Christian DeBenedetti wrote the book on beer travel. A joy to read, The Great American Ale Trail, originally published in 2011, just came out in a new and massively expanded edition. DeBenedetti's engaging reviews of over 500 breweries, spanning all 50 states, are enough to inspire a spontaneous sudsy road trip. And now he's got his own brewery—Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery in Newberg, about 25 miles southwest of Portland. Road trip, anyone?
"I started dreaming about this brewery," DeBenedetti writes in his book, "during my freshman year of college at Whitman, in Walla Walla, oh-so-many years ago. A good friend who lived across the hall taught me to brew. One crisp, hoppy taste of Abe's Ale told me he knew what he was talking about. And with a single stir of my own kettle, I was hooked."
Wolves & People, located adjacent to a hazelnut field at the farm where DeBenedetti grew up, has been a long time in the making. Renovating the farmhouse so it could function as a brewery took over a year and required the aid of Jordan Keeper—once the brew master at Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas, an accomplished farmhouse brewery in the Lone Star state. It's now open to the public on Saturday afternoons, welcoming visitors to check out the seven-barrel system purchased from nearby Heater Allen Brewing, while taking in the scent of the oak barrels lying in every nook and cranny.
Both the water and the yeast come from the farm, and it is that purity that really makes a difference in the beer DeBenedetti produces. A self-professed "lover of saisons and wild ales as long as I have been legally allowed to drink," DeBenedetti already produces some amazing ales, from the Instinctive Travels dry-hopped saison to Tractor Pull, a strong dark ale with flavors of cinnamon and graham crackers. Just like Agrarian Ales outside of Eugene, it's exactly the kind of brewery worth traveling to—a lovely country retreat where the walls tell just as many stories as the ale.