David Logsdon discovered yeast while in college. No, in a good way. At Mt. Hood Community College in the late 1970s, Logsdon studied food science and fermentation. Disappointed with beers on the West Coast, the native Ohioan began home brewing. His first was a stout, which he had just finished before his father, brought up in the Midwestern lager tradition, visited. The elder tasted the dark liquid and then declared, ‘Well it’s not beer, but it’s not bad,’ says Logsdon.
So began Logsdon’s lifelong specialization with beer’s key ingredient—yeast. He continued to experiment with yeast and beer, before the industry was well developed. “The first hops I found were at G.I. Joes on the shelf in a brown paper bag,” Logsdon recalls. “They were as brown as the paper bag.”
At the same time, Logsdon started collecting yeast strains from breweries and began culturing his own brewer’s yeast. By 1985, he had worked with some of the top regional brewers and opened his own yeast laboratory. Shortly thereafter, he met some people in Hood River who were looking for a brewer. Logsdon became the first brewer and one of the founding members of Full Sail Brewery, today a large producer.
Ever the fermentologist, Logsdon then stepped back into the lab, where he continued to refine strains of brewer’s yeast for the next twenty-five years.
Almost three decades after brewing his first batch for Full Sail, Logsdon, 58, recently emerged from the laboratory again, this time brewing small batch “Belgian influenced” beers at his Logsdon Farmhouse Ales brewery, just outside of Hood River. Last year, the farmbased brewery produced 700 barrels and struck gold with its Seizoen Bretta—named Beer Magazine’s best beer of the year. “The bottom line is that you have to create a good product,” Logsdon says. “You have to do the little things well and do it at such a level that you’re the best.”