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Heater Allen and Its Lagers Are Built to Last

Was Heater Allen brewing lager before it was cool? Trick question. Lager has always been cool—it just took the rest of you a while to catch on. Here, the daughter-father team Lisa and Rick Allen lay out their approach to running a lasting niche business.

Joe Stange Jul 22, 2021 - 24 min read

Heater Allen and Its Lagers Are Built to Last Primary Image

Rick and Lisa Allen of Heater Allen Photos: Leslie Montgomery

Some breweries aim to grow quickly. Others aim to make a living by maintaining an enduring connection with enough drinkers who love their beer.

Heater Allen isn’t one of those rapid-growth stories. But it’s a success story nonetheless, because the Allens have thrived in a niche they love—lager—for 14 years. They’ve done it in McMinnville, a town of fewer than 35,000 people almost an hour’s drive from brewery-saturated Portland, Oregon.

The respect that Heater Allen gets from fellow brewers dwarfs the actual size of the company, which expects to brew fewer than 1,400 barrels of beer this year. “It’s mainly me,” says Lisa Allen, head brewer. “And I have a cellar guy, Matt, who is almost fully trained on the brewhouse. Other than that, it’s our sales guy and my dad. We’re a small team.”

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Joe Stange is Managing Editor of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and the Brewing Industry Guide®. Have story tips or suggestions? Contact him at [email protected].