We are often asked what path led us to opening DSB. Well, it’s a long one starting even before we were of legal drinking age, which was already 21 back in the 1970s in Oregon. That’s a sore subject with us as we couldn’t legally go out and have a beer with our twins before they deployed for a year in Afghanistan in 2011. How can someone be old enough to go to war but not be able to enjoy a beer? Here’s the earliest known photo of Steve enjoying a cold one back in 1976. Wearing a Coors shirt and likely drinking “The Bull”, there was a lot to learn taste wise back then.
Moving forward to Steve’s freshman year in college, things had progressed considerably. There’s no doubt the keg in this photo from a winter outing to Government Camp is Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve. Better beer only added to the youthful enjoyment of life.
Henry’s, which back then came with single digit batch numbers listed on the bottles, was the go to brew. Parties with multiple kegs featured Henry’s first, followed by whatever was cheapest once nobody would notice or care. We weren’t exclusive to Henry’s though, probably due to cost as much as anything. Occasionally the call “cases of quarts of Bohemian are on sale at Waremart” would ring out in the dorm. Can anyone identify this 1978 beer in future brewer Stuart’s hand in this photo at the end of the “Horta Cave” on Tanner Creek in the Columbia Gorge? Think it’s a malt liquor of some sort. Yup – that’s Linda making an appearance.
Onward to 1979 and the rise of the Mutants, a GDI college group based on beer as much as anything else.
Beer actually paid for our annual Memorial Weekend camping trip to Cove Palisades that year thanks to Oregon’s bottle deposit bill. One trip around the campground at the end of the weekend pretty well covered expenses. Probably only the Henry’s boxes on the left were ours to begin with.
Henry’s pretty much rounded out the college years, but it was Dark Miller that expanded our horizons. They quit making it around 1980, and we’d sure like to try it now to see if it seems nearly as spectacular as we once thought it was. Miller time makes me feel fine, so fine (song written by Dusty Kopp 1978).
Summiting eastern Oregon’s Pueblo Peak was a last hurrah for the Mutants as a college group. As was frequently the case, Linda was the only female to put up with all us guys. It looks like Rainier pounders made the climb as well. Rainier was a tolerable substitute for Henry’s when finances didn’t cooperate. Our brew mentor Hal was along on the climb.
Craft beer was beginning to emerge in the western U.S. as we left college facing double digit unemployment numbers. We led a mass Mutant migration to the great white north. Alaska became home for the 1980s. We spent our first winter in a 19 foot trailer, where it would be 100 degrees at the ceiling and 25 degrees on the floor. Hamms must have been on sale as our funds hit all-time lows.
Hiking with Rainier was much more affordable than frequenting the bars on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage, which never closed but did stop serving alcohol for one hour early each morning.
By 1983 we all had good jobs that provided for Henry’s and Steinlager along with Rainier during our Memorial Weekend camping trips. Brew mentor Hal in the house.
The northward migration was over by 1985, where we toasted Memorial Weekend at Liberty Falls Campground with Dark Henry’s.
That weekend we discovered one of the finer Alaskan water holes. As usual, Hal was there.
In 1987 our first child arrived, along with brewing equipment under the tree.
A Mutant Reunion at Hood River in 1989 still featured Henry’s along with both Jerry and Hal of DSB fermenter fame. There were likely some Full Sail brews consumed there as well.
Back to Memorial Weekend camping, in 1990 we went to a Forest Service rental cabin on the Copper River Delta outside of Cordova, AK. Homebrew had arrived. That’s brewer Stuart drinking a homebrew with Dirk enjoying (?) what I fear to be Miller? Before the screams start coming in about drinking while driving, be aware this is on a dead end gravel road into wilderness Alaska that is reachable only by long distance ferry. It was May when other traffic was zero. Not far up the road there was still 6 feet of snow.
Back in Cordova there was another fine Alaskan pub.
Quality establishments were widely space, such as this fine place in the middle of nowhere half way between Fairbanks and Nenana.
By Memorial Weekend 1991, we were down to our last few days as Alaskan residents. Our twins had made their arrival forcing a career move to Washington DC. We enjoyed a last Dark Henry’s with Hal at Fielding Lake.
Steve did make it back to Alaska on a business trip in 1993, and managed to visit Hal’s brewery in Fairbanks .
The visit happened to coincide with a homebrewer’s event.
Brewer Stuart was there along with Steve and Hal. Augh…gray was showing up in the beards.
Steve was brewing more frequently in 1995. Linda used to make herself scarce during these mad scientist sessions.
By the first few years of the 21st century, breweries were finally becoming common in the eastern states. We tried to visit as many as possible during our travels. Here’s Ellicottville Brewing in New York around 2004. We were really fond of the smaller breweries located in historic buildings. We’d begun to wish to have one of our own.
Living on Bull Run Mountain for 13 years, our house became the New Year’s Eve Party place. Craft beer was a given. Sam Adams is in this photo, but what’s the Porter? Do I spy Yuengling?
Another strong influence leading to DSB has been the Oregon Brewers Festival. We’ve been attending as frequently as possible, usually with Hal and Jerry.
It’s an amazing event that has unfortunately grown too popular and gets very crowded. Go on the first day it opens!
We moved from DC to the Black Hills in 2007, and quickly fell in love with the town of Lead, buying a decrepit house for fix up here in 2010. In 2013 the stars aligned when our little DSB building came up for sale costing little more than a song and dance. We called Hal and asked him to talk us out of opening a brewery.
He tried, failed and then jumped on board as mentor.
Jerry and Hal taught Linda way more than Steve could about brewing.
It took three years to turn this………………..into this:
Now you know how we got where we are today! What a long strange wonderful trip it’s been.