pFriem Makes Better Beer by Protecting Rivers

May 14, 2024

At The Freshwater Trust (TFT), we know we can make a bigger impact by partnering with like-minded sponsors and organizations. Each partner has a different story, and today, we would like to share one from our annual sponsor, pFriem Family Brewers.

We recently met with Rudy Kellner, CEO and co-founder of pFriem, to ask questions about the company’s unique connection with TFT and water.

Rudy Kellner of pFriem fishingRudy Kellner of pFriem catching a big trout.

Can you tell us a little about pFriem and what you do? 

pFriem Family Brewers (pronounced “freem”) is a Northwest and European-inspired brewery in Hood River, Oregon. We were founded in 2012 and have experienced incredible growth in the past decade.

I’m proud to say we’ve earned prestigious awards, including being named GABF® 2018 Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, Three-Time Brewery of the Year by The Beer Connoisseur®, and numerous medals in national and international brewing competitions. We are best known for unique craft beers influenced by the great brewers of Europe while staying true to our homegrown roots in the Pacific Northwest. My role as co-founder and CEO is to make sure our business and ethos are always pointed in the right direction and that we’re consistently pushing ourselves to improve in everything we do.

What made you want to partner with The Freshwater Trust? 

At pFriem, we love to partner with organizations that protect wild lands and rivers. We are based in Hood River, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. Here, we see a constant flow of visitors and tourists enjoying all the river activities, like windsurfing, rafting, fishing, and the like. Many of these people are our friends, employees, and customers. As a company surrounded by such beauty, we are obligated to do our part to protect these natural wonders for future generations.

What sets pFriem apart from other businesses in your space?

pFriem is known for producing world-class high-quality beers, having a gorgeous tasting room in Hood River, and offering top-notch food and service. While we are best known for the quality of our beer and the experiences we offer, we are making strides to get involved in causes such as environmental stewardship that our employees and guests are passionate about.

pFriem beersAn assortment of pFriem beers.

Why is TFT’s mission of restoring and protecting freshwater ecosystems important to your business? 

Water is the primary ingredient in beer, so protecting rivers, watersheds, and marine ecosystems is a natural extension of brewing amazing beer. Many of our employees and customers are users of the beautiful waters surrounding us in the Columbia Gorge scenic area, so we feel compelled to be a part of the solution in partnership with TFT and other conservation organizations.

What is pFriem’s “home river?” 

For pFriem, our home river is the Hood River watershed, which originates as snowmelt from the Cascades. It’s where we get the water that makes up the crucial component of our beer.

For me, I am from the North Central region of the former Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), and my home river is the Vah, which is the largest tributary of the Danube in the region. The rivers in the region have been decimated by rapid industrialization, namely through timber harvesting, paper mills, aggressive damming of everything that once used to flow free, loose environmental regulations, and political corruption.

Through this lens of experience, I see the importance of what TFT is doing to save and restore rivers in the States. My desire to prevent and undo negative human actions and to protect our natural resources has prompted my partnership with TFT and other conservation organizations.

Can you tell us about your work with environmental sustainability? 

Apart from partnering with organizations like TFT, Protect Our Winters, the Deschutes River Alliance, the Native Fish Society, and Oregon Wild, to name a few, we also invest heavily in reducing our environmental impact in the brewery.

In the past year, we have installed equipment to significantly reduce our electrical power usage, have made strides to reduce our water and chemical usage, and have reduced nearly 40% of our process CO2 usage by installing energy-efficient equipment to generate food-grade nitrogen from ambient air.

Can you discuss any upcoming projects, promotions, or collaborations that pFriem is working on?

A lot is going on at pFriem right now.

For our partnership with TFT, we are donating $1 for every 4-pack and 6-pack sold at participating retailers between April and June.

For projects, we recently released our Japanese Lager year-round in 4-packs. It has received wide recognition, recently winning gold at the Oregon Beer Awards, Gold at the Great American Beer Festival, and Gold at the World Beer Cup.

We have also expanded our fun little beer club, the pFriemsters Union, to two tiers—a Cellar Barrel Aged Beer Club and an Artisan Club that is a mix of Barrel Aged and 16-oz. seasonal cans. As of May, we will now be able to ship to our members in both Oregon and Washington.

Lastly, we are throwing three big events this year! The Summer Kick-off party with Grasslands Barbecue on May 18 at our Cascade Locks Facility. The 12th Anniversary Party at the Hood River Waterfront will be on August 3. Finally, our first Oktoberfest will be on September 21 at the Waterfront Park.

Where do you see pFriem in the coming years? 

I see pFriem continuing to grow as a strong brand in the Pacific Northwest, known for super high-quality beer as well as for responsible and sustainable environmental stewardship.

#Hood River    #Oregon    #pFriem