AT A MOMENT when new pubs rival coffee shops for ubiquity in Portland, Elan Walsky, the co-owner of Coalition Brewing, thinks it’s time for even more microbrew propagation. To sow the seeds, he launched the Coalator Program, which allows regular folks to reinvent themselves as brewmeisters. It costs nothing, and upon completion the rookie brewer’s 100 percent original ale gets its own tap at Coalition’s Southeast Portland pub.
The fledgling brewer must submit an application and, with the help of Walsky and head brewer Bruce MacPhee, devise a recipe. After an initial session at Coalition, the additional monitoring is up to the brewer—Walsky estimates that more than half of his charges have diligently completed the three week process. And the disaster-prone needn’t worry: Walsky and MacPhee are always on hand to supervise.
The program has attracted serious home brewers as well as tyros, and thus far “it’s all been pretty good stuff and definitely worth drinking,” according to Walsky. And when the Coalator Program’s unique ale variations are on tap, they usually disappear from the pub in a few hours. “The brewer invites his friends over, and they drink it right up,” says Walsky.
At our request, Walsky recounted three of the most distinctive beers from the Coalator Program: a chocolate peanut butter stout, a fruit and fatale chile IPA, and an “Oatzilla Ale.” You won’t find these oddball offerings on tap at the moment, but with nearly two-dozen prospective brewers on Coalition’s growing waiting list, there’s always an intriguing new taste in the works.