Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Paul Arney Oral History Interview, June 26, 2018

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Ale Apothecary Tasting Room; Family; Western Washington University;

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Partial Transcript: Alright, your name...

Segment Synopsis: Paul was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up in Everett, Washington, about 30 miles north. Both his father and grandfather were pharmacists, and Paul explains that some of the identity of Ale Apothecary was derived from his family history in pharmacy. Apothecary means "shopkeeper", and Paul explains that his intention was to never allow his brewery to grow too big, he wanted to maintain a small scale family environment.
Paul was the oldest of three boys in a family that really enjoyed cross country skiing, attending the local church, and having large family gatherings that would often be held at Mason Lake. His mother was a stay at home mom, but at one point she began managing the gift shop that was in the family business. Paul explains that this was a very good outlet for his mother outside of taking care of the children. As a student, Paul was good at science but he says that it never quite piqued his interest as a young kid. He graduated high school in 1990, and ultimately declared his major as Geology as a Junior in College at Western Washington University. He graduated for WWU in 1994, when he decided to move back to Everett where he was hired at a coffee shop.

00:19:40 - UC Davis; Master of Brewing; Moving to Bend;

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Partial Transcript: So you moved to UC Davis..

Segment Synopsis: After he graduated from college he didn't have any great aspirations to pursue a career path in Geology, but he was introduced to a man who got him interested in the science of brewing. He moved down to Davis, California to attend a Master's of Brewing Program at UC Davis, which lasted 5 months. Paul explains that he had a very positive experience in Davis. He enjoyed the climate and created relationships that he characterizes as life long friends. However, he talks a bit about the standardization of the class centered around passing the test that grants you a certification as a Master Brewer. Many of the students were individuals who had real working experience within breweries who came back to school to learn more, but felt a disconnect between the curriculum and the actual practice of brewing.
After he completed the course Paul wanted to get a job at Mac and Jack's Brewing Company, but he sent roughly 300 letters to all the breweries in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. He received 2 responses, one of which was from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon telling him to come to town after he completed his certification. He moved to Bend after he finished at UC Davis, and he and his wife got married quickly after.
They moved to Bend in 1996, and he describes the difference in the town between now and then. Naturally it was much smaller, he talks about how there were many locations downtown that didn't have any businesses, which is in sharp contrast to what you see in Bend today.

00:39:22 - Wife's Work; First Stint at Deschutes; Traveling; Company Structure; Favorite Styles;

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Partial Transcript: Did your wife get a job when she moved here?

Segment Synopsis: When the couple moved to Bend, Paul's wife got a job at an ice skating rink where she would rent out equipment and drive the zamboni. She was then hired at SunRiver as a event planner, but her big job came when she was selected as the new Director of the Boys and Girls Club.
The conversation shifts back to Pauls career, where he talks about his first position at Deschutes as a shift brewer from 1996-2002. But in conversation with his wife, they decided they wanted to travel around the world so he elected to quit his job. They left in the fall of 2002 and were gone for roughly a year and half. Thankfully he was able to get rehired at Deschutes, but he compares the growth at the company to a similar fashion of that of the City of Ben as it had grown rapidly. Prior to his travels, Paul reflects on the company structure, specifically noting the impact of upgrading the size of their facilities, and how it affected the employees in their new found space. He also speaks about his love for German style Pilsners while brewing at Deschutes, one of which earned him a gold medal in 1996.

01:01:03 - Back to Deschutes; Hop Strains; Research & Development; Leaving Deschutes;

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Partial Transcript: I got a job there, and it was like goin to work at a brand new brewery..

Segment Synopsis: After their trip from Southeast Asia, Paul returned to Deschutes and describes it as a brand new brewery. At this point in his career as a brewer Paul wasn't as nearly engaged and interested in various strains of hops as the beer community is today. He still would participate in hops selection, but it was nearly as diverse as it has become in the modern brewing industry. He shares a common sentiment that while beer has been brewed for 10,000 years, it is believed that for many centuries it likely didn't taste good, but Paul disagrees. He thinks that there was a craft that has existed throughout the history of beer.
His second stint at Deschutes lasted another 6 years where he came to work as a research and development assistant BrewMaster position where he was stationed at the pub. This was a goal of his upon his return as he wished to get back to the process of making the beer. Part of his role as being 1 of 3 assistant BrewMasters required him to know the jobs of the other 2 assistants, when he was required to manage the cellar he was responsible for budgets, spreadsheets, and managing employees he decided this wasn't a position he wanted to perform and elected to walk away.

01:23:49 - Founding his own Brewery; Art & Science; Finances of Business;

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Partial Transcript: Why couldn't I have a super tiny little brewery..

Segment Synopsis: In 2011 Paul decided to start his own brewery, which has grown into The Ale Apothecary. He says the fabric of his brewery was created more in the light of what he didn't want it to be rather than what he did want. Brewing beer has been described as where art and science meets, and Paul was good at science and really enjoyed the artistic aspect, so the combination of the two has led to a successful venture. The business aspect of the Ale house has been a learning process, but up to this point he and his wife have been successful in maintaining their financial obligations to keep their brewery afloat. Paul takes a unique approach to running his brewery, as he does not wish for it to grow too large. Typically when building a business the goal is to continue to increase profits through growth of the business, but they only wish to maintain a sustainable brewery that still yields the necessary profits.

01:44:33 - Branding; Brewing Process; Employees

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Partial Transcript: What is different about what you do?

Segment Synopsis: Paul explains that on a very basic level, what they do isn't different in terms of the brewing process. Where he does differ is in the way he strategizes the production of his beers. Given the fact that he doesn't have a desire to continue to expand, he has the ability to maintain and perfect his preparation and brewing process to fit his small scale production. When detailing the process, it takes them 40 hours to go from grounding grain to pinching yeast, which in a larger brewery you can do it in 5.
He moves forward to elaborate on the transition to bringing in new employees into the fold, stating that is has been very easy to bring in people who can contribute to his business. The newcomers have been very open to learning new skills that have made it easy for Paul to find them work to maximize their efficiency.

02:01:41 - Personal Growth; Selling; Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: I'm curious to hear about your thoughts on your own growth..

Segment Synopsis: He talks about the potential of having his brewery being bought out, but at this point in time he doesn't imagine he will yield any offers. He believes that his family and their brand are so deeply integrated within the business that it would make it difficult for anybody to buy out. However, even if he were to receive an offer, he says it would likely be difficult to sell out. He's not sure what he would do, if his family would move, and if he would stay in the brewing industry.
He concludes the interview by sharing some of his hopes and desires for his business as he moves forward.