It began with a pint…
Two friends share a pint at a small beer bar in Eugene, Oregon and begin a conversation that undoubtedly involves the craft they are imbibing.
Back in 2005, neither Jamie Floyd nor Nikos Ridge knew exactly where their friendship would lead. What they did know was it would probably center around beer.
Born and raised in Eugene, Nikos moved to Manhattan to begin a career in finance. After five years, he began to pine for the West Coast lifestyle of his hometown and moved back to Eugene in 2004.
Simultaneously, Jamie began to discover his love of brewing. Born in Cupertino, California, Jamie moved north to attend the University of Oregon in 1990. He brewed his first batch of homebrew in the kitchen of a campus co-op called The Lorax. That first stout propelled Jamie into an 11-year brewing career at Steelhead Brewery in Eugene.
Introduced through mutual friends, the two had become buddies at a time when Jamie was ready to embark on his own. Over a pint of Jamie’s beer, Nikos and Jamie discussed the potential of opening a brewery – a dream Jamie was certain to make happen. With Jamie’s brewing background and Nikos’ finance knowledge, the two had a winning combination to successfully open a business. After leaving the pub, Jamie eagerly waited an hour before calling Nikos with an affirmative, “this is happening.”
Enter the Goddess.
Jamie and Nikos knew they not only wanted a brewery, but they wanted to do things a little differently. The dream: become “the village brewer,” providing a place for people to come together over a pint. Looking to brewing history, the two decided to name the brewery Ninkasi [nin-kah-see], the ancient Sumerian Goddess of Fermentation.
After scraping together enough funds from friends and family, the two produced their first batch of beer in June, 2006. This inaugural batch of Total Domination IPA was the result of a 17-hour brew day inside a leased space in Springfield, Ore. The following six months, Jamie and Nikos continued to brew on a 15-barrel brewhouse located within a German restaurant.
In 2007, Ninkasi moved to its current location in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood. Known for its eclectic art, the two knew this neighborhood would easily foster community. Fast forward to 2011, and the hard work of both founders landed them the fastest growing craft brewery in the United States with a top selling IPA in Oregon. Fast forward to present day, and Ninkasi ranks the 38th largest craft brewer in the United States (Brewers Association, 2017).
Independently owned. Community-driven.
Now in its eleventh year, the brewery continues to grow while remaining fully independent and continuously focused on community. A team of two has increased to a family of over 100 employees who operate Ninkasi’s tasting room, production and lab facilities, sales force, marketing teams, local distribution arm, and a donations program.