You can take the guy out of Portland, but you can’t take Portland out of the guy.
Jeff Pickett, owner of Brewtality, was born in Portland, OR in 1975 right when the craft beer movement was about to pick up steam. Jeff is still clearly a Portland fan and thinks it’s the best beer city in the country. “San Diego has a claim,” he said. “And Denver, of course. But Portland is the best beer city in the US.” Back when Jeff was a wee boy, Portland’s beer scene was nothing like what it is today, but Jeff said he believes it was ahead of a lot of places.
By the time Jeff was of legal drinking age, Deschutes Brewery had been open for about a decade. “Black Butte Porter was mother’s milk for me,” Jeff said. That’s one way to get initiated into the craft beer movement… Of course, BridgePort has recently closed its doors, but Oregon still has one of the most vibrant craft beer scenes in the country.
He eventually left Oregon and studied Linguistics at Yale to finally graduate in Film Studies. He then packed up his bags and moved to Los Angeles for a couple years before relocating again to Manhattan. He finally settled down in the Bay Area about 6 years ago. But you know what? The idea of getting involved in the beer industry had been brewing. Jeff purchased the brewtality.com domain before even knowing exactly what he was going to do with it. He originally thought of building some sort of social media platform but realized that was not really his thing. He decidedly was a beer drinker and wanted to get involved in the making of beer.
“I was never a home brewer,” Jeff said. “I’m a beer drinker.” He never wanted to get into the actual brewing aspect of crafting beer. “I am not fastidious about cleaning pipes, but I love talking shop.”
Jeff just graduated with an MBA from Wharton University of Pennsylvania (in San Francisco). There, he was encouraged by his classmates to actually get into brewing and build a business around it. “I wanted to make a beer,” Jeff said. “I’m an extremist and I wanted to make a spicy beer.” In 2016, he set out to make his first test batch at Barebottle, and it worked! However, Jeff was not ready to produce just yet and by the time he had put everything together at the end of 2017, Barebottle had outgrown their brewing capacity. So Jeff turned to Strike in San Jose and has been brewing there ever since.
A teacher at Wharton introduced him to his daughter, Marie Davenport, who is one of the owners of Lime Ventures. They now distribute Jeff’s beer throughout the bay.
But what is Jeff’s beer like, you ask? Well, the best way I can describe it is: different. I could spend all day trying to tell you what the flavor is like, etc. but you really have to try it to understand what I mean. “The ethos is to push extreme flavor profiles,” Jeff said. He got that right! “As a spice-head and a beer lover, I wanted something that went there a little more.” Not sure you guys all know peppers and all, but you’ve most likely heard of HP22B aka Carolina Reaper, right?! That’s what Jeff picked out for his first brew, a triple IPA by the same name. And let me tell you, that thing is H-O-T! The peppers come from Tierra Vegetables in Santa Rosa.
More recently, Jeff came out with Devil’s Limeade. This one is a lot more tame, and the habanero peppers provide a hint of spice and a ton of flavor. He got the key lime purée from Oregon Fruit Products and the black limes were imported from Guatemala by Sadaf in Los Angeles. This whole gathering of ingredients is indulging Jeff’s fantasies as a farmer, as he put it.
Make no mistake, Brewtality is not for your average beer drinker. They are meant for the true connoisseurs. And Jeff is not done; he’s got more in store. He said he is planning on coming out with a hazy IPA, San Hayzay (say it out loud to get the reference), and an imperial stout, Tu Mero Mole, by the end of the year. “We want to do a hazy but we have to figure out how to do it in our own weird way,” he said. The stout, however, is already sort of figured out. It will be flavored with chocolate, pumpkin seeds, spices and ancho chiles. Jeff is also thinking about switching from bottles to cans for future runs. Following the trends…
Keep Portland Weird… Keep Jeff Weird (in a good way)!