A Pint With: Jason McAdam of Burnside Brewing Company, Portland, OR

A Pint With

Chatting about beer with the folks who make it.


[Photographs: Ezra Johnson-Greenough]

You may have heard of oyster stout, but do you know anyone brewing other beers with the liquor from oysters? Jason McAdam of Burnside Brewing Company recently released an oyster-enhanced strong ale. We caught up with him to get the whole story on his Neptune's Wrath and the brewery in general.

Name: Jason McAdam
Location: Portland, Oregon
Occupation: Brewer/Owner, Burnside Brewing Company

How did you get interested in beer and how did you learn to brew? Have you had any great beer mentors?

When I was about 18, one of my long time buddies had an older brother who was cooler than all of us and worked at Portland Brewing. That first taste of MacTarnahans sealed the deal. Of course, just like the majority of professional brewers, I needed to replicate what I was experiencing so I picked up homebrewing, and after some serious practice with my crew we started to make some pretty tasty beer. As for great beer mentors, John Richen and Torin Sandoval [of McMenamins] were basically the building blocks of my career as a professional brewer.

Tell us a bit of the story of Burnside Brewing.

Basically, three guys with three different skill sets and the love for good beer and food got together. The idea was to create well balanced beer that pairs well with all types of foods and also to make a variety of innovative food dishes that pair up perfectly with all types of beer.


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How would you describe your brewing style?

The way I approach making beer is to ask: 1) Has it been done yet? and 2) Can it be done? With classic beer styles I generally try to create outside the style guidelines.

What inspires your beer recipes?

Food and spices and the combinations I've experienced, along with existing and extinct beer styles.

You recently released Neptune's Wrath, a strong ale brewed with 18 gallons of Hama Hama oyster liquor and 4 pounds of lemon peel. Can you tell us a little bit more about the brewing process for this beer and how this beer came about?

We were invited to an oyster festival at EaT: An Oyster Bar along with three other breweries who were working on brewing oyster stouts. So instead of adding another oyster stout, we came up with a recipe based on an oyster shooter that would showcase the brininess of the oyster and the tartness of the lemon without the battle of the roast or malt that a stout brings.

We added the oyster liquor and lemon peel ten minutes before shutting the kettle off. Half of this beer was aged in pinot noir barrels for six months, then blended back with the unaged version to balance the wood and wine notes from the barrel aged half.


What's your favorite food and beer pairing?

Ba m' Ba 33 Export with Vietnamese food, Harar with Ethiopian, Red Stripe with Caribbean, Negro Modelo with Mexican. Get my drift?

How would you describe the craft beer scene in Portland right now? What has changed over the last decade or so?

The Portland craft beer scene is always growing and evolving and with all the brewers and breweries in this city, it's pushing standard brewing techniques so each of us can find our home here. Over the last decade the brewing trends are definitely leaning into innovative styles and breweries pushing the style guideline parameters. The Pacific Northwest is creating its own style of beer making for sure.

What do you drink when you're not drinking Burnside beers?

Whatever is sitting in front of me at the time :0