Brewery celebrates successes, customers
Fearless Brewing Company's mortgage is going up in flames — almost literally.
Because the mortgage on their brewery has been paid off, Fearless owners Ken and Bennett Johnson will host a celebration from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. The event will feature live music from the Mossy Rock Ramblers and the release of a Strong Scotch Ale.
And while the mortage itself will not be burnt, Bennett and Ken will burn a document stating that the mortgage has been paid in full.
The Johnsons are eager to celebrate the occasion.
"We've always held a philosophy of little to no debt, because it makes it easier to control our own destiny," Bennett said. "This is one more thing that makes it easier to have control of our business."
Ken and Bennett opened Fearless Brewing, located at 326 Broadway St., in 2003.
Bennett credits the brewery's customers as a significant part of its success, which is why she and Ken wanted to have a party for the occasion.
"We're really pleased, and we want to share that," Bennett said. "We have a lot of really loyal customers, and we really believe that they have been a huge portion of our success."
Reflecting on Fearless' 14 years in business, Bennett noted that the quality of the beer produced is another reason for the brewery's longevity. The Fearless Porter won a gold medal at the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards, and the Fearless Scottish Ale won a gold medal at the 2016 Best of Craft Beer Awards and a silver medal at the 2017 awards.
"From the beginning, we wanted the beer to be front and center," Bennett said. "For us, the food has always been an accompaniment to the beer. Ken has been focused hard on making sure the beer is a strong product."
Consistency is also an essential part of the brewing process at Fearless.
"When (Ken) brews a Maibock, he wants it to be a Maibock, and a true representation of that style," Bennett said.
Though the Johnsons emphasize stability in their product, they also realize the value of trying new things.
"The Peaches and Cream Ale is a good example of experimentation," Bennett noted.
Over the years, Fearless' distribution has expanded to Oregon, Washington and Canada.
Though Fearless beer is available in many locations, Bennett views the brewery's Estacada location as a valuable part of its identity.
"We chose the rural lifestyle," she said. "We were both county kids, and we didn't want to start a business in Portland. It was a choice we deliberately made."
Additionally, in a previous interview with the Estacada News, Ken credited the Clackamas River as one factor that makes Fearless beers stand out.
"It's the best water to brew with," he said. "It's a blank slate, and very soft. There aren't a lot of minerals and weird stuff in it."
However, the decision to locate outside of the metro area has not been without challenges.
"We've spent days waiting on trucks (for grain and distribution) to show up," Bennett said, noting that they now own their own truck for distribution.
She added that one of the most rewarding aspects of owning Fearless is interacting with those who visit the brewery.
"We have some pretty loyal customers. They aren't just customers — they're friends of ours," Bennett said. "That part is really special."