Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Aaron Sarnoff-Wood Oral History Interview, February 24, 2017

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so go ahead and start with your name.

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood introduces himself, and provides the interview location, current date and his birth date.

Keywords: Cider--Marketing; Craft cider

Subjects: Cider; Cider industry; Graphic design; University of Oregon

00:00:20 - Childhood experiences in California and Corvallis, OR

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Partial Transcript: So were you born in Corvallis?

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood discusses his early childhood in Riverside, California prior to moving to Corvallis, and his early memories of his parents careers. He details why his family moved to Corvallis, and his early education at Mountain View elementary. He describes his early friendship with Lee Larsen’s older brother, and the various activities he enjoyed as a young kid. Sarnoff-Wood also notes his early interest in the arts during that time.

Keywords: Cultural activity; Mountain View elementary (Corvallis, Or.); Outdoor activities; WilCo farm stores

Subjects: Agronomy; Beekeeping; Childhood friendship; Corvallis (Or.); Plant pathology; Riverside (Calif.)

00:08:34 - Culture in Corvallis / Interest in the arts

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Partial Transcript: So did you go to Portland a lot, or to Eugene a lot?

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood discusses the different reasons he visited Portland as a kid and a teenager, and how his need for traveling reflected the lack of activity in Corvallis. He describes his interests in different types of visual arts as a kid, as well as his access to arts education during that time. Sarnoff-Wood compares the local cultures of Eugene and Corvallis, and how they’ve appealed to him during different times of his life.

Keywords: Art classes; Family values; Local culture; Outdoor activities; Wholesome lifestyles; WinCo foods

Subjects: Corvallis (Or.); Counterculture; Eugene (Or.); Fine arts; Nightlife; Photography; Portland (Or.); Sculpture

00:13:10 - Academic interests / Relations with local government

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Partial Transcript: So, academically, were you sort of the traditional liberal arts

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes his affinity for the sciences in high school, and how his interest in school dropped as he got close to graduation and to moving to Eugene. He discusses his family’s support of his interest in art, and how he discovered the art world in college. Sarnoff-Wood then illustrates the challenges running a business in coordination with city regulations, and the discussions he has with his mother about city planning. He details his experiences with local fame as a 2 Towns founder, and how it can conflict with his personal life.

Keywords: Art world; Conflict in bureaucracy; Figure drawing classes; Government regulation; Local celebrities

Subjects: Academic motivation; Bureaucracy; City planning; Field biology; Figure drawing--Technique; Independence; Linn-Benton Community College; Local government; Science and mathematics. Physics

00:17:33 - Early experiences in Eugene, OR

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Partial Transcript: So did you move- you move to Eugene with an apartment

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes his introduction to counterculture in Eugene during his first year of living there, and how he learned about different forms of life and education. He notes the location of his first house, and the unique community surrounding it. He discusses the different cultures of Eugene and Corvallis and how they complement each other.

Keywords: Education models; Family values; Learning styles; Living off the grid; Low-quality housing; Wholesome lifestyles

Subjects: Animal house (Motion picture); Corvallis (Or.); Counterculture; Counterculture--Oregon--History; Eugene (Or.); Independence; Liberal; Low-income housing; Social security

00:21:28 - Education at the University of Oregon / Activities in college

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Partial Transcript: What- were you intending to study art when you started there?

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes the naming and coursework in his graphic design program at the University of Oregon, and his particular interest in digital media. He then discusses his participation in local motorcycle rallies, and how he also was involved in local beer culture.

Keywords: College coursework; Motorcycle safety; Multimedia design; Taprooms; Taverns and bars; Taverns and pubs; The Simpsons (Television show)

Subjects: Computer drawing; Digital media; Graphic design; Motorcycle rallies; Taverns (Drinking establishments); University of Oregon

00:24:36 - Local culture in Eugene, OR

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Partial Transcript: So what else? What are other things that you remember at Eugene

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes his interactions with the early craft beer industry, and how that interaction related to his college job at an independent video store. He details the local beer and music scene in Eugene at the time, and how the culture has changed since he lived there. He discusses the activities that went on in the video store, along with the different artistic skills his friends had.

Keywords: Community support; Craft beer; Eugene counterculture; Ninkasi Brewing Co.; Video stores

Subjects: Brewing industry; Cult films; Cult movies; Grunge music; Punk rock music; Recessions; Recessions--United States--History--21st century; University of Oregon

00:31:30 - Experiences in home brewing

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Partial Transcript: So were you home brewing back then?

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood discusses the availability of brewing supplies in Eugene, along with his interest in brewing a variety of recipes. He compares home brewing to cooking, and the nature of the community surrounding it. He describes his resources as a home brewer, and his interest in engaging with his friends and home brew clubs.

Keywords: Brewing experimentation; Brewing science; Cooking and fermentation; Craft beer; Fermentation science; Home brewing; Organized activities

Subjects: Beer; Beer and brewing; Brewing--Equipment and supplies; Cooking; Cooking--Equipment and supplies; Fermentation; Introversion; Introverts

00:36:41 - Presence of technology in higher education

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Partial Transcript: So, at that point in the development of technology, was a lot

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes the level of computer sophistication present while he was in college, and how it has vastly increased since then. He discusses the costs of available technology at the time, and the methods he used to get more affordable access to it.

Keywords: Computer development; Graphic design programming; High-speed internet; University expenses

Subjects: Computer programming; Graphic design; Inflation (Finance); Photoshop; University of Oregon

00:39:02 - Transition from college to career path

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Partial Transcript: So, you're getting through school. What are some of the other social things

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes the efforts he made to find work following graduation from college, and how his views of finance differ from his brother’s. He discusses his employment at Intervision Media, including the projects he worked on and his feelings about the company. Sarnoff-Wood recounts his long transition from working at Intervision Media to doing freelance graphic design and eventually deciding to open 2 Towns Ciderhouse.

Keywords: Business development; Company development; Freelance graphic design; Freelancing; Government-funded video games; InterVision Media; National Institutes of Health (NIH); Realism in finance

Subjects: Alternative education; Charter schools; Freelancers; Government funding; Graphic design; Opera singers; Realism; Recessions--United States; Video game--Design

00:49:22 - Developing interest in cider culture / Planning to open a brewpub

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Partial Transcript: So you guys met up in Spain, right? Did you go to visit his brother

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood recounts his early visits with fellow 2 Towns founder Lee Larsen in Spain, and how his introduction to European ciders compared to those present in the US at the time. He notes his own experiences with making ciders and fruit wines as a home brewer. He then discusses his reunion with Larsen several years later in Corvallis and their conversations about opening a brewpub.

Keywords: Business development; Business ownership; Cider culture--Spain; Cider industry--Europe

Subjects: Barcelona; Barcelona (Spain); Bars; Business analysts; Cider; Cider industry; European culture and society; Fruit wines

00:53:39 - Craft brewing industry in Oregon during the late 2000s

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Partial Transcript: So this is heading into the late 2000s. What were your impressions

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood discusses the growth of the craft brewing industry in Oregon, and how macrobrewer beers competed for an audience with him and other consumers in the 2000s. He describes his exploration of the different regions of Portland following graduation from college, and how the cost of living there has changed over time. He notes the conflict between creativity and financial resources in business development. Sarnoff-Wood also illustrates his interest in the new artisan culture of Portland food and beer, and how it differs from Portland while he was growing up.

Keywords: Beer quality; Bridgeport brewing company; Craft beer; Local culture (Portland, Or.); Ninkasi brewing company

Subjects: Beer and brewing; Bohemian; Brewing industry--Oregon--Portland--History; McMenamins Pubs & Breweries; Pabst Brewing Company; Portland (Or.)

01:02:03 - Deciding to open a ciderhouse / Education in cidermaking

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Partial Transcript: So when you and Lee started talking seriously about

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes the process he and Larsen went through to develop a feasible model for a brewing business, and how cider production matched their interests and available resources. He discusses how he learned about the process of cider making, and how that relates to his experiential education in brewing. He notes the progression of increasing complexity in making ciders for specific flavors. Sarnoff-Wood then details the marketing strategies commonly used with cider, and how they compare to the 2 Towns product goals. He explains the gendered marketing of craft beers in the current industry, and the strength cider has with its appeal across genders.

Keywords: Brewpubs; Cider making; Gender and beer; Gender-based marketing; Gendered marketing; Gendered marketing strategies

Subjects: Apples; Apples--Oregon; Breweries; Business financial management; Business planning; Experiential learning; Fermentation

01:07:46 - Graphic design in 2 Towns / Quick business expansion

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Partial Transcript: What about- so you're doing the brewing side, but are you bringing

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood compares his experiences and approach to brewing with that of his fellow founders, and how that lead to a difference in participation in the brewing process between the three. He discusses his marketing strategies when 2 Towns first opened, and how he focused on educating consumers about cider flavor and style. He describes the vast changes and expansion in the cider industry, and how people’s cider preferences are partially based in their access and education about the beverage.

Keywords: Brewing science; Cider design; Cider distribution; Fermentation science; Industry growth; Market growth; Sensory analysis

Subjects: Business--Marketing; Cider; Cider industry; Consumer education; Experiential learning; Graphic design; Oregon Liquor Control Commission; Outreach

01:17:03 - Development of 2 Towns' marketing / Public reception of the business

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Partial Transcript: So I'm curious about- as you all are trendsetters, you're on the edge.

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes how their packaging methods have changed over time to fit their audience and financial resources, and how packaging contributes to their brand. He discusses his various responsibilities as the in-house graphic designer, and the factors involved in creating a design style for their products. Sarnoff-Wood also details their sources of feedback in retail and on social media, and the lessons he’s learned through this feedback.

Keywords: Business following; Cider industry--feedback; Cider--packaging; Graphic design firms; Social media and business feedback

Subjects: Branding (Marketing); Business--Marketing; Cider; Cider industry; Feedback; Graphic design; Marketing & distribution (Series); Packaging machinery; Social media

01:22:24 - Challenges and surprises as a growing company

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Partial Transcript: But how do you- yeah, but how agile do you feel the bigger you get?

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood describes the increase in complexity that accompanies business growth, and the value of teamwork in business management as companies develop over time. He explains his surprise and frustrations at the complications of for legal regulations on cider, especially since it falls under the legal categories of both wine and beer. Sarnoff-Wood discusses the complications of packaging regulations for cider by local and federal governments, as well as the effort required to properly merchandise cider in grocery stores.

Keywords: Alcohol distributors; Alcohol regulations; Beer regulations; Business collaboration; Business complexity; Business growth; Business teamwork; Franchise laws; Regulatory groups; Wine regulations

Subjects: Cider; Cider industry; Distributors (Commerce); Distributors (Commerce)--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States; Merchandising; Oregon Liquor Control Commission; Teamwork

01:29:40 - 2 Towns' role as a mentor in the cider industry

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Partial Transcript: So has that, have you then had a lot of people who were interested

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood discusses how he and the other 2 Towns founders try to assist people entering the cider industry, and how that reflects their treatment by craft brewers in the beginning of their business. He states the importance of advising new cider makers about the challenges of running a successful business, and how much of the work is outside of the actual cider making process. He also notes the different places they meet cider makers around the US.

Keywords: Advice for entrepreneurs; Brewing community; Business advice; Business challenges; Cider industry--conferences; Community support; United States Association of Cider Makers

Subjects: Beer and brewing; Breweries; Business education; Business success; Cider; Cider industry; Mentorship

01:32:41 - Rewards of running 2 Towns / Interaction with the university community

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Partial Transcript: What do you love about this job that you do now?

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood discusses the social impacts 2 Towns has had on local culture and on the cider industry in the US, and how that’s related to his frustrations about Corvallis culture in younger life. He details the value of working on the business with family and childhood friends, and how Corvallis has grown to support culture and diversity since he grew up. He describes the relationship between 2 Towns and the OSU fermentation science program, as well as the complementary natures of Oregon State and the University of Oregon.

Keywords: Cuisine diversity; Fermentation science; Local culture; Product promotion; Regional culture; University development

Subjects: CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT; Counterculture; Diversity; International students; Oregon State University; Oregon State University. Food Science and Technology; University of Oregon

01:38:07 - Concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: What do you feel proud about? So we talked about what

Segment Synopsis: Sarnoff-Wood explains the 2 Towns business values of working with local family farms and creating a positive work environment for their employees. He discusses the balance of skills between him and the other founders in terms of outreach. He then states his pride in how they’ve grown as a major producer of craft cider for the West Coast, and describes the reward of influencing cider culture and interacting with renowned craft brewers. Sarnoff-Wood notes the important role that Corvallis plays in the craft beverage movement, and his reactions to being a part of that.

Keywords: Angry Orchard cider; Business community; Business contemporaries; Business outreach; Cultural influences; Local celebrities; Work environments

Subjects: BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture; Celebrities; Community-supported agriculture; Family farms; Introversion; Introverts