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Meet Our Staff: Todd Fleming

Todd Fleming was born into a Midwest farming family in St. Paul/Minneapolis. As a young boy, he relocated with his family to the Pacific Northwest when his Dad was transferred to Tacoma and then to the Weyerhaeuser Corporate Headquarters in Federal Way, WA. 

As a kid, Todd got into music and soccer. He was good enough on the soccer pitch to be scouted with his teammates by the Tacoma Stars indoor soccer team. After graduating high school, Todd studied music and business at a local community college and started two businesses, a music production company called Destiny Productions, and Practice Pads Unlimited, which served the emerging indie music scene in Seattle and the Puget Sound region in the late 80’s & 90’s. Todd played keys, horns, percussion, sang vocals and played electronic instruments in side bands, and toured for a bit around the Northwest. He was a kitchen manager in his early 20’s managing a couple of Mexican restaurant chain units for a few years, worked as a chef on the Seattle waterfront at “Charlie’s Shilshole Bay Marina”, worked at The Spar, opened The Victory Club and Jillian’s Billards Club among others.

Todd moved to Portland in 1996 and helped open The Alameda Brewhouse during the height of the first craft brewery boom in the United States. He also ran various music venues in Southeast Portland, and ended up working part-time for BridgePort Brewing.

Given Todd’s prior experience, he was soon managing the brewpub at BridgePort and executing festivals and off-premise events for the brewery.  He helped renovate BridgePort and its original building, built in 1889, as the Pearl District transformed around it into a shopping and dining destination.  

Todd ended up becoming the cellar master managing many departments during his 20+ years with his team under Carlos Alvarez, the CEO of The Gambrinus Company, who bought BridgePort from the founding Ponzi family in 1995. Todd hosted customers and visitors from around the world at BridgePort, and gained vast branding & marketing knowledge while watching the parent company operate and market many brands like Shiner & Moosehead and Trummer Pils. For the launch of Trummer Pils, Carlos teamed up with an eighth generation, Austrian family operated mother brewery, and began to brew the original family recipe in Berkeley, CA in 2004.

In his current role at FH Steinbart, Todd is helping the company further deepen its connections to the commercial segment of the brewing market. “Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s a whole new ballgame for everyone in the industry and the path ahead is very murky right now,” Todd says. “But the fundamentals remain the same. Everyone still needs to take it a day at a time, roll up their sleeves, and get done whatever is needed.” 

Todd points out that as a company that’s been around for more than 100 years, FH Steinbart knows a thing or two about doing what it takes to help customers make it through, from making adjustments to accommodate social distancing and contactless ordering to providing recommendations for installations of the most intricate draft systems in restaurants and bars that are slowly starting to reopen. “Commercial customers can tap directly into a lot of institutional knowledge around here,” says Todd. “Let us know what you’re working on. We’re here to help.”

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Portland Area Line Cleaners and Draft Service Providers

It’s important to thoroughly inspect and clean your beverage dispensing system correctly prior to re-use after long periods of sitting idle. Here’s a list of just some of the many professional line cleaners in the Portland area that can help get your dispensing systems back up and running safely as you come out of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

A+ Tap Services, Chad Diaz, chad@aplustapservices.com

Clean Right Tap and Coil Cleaning, Bill Palmer, (503) 236-7300

Gorge Draft Service, Judah James May,  judahmay@hotmail.com

Hood River Draft Services LLC, 541-490-3904

Linework Tap Cleaning Services, Luke Potter, lineworktaps@gmail.com,  971-275-2980

NW Draft Technicians, Nick Klein, nick@nwdrafttech.com (503) 447-3620

PDX Draft, Andrew, contact@pdxdraft.com, 541-525-5174

Perfect Pour Services, James Ameeti,  support@perfectpourservices.com, (503) 714-5020

Tap That Line Cleaning, Andrew Berube, tapthatlinecleaning@gmail.com

TapWorks NW, Patrick Schmitz, patrick@tapworksnw.com, (360) 768-3276 (Vancouver)

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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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Eliminate Product Spoilage and Minimize Bacterial Growth By Properly Preparing It For Shutdown

Here are a few tips for safely shutting down a Beverage System for an extended period of time of one to several weeks. Everyone’s circumstance is different, so these are only suggestions on how to extend product quality and maintain healthy draft systems.

    • Contact your local Line Cleaning Company for a cleaning cycle and shut down preparation. If you clean your own lines or a local service is unavailable, here are a few guidelines that may help:
    • – Flush all product out of beverage lines with water. Prime lines with a half & half mixture of food grade glycerin and water and keep lines full of mixture during shutdown to reduce product spoilage and bacterial growth. Product will spoil if left in lines for extended periods of time.

 

  • – Untap all kegs and keep refrigerated.
  • – Turn off all gas supplies at tank or appropriate shut off.

 

  • – Glycol coolant systems: If you choose to shut down your glycol systems during closure periods, you may experience expansion or freezing of connections and/or coolant lines. Prepare to check for damage or leaks before expecting to return to normal operating conditions upon restart.

Other Resources:

Brewers Association Draught Quality Recommendations During Extended Bar/Restaurant Shutdown

System Shutdown Pitfalls to Avoid: 

  • Do not leave chemicals in draught beer lines, as this creates a safety hazard and could damage the tubing. 
  • Do not leave couplers or any other hardware on the floor or any soiled area. 
  • Do not leave couplers attached to kegs. 
  • Do not shut off glycol power pack. Turning off glycol could result in overflow or system failure. 
  • Do not cap or cover faucet openings or keg valves. 
  • Do not increase temperature of or turn off keg cooler.
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COVID-19 Notice

Updated June 17th

During (and beyond!) the COVID-19 public health situation, we’re doing everything we can at F.H. Steinbart to help you continue to create your favorite beverages and other consumables. This post is to detail some of the steps we are taking toward this end.

Until further notice our brick and mortar shop will be open 9-4 Monday through Saturday. We are closed Sundays at this time. Our website, www.fhsteinbart.com, is always open. Pick-up and shipping options have also changed.

In-Person Shopping:

17 June 2020 addition: Multnomah County moves into Phase I reopening on June 19th. We will begin requiring masks to shop in person at this time.

We have adjusted the store hours (see above) and we are limiting the number of customers in the SE Portland store to four (4) at any time. When we are at capacity, we will let you know. Usually there will be a sign at the door. We request that you form a line on the south side of the door, where we have designated spots for the line when we are at capacity. They are black “X” marks every six feet all the way around the corner.

If you are only coming for a CO2 refill, please feel free to go to the tent designated for web order pick-ups. We will be happy to take & fill your tank and process your payment while you wait outside, leaving the store available for people who need other things and keeping things safer for you and our staff.

If you are looking to purchase grain, our grain room is open. If you have your grain bill ready and would like us to do so, we are happy to gather and grind your grain for you. If you would prefer to measure out your own grain, you are welcome to do so. Note that while we are currently still allowing customers to measure out their own grain if they so desire, we are also limiting the number of customers in the grain room to one (1) at a time. Please be aware this is the case even if you arrive at the shop with another person.

Online Ordering:

If you order online for store pickup there is no need to call and check on when your order is complete. You will be notified your order has been completed by an automated email from our system.

In our parking lot, we have a clearly designated area for you to receive your order. Walk up to the tent and step up to the table under the tent. We will pass you your order over this table; it is set up to be wide enough for appropriate social distancing in both directions. You do not need to enter the store to pick up your order — in fact it would be best if you did not. Someone should be in the warehouse at all times to assist you. We even have one of the iconic “ring for assistance” bells in the event you do not see someone.  If someone does not arrive within a few moments of ringing the bell, there is a doorbell to try next. Both are being sanitized regularly.

If you have realized you need to purchase additional items beyond what is in your order, let us know when you arrive at the tent. We will be happy to run into the shop to grab your last-minute add-ons and process your payment. This includes if you would like a CO2 refill. (See above.)

If you would prefer not to have to come to our store at all, there are a few shipping options.

  • In the Portland Metro Area, most orders totaling $30.00 and more qualify for free shipping. If your order qualifies, the “free shipping” option will be available for your selection during checkout. These local orders may be delivered by FHS rather than the usual FedEx, UPS or USPS, however we reserve the right to choose the actual shipment method in all circumstances.
  • Outside Portland Metro Area, most orders qualify for free shipping at $30.00 and above. Some restrictions apply and we cannot personally deliver. As above, if your order qualifies, the “free shipping” option will be made available for your selection.
  • For any orders under $30.00, we have a flat $6.99 charge for shipping. This, and the free shipping offer above, apply only in the 48 contiguous states.
  • If you don’t see the option for free shipping for your order on our website, feel free to email info@fhsteinbart.com or call (503) 232-8793 and we can help you figure everything out.

Our plan is to remain open. As the situation evolves, so may our store hours. We’ll keep in touch via newsletters like this one and various social media platforms. And we’re always available 24/7 through our website. Be safe and healthy. We thank you for your patronage and your understanding of these necessary policies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From the Team at FH Steinbart

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Green Zebra Grocery

Draft Kombucha and Nitro Coffee Systems:

FH Steinbart Makes It Happen At Green Zebra Grocery 

The handiwork of the FH Steinbart Draft Department is featured front and center at the newest Green Zebra Grocery store, which opened in February 2020 at SE 50th and Division in Portland, Oregon. Green Zebra’s small-footprint natural-minded convenience stores allow the company to serve communities where big stores can’t fit. Just like FH Steinbart, they get to know their neighbors, and they take pride in supporting a thriving community.

Draft technicians from FH Steinbart designed and installed a custom 11-product Draft Kombucha System and a four-product Nitro Coffee on Tap dispensing unit located near another entrance to the newest Green Zebra store.

The Draft Kombucha System that FH Steinbart installed has dual pressure ranges to accommodate the varying levels of CO2, due to kombucha being a continually fermenting product. It can also handle different amounts of CO2 in the chemical makeup of the liquid, which varies from brand to brand. 

FH Steinbart draft technicians also needed to provide the client with the ability to connect into different types of kegs, whether a kombucha producer uses Sankey D or Ball Lock style connectors. The Ball Lock connectors feature a Steinbart designed check valve component. Since 2017, FH Steinbart has also done smaller jobs at other Green Zebra locations around Portland. 

Green Zebra Grocery was founded by Lisa Sedlar, who had been CEO of New Seasons Markets for several years. New Seasons is a regional, high-growth natural foods grocer in Portland, with 13 retail locations and revenues exceeding $300 million.

Lisa points out that Portland consumes 70% more kombucha than any other US metro market, putting Portland way ahead of the curve. The fact that Lisa’s two personal passions, which are kombucha and a fresh drip approach to coffee, are highly featured elements of the newest Green Zebra store, puts FH Steinbart in a beautifully crafted position as the “Trusted Company for Design and Implementation” for the systems “driving her ideas and delivering her products.” Her little coffee corner idea is destined to become one of the busiest stops on one of the most heavily pedestrian trafficked corners in Portland.

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From Antarctica to Portland, Rob Porton-Jones Gets It Done

What Do You Do at FH Steinbart?
I work in the Draft Department, so I work with our commercial customers as well as our general retail customers that are looking for parts, knowledge, or assistance with dispensing. I also help out in the warehouse with receiving and shipping and with general assistance around the store.

What Do You Like To Make?
I love to brew dark, malty beers. I’m a year-round-stout kind of guy. I like brewing and drinking browns, porters, stouts, dubbels, quads, as well as imperial & barrel aged beers. I brew and drink IPAs and other styles here and there, but malty and dark are definitely my go-to beers. I also enjoy drinking wine, and I started fermenting my first batch this wine season. I’ve also made kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and vinegar over the years, and in my last career as a chef, I made all sorts of pickles and fermented hot sauces.

What Do You Like Most About Your Job at FH Steinbart?
I love learning new things, and interacting with customers and my coworkers provides all sorts of opportunities to find out how different people brew and do different things, including some areas where my experience is limited, like making wine instead of just purchasing and drinking it. I also like the aspect of solving various puzzles as customers bring in items to troubleshoot or for help on figuring out how to get from X to Y in the simplest manner. It’s very satisfying when you’ve got a build that is unusual and you manage to piece together exactly what they are looking for. I also love having access to the brewing ingredients and equipment, even if I can’t brew as often as I would like these days.

How Do You Like To Spend Your Free Time?
These days, I don’t really have much free time, since I have an almost eight-month old son. Most of my free time is spent playing with and taking care of him, doing laundry, or trying to keep up on the house. But when I do have free time, I enjoy reading, listening to music, gardening, cycling, trail running, cooking, brewing, home improvement projects, playing games, hiking, and a few other things that have gone by the wayside over the years that wax and wane depending on the season and how much time I have. Come spring, I spend a lot of time getting the yard in shape, as we’ve got almost 80 different varieties of dahlias growing with an irrigated drip system I put in place, plus some vegetables and roses in the back yard.

What’s the Life Arc That Brought You To Portland/FH Steinbart?
My wife and I are part of that increasingly rare-subset of people that were both actually born and raised here in Portland. My side of the family goes back a few generations here. My first career was as a chef, and I spent 20 years working in various types of kitchens, including a couple of years cooking down at McMurdo Station, the largest science base in Antarctica. After getting married, I considered moving away from the night and weekend schedule of cooking to better match my wife’s daytime bookstore schedule, and getting tendinitis in my knife hand’s wrist was the final straw. I wanted to transition my homebrew hobby into a career, as brewing has a lot of similarities to cooking, and I get stir crazy at office-type jobs after a few months. 

I was well aware that professional brewing is a lot of hard work and not very glamorous, but that is just like the difference between working a professional kitchen hot line as opposed to the relaxation of cooking at home. And I wanted to make the transition while I was still young enough to handle the grunt work of starting at the bottom again. I finally landed an entry level position at a brewery after spending a year looking and dropping off resumes. 

That job eventually ended, as the brewery had to downsize their staffing due to costs, and I immediately applied with the Draft Department at Steinbarts. I was very familiar with the store from years of visiting as a customer for my hobby and from being one of the Draft Department’s commercial customers. I was fortunate enough to get the position, and I’ve been very happy here as one of the newer members of the Steinbart team.

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Customer Profile: Perfect Pour

 

Helps Deliver Better Product and Reduce Beverage Costs

Here’s the next in our occasional series of profiles of customers who do business with the Draft Department of FH Steinbart.

Perfect Pour Services was born in 2008 in Portland, Oregon and now serves the entire Pacific Northwest. Perfect Pour provides a full range of draft system services including design, installation, maintenance, repair and tap cleaning. Perfect Pour helps make sure beverage systems at bars, restaurants, offices, homes and sports stadiums are set up and functioning as efficiently as possible, delivering a better product to customers and reducing beverage costs.

Perfect Pour owner James Ameeti says anyone serving beer should remember that clean is clean, and dirty is dirty. “If you don’t clean the entire system, including faucets, couplers, and hosing, your beer travels through a dirty system,” Ameeti says. The Brewer’s Association recommends cleaning every  two weeks. A lot of people hold off on cleaning. I compare cleaning schedule to cooking a pot of beans. just because you don’t eat the beans doesn’t mean that bacterias are not still growing.”

Some line cleaning companies will just “pot soak” beverage lines by letting soap sit in the lines. Perfect Pour technicians utilize pumps to circulate safe and effective chemicals that break down organic build-up in lines and equipment. Ameeti says this circulation technique is proven to be up to 80 times more effective than pot soaking.

Regarding choices made for beverage system components, Ameeti says, “Stainless will last a lifetime. Brass is guaranteed to fail. Start off right on a draft system and you’ll have many fewer problems in the future.”

Ameeti likes to do business with FH Steinbart because Steinbart is a local provider with roots in the community. “Having parts on hand locally means systems get back in use and repaired in the same day rather than waiting weeks for parts. With a team of professionals, answers are readily available and projects move forward,” he says. “With Steinbart’s access to a wide range of vendors, an assortment of options becomes available, while many online retailers stick to just a couple different providers of equipment and parts. Quality matters.”

https://www.perfectpourservices.com/
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What is a GLYCOL CHILLER

What Is A Glycol Chiller and How It Works Best

A glycol chiller is an electrically powered unit, often also referred to as a power pack. It serves as the power source for circulating a liquid coolant mix with water to keep beverages at optimum temperature when dispensing and serving. Current models use Propylene Glycol, a food grade coolant, similar to anti-freeze.  Older models still be in operation may use Ethylene Glycol, which is typically pink in color. Ethylene Glycol is not considered food grade, and is hazardous/poisonous if consumed in significant quantities, so it is to be avoided. We would also advise against using standard anti-freeze in many units, depending on manufacturer, as it may tend to jell in the system and cause operational failure.  

Like many refrigeration units, including refrigerators and walk-in coolers, glycol chillers have compressors that use various types of refrigerant. Our chillers use R404A gas refrigerant. 

The ratio of the propylene glycol/water mix is often one part glycol to two parts water, but that may not always be the optimum ratio. Always refer to manufacturer’s specifications. Some smaller units might use equal parts water and glycol. Do not use pure glycol or pure water in a glycol chiller.

If the glycol-to-water ratio is wrong several problems may occur. If too much water is in the mix, ice will build up in the reservoir and potentially block the circulation of the mix. If too much glycol is in the mix, the unit may not be able to get to down to standard operating temperature. Each circumstance may ultimately cause operational failure.   

Our chillers utilize a sealed glycol reservoir in various sizes, from the smaller ones to largest. ( 1 U.S gallon to 12 U.S. gallons.). Sealed reservoirs are considered superior to models with open reservoirs, because sealed reservoirs prevent dust and foreign objects from contaminating the glycol mix. We recommend that the blend be replaced every 1-2 years. A clean mix, properly maintained, is essential for operation and will provide years of trouble-free service.

One or more rotary vane pumps constantly circulates the glycol/water mix through copper or polyethylene tubing. One line serves as the outlet, the other line serves as the return. They are looped together at the end, inside of towers, shaft boxes, or any similar pouring station, where beer or other beverages are dispensed. These are often simply called glycol lines. Product lines are wrapped and insulated around the central glycol lines, so that cold temperature can be maintained from one point to the end. Recommended temperature of the glycol mix will vary from manufacturer anywhere from 27* F – 32* F.   

Two glycol lines are sufficient for bundles of eight product lines.  When additional products are needed, more glycol lines must be added. The idea here is that each individual product is in contact with the glycol line. For example, four glycol lines are used in bundles of eight to16 products, and six glycol lines are used in bundles of 17 to 24 products. Lines are wrapped with moisture barrier tape and sponge rubber insulation with a vinyl exterior. Insulated bundles are also referred to as beer conduit and trunkline.     

Glycol chillers are designed to function in conjunction with walk-in coolers and are somewhat dependent upon proper function and limited in their capacity. In other words, kegs must still be kept refrigerated. A chiller cannot be the sole source of cooling, nor can it be used to chill a warm keg down to correct temperature. If the walk-in cooler is too warm, your chiller will most probably not be able to compensate and you’ll have foamy beer at the dispenser. When properly designed with the correct expansion valves, these units may be installed outdoors or inside a walk-in cooler. If kegs are stored at room temperature a flash chiller would be required.

Like any mechanical machine, glycol coolers are best utilized when operation is at or below normal room temperature. Improperly stored, refrigeration units may get too warm during the summer months and experience pump, motor or even compressor failure. We recommend they be installed in a room or area with excellent ventilation, on a level surface and kept under 75* F. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GLYCOL CHILLERS

Why would I ever need a glycol chiller?  

At your brewery, restaurant or other facility, you may want to serve beer and other beverages to a remote serving location from your kegs or other vessels. In some circumstances where your may have a relatively small number of products that need to be pushed only a short distance, proper function can be achieved through use of an air circulation system. Blower fans push cold air from the walk-in through an insulated air shaft around the beerlines, to the remote serving station and back to the walk-in cooler, creating air circulation at refrigeration temperature, sufficient to keep the beer cold enough that it doesn’t foam. Those systems are limited in capability to approximately 25-4O ft. You will need to compensate for heat generated from the electric fans. Once again they are dependent upon a good refrigeration source. Most beers will foam, even at low carbonation levels, when internal temperature rises above 40 * F, no matter what you try, since CO2 in solution and in our atmosphere becomes more active the warmer it becomes.  At some point it becomes much more worthwhile to utilize a refrigerated glycol chiller system when more products are desired and/or when longer distances are required.  

What glycol chillers do we stock?

1/5 h.p., 1/3 h.p., 5/8 h.p., 5/8 h.p. double pump. They each have a distance range respectively of 150 ft., 225 ft., and 375 ft. They are pre-set and should not be modified with any form of flow control. If you have many products at greater distances, or multiple locations, requiring larger units, 1 h.p. units are available upon custom order request. 

Would I need a glycol chiller for beverages other than beer?

Perhaps and perhaps not. The rule of thumb is if the beverage is carbonated it can be dispensed cold and consumed at a warmer temperature. Many craft brewed beers natural flavors develop at that higher range 45 * F or more, yet still dispensed under 38* or lower. Glycol chillers are traditionally designed for beer. However we firmly believe they’ll work wonderfully for any carbonated beverage containing alcohol or not. Mead, cider, hard seltzers, kombucha and keifers are all growing in popularity and you may wish to use beer equipment to dispense them. Much will depend upon the producers recommended consumption and volumes of CO2 in solution. Beer is probably the most difficult beverage to properly dispense. For example sparkling wines and sparkling meads can be stored at slightly higher refrigeration temperatures, and moved through separate lines with less insulation at different pressure. Some experimentation may be required. Many red wines do not require refrigeration at all and should be pushed with a suitable inert gas, such as Argon or Nitrogen, outside of the beer conduit. Ciders should be kept refrigerated and dispensed at equal levels of pressure to maintain volumes of carbonation as the keg/vessel empties. Products with low levels of carbonation will dispense well, most probably even easier and allowed to warm in the glass. Products with very high levels of carbonation have a tendency to overly ‘spawl or spray’ out of the spout, when moving through a standard beer faucet, and a flow control faucet may be required for best results.