Worthy Brewing

Month: June 2014

By in Local 36, Red Lager 0

Local 36 Red Lager:  Put Out the Fire

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 18:55:00

When you’re hot and bothered, and it’s time to put the fire out, cool your thirst with Worthy’s Local 36 Red Lager.

Local 36 Red Lager, the “lagger’s lager,” is a zippy, zesty, and robust reddish lager spiced handsomely with Ultra, a rare Oregon grown aroma hop with “noble” Bavarian roots. It’s brewed with Czech-style yeast and a mix of domestic and imported malts. It’s muscular without being hulking. Lean without being mean. And it delivers a smooth, clean and happily hopped finish.

“I’d like to say that we toiled, sweat and bled to brew this lager,” said Chad Kennedy, Worthy’s Master Brewer. “But actually, we had a blast. It all just sort of came together. It was fun to brew and it felt good knowing it was dedicated to a worthy group of men and women who helped build our great state.”

Local 36 Lager is named after a labor union in Portland, Oregon – the Local 36 Heat and Frost Insulators Union, also known as the “Asbestos Workers.” Why would Worthy Brewing name a lager after a labor union? Is Worthy celebrating asbestos, the most toxic mineral on Earth? And what’s with the salamander on the logo?

Read on, as we connect the dots.

100 Year Anniversary

100 years ago, when the Industrial Revolution was revving up, Local 36 was formed to organize insulators, also known as, “laggers.” Laggers applied insulation on hot surfaces to keep the heat in. Most of the insulation materials at the time were made of asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral renown for it’s heat retention properties.

Laggers kept the fires burning hot. They insulated pipes and boilers in ships, paper mills, refineries, powerhouses, as well as in hospitals, schools and churches. After a hard day’s work, laggers would be covered in white dust, dust which they brought home to their wives and children.

Little did the laggers know that asbestos, touted by industrial magnates as a “magic mineral,” was in fact a toxic, carcinogenic “wicked white powder.”  The asbestos fibers infiltrated their lungs like tiny, ticking time bombs, set to go off 20-40 years after exposure. By the 1970’s, across the nation insulators began to die by the hundreds from “white lung.”

A Fire is Lit

At about that time, a college kid from Corvallis spent his summers working at oil refineries in Houston, Texas. The lad was asked to clean the inside of boilers and furnaces. The upstart asked for a dust mask. The “safety manager” said he didn’t have any and, besides, “asbestos wasn’t that harmful.” The kid went on to law school, graduated and decided he wanted to represent industrial workers afflicted with asbestos diseases.

The “lad” is of course me, the owner of Worthy Brewing. In 1989, fresh out of law school, I came back from Texas to my home state of Oregon to meet with local labor unions about representing their tradesmen. The first union to take a chance on this fresh-faced, eager beaver was Local 36.

Fighting For Workers Rights

For the next 24 years, it was and continues to be my honor and privilege to represent some of the finest people in the world — hard working men and women who helped us win wars, build industries, and advance civilization, but who in so doing were deliberately poisoned by the worst corporations in the world.

Quite frankly, my law firm’s representation of laggers, pipefitters, boilermakers, carpenters, welders, drywallers and other tradesman and women afflicted with asbestos diseases has helped build Worthy Brewing. Local 36 Red Lager is Worthy Brewing’s way of honoring Local 36 on it’s 100th anniversary. And it’s my way of saying “thank you.”

Why a Slimy, Cold-Blooded Salamander

Now, about that salamander. The salamander is featured on the Asbestos Workers logo. Oddly enough, it’s shown casually roasting on a pipe over a red hot fire. Why did the founders of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators way back in 1903 choose this toothless, cold-blooded amphibian as their mascot?

To answer that, you have to go back in time. Way back before Aristotle and Pliny the Elder. According to the prevailing legends of the time, the cold and clammy salamander was imbued with the power to extinguish fire. That’s right. You could roast ‘em, you could toast ‘em, but they would not burn.

One Talmudic scholar scribed that the salamander was “created by Fire.” It’s not unimaginable, and here’s why. Salamanders hibernate in old, moist, rotten logs. It’s likely that an old timer tossed a wet log on a fire, the salamander sleeping inside woke up, and then scampered out of the smoke. And thus the legend was born.

In the 1200s, Marco Polo famously sojourned from Italy into Siberia, where the local merchants offered to sell him garments that would not burn. They called this inextinguishable fabric, of all things, “salamander’s wool.”  But Marco Polo was no dummy. Salamanders had no hair. He traced the weirdly named wool to a local mine, from which a glassy white mineral fiber was extracted, an infamous mineral which today we know as “asbestos.”

Apparently Leonardi da Vinci didn’t get the memo. In the early 1500s, Da Vinci observed that the salamander “gets no food but from fire,” the flames of which, he wrote, “renewed its scaly skin – for virtue.” Yes, it makes no sense. But it shows that even the most skeptical mind is no match for the seductive power of a loveable legend.

Love The Workers, Hate the Poison

It should go without saying that we deplore the “wicked white powder.” We wish that asbestos had remained in the ground, where it could do no harm. And we deplore the merchants of death who kept mining, milling and selling asbestos products long after they learned about it’s ugly toxicity.

But we adore the salamander. It reminds me of my youth, playing in the frog ponds in Corvallis, where the orange colored salamanders used to come out by the thousands after a heavy rain. In a tragic way, it’s fitting that the asbestos workers chose the salamander as their mascot. Today, probably because of climate change, there are far fewer salamanders. And, because of asbestos poisoning, there are far fewer laggers.

A Toast to Local 36 Laggers

So, on the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Local 36 Heat and Frost Insulators union in Portland, Oregon, we raise a toast. We honor Local 36’s legacy of craftsmanship. We honor the work they did to insulate our ships that fought the wars, from WWI, to Vietnam, to Afghanistan. We honor them for keeping our boilers warm and our coolers cool. We honor them for their hard work, their energy, their fight for living wages and safe working conditions. And we honor Local 36 laggers for their sacrifice. Despite the decline in the shipbuilding business, and the ravages of asbestos, which too often wiped out entire families of laggers, Local 36 has soldiered on, with pride, strength and good cheer.

Local 36, we salute you!  Solidarity Forever.

Now pass me a cold beer ferchrist sakes.

Roger Worthington, Esq.


Asbestos Lady first appeared in Captain America comics in 1947.

Asbestos Man was first issued by Marvel comics in 1963

During World War II, Portland and Vancouver were part of one of the largest ship building yards in the country, turning out one Liberty ship per day.

Pipe coverers stitching insulation around some of the 7.5 miles of piping that went into each Liberty Ship

Earl Kirkland. First elected Business Manager for Local 36 at the tender age of 26.

On the Bridge. Best Gotdamn Sandblaster Ever. Special Dedication to Punch Worthington, Ph.D, my asbestos investigator and Dad, who succumbed to the disease in 2006.

Working the Boilers. Punch Worthington on a fact finding mission at the old Brooks Scanlon Powerhouse in Bend, circa 2002.

Clean, tight and shiny. Worthy appreciates the stellar work by Local 36 union insulators in the brewhouse. The sun heats our water and the insulation keeps it piping hot.

Cascade Cycling Race Fans: Get Hopped Up!

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 18:55:00

Normally, Worthy’s all about balance. But when it comes to the imperials, Worthy likes its big beers like it likes a criterium bike race: totally hopped up!

We really don’t want to watch a bunch of grown men in tights casually riding around in a circle. We want to see big, bold action: lung-busting attacks, epic bridges, out-of-body solo efforts, and crowd-energizing desperate breakaways.

In short, we want to see hopped up racers.  Athletes who throw caution to wind. Redliners who give more than they got, who go to failure, but seem to find a way to replenish the tanks. We want to see animated racers-cum-super heroes who attempt the impossible.

In that hard-charging spirit, as a sponsor of the 2014 Cascade Cycling Classic, Worthy is pleased to introduce the Most Hopped Up Racer award.  We’ll be giving out a customized Worthy jersey along with cold cash at the Downtown Twilight Criterium on July 19th.

We’ve selected three categories: the Category 2 race, the 35/45+ race, and the marquis event, the Men’s Pro 1 race, which begins at 7 pm in downtown Bend.

Now choosing the most hopped up rider, which is basically the same as “most aggressive,” or in my lexicon, “most combative,” is a subjective thing. I’ll be on the announcer’s stand with Splinter Wren to help pick the winner. But our panel of judges will include a few guys who know a thing or two about high-testosterone, smash mouth, stuff-the-punks-in-the-hole competition.

We are pleased to include on our Hopped Hop Expert Panel two home-grown Superbowl Champions, Mike Walter, who won three rings with the San Francisco 49’ers, and Kevin Boss, who won a ring with the New York Giants. It takes a gladiator to know one, and these guys know what it’s like to win in the Biggest of the Big Games, against the Baddest of the Bad. C’mon down during the event, get an autograph and selfie. They won’t bite!

Also, Worthy will be sponsoring the prologue, which kicks off the 35th Annual CCC on July 15th. The prologue is a 2.5 mile race against the clock on a twisty, turny course that will require raw power and deft bike handling. The prologue begins at 6 pm at the Tetherow Golf Club.

Worthy will have a tent at the start/finish line with plenty of Easy Day, IPA and Imperial Eruption on tap. Whether you want to talk Big Rings or Big Beers, there will be plenty of like-minded sports enthusiasts to bench race with, from whippet thin endurance dogs to burly, bar banging field sprinters.

Come on down.  The CCC is the best and oldest stage race in America. Every year it attracts the top racers in the country. Worthy is pleased to help support the race that laid the foundation for Bend’s national reputation as a cycling mecca. And beertopia.

For more about the race, or to register, click HERE.

Drink Up. Dream on.

Roger Worthington


Hit Fit! Oregon’s very own Mike Walter, one tough mutha. Three Super Bowl rings. And one of the nicest guys you’ll ever want to share a foxhole with.

Kevin Boss, another Oregon standout. Won a Superbowl ring with the New York Giants. He’s still fit enough to play. A bona fide bell ringer. Had to hang it up on the advice of his docs in his prime.

By in Pickers 0

Calling All Hop Pickers

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 18:55:00

Worthy’s looking for a few good pickers.

2014 promises to produce a banner hop harvest here at Worthy. So far the hops are right on schedule, with our Chinooks, Sterling, Santiam and Nuggets the first to reach the top of the 12 foot trellis wire.

In 2013, we planted over 20 hop varieties, including three experimental plants from the OSU-Indie Hops aroma hops breeding program.  The OSU-IH “magic hops” are looking very strong. Jack in the Beanstock strong.

We are expecting about 6-7 pounds of fresh hops per mound. For a second year harvest from an urban farm on the East Side of Bend and not too far West of the Badlands Wilderness area, we’re hoppy with that.

We will start picking in late August and will likely harvest our last hop in early September.  We’ll pick no hop before it’s time, so those precious hop oils will fully mature. More oil, better flavor.

Worthy will be pleased to provide beer and lunch to those hearty hop lovers who wish to participate in this sacred tradition. We will dry a portion of the fresh cones, and use the rest in our 5 barrel pilot system.

If interested, and you can climb a ladder, and have reasonably good balance, and are not afraid to get scratchy (hop bines are stickery!), please email our hop gardner, Lisa Kronwall, at Lisa@worthybrewing.com.  We’ll let you know when the noble flowers are ready for plucking.

Please, for your own good, no flip-flops and board shorts. We recommend long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and gloves. We don’t want you tossing and turning all night with a bad case of the hop scratchies.