Sunday, September 08, 2013

Mike Selberg of The Cannon Beach Distillery

Mike Selberg earned degrees in biology and chemistry.  So what to do for a career?  Open a distillery, of course.

"It seemed the most fun way to make use of the degrees," says Selberg. The Cannon Beach, Oregon resident opened The Cannon Beach Distillery just over a year ago at the west coast seaside town where he's lived since the age of six. The hand-made, small-batch spirits Selberg offers are infused with his scientific know-how and the spirit of adventure and exploration that defines the majestic Oregon coast.  
Selberg got his first taste of distilling in Chemistry class at age 19. After that, he started brewing beer, which provided experience in fermentation and a foundation for developing future spirits. 

"If you can make a good beer, you can make a good whiskey," says Selberg.
Cannon Beach on the North Oregon Coast is famous for its distinctive beach, and the ancient Haystack Rocks that frame the shoreline.  Lewis and Clark explored the region in January of 1806.   Clark described Cannon Beach in his diary:  “From this point, I be held the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed.”
In 1846, a Navy schooner sank in the area, reportedly carrying three cannons.   One was said to have been recovered and the area was thereafter named Cannon Beach.    
Mike Selberg's Cannon Beach Distillery is tucked into a secluded cul-de-sac at the north end of town.   He's exploring many different styles of spirits with his own twist.     
The distillery is decorated in rich earth tones, sandy wood and smoked glass and evokes imagery of rugged shorelines and burnished beach glass.   
On a rainy summer afternoon, Selberg is sampling two styles of rum he's created.  Dorymen's Rum is an evaporated cane juice based rum that is glassy clear and light in taste. Selberg says it's ideal for a refreshing rum cocktail like a mojito. Dorymen's is smooth and sweet and tastes like a lively sea shanty on the tongue.   
Dolon Shanks Amber Rum is caramel color and aged in heavily charred American white oak barrels. The buttery, smoky, rum is named after the two streets Selberg grew up between. Selberg uses blackstrap molasses, and the sampling we try has the character of an aged whisky that can be sipped slowly and enjoyed.  The amber rum is his most popular spirit.  

Selberg offers two styles of gin -- Peter's Family Gin and Lost Buoy Gin.   He's also got several spirits in production.  His bourbon -- made of corn, rye and barley -- will be ready for sale in 2014, and a rye -- made of malted and unmalted rye and barley -- will come of age in 2015.    
As a new entrepreneur, Selberg works long hours.  He's typically at work in the distillery for five or six hours in the morning before the tasting room opens in the afternoon, and he usually logs a 12 to 13 hour day. Selberg says if he makes a hire in the future, he will bring someone on to staff the tasting room, so he can focus on his work in the distillery, leaving the scientist more time to come up with his next discovery.

Cannon Beach Distillery is located at 255 N Hemlock, BLDG C, Cannon Beach, OR  97110 - 503-436-0301.   

©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved   


Zany said...

So what you're saying is he's hiring??

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a cool story T.W. I am impressed with how he's turned his chemistry degree into a successful enterprise. I think of chemistry majors sitting in a lab with test tubes. I had much rather be out and about running my own business and tasting my products.

We have several micro-breweries turning up near us. They contribute a lot of small towns and bring in customers that might not otherwise visit a small berg. Looks like in today's world, the entrepreneurship is thriving. And Cannon Beach sounds like the ideal place to thrive.

Deana Sidney said...

Perfect timing! I am getting a still next week for experimenting on herbal tinctures and my own recipe for absinthe. I can't wait as I've always dreamed of being an alchemist. I can't think of anything more fun than making delicious formulas all day long... heaven. Great piece!!!

Laura Luciano said...

My brother who is from bend, oregon surfs there. Your entire trip to oregon look spectacular. :) When I go back there I will need to go for a cannon beach distillery visit!

Gloria Baker said...

Love this post and is really interesting!!

~~louise~~ said...

How do you manage to find these hide-away gems T.W?

One of the states I have never been to includes Oregon. It is on my itinerary for the future. Now I know where to get a real taste of Oregon. Maybe I should plan on 2014 to visit.

Kudos to Mike for going for it! And thank you to you for sharing...

Barbara said...

Interesting background on Cannon Beach, T.W. And good for Mike. Takes hard work and long hours to make your own business take off. I wish him all the luck in the world. I feel ashamed I've traveled so much, but have never been to Oregon or Washington!

Catherine said...

Dear T.W., That is a l..o...n...g way from LI for a brew, but I bet it was tasty.! Wow, how do you do it!
Well, it sounds like fun. Blessings, Catherine

Anonymous said...

What a great & very good post, dear T.W!!!!!

I loved reading it all! What a cool place too!
Thanks! :)

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a great write-up of an Oregon landmark and I love the introduction to a new venture well-worth exploring. Bob and I will stop by the brewery next time we are in the area. Have a great day....Mary

Velva said...

Oregon makes a fabulous wine ( I think just as well as California) then I am not surprised that they are experimenting with making a great spirit too.

Take care.