A Note from Israel!

We received news that our little brewery was featured in the Haaretz, Israel’s oldest English language newspaper through a friend who lives in Jerusalem! Check out the article below:

Portland couple to brew kosher kegs for community

Beer does not generally require certification to be considered kosher, but for the Leikams, brewing an explicitly kosher beer is a symbolic proclamation of their values.

By Anthony Weiss Mar. 10, 2015 

JTA – For Theo and Sonia Marie Leikam, the dream is nearly complete.

Behind the couple’s tidy Victorian house on a tree-lined street in southeast Portland is a pitched-roof building that vaguely resembles a garage with too small a door. But inside, the gleaming stainless steel tanks, the grain mill and the array of exotic equipment radiate the promise of crisp, freshly brewed beer.

Due to permit delays from the city, none of the equipment has gone into use. So in the meantime, the Leikams are making their beer outside in a modest setup that resembles a home chemistry set, shielded by a pool umbrella.

But when the finished paperwork comes through, hopefully within the next several weeks, the building will become Leikam Brewing, a certified kosher, community-supported nanobrewery.

Nanobreweries, tinier versions of the better-known microbreweries, have become increasingly popular among craft brewers in recent years. Leikam will start by producing only about 300 gallons per month, one-third of which will be distributed to 50 subscribers who purchase shares upfront in exchange for two allotments of beer per month for a year. The rest will be sold in bottles and at bars and restaurants.

Beer does not generally require certification to be considered kosher, but for the Leikams, brewing an explicitly kosher beer is a symbolic proclamation of their values. It’s also a way to put their brewery on the map.

“It’s brought in a lot of people who wouldn’t have heard about the brewery otherwise,” said Theo Leikam, 33, who runs the operation with wife Sonia Marie, 32.


One of a kind

Leikam Brewing will likely be the only kosher, community-supported brewery in the country, according to Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association.

As with farm-based CSAs, the community-supported brewery model relies on subscribers who purchase shares up front and then receive regular beer allotments in return. Members not only get beer to fill up their growlers, but access to events and, if they choose, spent grains from the brewing process.

Leikam Brewing marries the talents and passions of the couple who started it. The beer itself is the handiwork of Theo, an accountant who has been home brewing for eight years. The kosher certification is the inspiration of Sonia Marie, the former executive director of the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, who has put her career as an educator on partial hold to help run the brewery.

Beer is a natural fit for Portland, whose renowned beer scene has earned it the nickname Beervana. The city was a driving force behind the growth of microbreweries in the United States and is now home to 58 breweries — more than any other city in the world, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild.

But beer that is certified kosher is much rarer, in part because it is not entirely necessary, according to authorities on kashrut.

“Typical beer, ingredient-wise, is not a problem if you’re talking barley, hops, water and yeast,” said Rabbi Tuvia Berzow, the executive director of Oregon Kosher, the agency overseeing the certification of Leikam Brewing. “The view of most kosher-certifying agencies is that generally speaking, your run-of-the-mill basic beer does not pose huge kosher concerns.”

Still, breweries small and large, from the Shmaltz Brewing Company to MillerCoors, have certified their beer as kosher in recent years. The fact that Theo Leikam is not Jewish also holds one significant benefit in the kashrut process: During Passover, when Sonia Marie is not allowed to own any fermented grains, she will symbolically sell her half of the business to Theo, then buy it back when the holiday is over.

For now, all this remains in the future while the new brewing equipment — Sonia Marie says it “costs more than our minivan” — sits and waits.

“It’s crazy to do this in the backyard,” Theo said. “But you don’t want to look back and be like, ‘Well, I just sat in an office all of my working life when I could have done something that I wanted to do.’”

Oregon Jewish Life Features Leikam Brewing!




According to the trade website Oregon Craft Beer, Portland has the most breweries of any city in the world. But until the recent opening of Leikam Brewing, none of our city’s craft breweries had been certified kosher.

A collaboration between husband-and-wife team Theo and Sonia Marie Leikam, Leikam Brewing aims to provide the Portland market with 300 gallons of kosher beer per month. The nanobrewery, which is located in the backyard of the Leikams’ Southeast Portland home, focuses on classic Northwest styles such as India pale ale, red, porter and stout.

“We take a very hands-on approach to brewing our small-batch beers and (take) pride in creating an artisan product,” says Sonia Marie. “We’re a small brewery, which allows us to make many different beers, some regularly, while others are quick creative outbursts. Our beers are good anytime!”

Leikam Brewing obtained its certification from Oregon Kosher in January. When asked what makes their beer kosher, the Leikams answer, “The main beer ingredients (water, yeast, barley, hops) are inherently kosher. There are other ingredients that can be used in beer production that would not be considered kosher.” In addition to omitting traif ingredients from their product, the couple follows the laws of kashrut in the brewery. During Passover, Sonia Marie (who is Jewish) plans to sell her part of the brewery to Theo (who is not), so as not to own chametz.

Leikam Brewing is also unique in that it offers a convenient subscription-based distribution option to its customers. Members can subscribe to their Community Supported Brewery (CSB), which models itself after the successful Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Theo, a veteran home brewer, graduated from Portland State University’s Business of Craft Brewing certificate program this past spring. The increasingly popular program offers courses such as Craft Beverage Distribution and Strategic Craft Beverage Marketing.

“The program was a good place to get information about the industry and bounce ideas off people on the inside,” says Theo. “It has great resources, and I would recommend it to people looking to get a start in the industry. One of the best parts about the program was being able to get feedback on my plan; my initial idea for the brewery is not the same plan I have now.”

Although the Leikams do not have a formal culinary background, they have a great love for making their own food from scratch. “Granola, cheese, yogurt, bread and beer are all things we try to produce in-house as much as possible,” they say in tandem. The couple has performed many culinary experiments with beer, hops and even spent grain.

“I put beer in latkes; I learned this from Martha Stewart,” explains Sonia Marie. Other experiments include hops pesto and bruschetta, beer-basted Thanksgiving turkey and beer bread.

Always with an eye toward sustainability, the Leikams are searching out partnerships with local bakeries that might accept spent grain. Their hops are sourced locally.

“We have chosen to commit ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint and are excited to have found Crosby Hop Farm, a fifth-generation family farm,” says Sonia Marie. “It is one of only a handful of Salmon-Safe Certified hop farms in the United States.”

The Leikams, who have been involved in the local Jewish community since their arrival in Portland 15 years ago, are members of Congregation Shir Tikvah. An interfaith couple, the Leikams have three boys, ages 6, 3 and 1. The family is committed to maintaining a Jewish home and Jewish values.

Future plans of the Leikams include statewide distribution and the opening of a tasting room. They are also considering operating a delivery service to different quadrants of the city. Customers can order growler subscriptions, learn about sampling events, find out who is carrying Leikam Brewing on tap and follow the brewery for updates at leikambrewing.com and on social media.


See the article here


A little bit of press…

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A little write up in the Oregon Beer Growler October Issue. Look for an expanded article in December.