For Sean Burke, it was time to do his own thing. The Oregon native has been brewing beer at home since before he was able to legally drink. After graduating from the World Brewing Academy’s Master Brewing program, he headed to The Commons Brewery, before making a quiet exit in 2017. From there, he moved over to the tanks at Von Ebert’s Glendoveer Golf Course location, where he managed the mixed culture and lager side of Von Ebert’s beer program. It was here that he eventually came to create Obeisance, the beer he’s proudest of, nabbing a gold metal at Great American Beer Festival in the “specialty saison” category in 2019.
But for Burke, being at the helm of his own brewery was something he says was “on the back-burner” for years. When 2020 rolled around, he decided to make the jump: Now, he has opened the new McMinnville brewery Foreland, specializing in hop-forward beers, mixed-culture beers, and lagers. Down the line, he wants to get into bold territory, using wine grapes for specific beers. “One of the big focuses for the mixed-culture side of things, and one of the reasons we’re in McMinnville, is wine,” Burke says. “We want to do a lot of wine grape hybrid stuff. And down the road, we actually want to make wine.”
Burke is teaming up with co-owner David Sanguinetti, former owner of Allegory Brewing in McMinnville. Sanguinetti quietly closed Allegory this summer, having ceased production in the spring; in his eyes, 2020 hasn’t allowed for “treading water.” He says that Allegory wasn’t financially in a place where he, as owner, “could easily pivot on a large scale without taking on an amount of debt that made (him) uncomfortable.”
When Burke came along, interested in opening his own place, they saw they shared a lot of common goals. Still, Sanguinetti says that it’s Burke’s focus and vision that have led him to “believe again” in the craft beer industry. “The beautiful thing about Foreland is that it is so focused,” he says. “The beers Sean wants to make are the beers we want to drink.” Foreland has already released two IPAs, a Vienna lager, and a pilsner available in 16 ounce cans.
Burke says he’s always been in love with the outdoors; incorporating that into the name and theme was always going to be a central focus. The beers themselves are meant to evolve, adapting seasonally and based on what’s available. The brewery’s Form Follows IPA, for instance, is currently made with Citra and Chinook hops, two varieties developed and grown in the Pacific Northwest. They’ve begun production and packaging, partnering with Corvallis’ Block 15 for distribution; the brewery is located in the heart of Oregon’s hop country.
Instead of opening a taproom in the middle of a pandemic, Burke and Sanguinetti decided to stick to selling cans in stores. However, down the line, they do plan to open up their space for visitors. Don’t expect a brewpub, however; Burke says he has no plans to run a restaurant in the space, as he has no experience doing so. Instead, he hopes to bring a couple food trucks alongside the brewery and has begun talks to bring one of his favorite taco trucks (which specializes in tacos al pastor) to the brewery’s premises. For now, 16-ounce cans are hitting store shelves, including local spots like Uptown Beer.
Correction December 11, 2020, 4:47 p.m.: This story has been corrected to show that Sean Burke is not originally from Portland. He grew up in Eugene.
• Foreland Beer [Official]
• Foreland Beer [Instagram]
• Von Ebert Brewer Sean Burke Is Opening a Brewery in McMinnville [EPDX]