By Michael H. Kew
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Might as well hit the ground drinking.
After weeks in the tropics enslaved to Bud Light, I am desperate for some fresh Oregon IPA. Luckily, I know Scott Saulsbury.
I grab my bag and eagerly hail a taxi for the 3-mile ride from Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport to RAM, Southern Oregon’s newest brewpub. There I find the smiling Saulsbury, 49, lording over RAM’s shiny 10-barrel JV Northwest system.
Immediately he hands me a pint of tasty Table Rock NWIPA, his first seasonal recipe for the new 7,245-square-foot building that hosts a busy restaurant, a large multi-televisioned bar and Saulsbury’s brewhouse. Open since December 2016, the Medford site is Oregon’s fourth RAM, the chain that launched near Seattle in 1971. There are 30 other RAMs across Washington, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Naturally, RAM’s newest brewmaster is thrilled with his gig.
“Many of the regular Southern Oregon Brewing drinkers are coming to RAM,” he says. “They sort of followed me here. It’s really surprising and great. Been nice seeing the familiar faces. And they want some of the SOB beers to resurface here as specialties, so I’d like to do some knock-offs of what I was making over there.”
Over there is the once-popular Medford taproom fed by SOB’s 20-barrel brewhouse where, until a year ago, Saulsbury made popular flagships. With the property’s owner Tom Hammond, a Medford anesthesiologist, Saulsbury had helped start SOB in 2007, after working in real estate for a few years. SOB’s sales were steady through 2012, then dropped 10 percent annually until 2015, when Hammond chose to sell.
“We don’t have the resources to compete in today’s beer market,” Hammond told Medford’s Mail Tribune last September. “The idea of scaling back to be just a local brewery was not a possibility. Being in a smaller market made us very dependent on distribution to other parts of the state and region … we were never able to establish and maintain a big enough part of our local market to be stable in the long-term.”
“Tom hung on as long as he could,” Saulsbury tells me. “He loved it and wanted to keep it going and it got to a point where there wasn’t a way forward without a lot of capital. The business model working today is more of this heavy-on-the-retail/growler fills, because shelf space is so jam-packed. A good model for SOB would’ve been — if there was money — to own two or three retail outlets where they just serve SOB beer. More SOB beer sold over SOB taps, less through distributors, because you’re just not making money after they take their sales percentage.”
SOB poured its last pint the night of Sept. 30, 2016. The business remains for sale, turnkey and intact.
“I show it to prospective buyers all the time,” Saulsbury says. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens. It’s a beautiful brewery.”
Last summer, after brewing his last SOB batch, Saulsbury worked for O.A.R.S., a major outdoor outfitter and tour guide offering multi-day whitewater trips through the pine-forested canyons of the lower Rogue, from Galice to Foster Bar, the river’s official Wild and Scenic section.
“It was epic. I had a great six-month period exercising and being outdoors. If I could afford to, I would retire today and be a dirtbag river guide,” he says with a laugh.
The job stemmed from the company’s craft-beer rafting trips. “I’d gone on some of those,” he says, “being the beer guy with the jockey box.”
Makes sense. Growing up in Grants Pass, Saulsbury was raised on the Rogue, running right through town. Tailing a short college stint in Santa Barbara, Calif., he studied philosophy at the University of Oregon. “Then I needed to get a job,” he says. “I’d been homebrewing a little, and I thought brewing would be a fun career. I was lucky to be in on that early-1990s microbrewery wave.”
By 1993 he was an assistant at Eugene’s Steelhead Brewing Company, then moved to Bend and became brewmaster at Bend Brewing Company. But Saulsbury owned property off Highway 66, east of Ashland, and wanted to build a cabin there, so in 1997 he zoomed south to launch Caldera Brewing with Jim Mills. “I knew Jim just from the local Ashland scene,” Saulsbury said. “Caldera was his baby, and he needed someone to make beer. Good timing.”
But initially the business dragged, so in 1998 Saulsbury found another job back in Bend, this time at Deschutes Brewing. “My time there was probably my most creative. We had a group of brewers interacting constantly, talking about the possibilities. We were able to put quality ahead of cost. Carrying that along through the years has allowed me to keep that alive in all the brewing opportunities I’ve had.”
Amid river guiding, Saulsbury got wind of the RAM slated for Medford. “An ex-Deschutes friend of mine was the brewmaster at the Salem RAM, so I contacted him, then RAM directly through a recruiter before they’d even posted the job. The building hadn’t been built, and RAM likes to hire locally, so they were sort of waiting for people to come out of the woodwork.”
“One of my questions for them during my interviews was: how much creativity will I be able to bring to the table? With the flagships, RAM wants people who have had RAM beers elsewhere to have the same experience here. But with the seasonal specialties here, RAM is definitely encouraging me to make crazy stuff and have fun. It’s going to be great.”
RAM Restaurant & Brewery
165 Rossanley Drive, Medford
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s difficult to believe Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing is already 10 years old.
But from its humble beginnings, the quickly growing brewery is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary, complete with another pub opening this spring in its hometown.
A lot has happened in those 10 years, including the now-famous purchase of the brewery by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2014.
The new brewpub, which is located on 10 Barrel’s east side Bend campus, is part of a larger expansion. A new building in excess of 60,000 square feet will be where all of 10 Barrel’s packaging and shipping takes place. It also includes warehouse space. 10 Barrel had easily outgrown its current facilities.
“It’s going to be great to be able to spread out in new offices, to have a little more room.” 10 Barrel brewmaster Jimmy Seifrit told Oregon Beer Growler.
But for people in Bend and fans of the beer in Oregon, the brewpub is perhaps the most exciting news.
10 Barrel’s original brewpub on the west side of Bend is a cozy affair, and often overflowing with guests during peak hours and on weekends.
The new pub will offer a similar intimate experience to that one, but will feature some of the same feel as bigger 10 Barrel pubs in Portland, Boise, Denver and San Diego (scheduled to open in April) with exposed wood, concrete and steel.
Display windows in the pub look into the new 10 Barrel facility. Patrons will also get views of the Cascade Mountains from the patio.
The new pub should do well as soon as the doors open, as the east side of Bend is underserved in terms of brewpubs, with only Worthy Brewing in the vicinity. (It also comes as another of Bend’s biggest breweries, Boneyard Beer, has plans to open a pub this year near downtown.)
Lovers of 10 Barrel’s beer will be happy to know that there are 22 taps on site. That gives the pub the ability to offer a variety of exclusive brews in addition to 10 Barrel’s flagship and seasonal-run beers.
Ian Larkin, formerly of Bend Brewing Company, will head up the brewing for the pub. That reunites him with Tonya Cornett, another Bend Brewing alum working at 10 Barrel. Bend Brewing has consistently produced award-winning beers before and after Cornett’s departure.
Seifrit said he plans to turn Larkin loose to make cool and unique beers, including special barrel-aged and sour beers.
“I told him I want him to come in here and go crazy, and take every idea you want to do, and do it,” Seifrit said. “My mantra is not to micromanage. My job is to give guidance and be an enabler — put the materials in their hands and do the best beer they can.”
10 Barrel tells Oregon Beer Growler that the new pub’s “estimated opening is the end of May," with an exact date still up in the air as of press time. You can find the new pub at 62970 NE 18th St. in Bend. 10 Barrel is also hosting a 10th anniversary party on campus on Saturday, May 13th, featuring a free concert headlined by hip-hop group De La Soul.
The pub is perhaps the biggest change in town. But the new facility is obviously going to change things for 10 Barrel far beyond Bend. The company and Seifrit maintain the brewery holds onto its roots, no matter how big it gets.
“Now, as we’re able to increase capacity, we’ll slowly start sharing the beer with people around the country,” Seifrit said. “But No. 1, we’re always going to focus on our core market — that will be tried and true until the day we die. As a company, we never want to forget where we came from and the people that supported us.”
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The craft beer scene in Central Oregon is constantly evolving, with new breweries and events every year, and changes to the existing ones. Here’s a look at what to watch for in Bend-area brewing and beyond.
The most anticipated craft beer attraction in Bend for next year is an easy one: the coming brewpub from Boneyard Beer. One of the biggest beermakers in Bend has skipped out on having its own brewpub until now, with just a tasting room for samples and growler fills. But it has plans to open a pub on Northeast Division Street in the first half of 2017, after initially hoping to launch in 2016. Co-founder Tony Lawrence says patrons can expect to see 16 beers on tap — mostly Boneyard but a few guest taps, too — along with food, outdoor seating and a specialty cocktail bar. Also in 2017: Look for bottle-conditioned sours from Boneyard sometime in the first quarter.
10 Barrel’s Expansion
The Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned craft brewer is in the midst of a major expansion — more than 60,000 square feet — on the east side of Bend that will more than double its current space. While most of that new room is dedicated to production and distribution, The (Bend) Bulletin has reported that a restaurant and outdoor patio are part of the plans, although 10 Barrel Brewing has been mum on the details.
The Hopservatory — a giant telescope run in conjunction with the Oregon Observatory at Sunriver — should be open by January. Part of a major construction project at Worthy Brewing Company, the telescope is definitely the most unique offering from a Central Oregon brewery. Both public and private tours of the facility will be available for a fee.
Bend Brewing’s Beer Garden
Bend Brewing Company is hoping to have its outdoor space open for business by summer. After years of being surrounded by empty lots, it should be a big upgrade for one of Bend’s oldest breweries. The beer garden is likely to feature a pouring station, a fire pit and an area for live music. Bend Brewing is also actively looking to increase its production and distribution, so you may be able to find its beers on more taps in the not-too-distant future.
Prineville’s Second Brewery
Crooked River Brewing won’t be offering up its own beers when it opens in January, joining Ochoco Brewing Company as the second brewpub in the town. But it will have more than a dozen craft brews on tap in its expansive space on North Main Street, according to owner Jesse Toomey. Visitors will also be able to play a variety of games, like cornhole, pool and foosball. Crooked River’s own beer should come sometime in the second half of 2017, once the proper permits and licenses are acquired.
Terrebonne’s First Brewery
Another brewery on tap for 2017 is Terrebonne’s Good Earth Brewing. On the site of Smith Rock Hop Farm, the brewery will use any hops the farm doesn’t sell in its own beers. Good Earth hopes to specialize in styles one wouldn’t normally see in the region: from barrel-aged saisons to kriek lambics.
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Bend Brewing Company has always been the sleeping giant in the Central Oregon craft beer scene. Under new ownership, BBC is awaking from its slumber.
The second-oldest brewery in Bend is expanding its footprint. Bend Brewing Company’s pub in downtown has been surrounded on all sides by empty lots for much of its existence. But a deal to purchase one of the nearby parcels will mean the brewpub will be getting a huge upgrade.
BBC will be constructing a beer garden overlooking Mirror Pond, with plans to open sometime in 2017, according to Packy Deenihan, the new owner of BBC along with wife Leslie.
“I can’t tell you how many locals and longtime Bend-ites would come in and ask ‘What’s going on with the lot next door?’ It’s a natural fit for us,” Deenihan said. “Since we took over ownership, we always thought it would be really cool to figure out how we could own the lot.”
The Deenihans took over BBC this past winter, and the purchase of the nearby land came this summer. Changes were already visible at the pub under the new owners, with an indoor, open-air bar being installed near the front entrance.
City regulations prevent the planned BBC beer garden from going right up to the water’s edge. But visitors will be able to sit outside with a much better view of the section of the pond behind BBC.
“Being able to drink BBC pints on Mirror Pond is going to be pretty special and really unique for Bend, because there’s no other brewery that has that setting directly on the river,” Deenihan said.
That includes Deschutes Brewery, with a pub just a few blocks away and famously makes a pale ale that bears Mirror Pond’s name.
Deenihan said plans for the space are still in flux, but the outdoor space will likely include a pouring station, a fire pit and a pavilion for live music.
Despite being one of the first movers on the Bend craft beer scene, BBC has remained small while newer breweries — like 10 Barrel Brewing, GoodLife Brewing Company and Crux Fermentation Project — grew quickly.
But that appears to be changing under the Deenihans, who have plans to increase production capabilities. Deenihan said he thought the opening of the beer garden alone might outstrip BBC’s current ability to keep up with demand. The business could build a brewing facility on one of the lots it just purchased, Deenihan said, or go off-site.
That would mean BBC’s beer, commonly an award winner at festivals and competitions, could start appearing on a lot more taps around the state and the Northwest.
“For me, that’s my No. 1 priority — how we can get more beer made,” Deenihan said.
Bend Brewing Company
[a] 1019 NW Brooks St., Bend
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
There are lakes with landlocked salmon (they can’t get away!). There are huge fields of volcanic basalt and obsidian to explore. There are rivers that flow right through the middle of cities. There are unique Old West towns with horse rails. Best of all, any day/week/month in Central Oregon could include a visit to more than two dozen local breweries, many of which are expanding. Here’s an update on what’s happening in Central Oregon’s beer world this summer:
To the Sky and Beyond
Roger Worthington, Worthy Brewing’s owner, is watching his part of the universe expand — by 7,500 square feet, to be precise. The brewery and restaurant campus on the east side of Bend is growing to include a three-story observatory, topped off with a telescope that will connect the earthbound to the skies. The observatory is a silo-like structure rising at the edge of the brewery’s new covered outside patio on the ground floor. An open-air bar on a deck outside the second floor is also under construction and due for completion this summer.
Worthy Brewing’s expansion adds seating for at least 100 more patrons on the 2,400 square foot deck, according to Seth E. Anderson, architect at Ascent Architecture & Interiors. Details include custom furniture, lighting, circular staircases and unique bi-fold garage doors. A new banquet hall will also be a part of the $3.5 million renovation.
Monkless on the Move
Monkless Belgian Ales has moved their former 1-barrel, garage-based operation to a lucky space in Bend’s Northeast business district. The new location is not open to the public yet, but the building on High Desert Lane was once the home of 10 Barrel Brewing’s original shop. Chris and Jeremy Cox, former owners of 10 Barrel before it sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev last year, still own the building and have leased it to Monkless.
Monkless’ owner and head brewer Todd Clement, an organic chemist who graduated from University of California, Davis, spent the first 18 years of his post-college career missing his obvious connection to brewing, working instead in the pharmaceutical industry and then for a software company. His travels took him to Belgium, and his work brought him to Bend. “I grew to love Belgians,” he said. Clement started the brewery in 2014 with his friend Kirk Meckem, but recently purchased Meckem’s interest in the company. With a 10-barrel brew house in place, Clement in April gave up his full-time job and is now focusing on getting the expanded brewery online.
Demand for Belgians has increased in Central Oregon, as evidenced by presence of the style at other outlets like 10 Barrel Brewing, Bend Brewing Company and Crux Fermentation Project, Clement said. Already, Monkless has won kudos for its Pour Pour Pitiful Me, a high-alcohol quadruple fermented on cherries.
Watch for more Monkless in the months to come in Central Oregon brew pubs including Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails, and White Water Taphouse in Bend. The beers are also on tap at The Abbey Bar & Bottle Shop in Portland.
Kobold Sells to More Outlets
How do you turn a quaint, Craftsman-style home in a quiet neighborhood into a quaint, craft-style brewery? Ask Steve Anderson of Bend’s Kobold Brewing. His 2-barrel system is tucked into an 800-square-foot building that looks like it came with his historic house, but was actually designed specifically for its purpose. Above the tight brewery is a second-story sales room with a small, sunny deck that looks like the perfect place for a cold beer on a hot day.
The shiny, new 2-barrel brewery is not open the public, but Kobold beers are on tap in the region. Anderson, a retired air traffic controller, originally got his college degree in architecture. He used those latent skills to design his brewery.
Anderson sold his first Kobold brews in December 2015 to Platypus Pub in Bend. Today, Anderson counts about a dozen outlets that carry his beer, including all three Baldy’s Barbeques, The Lot, Growler Guys, Broken Top Bottle Shop, White Water Tap House, Pour House Grill, Primal Cuts Meat Market/Growler Phil’s and Big Dog Growlers. By June, you may find any one of his three stouts, an IPA, a CDA, a blonde, a couple of red ales and an ISA on tap.
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