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Meet Our Staff: Tom Thompson

My first choice for beer making is just about anything Belgian. Farmhouse and triples are my favorites. Of course, here in Oregon, pinot noir is my first choice of red wine. A close second is full bodied reds from our Eastern Oregon and Washington blends of merlot, cabernet and other red varieties now available to us home wine makers. Beer and wine aren’t the only fermentables I have a lot of experience making. My family and I have made sauerkraut and dill pickles for years.

The best part of working at FH Steinbart is the contact with customers and coworkers that are engaged in a hobby I have enjoyed for years. Now that I am partially retired, I get to spend time with my fellow hobbyists and make a little money. FH Steinbart has always been great to work with. When I am not working here, I spend most of my free time in my garden. I have a large urban garden that provides a lot of my food. I am also an avid hiker, backpacker and outdoor enthusiast.

When I was nineteen and living at home during the summer, there was a huge plum tree in our back yard. We harvested 13 bushels of plums that year. My dad suggested I make some wine. I took his suggestion to heart and have not looked back. This past August, I celebrated my 50th year of wine making. I started home brewing one year after making that first batch of plum wine. The choices for ingredients were pretty thin back then. Malt was hopped and packaged in small cans, and we ordered yeast from a homesteader’s catalog.


I was born in Oberlin, Ohio, where my family has been since the 1850s. The rest of my family came from Germany in the 1890s and also settled along the shores of Lake Erie. Later, my dad moved us into upstate New York and then New Jersey. The big adventure began when we moved to Southern California. I went to college at the University of Oregon and I have not left the area since. 

I started to work part-time at FH Steinbart in 1985, when we were open until just 1 pm. After closing the store, the sales staff often went to lunch together, and the Horse Brass was one of our favorite places. In 2013, I was laid off from my full time job, and started working at FH Steinbart three days a week, then four days a week one year later. I’m still here and loving it. CHEERS!

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