Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Gary Nance Oral History Interview, March 17, 2017

Oregon State University
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00:00:22 - Early life in Oklahoma

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Partial Transcript: So where were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Nance talks about his early life, he says that he was born in Norman, OK and lived there all of his early life. He shares that he played tennis in junior high and high school, mainly because he did not like getting hit in sports like football. Nance also shares that he had an afternoon paper route. Nance says that he had no original plans to move to Oregon, but he had a friend who was planning on moving out to Oregon to run track and invited him along to move there after high school. He says they just loaded up in his van and they were on there way. He shares that coming to Oregon was a completely new experience, he had never really seen the ocean, mountains, and the desert before. He also shares that he enjoys eastern Oregon a lot and that he likes to escape the rain forest regions of the west and enjoy the air out there. Nance shares about what it was like to grow up in Norman. He shares that it was nice to grow there because the city was decent sized, but he still got to enjoy life on the farm with his family. Nance discusses how oil really brought a lot of money into the region.

Keywords: Norman; Oil; Oklahoma; Tennis; Tusla; University of Oklahoma; Wild West; desert; high school; oregon; paper route

00:05:06 - Growing up in Oklahoma

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Partial Transcript: So where you interested in things like agriculture? Cooking? Chemistry?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares that he had little to know interests in any of the things that he is doing now as a kid growing up. He shares that he really enjoyed social studies and hated math. He shares that geometry was the last math that he ever took. He also shares that his parents were big gardeners but he thought that it was stupid then, but now ironically he really enjoys gardening. Nance shares that his parents were not really that interested in alcohol or drinking at all growing up. Nance also shares some of the silly liquor laws that Oklahoma had in place while he was young. Nance shares that he never really planned on staying in Oklahoma.

Keywords: Amtrak; Gardeners; Geometry; Math; Science; Social Studies; Vegetables; beer; liquor laws; parents; radishes

00:10:12 - Memories of life in Eugene

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Partial Transcript: So I imagine that Oregon was very different than Oklahoma?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares his experience of moving to Oregon, he shares that he initially settled down in Eugene, but he and his friend quickly moved to San Francisco for a few months because they could not pay back $400 that they owed. He shares that they only stayed down in San Francisco for a few months before they headed back up to Eugene. Nance shares some memories of what it was like in Eugene during the mid 1970s, he talks about how the movie Animal House was filmed there. Nance shares that he and his wife loved the grateful dead, and shares stories related to their concert going. Nance tells about how he met his wife and some more memories of Eugene.

Keywords: Animal House; Boise; Eastern Oregon; Eugene; IHOP; Lane Community College; Nixon; San Francisco; Star Wars; Taco Bell; University of Oregon; country fest; grateful dead; wife

00:17:15 - Early interests in beer

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Partial Transcript: So at that point there is no craft beer?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares that in Eugene at the time not very many people were into home brewing or home wine making. He shares some of the early types of beers he was fond of, and shares t hat he had an affinity for bass pale ale. Nance shares that it was common during these early brewing days for people to know who was making the beer. He shares that he would talk with brew masters and they would let him come sit in on their brewing sessions.

Keywords: Bass Pale Ale; Block 15; High St.; Portland; beer; homebrewing; soccer; the Bavarian; wine

00:20:54 - Starting out as a brewer

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Partial Transcript: What was the point for you when you thought of beer as a career?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares how he initially got interested in becoming a brewer. He shares that he heard through his wife that a friend was going to be starting a brewpub, and as result he decided to start home brewing in hopes that he could get a job working in his brewpub once it opened. Nance shares about his early brews, and then landing a job as an assistant brewer at Spencer's. Nance shares that people would sometimes come to Spencer's too look at the brewing happening, but most just came there for other reasons. He shares that the location was kind of on the outskirts of all the main brewing action in Eugene.

Keywords: Ambrosia; Eugene; Hop Valley; Spencer's; Wife; homebrewing; the Bavarain

00:26:31 - Brewing community in Eugene

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Partial Transcript: So what was the rest of the Eugene brewing community like?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares some of the first breweries that opened up in the Eugene area in the mid 90s. He also shares how a lot of the brewers in town were friends and that they had a good community. He shares that it was a pretty tight knit community of brewers, and they were opening to share information and resources.

Keywords: Ashland; Collaboration brews; Eugene; McMenamins; Portland; Roseburg; Spencer's; Steelhead; West Brothers

00:30:07 - Landing his first job with McMenamins

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about how you got your job with McMenamins to begin with?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares about how he got his job at McMenamins. He shares that he was always a fan and was a frequent customer at the McMenamins that was near his house in Eugene. He shares that he was walking by and a worker at the brewpub told him that they were looking to hire a brewer at their Salem location and urged him to apply. He shares that he got offered the job on his birthday and was really happy. He shares how the commute made him really sore, and he seemed to be always tired. Nance shares how by 2005, people who were becoming brewers were people that had more qualifications.

Keywords: Birthday; Children; Commuting; Eugene; Golden Gate Kegs; McMenamins; Oregon State University; Organic; Salem; UC Davies; Wife

00:34:32 - What its like to work at McMenanmins

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Partial Transcript: How is the McMenanmins culture different from the other breweries and brewpubs that you have worked in?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares some of the differences in the cultures of breweries that he has worked at it the past. He shares that it was a good surprise to him that McMenanmins as a company offered things like paid vacation and insurance options. He shares that working for McMenamins is like working with a family, there always very understanding and helpful. Nance talks about the differences in brewing techniques at his old breweries and then at McMenamins. He talks about the difference between keg styles and the importance of each style. Nance shares some of his favorite brews he has created and shares that McMenanmins allows him to be quite creative with styles. Nance shares some of his most successful brews, and some of his lease successful.

Keywords: Family; Golden Gate Keg; Insurance; Job benefits; McMenanmins; Salem; brewing systems; creativity

00:44:26 - Working with others/learning to brew

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Partial Transcript: So, I interviewed Jen Kent last summer as you know?

Segment Synopsis: Nance talks about his relationship with Jen Kent, the women who took over for him in Salem at the Thompson McMenamins store. He shares that he encouraged her to apply for his job once he found out that he was going to transfer to Monroe in Corvallis. Nance shares how learning how to brew is hands on, and just learning from mistakes and accepting the help from others. Nance shares how McMenamins is great because each location has its own individual brewery, but by having a network of stores throughout Oregon it makes the sharing of ideas and ingredients really easy.

Keywords: Brewing Secrets; McMenamins; Monroe; Rain; Thompson; Women Brewers

00:51:27 - Working at the new location in Corvallis

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Partial Transcript: What was it like, this building and McMenamins was established in 2006, what was it like to walk into a new facility?

Segment Synopsis: Nance describes what is was like when McMenamins first purchased the location at the Monroe location in Corvallis. He shares that when he first walked through he had no idea how they were going to be able to transform the location into a brewery. He says that working a new location great, because everything in the brewery is completely new. He shares that he does not have to worry about anything breaking. Nance describes the differences in the customers between the Corvallis store and the Salem location. He shares that the customer base is a lot younger and they love their IPA's. He does share that customers are still open to experiment with new styles but they really do have their favorites. Nance also talks about how the stores will sometimes share their supplies of beer, if one store is running low where the demand is really high they will ship the kegs between stores. Nance talks about the difference in the business during the summer, and how when the students leave their business goes way down so he ends up shipping a lot of his beer to other stores and locations. Nance talks about how he sometimes gets brewing interns from OSU's fermentation program.

Keywords: Age; Fermentation Sciences; Hammerhead; IPA; Interns; McMenamins; New; Oregon State University; Ruby; Summer

01:00:27 - Brewing community/future plans

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Partial Transcript: So, what about the brewing community here in Corvallis?

Segment Synopsis: Nance describes that he doesn't have a connection with a lot of the other brewers in Corvallis, because he commutes back to Eugene everyday. He shares that back when he worked in Eugene he was well connected to all the other breweries in town. Nance shares a little bit about his future plans, he shares that working at the brewery is not something he can do forever because its really hard on his body. He shares that its really important to stay hydrated while working, and hydration can help prevent injury.

Keywords: Commuting; Corvallis; Eugene; Junction City; age; future plans; hydration

01:08:20 - Concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: What did you think I would ask you about that I did not ask you about?

Segment Synopsis: Nance shares that the successes of his beer is really because of the work of the servers and the cooks. Nance shares that the servers will report back to him and share the customers feedback with him about the quality of beer and what the customers are looking for. Nance shares how fun it is to work for McMenamins. Nance shares that its a good way to make a living, he loves what he does and it doesn't really feel like work to him.

Keywords: Cooks; Servers; beer tours; customers; marketing; renovations; social; types of beer; yeast