Suzanne and Dylan, Captured by Porches

“Captured by Porches is ending up somewhere, spending a lot more time than you planned, and really enjoying yourself.”

MercyCorps NW

Captured by Porches (CbP) is a craft brewery that walks the walk. Since 2002, local beer enthusiasts have delighted in their organic, small-batch product. Even as they have gained prominent recognition amongst larger Portland breweries, CbP has remained true to their roots in community and artistry. Originally a home brewer’s club started by Dylan Goldsmith and Suzanne Moodhe, CbP has remained a family operation since its creation.

“When we started this company, we had nothing,” Suzanne shares. “I was a single mom, Dylan was a college student. We were just good at what we wanted to do. He was good at brewing, and I had a lot of bossy ideas. Being creative people, we tried it.”

Like many businesses, CbP was born out of a meticulous passion. “Brewing on the front porch, Dylan would grind his own grains and do everything,” Suzanne reminisces, “our friends would bike by and stop to hang out for hours.” This environment set the tone for the business’ personality, and its name.

“Captured by Porches is ending up somewhere, spending a lot more time than you planned, and really enjoying yourself.”

MercyCorps NW

Photos by Juan Carlos Delgado

This spirit holds true with CbP’s unique approach to serving: the beer bus. Food cart customers enjoy their signature beer in three locations, transforming food cart pods into Northwest-style beer gardens.  Rotating taps are served from converted school busses, which also provide seating for winter patrons.  “It’s ‘come-as-you-are’,” Suzanne says. “Everybody is welcome. Kids, dogs, singles, couples.”

The Beer Bus idea started as a partnership with Kruger’s farm. Captured by Porches would serve beer at their summer Farm Tunes Concerts, and recognized that small food and drink producers could marry their strengths to provide more options to customers. This idea blossomed into a pioneer effort to serve beer in food cart pods. However, it did require careful navigation of the existing regulatory environment.

“The OLCC was very interested in what we were doing, and wanted to make sure we were doing it correctly,” Suzanne shares, “We’re the first city that is really doing this. That’s pretty cool.”

With a city-wide distribution, it’s hard to imagine how CbP got to where they are today. “We saw ourselves as artists, not as businesspeople,” Suzanne points out. Mounting interest in Dylan and Suzanne’s beer drove their hobby into something more. Many challenges remained in their path to business ownership, though, not least of which were money and business knowledge. It was with this need that they sought out Mercy Corps Northwest.

“[In the Business Foundations Course], one person was opening a furniture store, another a hair salon, and I was opening a brewing company. Yet I felt these people were so similar. We were all starting our own business.”

Captured by Porches earned a grant to match their savings from Mercy Corps Northwest, and then received a loan. With this capital, they were able to buy equipment like kettles and fermentation supplies. “Brewing equipment is incredibly expensive, but the money really took care of the basic staples we needed.”

Now Suzanne and Dylan have a business to support a family. Their dream is to keep expanding, but not compromise on principles. For example, they are currently the only Portland brewer that sells exclusively reusable bottles.

“It takes an enormous amount of energy to recycle a bottle. You smash it up, melt it down, and recreate it,” Suzanne says, “We would like to expand the company, but still sell reusable bottles.”

They also source mostly local and organic ingredients, and compost or recycle almost all their production waste.  The challenge that remains is scaling up while maintaining the integrity of the business model. Someday, Suzanne and Dylan would like to move into a brick-and-mortar establishment, but still keep alive the idea of an integrated business community.

“We could have a nice bar, gardens, music and outdoor seating, but still have other people do the food,” Suzanne muses, “Then they would be doing well, we would be doing well, and it would be a place where everyone feels comfortable. That’s what I want.”

To learn more about Captured by Porches Beer and get some for yourself, go to http://www.capturedbyporches.com

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