Process and Ethos
Corporate America has skewed, overused and killed so many terms over the past two decades that it has become hard to describe an authentic process without sounding like every other food or beverage company. Words like "small-batch," "natural," "artisanal," “authentic,” “natural,” or "craft" have long-since been co-opted by mammoth corporations that churn out thousands of units a day.
The Brewers Association denoted the ceiling for calling a beer"craft" as making less than six million barrels per year. So, technically, you can be a "craft" brewery if you make less than 1,984,000,000 12oz beers a year. That's a hair less than 5 beers per every American!
So instead of using catch-words to describe what we do, we at Portland Syrups let our process speak for itself. It's important for us to be authentic, even if "authentic" isn't what it used to be.
We brew, bottle, label, box and ship all in and from our facility in SE Portland, Oregon. Raw ingredients come in and finished goods go out.
Our brewing process begins with sifting, sorting and weighing whole herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits. We source these ingredients as close to home as possible and whenever available we buy locally. The ingredients are processed (in our case this simply means that they are chopped, crushed, juiced or toasted), weighed and placed in large brewing bags. Once weighed out, we add filtered water and then steep like a giant tea for a minimum of one hour (often much longer).
When we say "giant" we mean anywhere between 10 to 100 gallons. I guess you could say our giant is someone else's micro. But we feel we’ve come a long way from the quart-sized pots in our kitchen in 2012.
Once the ingredients have steeped, they are removed and the remaining brew is sweetened with pure cane sugar. We compost the ingredients that are removed and the sweetened "tea" is brought up to a specific temperature and then hot-filled into our bottles one at a time. After a few hours the bottles are cool enough to label, add the shrink bands, and apply the lot code and expiration date to ensure everyone knows how long they have to enjoy our syrups.
It's a very involved process and our hands are moving each bottle along the way.
We could streamline and mechanize it. We could use extracts instead of whole ingredients. We could produce in 10,000 gallon vats and get our costs as low as possible. But we don’t want to run that company. We make our syrups this way because each step is precious to us.
We purchase from companies we feel good about. We feed our own families good food and also purchase from good people making good things so they can support their families. It might cost us a hair more at the register, but it all comes full circle in the long run. We believe that good comes from good and that's how we run our business. When it comes to business, I can't imagine anything better than being both proud and happy with one's product.
We promise to always do our best to find ways to improve and continue to create. We also promise to source ethically, responsibly, truthfully and honestly.
That's the general process and ethos of Portland Soda Works. We might not know which artisanal terms apply to us, but we do know we're proud of what we make and hope our flavors brighten your day.
Oh yeah! One last thing. Using one of our bottles alongside your home soda machine saves up to 24 plastic bottles from finding their way into landfills. We choose glass packaging and concentrates over ready-to-drink single serve packages in order to reduce the overall footprint of the beverage industry. When possible, we highly encourage reusing our bottles and always encourage recycling. We'd like to keep the oceans for fish and keep the plastics out. Every piece and every day counts.
Let's do this!