil.

2015 Oregon Beer of the Year | Favorite Oregon Beers # 2-10 | Oregon Beer Awards  

Portland-Area Breweries from A to Z | Astoria  | Bend | Hood River | Portland Beer Bars

An Oral History of Cascade Kriek | Celebrity Oregon Beer Picks | Beer Calendar

Best Growler Spots | Homebrew Shops | Kid-Friendly Brewpubs | Beer Bodegas

Top of the Shelf: Saisons | Imperial Stouts | Imported IPAs | Wheat Beers | Barleywines

Beer Guide 2015: Astoria Beer Escape

Buoy

1 8th St., Astoria, 325-4540, buoybeer.com.

Situated on the planks of the Riverwalk overhanging the Columbia, year-old Buoy has already established itself as a treasure of the Oregon Coast. Outside, sea lions bark as cargo ships creep by. Inside, a buoy-shaped tasting tray includes an excellent IPA and an even better Helles. There’s no fish and chips when bar pilots can’t find a way into open water, because Buoy never freezes its fish. If so, get the smoked salmon plate with capers, thin-sliced onions and soft pita triangles. Kids love the glass floor panels looking down to the water-level docks.

Fort George

1483 Duane St., Astoria, 325-7468, fortgeorgebrewery.com.

The big boy on the block, Fort George is known for its line of canned beers, huge barrel program and Vortex IPA, which recently got better thanks to a fresh hop blend. The massive two-story tasting room is a full-scale restaurant featuring crispy wood-fired pizza, an expansive view of the hilly little city, and a wide-ranging 13-glass tasting flight.

Astoria Brewing/Wet Dog Cafe

144 11th St., Astoria, 325-6975, wetdogcafe.com.

The Wet Dog’s been around for 20 years and brewing for 18, making it one of the state’s older breweries. Most of the beers are muddy, tasting of aged hops and waterlogged yeast, but there are a lot of them (19 on our visit) plus a nice view from the patio, a trolley stop nearby and a warm little mancave called the saloon where you can sit on leather couches while sipping tall and skinny taster mugs.

Albatross

225 14th St., Astoria, 741-3091.

OK, Albatross isn’t a dedicated beer bar—and, yes, we’re leaving out Hondo’s and the Astoria offshoot of Newport-based Rogue—but it’s a must-hit. Eric Bechard, one of the state’s most lauded chefs, abandoned his Portland fine-dining restaurant to open this pub, which has an incredible burger and weekly specials like elk osso buco with brown butter grits and forest mushrooms. The beer list starts with a $3 Old German tallboy before making a steep climb to expensive and exotic bottles like HaandBryggeriet Krekling, Mikkeller’s Black Sap and Logsdon’s sought-after Peche ‘n Brett.

2015 Oregon Beer of the Year | Favorite Oregon Beers # 2-10 | Oregon Beer Awards  

Portland-Area Breweries from A to Z | Astoria  | Bend | Hood River | Portland Beer Bars

An Oral History of Cascade Kriek | Celebrity Oregon Beer Picks | Beer Calendar

Best Growler Spots | Homebrew Shops | Kid-Friendly Brewpubs | Beer Bodegas

Top of the Shelf: Saisons | Imperial Stouts | Imported IPAs | Wheat Beers | Barleywines

Portland Beer Guide 2015: An Oral History of Cascade Kriek

In Portland, it all comes back to IPA.

Even when you’re looking at the furthest thing from it. Say, a beer like Cascade‘s Kriek, a robust but nuanced barrel-aged sour cherry beer, which bested the
Belgians to become the best kriek in the world, according to the wine
critic for The New York Times
.

Back in 2003, IPAs were well on their way to becoming Oregon’s dominant style of craft beer. Today, half of all craft beers sold in the state are IPAs, and
there are thousands of wildly different recipes.

Art Larrance’s little Cascade Brewing operation was looking for a way to compete with bigger breweries and upstarts hooking up the then-freshly legal millennials
with hops. Larrance, a Hillsboro High School alum and lifelong Portlander who founded Portland Brewing in 1986 and the Oregon Brewers Festival a year later, needed something new and different, a “magical elixir” that would allow his Raccoon Lodge brewery in the southwest hills to compete.

“We knew early on we didn’t want to get into the hops arms race, so we were thinking, ‘What can we do that’s different?’” he recalls.

The beer they came up was a game changer. Cascade’s Kriek is barrel-aged with fresh Oregon cherries and lactobacillus bacteria, then blended into a tart, sweet, slightly tannic brew that drinks like wine. Today, the Cascade Barrel House on Southeast Belmont Street is one of the first destinations for beer-conscious tourists, and the kriek has spun off into a full barrel-aged sour program that includes everything from honey ginger lime to elderberry, stored in a 23,000-square-foot warehouse in the West Hills for national distribution.

And it all started with Cascade’s version of an IPA, possibly the oddest and most labor-intensive beer ever made in this city…

“We were hand-to-mouth brewing. In the summer we couldn’t brew enough, and in the winter we didn’t have anything to brew. So we were trying to come up with brews that we could do in the winter that had some appeal in the summer months, when we had higher demand.” —Ron Gansberg, head brewer

“The prices get set by the big boys. Mass production gives you lower prices, but all us small guys—no matter what our cost—it’s gotta sell at $4.50 or $5 per pint across the line. We found out that we couldn’t do that without getting bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger.” —Art Larrance, owner

“We needed something that had added value—limited production, high price.” —Gansberg

“We always needed what we called our magical elixir. We needed something special, something new…and for $600 we could get as much fermentation in wood as $10,000 would buy in stainless steel.” —Larrance

Cascade’s brewery at Raccoon Lodge on Southwest Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway started by making something really old: a hyper-traditional British IPA. Gansberg bought barrels with the idea of making the kind of IPA that sailed around the Horn of Africa with added sugar and dry hops. They called it Bombay IPA.

“Raccoon Lodge brewmaster Ron Gansberg [is] determined to brew the most authentic India pale ale around. Some will know the basic story, that British troops stationed in India during the Raj period demanded Brit beer and that India was too hot for brewing in those refrigeration-free days. The problem was the four-month voyage by sailing ship: brown ales turned sour and musty, and even after they were casked flat and allowed to recarbonate during the voyage, they weren’t especially suited to India’s saunalike weather.” —John Foyston, “Raccoon Lodge Tests the IPA Waters,” The Oregonian, Feb. 21, 2003

“We had four full-sized oak barrels of this beer, basically in this timed voyage, and then we also had it in stainless steel so we could see how it compared.” —Gansberg

“John Foyston would come out, and we’d get 50 or 60 people. You got to drink it free. We had a little cask up on the bar, and we did it on a Sunday afternoon.” —Larrance

“It was pretty boozy, too. I’d get there early in the morning on Sunday. Didn’t eat anything. I’m racking the beer, trying to get it carbonated, doing all this stuff. People are showing up. Still didn’t eat anything. We’d play jungle croquet afterward. There was one time I’m out there laughing and cackling when my wife picked me up. She was not happy.” —Gansberg

In many ways, those monthly IPA tastings were like today’s Tap It Tuesday. Every Tuesday at 6 pm, the Cascade Barrel House on Belmont taps a fresh barrel of aged beer using a wooden mallet and spigot. Because you never know how the bacteria are reacting in the barrel, sometimes the bar gets soaked in beer.

“We dry-hopped them, kräusened them, hard-bunged them. If you looked close at the heads on a lot of the barrels, you could see they were distending because of the pressure. I remember Fred Eckhardt was over there like, ‘This thing’s about to blow, get over here, we’ve gotta get the pressure off!’ It was coming out as just this white foam that would hit your glass and slowly turn back into beer.” —Gansberg

The project took four months, ending in April 2003.

“The last cask—for a while—of the Bombay brew will be tapped Sunday…. No telling if the folks at the Raccoon Lodge will be that historically accurate when they re-create the arrival in India of an oak cask of Bombay India Pale Ale. But you should know that they scoured Andy & Bax in search of pith helmets.” —Foyston, The Oregonian, April 2003

“We did that just long enough to know that wasn’t going to be our deal.” —Larrance

The main legacy? Cascade Brewing had wood barrels.

“How could we expand and not borrow money? We thought, what could we use locally? Wood barrels and fruit.” —Larrance

They experimented with barrel-aging on their raspberry beer. And then, on cherries. Cascade’s Kriek was born. It’s a Flanders-style red ale in competition, but unlike the originals it’s made without spontaneously fermenting wild yeasts. The Cascade crew started making their “Northwest” style Kriek before trying any Flanders ales.

“We weren’t of the philosophy of ‘let’s go to Belgium and have them all and make it.’ In fact, we didn’t even go buy any to try and then make. Ron just said, ‘Let’s go do our own Northwest style,’ so we weren’t beholden to some other style. We started from scratch.” —Larrance

“The first few years, I would go out and pick all the cherries myself—in the Valley, out in Mosier, in Yamhill. I’d pick 50 pounds in an hour. I could pick more, so long as there’s someone there to listen to me complain.” —Gansberg

Things changed in 2008, when Cascade won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

“We were in Denver, at GABF, at Falling Rock taproom, and they let us bring a bottle in and said, ‘Let’s try it.’ And then they let us bring in another bottle and then another bottle. Pretty soon the Alström brothers come by. That was the first time we got any endorsement.” —Larrance

Beer geeks started to get excited.

“Wow, the Northwest seems to be booming with Belgian-inspired beers…. Such a wonderful aroma of fresh cherries and a faint tartness with suggestions of nutmeg and baked pie crust. Think cherry pie. The unsurpassed smoothness feigns a bigger body for a second. Lots of cherry flavor up front with an ample tartness and deserving sweetness, hints of oak and bready grain are noticeable.” —The Alström brothers, Beer Advocate magazine, Vol. II, Issue 1

“Gansberg’s recent creations are some of the most spectacular Lambic available this side of Belgium. It is almost surprising that so much hype is given to other breweries when considering the art that goes into the making of these beers and the divine flavor complexities that come out.”

—Angelo De Ieso, Brewpublic.com, Nov. 19, 2008

It wasn’t just the geeks who were impressed with the Cascade Kriek. The beer quickly found fans outside beerdom.

“This sparkler from Portland lacks some of the bitter characteristics often found in beer, so it appeals to people who drink simple cocktails like a whiskey sour.” —O, The Oprah Magazine, June 2011

And then came the big one: New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov, who tabbed the kriek the best in the world.

“No beer impressed us more than our No. 1 bottle, the 2010 Kriek Ale from Cascade in Portland, Ore. This lambic-style vintage beer is flavored with cherries, but was not sweetly fruity or cloying. Rather, it was beautifully tart and richly complex, with just a hint of fruit flavor for balance. We liked this beer so much, we gave a rare top score of four stars.” —Eric Asimov, “Brews as Complex as Wine,” The New York Times, Nov. 22, 2011

“I remember when I got the call the day after Thanksgiving, a friend said, ‘You’re in The New York Times.’ What? ‘Yeah, your kriek’s in The New York Times!’ The article’s right on the wall, still. How they got the bottle, we don’t know.” —Larrance

“I went, ‘Ah, hell, we’ve only got seven cases left.’” —Gansberg

Aged and Blended

photos by Matt Wong

For early batches of Cascade sours, brewer Ron Gansberg (below) picked the fruit himself. Those beers came from the Raccoon Lodge brewery. After running out of space there, the sour program moved to Southeast Belmont. Today, sours including the kriek are made and stored at a 23,000-square-foot warehouse in Southwest Portland.

Almost Infamous

Whoever thought a band calling itself Black Pussy could be controversial?

Not singer-guitarist Dustin Hill, apparently. When he bestowed the Google-unfriendly name on his stoner-rock project three years ago, he swears it wasn’t for shock value. To him, it was simply the perfect fit for the songs he was writing at the time. It sounded, in his words, “sexy and ’70s.”

“It’s very Tarantino-influenced,” says Hill, 41, who, with his long blond mane, mustache and fur-fringed coat, could’ve just stepped off the set of Jackie Brown. “If he was going to have a band or make a movie about a band, it’d be called Black Pussy.” Hill didn’t even consider that people might find it distasteful, but then, he admits his mind works differently than most. “I sit in a very isolated spot compared to [the rest of] humanity,” he says. “Words do not offend me.”

Nonetheless, for some in the Portland music scene, the name is an insurmountable impasse before the group’s music. But Hill isn’t about to rebrand now, not with a new album out. And anyway, he says he’s gotten more love for this band than any he’s ever been in, not to mention more merch sales. 

“I’m not going to change the name because I’m afraid it’ll hurt my project,” he says. “I’ve committed to it, because that’s what artists do: They commit to an idea. It’s not about trying to be successful or trying to make money, it’s about the idea. We build on the idea, and if it fails, it fails. But I’m not going to change it because a tiny percentage of the population has an issue with it.”

Black Pussy spun off from Hill’s other band, the heavy-psych foursome White Orange, in 2012. A prolific writer—the walls of the band’s practice space are covered in strips of cardboard scribbled with titles of dozens of unreleased songs—Hill envisioned the project as a repository for whatever music he happened to be gravitating toward at the moment. Over two albums, Black Pussy has established itself along the same spectrum of black-light desert rock as Kyuss and early Queens of the Stone Age, with a sound placing as much emphasis on sticky melodies as bong-water-soaked riffs. Its latest record, Magic Mustache, adds keyboardist Chief O’Dell to the mix, lending a stratospheric lift to the psychedelic swirl. While the tone is as lascivious as you’d expect, it’s more playful than sleazy, with lyrics couched  in sci-fi imagery ripped straight off the side of an airbrushed conversion van.

“It’s a celebration of freedom,” says guitarist Ryan McIntire. “There’s no negativity with what we’re trying to do.”

Still, the band’s name has proven to be an obstacle. While touring with Kyuss offshoot Vista Chino in 2013, Black Pussy was prohibited from playing the Disney-owned House of Blues in Anaheim, Calif. At a show last year, the Portland soul-punk band Magic Mouth, whose frontman is African-American, called the group out from the stage, blasting the moniker as racist and misogynist. The band has attempted to circumvent such accusations in its official bio, pointing out that “Black Pussy” was the working title of the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” “a blatantly anti-racism tune”—though Hill admits he learned that fact only after coming up with the name. Hill says if anyone has a problem with the name, he’ll hear them out, and would even consider changing it if the argument was persuasive enough. He’s yet to be convinced.

But with the band preparing to make a national push for Magic Mustache, it’s fair to wonder: If the name threatens to turn off listeners before they even hear the music, why hold onto it so fiercely? Hill, though, has dug in his heels. The way he sees it, haters are going to hate, for one reason or another. So why compromise?

“Even if it was a different band name, people are always going to talk shit about your songs or how you look or this or that,” he says. “You can’t have self-doubt. It’s an idea, and you’re going to battle for it. A lot of people aren’t going to get it, and a lot of people are. But once you start doubting it, you’re going to hurt the art.”


SEE IT: Black Pussy plays the Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick St., with Mos Generator and In the Whale, on Saturday, Feb. 28. 9 pm. Free. 21+.

The Big Apple

ILLUSTRATION: Murphy Phelan

The tree wasn’t all that special. It was just too damn big.

Back in 2004, Nat
West’s friend and neighbor in North Portland, Norris Thomlinson, had a
large and craggy tree in his backyard that produced an unholy wealth of
apples. “Backyard apples,” West describes them. “No good name for
them—green, small, scabby. Maybe Gravenstein, that’s my only guess.”

They tried everything
to keep those apples from going to waste in Thomlinson’s backyard. They
made pies, preserves, dried apples, applesauce. Still, there were too
many apples: 500 pounds of apples.

Finally, West had an
idea that changed his life. “I thought, ‘We could turn it into juice,'”
he says. “I knew you could make alcohol out of apples.”

Within a few
harvests, he was making hundreds of gallons of cider a year. He came to
be known as the guy with free cider, holding weekly Wednesday potlucks
for up to 50 people. By then, he had left that crabby tree behind and
started picking from abandoned orchards on the edge of town.

Those parties were
also focus groups. “Every week I tried out a new flavor, a new yeast, a
new type of apple,” West says. “They didn’t complain too much about free
alcohol, but I could read between the lines.”

When West finally
started Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider in the basement of his house, in the
summer of 2011, few were talking about cider-making in Portland. That’s
because it barely existed. Cider was mostly the province of Anglophiles,
out-of-town wineries, and people with orchards. Craft cider juggernaut 2
Towns
Ciderhouse, in Corvallis, had just barely kicked off its training
wheels.

Four years later, the
Portland area is home to 13 cideries, whether in a Mount Tabor garage
or an Oregon City industrial park. It’s amazing how fast Portland has
become the Big Apple of the national cider scene, but it has. Our city
is hard at work creating the American cider scene to come. We have the
apples, we have the cideries, and we drink more cider than anyone else
in the nation.

Ask anybody: Portland is Beervana. You
can look at our 2015 Beer Guide, distributed with select issues of this
week’s paper and otherwise available at local beer bars, for
confirmation. We have more craft breweries than any city in the world,
and as of last year, we drink more craft brew than suds from the two
largest macro makers combined.

But for all of
Portland craft beer’s success, cider is growing four times as fast. The
overall numbers remain small, at about 5 percent of the beer market in
Portland and only 2 percent nationally, but cider sales have grown by
over 50 percent each year since 2011, rocketing from $39 million to $219
million nationwide.

“No one expected this
boom in cider to happen as quickly as it has,” says Alter Ego Cider‘s Anne
Hubatch, who also owns Helioterra urban winery.

No city in the nation
drinks as much cider per capita as Portland, according to January 2015
Nielsen data. We drink almost as much cider as Los Angeles, which has
six times as many people. We drink more than all of New England
combined.

Beer isn’t the
competition. Rather, cider makers cite Portland’s beer scene as the
reason for cider’s fast acceptance. West says it’s the No. 1 reason—and
not just because of beery hopped ciders like Nat’s Envy, a collaboration
with Barley Brown’s Brewpub that we today named our 2015 Cider of the
Year
.

“Craft beer is huge,”
West says. “I’ve always felt that cider is the sister to craft beer.
Across the country—we can’t look at other markets and say, ‘How is cider
doing?’ We just look at how craft beer is doing. Where craft beer goes,
cider goes.”

None
 IMAGE: Jennifer Plitzko; Reverend Nat’s            

Craft cider is about
where craft beer was two decades ago, when Budweiser still stalked the
Midwest largely unchallenged. Although two Oregon cider companies—Widmer
Brothers’ Square Mile
and 2 Towns—are among the top 10 best sellers
nationwide, 90 percent of the cider market is controlled by
macro-ciders: Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, Strongbow and offerings from
Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

But as of this year,
Portland is the only U.S. city where Angry Orchard, which sells over
half the cider in America, is not increasing its market share. “It
doesn’t come as a surprise,” West says. “It’s a bit of a canary in the
coal mine. We’ve been doing cider long enough in Portland that we see
through the thin veneer of fake apple.”

Instead, craft ciders
are ascendant. From about 10 cideries in the entire Pacific Northwest
in 2010, Oregon and Washington now have more than 70 licensed cideries,
about a quarter of the nation’s total.

To Pete Mulligan,
co-owner of Bull Run Cider and president of the Northwest Cider
Association
, our love of craft is fundamental to our state’s character:
“You have to look what’s happened in the past 10 years with craft beer
and Oregon wine. It’s the willingness to check out new things. We
support entrepreneurs, and we are entwined with where food comes from
and where it’s made.”

Portland also has access to apples.
Most of the apples fueling Portland’s cider boom come from across the
Columbia River. Washington is the No. 1 state for apple growing—it grows
over half the apples in America—and one of the largest apple processors
in the nation is in Hood River.

Local cider makers
have a bounteous supply of the cheap, fresh dessert fruit found in every
refrigerator crisper: Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Red and Golden Delicious,
Gravenstein and Granny Smith.

But one thing we
don’t have is traditional cider apples. In England, France and Spain
(see page 15), cider makers prefer apples that are too bitter to slice
up and eat, tannic as an old Bordeaux Superieur.

Sharp and
bitter-sharp apples are grown in a few places in Oregon—the old White
Oak Cider farm in the Yamhill Valley, Wandering Aengus‘ orchards near
Salem—but not enough to fill the demand for cider.

Bull Run’s Mulligan,
who co-owns orchards in Forest Grove with partner Galen Williams, says
they’ve sold thousands of traditional cider trees in recent years.
“People want to get involved in the cider movement,” he says. “We just
got 4,000 trees for a farmer in Estacada.”

None

 

But it will take up
to a decade until they really start bearing fruit, and more than that
until they can fill the ever-growing demand for cider.

Sure, this means
that some sugary American ciders taste like Jolly Ranchers made of
chalk. But Portland’s reliance on our local crop of dessert apples isn’t
holding back our cider scene, says Jeff Parrish of Portland Cider Co.
It’s a chance to create a new and different tradition in American cider.

“American and
Northwest palates are being introduced to cider,” he says. “Marry that
with the inventive culture that surrounds the craft brew scene, and
anything goes.” 

Local crafters
instead have to experiment with other ways to balance the natural
sweetness of their fruit and layer more complex flavors. Portland Cider
Co. makes most of its sales with Parrish’s mainstream sweet and semisweet
ciders, but at its Oregon City taproom, you can drink a passionfruit
cider, and a Cascade Juniper cider with berries crushed by forklift.

IMAGE: Jennifer Plitzko; Abram Goldman-Armstrong and Izaak Butler, Cider Riot 


“You don’t get the
natural tannins you get from traditional cider apples,” says Cider
Riot
‘s Abram Goldman-Armstrong, who makes cider out of his home garage
in Tabor, “so we’re experimenting, bringing that in from different
places.” In his Plastic Paddy—sold in a 2-liter soda bottle for St.
Patrick’s Day—he gets tannins from tea, while in his blackberry cider he
uses black currants.

This
spirit of innovation impressed even the Brits. When English cider maker
Tom Oliver tasted Anthem’s hopped cider at cider bar Bushwhacker, says
Goldman-Armstrong, “I could see the wheels turning in his head. And now
he’s making a hopped cider. But it’s kind of an exchange program. I’m
using Goldings hops [in Cider Riot’s Everybody Pogo], which are English,
and he’s using Cascade.”

At Alter Ego, the
inaugural ciders include a semisweet Brute—which, like its name,
approaches Champagne—and a tart cider using local raspberries. “To say
that there’s one New World cider is very difficult,” says Alter Ego
co-owner Nate Wall. “It’s more like categories. But we don’t even know
what we’d call the categories.”

It’s this
experimental quality engendered by our local craft beer scene, West
says, that puts our local ciders in a position to take over nationwide.
In New York, cider is still mostly made by traditional-minded orchards,
while Reverend Nat’s own off-Broadway taproom brims with ginger tonics,
barrel-aged ciders, and ciders made with sour-cherry and carrot and
“hopricot,” plus ciders so hopped they taste like barleywine.

And the apples
themselves offer one of nature’s broadest palettes. “Apples are one of
the most diverse plants on the planet,” Wall says. “If you actually
pollinate an apple tree, the offspring is nothing like either parent.
There’s so much diversity out there. There’s so much to choose from.”

To West, who quit his
job as a computer programmer to make cider, there’s something special
about this time and place. The future of American cider is growing here. 

“The thing that
really sustained me was sort of the magic of it—Garden of Eden shit,” he
says. “It’s a child’s fruit, but then you can make alcohol. It goes
from this innocent thing to the greatest vice ever created.”

None

 The Big Apple: Portland’s Cider Boom | Top 5 New Oregon CidersPortland Cider Pubs 

 English, French, and Spanish Cider Primer | New World Old World Ciders | Cider Calendar

Big Shot Ben

Until the 2013 NBA Finals, I’d never seen anyone I know cry over sports.

And then came Game 7 of the series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. After Tim Duncan uncharacteristically missed a chip shot in the final moments, sealing back-to-back titles for the Heat, I turned to San Antonio native and WW digital director Ben Kubany. It was like that scene from The Simpsons where Bart watches Lisa break Ralph Wiggum’s heart in slow motion.

Kubany broke down sobbing in a crowded bar, surrounded by his co-workers. That’s how deeply he cared.

As much as the Spurs are a model of small-market success, Kubany is a paragon of true sports fandom. He’s gone to every Spurs game in Portland since 2006, including last year’s playoffs. He has no shame wearing a Spurs bucket hat with a Kawhi Leonard Christmas sweater to work. He’s been to coach Gregg Popovich’s Rex Hill winery in Newberg and cradled a bottle from Pop’s personal collection. Kubany is, safe to say, the biggest Spurs fan in Oregon. And with the Blazers, who play the Spurs tonight, hoping to one day mimic their success, Rip City can learn a lot from him.

WW: WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST SPURS MEMORY?

Ben Kubany: It was definitely seeing them against the Pistons in David Robinson’s first year [1989-90]. My memory is hazy, but that’s partly because the arena itself was pretty hazy. The lighting was kind of dark, and it felt more like a high-school gym. I remember David Robinson’s socks. He used to do this weird double roll.

WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST SATISFYING CHAMPIONSHIP RUN?

It was 2005, against the Pistons, just because that was the most hard-fought. Robert Horry, in the fourth quarter of Game 5, hit three big 3s. And that dunk! That’s one of my top Spurs memories.

WAS 2013 THE MOST CRUSHING DEFEAT?

The lowest of the low was when the Spurs lost to the Thunder in the 2012 Western Conference Finals. That was the last year of Duncan’s contract. It was like the family pet getting run over by a car.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST CHERISHED PIECE OF MEMORABILIA?

I have a ’90s “fiesta era” Spurs nylon tracksuit. It’s green, pink and yellow with the Spurs logo. The other thing that’s back home somewhere—my sister, who was in kindergarten at the time, wrote a letter to David Robinson before my birthday, asking if he would sign and send a photo to me for my birthday, and he did.

 

WHAT SPURS PLAYER DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH THE MOST?

It would be easy to say Matt Bonner, because his shot is like mine, in that it’s like a high-school physics catapult trial. But I really respect Kawhi Leonard. He just TCB’s on the court. I think the only time I’ve seen him celebrate was when they won last year, and it felt like he had to force himself to celebrate publicly.

WHAT LIFE LESSONS HAVE YOU’VE TAKEN FROM THE SPURS?

Get the right people on the bus, trust the process, and make everything a metaphor.

GO: The Blazers play the Spurs at Moda
Center, 1 N Center Court St., on Wednesday, Feb. 25. 7:30 pm. See
rosequarter.com for tickets. 

Kitzhaber’s Secret Weapon

A year ago, it looked as if then-Gov John Kitzhaber’s biggest headache was Cover Oregon, the $305 million health care website that was pitched as a national model but became a national laughingstock.

Kitzhaber, a Democrat facing re-election, had built a reputation as a health care reformer.

But his failure to make Cover Oregon work threatened his legacy.

In public, Kitzhaber assured Oregonians he was working diligently with state officials to find a solution for the website’s woeful performance.

In private, however, Kitzhaber handed oversight of the Cover Oregon mess to a secretive campaign consultant who liked to call herself the Princess of Darkness.

By her own admission, Patricia McCaig knew virtually nothing about health care reform or the reasons Cover Oregon had crashed. Her primary mission was not to save a beleaguered state program but to get Kitzhaber re-elected.

Emails that Kitzhaber’s office tried to delete from state computers show
McCaig was effectively in charge of all decision making for Cover Oregon beginning in February 2014. 

Records show McCaig oversaw the decision to shut down Cover Oregon rather than work with the state’s contractor, Oracle Corp., to fix it. McCaig—rather than the governor or state lawyers—drove the decision to sue Oracle. And McCaig
routinely directed senior government employees and staff in the governor’s office.

The records also show McCaig and other advisers based many of their moves on polling and how voters’ perceptions of Cover Oregon might affect Kitzhaber’s hopes for re-election.

Kitzhaber didn’t respond to questions for this story.

McCaig declined to be interviewed, but in an emailed statement to WW,
she said Kitzhaber turned to her because of her experience as a governor’s chief of staff and an elected official. (She worked for former Gov. Barbara Roberts and served on the Metro Council for one term in the 1990s.)

She says she did nothing wrong.

“The governor was forced to respond to the ‘debacle’ of Oracle’s failure to deliver a working website for Cover Oregon by using the best tools and people at
his disposal,” she says. “Oracle’s contention that politics drove the failure of Cover Oregon could not be further from the truth.”

But observers say Kitzhaber placing the state’s response to Cover Oregon in
the hands of his chief political adviser is problematic.

“If they made decisions based on Kitzhaber’s personal political interests rather than what was best for taxpayers, that’s not right,” says David Friedman, an
associate professor at the Willamette University College of Law. “It just looks bad.”€ 

WW first reported in November that Kitzhaber relied on campaign consultants to
help direct his response to Cover Oregon (“€œBlurred Lines,”€ WW, Nov. 12, 2014). The newly obtained emails provide a far more detailed account of that effort. 

State ethics and elections laws require a separation between political activity and
official decisions. Congress, which paid for the Cover Oregon project, now wants to know where taxpayer dollars went and whether Kitzhaber put his re-election interests ahead of the public interest.

The emails between Kitzhaber and McCaig about Cover Oregon are among those
Kitzhaber sought to have removed from state servers Feb. 5, claiming they contained personal communications. But Kitzhaber’s personal email accounts also relate to public business and are subject to disclosure under Oregon’s public records law. Federal investigators have requested the emails as part of a criminal subpoena. 

On Feb. 13, investigators for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wrote to Kitzhaber demanding all documents relating to his campaign staff’s involvement with Cover Oregon, adding that decisions “may have been based on politics, not policy and campaign advisors working on your re-election campaign may have coordinated the state’s response to the Cover Oregon roll-out.”

Kitzhaber resigned Feb. 18 amid state and federal criminal investigations into allegations of influence peddling involving himself and former first lady Cylvia
Hayes. The intensified congressional scrutiny could only add to his legal woes.

 

 

McCaig has played a unique role in Kitzhaber’s career. 

She ran his successful 2010 election campaign. Soon after he took office, Kitzhaber made her his top adviser on the Columbia River Crossing, the proposed $3 billion highway project connecting Portland and Vancouver, Wash. McCaig
then worked for the CRC’s top contractor, David Evans & Associates (“The Woman Behind the Bridge,” WW, Feb. 27, 2013). McCaig eventually collected $553,000 for her work on the CRC, which was never built.

Cover Oregon was another big Kitzhaber initiative. The website was supposed to allow Oregonians to purchase health insurance online.

But the project missed its “go-live” deadline Oct. 1, 2013 and never worked properly. By early 2014, Kitzhaber was taking a political beating over the failure
from The Oregonian, which reported in detail his failure to oversee the project.

In early February 2014, McCaig emailed Kitzhaber, offering to take over damage control for Cover Oregon.

“I’d also like to request any publicly available information on the independent
review—it’s charge timeline, etc,” McCaig wrote to Kitzhaber Feb. 6, 2014. “Let me know if you’d rather I let it all alone.”

“No not at all,”€ Kitzhaber responded that same day. “€œI like it when you don’€™t leave things alone (like my last campaign for example).”€

McCaig told Kitzhaber his current approach was failing. She proposed that his chief of staff, Mike Bonetto, blend his official duties with a campaign-led effort on
Cover Oregon.

“We need more accountability and follow-thru from the campaign and some specific, intensive management of the Cover Oregon issues.  I do not think the governor’s office has the staff capacity on the Cover Oregon piece,” McCaig wrote Feb. 8. “How about? Mike chairs a joint campaign and key staff meeting weekly starting ASAP. I staff him (quietly, privately).”

On Feb. 8, McCaig told Kitzhaber that Tim Raphael, a lobbyist and former
Kitzhaber spokesman, would direct the governor’s staff on how to handle
communications about Cover Oregon. Kitzhaber’s campaign would put
Raphael on its payroll.

“To do that [Raphael] would identify what Mike [Bonetto] and [Kitzhaber’s state spokeswoman] Nkenge [Harmon Johnson] need to be managing from the gov’s office, bridging the information gap with the campaign, and most importantly
identifying and teeing up the critical and emerging Cover Oregon issues for the combined team so we can develop a plan and be more prepared both at the state level and the campaign,” McCaig wrote.

“You have know idea how much better this makes me feel,” Kitzhaber wrote her back the same day. “You truly are a Princess. How did I get so lucky to be on your
team?”€ 

“Because you are you and you are governor of the great state of Oregon,” McCaig responded. “And I believe.”

McCaig told Kitzhaber she was being careful not to create a record of her actions—”being mindful of not putting too much on paper,” she wrote in a Feb. 16, 2014,
email.

She also acknowledged, in preparing a Cover Oregon battle plan, that she knew
almost nothing about the issue. “I have no pride of authorship, and barely know enough about the topic to write the goals,” she wrote in the same email.

By March 2014, emails show, McCaig was in full control of Cover Oregon. She routinely advocated keeping key details concealed from the public. For example,
when the state was preparing responses to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, McCaig argued against sharing information with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

“Why is the AG reviewing?” McCaig wrote in a March 20 email to Kitzhaber and Bonetto. “Sending it to the AG could produce questions and allow speculation
there is criminal behavior. It escalates the concern, gives the press another place to keep/promote a negative narrative, and expands external reviews.” (Disclosure: Rosenblum is married to WW publisher and co-owner Richard Meeker.)

Kitzhaber  continually expressed his appreciation for McCaig’s help. 

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS!!!” he wrote her March 30, 2014. “Your Faithful Friend and Fan. I am glad you are in my Life.”

 

In April, Cover Oregon’s board of directors was supposed to decide whether it should abandon the state’s Oracle-built system and switch over to the federal government’s health insurance exchange.

But records show McCaig had already made the call. In an email dated April 9, 2014, McCaig presented Kitzhaber with a memo titled “MANAGING/STAGING THE
DECISION.” She laid out an eight-step process that would provide the illusion of deliberation. “Regardless, the Cover Oregon Board would hear and accept the federal exchange recommendation,” McCaig wrote.

The emails also showMcCaig orchestrated the state’s legal strategy against Oracle. Polling showed voters blamed the governor for Cover Oregon’s failure. McCaig
wanted Kitzhaber to demand money back from Oracle.

“We need to start the discussion from a different place,” McCaig wrote to Kitzhaber on April 7, 2014. “Mike [Bonetto] and I talked offline about Oracle—we’re leaning, regardless of which option, of announcing we’re going ‘after’
them.”

McCaig added in a May 19, 2014, email to Kitzhaber: “We need to show the taxpayers that we are going after the money. It doesn’t really matter if it is $200 million or $40 million, or how many people enrolled, until we make it clear that we’€™re going after the money.”

On May 27, 2014, McCaig drafted a letter for Kitzhaber to send to Rosenblum: “Dear Attorney General Rosenblum I am writing today to ask you to immediately
initiate legal action to recover payments and other damages from Oracle.”

The next day, in an email, McCaig told Bonetto and the governor’s general counsel, Liani Reeves, to coordinate with Rosenblum’s office. 

Then, success: Politico, an influential Washington, D.C., news website, highlighted the looming lawsuit. “Headlines coming in are all good! Politico is great,”
McCaig wrote to Kitzhaber on May 29. “€œWe’ve got another first….  First in the country to sue Oracle!”

KGW TV reported that day a poll showing Kitzhaber leading his Republican opponent for governor, state Rep. Dennis Richardson, by 15 percentage points. 

“€œIf true this may require an extra round of whiskey,”€ Kitzhaber wrote McCaig on May 29. 2014. 

“If true, two extra rounds,” she replied.

By mid-June, McCaig told Kitzhaber their Cover Oregon media strategy was working.

“Quite a week,” she wrote to him on June 13, “it wasn’t all about Cover Oregon. (FYI—no cameras at [Cover Oregon] board meeting and only 2 reporters, that’s
great progress).”

 

Records show dozens of emails between Kitzhaber and McCaig on Cover Oregon. During this time, McCaig wasn’t billing Kitzhaber’s campaign. That enabled Kitzhaber not to disclose her work on his campaign finance reports, as required by law.

McCaig says her work was properly documented. “All of my state-related work is a public record, and my campaign work has been appropriately reported,” she says.

In August 2014, WW reported that McCaig was effectively running Kitzhaber’s re-election campaign and that Kitzhaber was not reporting her contributions. On
Sept. 12,  Kitzhaber emailed McCaig from the Pendleton Round-Up. He joked about that lack of transparency.

“No cheering crowds (but, then again, only one hiss), more horse shit that you can possibly imagine, highly efficient [fundraising] call time,” Kitzhaber wrote. “I
can pay you now…really.”€ 

What He Left Behind

Ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned last week amid allegations his fiancee, former first lady of Oregon Cylvia Hayes, improperly used her access to him to influence state policy while benefiting financially.

From 2011 to 2013, Hayes collected more than $220,000 from private consulting contracts she landed while working as an adviser to Kitzhaber. Her dealings have sparked state and federal criminal investigations (“First Lady Inc.”, WW, Oct. 8, 2014).

But before Kitzhaber’s resignation and the investigations, Hayes had even grander plans for herself—in terms of influence and money—for the governor’s final term in office.

Newly obtained emails reveal Hayes told Kitzhaber in late 2013 that she wanted to further leverage her access to his office into “lucrative work,” including an official state position, paid speaking appearances and book contracts.

The first lady proposed her expansive plans to Kitzhaber, even as the governor’s staff searched for ways to narrow Hayes’ official role and make sure she wasn’t violating state ethics laws.

Hayes’ big plans and the staff’s concerns are contained in emails that are among thousands of communications Kitzhaber’s office sought on Feb. 5 to have destroyed. (See here for an analysis of this action.) Neither Kitzhaber nor Hayes agreed to be interviewed for this story.

The emails obtained by WW provide an extraordinary window into Kitzhaber’s administration and the complexities Hayes’ ambitions presented. 

The emails show that Kitzhaber’s staff was especially alarmed by Hayes’ role in the governor’s office after she signed at least $85,000 worth of private consulting contracts with three nonprofit advocacy groups in 2013.

The contracts prompted Kitzhaber’s then-chief of staff Curtis Robinhold in July and August of that year to get Hayes to sign conflict-of-interest forms that required her to abide by state ethics laws.

Those guidelines would have forced Hayes to change some of the ways she conducted her private business, including prohibiting her from using the title “first lady” when doing private work, and from holding client meetings at Mahonia Hall, the governor’s mansion.

Hayes pushed back. As WW has previously reported, Hayes wouldn’t go along with those guidelines until they were rewritten to allow her to continue operating as she had been.

The newly obtained emails show that, with Kitzhaber preparing for a 2014 re-election campaign, Robinhold suggested some ways to eliminate Hayes’ conflicts of interests without depriving her of income.

In a Sept. 26, 2013, memo to Hayes and Kitzhaber, Robinhold outlined six options that would allow Hayes to continue working on issues she cared about while eliminating outside contracts and the potential conflicts of interest they presented.

The possibilities included finding her a job at a university, such as Portland State, letting her work for a state agency, hiring her to work for the Kitzhaber re-election campaign or having the state hire Hayes as a consultant.

Robinhold said in his email the goal was a position for Hayes that “maintains clear lines of authority in the Governor’s Office and avoids confusion about Cylvia’s supervisory and staff management responsibilities.”

The ideal situation, Robinhold wrote, “avoids giving Cylvia responsibility for broad, overarching policy issues that cross over multiple policy advisors and state agencies” and “minimizes confusion around who Cylvia is speaking for.”

It’s not clear how Kitzhaber responded to the memo. Robinhold declined to be interviewed by WW.

Robinhold’s memo and other emails make it clear that Kitzhaber’s staff wanted Hayes out of the governor’s office.

That’s not what Hayes wanted.

The first lady was busy preparing her own proposal—one that embedded her more deeply in the governor’s office and put her in a position to make more money.

On Nov. 29, 2013, she sent a memo to Kitzhaber titled “Cylvia Game Plan: Dec. 2013-Dec. 2018.”

Hayes summarized her goal at the top: “Intended Outcome: Build my policy and professional credibility and desirability so that I land lucrative work making big positive impacts at end of term.”

 

On the top of Hayes’ list: getting more publicity for her work. Or, as she put it in the memo to Kitzhaber: “Claim the work that is mine.”

That work included her role as “originator and one of the key authors of the Ten Year Energy Plan.” She wanted to be recognized for the environmental and economic consulting work she had done for her private clients, which dovetailed with her state policy interests.

The first lady wanted Kitzhaber to lend the weight of his office to her accomplishments: “Have John develop specific message about my substantive roles.”

Hayes’ work plan was at times contradictory. She said she wanted to end her existing consulting contracts and “go to full-time volunteer status.” In the next line, however, Hayes wrote that she intended to “explore opportunities for income from non-policy, non-Oregon, non-time-consuming work.”

After the campaign, Hayes expected Kitzhaber to formally name her to a staff position that she could leverage financially.

Here’s how she put it:

“Jan. 2015: Get appointed to official policy positions. Feb. 2015–June 2017: Work the policy areas hard. Develop paid speaking and outside Oregon income opportunities. Speak a lot. Get published a lot. Set foundation for book/s – me, John, John and me (outline, generate interest, sample chapters).

“June 2017–Jan. 2018: Transition Phase: Line up next big work and significant income. Write book (maybe get grant to do it). Move out of Mahonia.”

The emails the governor’s office sought to destroy also show the relationship between Kitzhaber’s personal finances and Hayes’ income.

The first lady’s agreement to let her outside contracts lapse in early 2014 had financial consequences for the governor.

“Hey dear, well, I just paid bills with my own money for the last time in our current plan,” Hayes wrote Kitzhaber on March 14, 2014. “Attached is my best estimated monthly and annual expenses.”

Those expenses came to about $62,000 a year—and they would now be the governor’s responsibility. Emails show Kitzhaber began making direct monthly deposits into Hayes’ bank account so she could pay her bills.

There’s been debate about exactly how Kitzhaber’s and Hayes’ finances intermingled. That’s an important question because the answer sheds light on whether the governor benefited from Hayes’ consulting work.

For four years, Kitzhaber stated on state financial disclosure forms that Hayes was a member of his household, which would suggest their finances were linked. But at a Jan. 30, 2015, press conference, the governor
suddenly said he wasn’t sure that was the case.

Kitzhaber’s decision to begin monthly deposits into Hayes’ account when her contract work lapsed, however, shows money she had been earning from consulting was money the governor didn’t have to spend. Therefore, it appears that Kitzhaber benefited from her contracts.

Kitzhaber’s shifting position on whether Hayes was a member of his household was part of a legal strategy devised by lawyers hired to defend the governor and the first lady against complaints filed with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

Kitzhaber and Hayes wanted to establish that neither was dependent on the other for money—a strategy intended to knock down the assertion that Kitzhaber benefited from Hayes’ contracts.

The strategy is spelled out in an email exchange between the governor and Steve Janik, a Portland lawyer representing Kitzhaber and Hayes before the ethics commission.

“As I understand it,” Kitzhaber wrote to Janik on Dec. 22, 2014, “we will make the case that: (1) Cylvia is not a public official, and (2) that she is not a member of my household — and therefore that the OGEC has no jurisdiction in the matter and that the complaints should be dismissed.”

Janik agreed. “We will argue,” the attorney wrote back that same day, “that because Cylvia is not a member of your household, her activities pursuing private income cannot be attributed to you.”

But the email exchange reveals something else: Despite the defense they were mounting, the governor and first lady had no interest in a long fight with the ethics commission.

“We will convey that we are willing to take this all the way and have a strong case for prevailing,” Kitzhaber wrote to Janik on Dec. 22. “But the end game is not actually to have the complaints dismissed but rather to negotiate a stipulated settlement agreement in which we might acknowledge some minor mistakes we may have made and have the matter resolved at the March [2015] meeting. Do I have that right?”

Janik’s answer: “Your summary of the strategy is correct.”


Also in this week’s paper:

“Hit the Delete Button”: Kitzhaber’s office’s explanation for why it requested deletion of emails doesn’t hold water.

“Relying On An Old Man’s Money”: After Hayes got nearly $40,000 from an octogenarian, Kitzhaber bailed her out.

“Ringing the Truth”: Could Kitzhaber and Hayes benefit from spousal privilege if they married?

“Carbon Copy”: A climate-change bill will test Gov. Kate Brown’s independence.