Recently I had a chance to sit down with Jason Jamie, the Beer Specialist at Whole Foods in the Pearl District. Jason hails from Texas, the cool part of Texas...Austin...and has been with Whole Foods for 11 years. Not long after relocating to Portland "the best job in the store" opened up and he jumped at the chance to fill it. A craft beer fan, sometimes home brewer and occasional blogger he's in the envious position of having a job he loves.
I asked Jason what his biggest challenges were and as Portlanders might guess, high on his list is keeping up with all of the beer releases. That's no small task in this neck of the woods and he's committed to making sure they have a great, current selection of new and seasonal beers. In fact this month all of the Whole Foods stores in this region have been focusing on IPAs and hoppy ciders. The ones Jason selected are a combination of solid beers from Oregon and Washington including Laurelwood Workhorse IPA, Walking Man Homo Erectus DIPA and Breakside Lunch Break ISA. Speaking of Workhorse, it's a beer Jason maintains they will "forever" carry 6-packs of for $7.99. That right there may be incentive for a trip, and the headache of parking nearby, another challenge he identified of this urban location. Conversely the location is a boon in terms of the tourist crowd, especially those staying downtown. As a good beer buyer should, Jason works to make sure he has a great selection of Portland beer at eye level to appeal to them.
Beyond keeping the shelves filled with great beer Jason's excited for Portland Beer Week in June where Whole Foods is a major sponsor. During that week they'll be throwing a beer festival, shutting down a block of NW Couch, which will also serve as a fundraiser for Harper's Playground. In addition to events, including a continuation of the beer pairing dinners held upstairs in a bright, airy space adjacent to their café, Jason anticipates the impending warmer weather will bring an increase in canned beer sales. As people spend more time hiking/boating/camping where cans trump bottles in terms of weight, lack of restrictions by venues and ease of disposal. With ever more breweries offering their beers in cans his choices are plentiful and while it might make his job a bit harder selecting which ones to bring in, it's a boon to consumers to be able to take quality craft beer with them in a more portable friendly format.
So the next time you're making a beer run, keep Whole Foods Pearl in mind. You can keep up on the selection over on Instagram and events on Facebook and Twitter. And the next time you're at a beer event, you might even run into Jason like I did during CBC week.
Update: They will validate parking in their ramp. Thanks for the tip, Chad!