Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Lee Larsen Oral History Interview, February 20, 2017

Oregon State University

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0:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: Okay, go ahead

Segment Synopsis: Larsen introduces himself, and provides his birth date, the current date and the location of the interview.

Keywords: craft cider; fermentation science; Hard cider

Subjects: Cider Corvallis (Or.) Oregon State University

0:20 - Childhood experiences / Living in Barcelona, Spain

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Partial Transcript: So you were born in Corvallis, is that right?

Segment Synopsis: Larsen details where he was born in Corvallis, Oregon, along with his childhood education in a local montessori school. He describes his different interests in sports as he grew up, and the benefit of living near research forests. Larsen then discusses how he and his family moved to Barcelona, Spain during his high school years, and the languages spoken at the international school he attended.

Keywords: Language barriers; McDonald Research Forest; Montessori schools; Outdoor activities

Subjects: Barcelona (Spain) Corvallis (Or.) Hewlett-Packard Company International schools

3:10 - Adjusting to life in Barcelona

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Partial Transcript: That must have been quite a transition from Corvallis

Segment Synopsis: Larsen discusses the shock involved in transitioning to city life from growing up in a small town, and the difficulty of leaving his old community. He then describes the emphases on skateboarding and soccer that are present in Barcelona, and how that allowed him to build new friendships despite a language barrier.

Keywords: Childhood community; Language barriers; Large cities; Skateboarding--culture; Small communities

Subjects: Culture shock Friendship Skateboarding industry Soccer Soccer--Spain--Barcelona

4:55 - Food and alcohol culture in Barcelona

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Partial Transcript: What are some of your memories from that time about

Segment Synopsis: Larsen discusses the kinds of cuisine available in Spain, and his memories of going to restaurants for cheap drinks and appetizers. He describes the prominent cider culture in Spain, and how it and wine are easily available and affordable compared to in the US. Larsen then recounts his father’s interest in wine and winemaking, and how that influenced their experiences trying wine and cider together. He notes how the legal drinking age in Spain changed as he grew up, and how he was still old enough to drink after each change.

Keywords: Hard cider; Legal drinking age--Spain; Low-alcohol beverages; Mediterranean food

Subjects: Barcelona (Spain) Cider Cider industry Winemaking

8:16 - European v. American cider culture

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Partial Transcript: So your sister came back and started a cider magazine, is that right?

Segment Synopsis: Larsen recounts how his sister developed her own interest in cider culture while living in Spain, and how that evolved into writing an online magazine about cider in 2010. He notes how he and his sister share ideas about cider, particularly in the traditional techniques used by Spanish cider makers. Larsen goes on to describe the importance of tradition and community involvement in the Spanish cider industry, and how that’s reflected in their production methods. He details the unique qualities in Spanish cider, such as the lack of carbonation or additives, and the different impacts Spanish cider making practices have on employee health.

Keywords: Brewing magazines; Business tradition; Cider making--techniques; Publications--Cider; Traditional practices; Wild yeast

Subjects: Cider industry Online magazines Oviedo (Spain) Tradition Tradition technique

13:46 - Attending high school and college in Corvallis, OR / Interest in fermentation science

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Partial Transcript: So when you, you came back, graduated from Crescent Valley, right?

Segment Synopsis: Larsen recounts how he returned to Corvallis, Oregon to complete high school, and how he chose to study at Corvallis High School rather than at Crescent Valley. He notes the difference in school rivalries at the high school and college levels, and how that related to his interactions with 2 Town co-founders Dave Takush and Aaron Sarnoff-Wood. Larsen then discusses his dual interests in fermentation science and business in college, along with the challenge of taking classes in brewing when he didn’t have the course background. He states his decision to pursue brewing after college, as well as his learning style.

Keywords: Fermentation science; Home brewing; Self-driven learning; University rivalry

Subjects: Corvallis High School (Corvallis, Or.) Experiential learning Finance & business Oregon State University University of Oregon

16:51 - Planning to open 2 Towns Ciderhouse

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Partial Transcript: So when you graduated, you graduated in 2009?

Segment Synopsis: Larsen describes how he initially didn’t plan to open a business when he graduated from college, and how his childhood friendship with Aaron Sarnoff-Wood started that conversation. He details the specific moment when he and Sarnoff-Wood decided to open a craft beverage business together based on Larsen home brewing for his brother’s wedding. Larsen notes how cider was their primary focus, but they were open to other opportunities in brewing.

Keywords: Business establishment; Business partnership; Cideries in Oregon; Fermentation science; Hard cider; Home brewing

Subjects: Business BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Strategic Planning Childhood friendship Cider industry

19:17 - Developing creative ideas in cider making

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Partial Transcript: So we are almost at twenty minutes. How do you feel about time?

Segment Synopsis: Larsen explains the importance diversity and experience in fermentation science has in making 2 Towns a strong business. He discusses how he and Dave Takush consider themselves to be “winemakers with a craft beer mindset,” and how that influences their ability to innovate cider making. Larsen then describes how there is little documented history of the cider industry in the US, and how that allows him and his team to define what cider is. He also notes the importance of the craft beer industry in establishing the craft cider culture.

Keywords: Brewing--experimentation; Cider industry--history; Craft cider; Fermentation science; Hard cider

Subjects: BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture Cider industry Diversity Oenology Problem solving Workplace environment

21:50 - Impact of cider in Oregon / Concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: So you've referenced history. Obviously, I think a lot about history

Segment Synopsis: Larsen describes the importance of using local, high quality ingredients, and how that contributes to making consistently high quality products. He provides examples of using wild ingredients in recipes, and how to use them well. He emphasizes the importance of teaching people about using authentic ingredients to properly represent the cider industry, and how that draws parallels with wine and beer. Larsen concludes the interview by discussing his favorite parts of working in the ciderhouse, mainly in the workplace community that they have.

Keywords: Authentic ingredients; Fermentation science; Local ingredients; Local resources; Workplace community

Subjects: Local revenue--Oregon Product quality Quality assurance Tradition Workplace environment