Bend’s Craft Kitchen & Brewery has its roots in the now-shuttered Old Mill Brew Werks. However, the business has in many ways started from scratch. The restaurant was completely gutted and remodeled while a new brewery was built across town. Pictured from left to right: co-owner and chef Jon Calvin, brewer Michael McMahon, co-owner Mark Stevens and co-owner Courtney Stevens. Photo courtesy of Craft Kitchen & Brewery
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s difficult to set yourself as a craft brewery in Oregon these days, especially in Central Oregon, where there are more than two dozen.
But Bend’s Craft Kitchen & Brewery is starting out with a very different formula. As breweries across Oregon have their sights sets on eventual growth and expansion, Craft is focused on just having a great pub serving quality food in an atmosphere that makes locals feel at home.
“I want us to be what a BBC (Bend Brewing Company) or Deschutes was like 15 years ago — a place where you can come and say ‘OK, they have something new on draft this week and I want to try it,’” Craft co-owner Courtney Stevens said recently at her pub overlooking the Deschutes River. “Our business plan is never to mass produce our beer. We’re always going to stay a small thing. But we want to self-distribute. We want to keep our beer, you know, craft beer. And I hope that will set us apart.”
Craft is taking staying small and Bend-centric to another level. The pub seeks to cater to locals and families with a kids’ room, board games and a communal vibe. (That’s not to say that visitors won’t be swayed to visit because of the pub’s scenic view and wide selection of beers.) Craft tries to source ingredients for its brewery and restaurant locally when possible. And the pub even donates some of its proceeds each month to local charities.
Craft has its roots in the now-shuttered Old Mill Brew Werks — the brewpub is in the same space, has some of the same owners and even features the same brewer. But Stevens and the other owners, which include her husband Mark Stevens and chef Jon Calvin, have in many ways started from scratch. The restaurant was gutted and replaced with an open, vibrant and friendly space with custom-made tables featuring beautiful pieces of wood.
And they built a new brewery — located across town — run almost single-handedly by brewing veteran Michael McMahon. He manages to keep an amazing amount of beer on tap in the pub with Craft’s 3.5-barrel system (you’ll see the “3.5” number in the brewery’s logo). During a recent visit in November, there were 14 beers on tap that included everything from a lambic to a weiss to an Indian pale lager.
Above all, Craft embraces being a small brewery that’s nimble and flexible enough to make a lot of different beers.
“We wanted to do craft beers, a true 3.5-barrel system, with all different grain profiles,” Stevens said. “And Michael is really good at experimenting with different types of beer. We let him do whatever he wants basically. And our beer reflects it.”
On a recent visit to Craft’s brewery across town, McMahon resembles a whirling dervish, turning knobs, running hoses and making sure the next batches of beer will come out like he wants them to. McMahon speaks excitedly walking around his domain, to the point you might believe he’s just a homebrewer on a much bigger scale.
“I’ve done a lot of production brewing, and that’s just work,” McMahon said. “This is fun and creative.”
He pulls out some recently procured Azacca hops, smells them and relays his plans for what type of beer it will be used in, saying most of what he and Craft do is ingredient-driven, rather than making “x,y and z” styles of beer.
“For me, writing a recipe and making a beer is finding how to bring the best out of the ingredients,” McMahon said. “I kind of let the product tell me what it wants to become.”
And what the hops and malt become from Craft’s brewery is amazing in terms of both volume and diversity.
“It’s pretty rare for a brewery this small to do this many beers,” McMahon said. “But we kind of had that in mind when we built the brewery, so I could do a lot of different things.”
Another way Craft diverges from the competition is the food. Kansas City native Calvin, a veteran of the Bend restaurant scene, puts together a menu that doesn’t look like the typical burgers and nachos you’ll find at many brewpubs. Offerings include a variety of tapas style dishes (like shrimp and grits or pork belly lettuce cups) to brisket that is made fresh daily.
Will Craft carve out a niche in the competitive Bend brewpub scene? If it does, it might have a recipe worth replicating elsewhere.
Craft Kitchen & Brewery
[a] 803 SW Industrial Way, Bend
By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As homebrewers, it seems as though we face a nearly unlimited amount of choices for every detail in making beer: whole hop or pellet, all grain or extract, liquid malt extract or dry malt extract. The list goes on and on. For the most part, there are only subtle differences in the results with most of these factors. However, the decision to go with either liquid yeast or dry yeast can not only change the outcome of your brew; it also will affect the entire process.
Finding Substitute Yeast Strains
Whether you’re using a recipe you spotted online or discovered it in a dusty tome in the basement of a library, there’s a good chance either way that it calls for yeast. Most directions are also very specific about what brand and strain of yeast must be used as well. Deviating from the plan will not yield optimal results, according to the author of the recipe. But at times, there are some yeast varieties that simply aren’t available. Either the company has disappeared or the strain is a seasonal release, so finding a suitable substitute can be a challenge. Of course, every challenge is just an opportunity to discover something new and amazing.
There are some yeast strains that are so similar, either liquid or dry, you won’t notice any difference. Therefore, if your recipe calls for White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast and your go-to homebrew shop is out, you can try the dry Safale US-05 from Fermentis. But things get a little trickier when your desired strain is no longer in production or only available seasonally. The best thing to do in this situation is to research as much about the yeast as possible and then compare it to what’s available. That information will allow you to make an educated guess about what will serve as an adequate substitute. You could also just select a completely different strain all together and create a new tasty variation. When selecting a new strain, there will be more options from all of the liquid yeast companies. Though there are some crossovers, keep in mind that the liquid companies have unique strains that are hard to substitute.
The most obvious difference between liquid and dry yeast is that one is stored in a fridge and in a liquid state while the other is vacuum-sealed on a shelf. The liquid yeast is branded as “fresh” because it is raw and has a shelf life. The liquid yeast needs to be stored in a cold place to preserve that freshness. However, dry yeast has been freeze-dried and resembles baker’s yeast. It should be stored in a room with low humidity. While dry yeast will last much longer than liquid yeast, it also does have an expiration date.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both dry and liquid yeast. Storing dry yeast is much easier. But liquid offers more variety. At the end of the day, homebrewers have many options, which just makes your next beer-making adventure even more exciting.
Holly Day Ale [AG]
Holly Day Ale [Extract]
By Sam Wheeler
For the Oregon Beer Growler
“It’s the climate,” is a fitting motto for the city of Grants Pass, and Climate City Brewing Company knows how to make those mild winters and warm summers just a little bit better.
With delicious beer, that is.
Climate City was filling its first pint glasses back in March in its revamped historic brick building at 509 SW G St., and it was looking to take its first-rate craft beers to the regional growler market this fall.
And maybe a few bar taps, said Climate City co-owner Steve Baksay.
“We want to be selective at first — kind of brand ourselves to the crowd around here before we start sneaking up to Portland,” said Baksay, who is also a self-employed physical therapist in Grants Pass.
For supplying kegs in Southern Oregon, the brewery has been eyeballing Gil’s in Ashland, Beerworks and Growler King in Medford and Frank N Stene’s Monster Growlers in Grants Pass.
The most popular beer at Climate City is its Nookie IPA, said Baksay, which comes in at 6.5 percent ABV and 65 IBUs. The beer is crisp and clean with a malt backbone — everything you’d expect from a Northwest IPA.
The brewery pours three additional core beers: an easy-drinking Yellow Belly Blonde at 4.8 percent ABV and 20 IBUs; Rainie Falls Red at 5.5 percent ABV and 50 IBUs, which nails that hard-to-find, malty-bitter balance; and the Hyperion Porter at 5.8 percent ABV and 40 IBUs, which would make a splendid breakfast or shower beer.
At Climate City’s circa-1886 digs, though, beer is only one side of the story, said Mike Held, general manager of the restaurant, who, prior to settling in Grants Pass in August, called Texas and South Carolina home.
“I have had some pretty good restaurants under my belt and this place takes the cake in ambiance and beauty, along with the food and beer,” said Held. “I am just really excited about the direction that we are heading.”
The smoked duck poutine is one of the most popular menu items, he said, as has been the blackened-salmon and chipotle cream pasta dish dubbed “Mamacita.”
The restaurant boasts about 200 seats, Held said, 50 of which are outdoors. The restaurant’s outdoor patio is perched above Gilbert Creek with a fireplace centerpiece and hops growing nearby.
Brewmaster Brandon Crews joined the Climate City team from Rock Bottom Brewery in Portland, said Baksay, and has been a perfect fit.
Baksay, who owns the brewery and restaurant with his wife Jodi Paquin, a social worker, and longtime friends Mark Simchuk and his wife Christine Meis, who are local podiatrists, said Climate City will be looking to add another 20- to 30-barrel system in addition to is current 10-barrel system sometime next year.
The system will go in at a new site and coincide with the brewery switching gears into production mode with bottling and distribution, Baksay said.
“We’re looking forward to the next year,” he said. “We’ve already learned so much.”
It’s been an exciting journey, Baksay said, since the four co-owners started bantering with each other about starting their own brewery at the Winter Brewfest at Josephine County Fairgrounds in November 2013.
“After two or three, or four pints of beer we started talking about breweries,” Baksay said. And the rest is Climate City.
By John Foyston
For the Oregon Beer Growler
You could fairly call the Oregon Pint — an elegant beer glass with a geographically accurate Mount Hood molded in the base — a runaway success.
Last February, Matt and Leigh Capozzi and Nic Ramirez of North Drinkware went to Kickstarter to raise $15,000 to buy the tools and material to produce their dream glass, which Matt Capozzi said was originally intended to be a fun little side project. Apparently the public didn't know that because the Kickstarter campaign met its initial goal in five hours and 15 minutes, according to the North Drinkware website.
“We initially figured that some people will want a handcrafted beer glass,” says Capozzi, “and then as things took off, we asked ourselves, 'what if things go really crazy and we raise $50,000 or $100,000?'”
The answer would be, you start making glasses … a LOT of glasses, because the campaign raised more than half a million bucks from 5,600 investors.
Now, $45 seems like a lot of money for a beer container — that is, until you watch a team of artisans transform a blob of incandescent glass into a beautiful, robust vessel. The process starts in the hot shop of their production partners, Elements Glass in the industrial area of Northwest Portland. It starts with the gather — Karlye Golub pokes a four-foot-long blow pipe into a furnace to get a blob of 1,500-degree molten glass from the crucible. How big a blob? “That's the thing.” says Matt Capozzi, “There's no set recipe — these people are doing it all by feel and experience.”
The blowpipe is then cooled in water so it can be handled and Karlye blows a small bubble into the glass, after which it's heated again before marvering — preliminary rolling and shaping on a heavy, flat steel plate called a marver. She hands the blowpipe to Aaron Frankel, who runs the shop, and he continues to shape and expand the bubble while periodically putting the blowpipe into the roaring furnace, which keeps the glass from cooling too much and shattering.
Satisfied, he steps on a low platform and inserts the glass into a heated cylindrical steel mold at his feet while Alissa Friedman swings the mold doors shut. Frankel blows into the pipe, forcing the glass into the mold. He taps his foot when experience tells him he's done, Friedman opens the guillotine doors and together, they separate the glass from the blowpipe. They'll repeat this closely choreographed dance of molten glass about 150 times in a good day — more than 550 times in a week, given vagaries of weather, humidity and temperature, all of which affect the process.
Not that the newborn glass is near ready to receive its beer baptism. First it spends a night cooling in the annealing oven. Then it goes to the cold shop, where it's scored, then placed on a heavy, round table where a micro torch heats the score and separates the top inch or so of the glass, which goes to the scrap bin. A bigger torch then melts the sharp scored edge into a generous rounded rim and the glass goes back into the annealing oven.
A day or so later, you can finally pour a beer into it and watch Mount Hood come alive in the golden light. And you understand what Capozzi means when he says, “People pour their heart and soul into making great beer these days, and we wanted to give craft beer drinkers a glass that we poured our heart and souls into designing and making.”
He and his North Drinkware partners — wife Leigh, and Ramirez, who's a colleague at Portland-based branding/product studio Cinco Design, initially came up with the idea for the Oregon Pint last year. “Mount Hood is perfect,” says Matt Capozzi, “because it symbolizes all of Oregon." They soon will release another state pint for Washington, California, Colorado or Vermont — my bet's on Mount Rainier. And once they catch up with the 13,000 or so Oregon Pints promised to investors, and they're well on the way, the glass will be available online at northdrinkware.com and at Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood Meadows and MadeHere PDX.
It's a great idea, but it was a long way away from full-fledged production last year. The trio started prototyping at night with plaster molds and different production methods. (They'll keep their careers — Capozzi and Ramirez are industrial designers and Leigh Capozzi is in marketing — despite the vivid success of North Drinkware.) The molds are a good example of how Kickstarter made the dream possible. Clearly, plaster molds were a temporary expedient, but when they switched to graphite, they found the molds also wore out rapidly. The current machined steel mold is holding up well, but it's about the eighth mold they've made — at about $8,000 a copy. And that’s why crowdfunding has proved invaluable.
“Kickstarter has been just that.” says Matt Capozzi, “We couldn't have done this on our own. This project has taken over our lives in a way, but in a good way, because we're good at balancing work and life, and I have great partners.”
By the time we get to the proof of the pint — splitting a bottle of pFriem Pilsner between two Oregon Pints, Capozzi is once again watching the dance in the hot shop. “It's mesmerizing,” he says. “I could watch them blowing glass all day. It's like watching snow fall in the mountains — you just can't look away.”
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that Jacob Grier’s hobby is magic. He got hooked after watching a street performer at Disney World as a kid. With the aid of several magic kits, which he still has, Grier’s skills with cards and coins improved. He’s even mustered the courage to do tricks for the crowds during Portland’s Last Thursday celebrations with a friend who’s also a magician. And while he hasn’t had much time lately to entertain others with illusions, there’s some sleight of hand going on behind the bar anytime he’s slinging drinks.
Grier, who’s known for turning a bone into a drinking device while working at the now-shuttered Metrovino as well as founding Aquavit Week, now has a new project: bringing beer cocktails back to the masses. For those who’ve never tried or even heard of such a concoction, the holidays offer the perfect opportunity for an introduction to what is actually a type of mixed drink with a very long history. Grier’s first book, “Cocktails on Tap, The Art of Mixing Spirits and Beer,” came out this year and offers up dozens of recipes and intriguing backstories. Anyone looking to elevate the typical beer they might serve at a party this season is sure to find inspiration among the pages featuring step-by-step directions and beautifully photographed finished products.
The idea for the book began, appropriately, in a city that’s swimming in interesting cocktails and home of the Sazerac — New Orleans. While attending a conference there in 2008, Grier heard co-author of “The World Atlas of Beer,” Stephen Beaumont, speak about beer cocktails. He also conjured up a little something called the Green Devil, which Grier said is the first beer cocktail he ever really liked. Made of absinthe, gin and Duvel, the recipe is the first listed in the section of Grier’s book highlighting contemporary cocktails. Grier also credits Oregon beer writer Ezra Johnson-Greenough as another key contributor to the effort. The two met when the Oregon Bartenders Guild hosted a session on beer cocktails. Together, with the assistance of Yetta Vorobik of The Hop & Vine, they launched Brewing up Cocktails — a series of events that focus on beer as an ingredient in mixed drinks.
From pitch to publishing, the text took about three years to complete. And in case you were wondering — yes, Grier has made all of the drinks that are included. “Every recipe’s been tested at multiple times. And there were many that didn’t make the cut, especially in the hot chapter,” Grier said. “There were some really weird drinks that I subjected my friends to.”
One that he never really got to work was the Aleberry, a very old drink made with oatmeal and beer. The resulting thick, malty substance was never up to Grier’s standards to include in the book. However, initial failures weren’t always scrapped. For example, the posset, as Grier warns in the text, is quite strange and initially might sound rather off-putting. A combination of cream, ale, eggs, rum, sugar and nutmeg is warmed to thicken the cream. The liquid is then separated from the curds that traditionally would’ve been consumed along with the drink. In the book, Grier says the beverage portion of it is actually quite delightful, “with a richness comparable to eggnog.” And, of course, nobody will tell on you if you don’t eat the curds.
Researching recipes for the vintage chapter meant tracking down old bar books or finding online resources for those that have long been out of print. Ideas for modern drinks came from the network of bartenders Grier knowns across the country. Count yourself lucky (most of the time) if you were a part of his tasting panel. The very formal-sounding collection of palates consisted of friends who would gather for a weekly game night and provide feedback. Many were hits, but there were some that ended up down the drain. Almost all of the older recipes were altered or updated in some manner. Grier explained that the upgrade brewing technology was one factor that led to drink changes.
“I mean, definitely one of the differences is that beers are more consistent now and usually fully fermented, so you probably don’t have as much residual sugar as perhaps you once did. And you probably don’t need to add as much sugar to a drink to cover up defects as you might’ve used to. So it’s — one general difference is probably drinks are less sweet than they would’ve been made originally.”
Holiday guests might not only be impressed if you present beer cocktails at your party; you can also share the history of the drinks as colorfully outlined in Grier’s book. The flip, for instance, has a meaning that’s changed throughout the centuries. “Today, we think of flips as any cocktail with a whole egg shaken into it, usually served cold,” he said. “The original flip would’ve maybe not have had an egg and it would’ve been served hot. It would’ve been made with beer. So obviously a huge, basically a 100 percent change in definition over time from a hot beer drink to a cold egg drink.”
To heat the flip during Colonial times in America, a red hot iron poker was employed out of necessity, but it also added some dramatic flair. When the tool was thrust into the drink, the sudden temperature change caramelized the sugars. In case you don’t have a poker and fire handy, Grier provided an alternative that’s similar to the process of making a Spanish coffee. A glass is lined with sugar before lighting high-proof rum on fire. Hot beer is then poured on top of the flames.
Another interesting account in the text involves the Blow My Skull, which is featured in this month’s Brew Bites column. The drink came from the first-ever Australian cookbook in 1864. Grier said it also contained “dishes like fried emu brains and roasted wombat and other things. But the drinks are really good.” Blow My Skull was apparently a favorite of a Tasmanian governor, who had a reputation for drinking people under the table and would always toast, “No heel taps!” With some digging, Grier discovered that was slang for the liquid left in a shot glass if you didn’t finish it in one gulp.
Even if you never end up making a beer cocktail yourself, the one thing Grier would like readers to take away from his book is the versatility of the drink. “’Cause everybody thinks of, you know, just adding a shot to a beer or making micheladas,” he said. “And I actually outline seven different types of beer cocktails.” For the motivated party host who’d like to try out a beer cocktail this month, Grier recommends wassail, “which is the old hot beer or cider drink. So nothing could be more appropriate for a holiday party than the wassail.” Another option for a big group is the Abbey Street Rum. “It requires a bit more shopping, but it’s Irish whiskey, Irish stout, club soda, lemon juice, simple syrup, Jamaican rum, an allspice liqueur, and then nutmeg and lime for garnish. It’s a little more ambitious, but it’s got some really incredible flavors—especially with the allspice. It’s great for winter.”
Customers who miss Grier’s magic with drinks at Metrovino can occasionally catch him working at Multnomah Whiskey Library. But he’s got something new in the works. Grier said he’s helping open a new place in Portland, probably early next year.
“It’ll be different. But we can’t talk about it yet,” he laughs. “I’ll say beer drinkers will be excited.”
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