By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Several of Central Oregon’s newer breweries are opening tasting rooms to showcase their beer.
The most recent one to start serving the public is The Vault Taphouse and Kobold Tasting Room, which began operating in downtown Redmond in July. Steve Anderson, founder and head brewer, designed the renovation of a decades-old building and adjacent open space into a pub and beer garden.
“In the 1930s and 1940s, all these old buildings had their own vaults,” said Anderson, “because people didn’t trust banks.” The vault in the taproom is now a walk-in cooler.
Anderson will continue to brew at his home in Bend on his original 2-barrel system, licensed in 2015. The Vault Taphouse will feature eight Kobold beers and 14 taps for other local offerings, including a cider and a couple nitro beers. The counters, tabletops and bar in the taproom were made from restored pine slabs from a cabin on Lake Cavanaugh in Washington that belonged to his wife’s grandfather. Acid-washed steel used as wainscoting adds to the rustic look. Inside and out, the business seats about 100. Westside Taco Co., an award-winning food cart founded in Los Angeles, has opened another in the beer garden space.
Chronologically, the next newest taproom is The Ale Apothecary in Bend, which opened in May. The unique, small-batch brewery — with its wild-fermented lagers aged in oak barrels — was launched in 2011 by former Deschutes brewer Paul Arney.
While the brewery itself is still on Paul and Staci Arney’s wooded property about 10 miles west of town, the need for more storage prompted they move into a small warehouse space in town near GoodLife Brewing. Even while creating room for barrels and bottled inventory, there was enough space left for a tasting room that’s run by Nora Smith and Kirsten Schopen. Both of their spouses, Jared Smith and Connor Currie, are involved in the brewing. “The idea for a tasting room was in the ether,” said Schopen.
Four vertical sections of the old bay doors, now replaced with an efficient roll-up garage-style opening, separate the tasting and inventory areas. They added handcrafted wooden tables, barrel stave stools and beer barrel hanging lights. There’s also plenty of room for Arney to display his family pharmacy relics — three generations of pharmacists’ collections — which also inspired the name of his brewery.
The popular vintage beers are aged up to 18 months in barrels and a year in 750-milliliter bottles. Usually, the tasting menu includes three or four different samples at $6 a 4-ounce glass. Or, tasters can purchase a bottle to sample and take out. “About eight out of 10 customers buy a bottle,” Schopen said.
“We have one of the flagship beers for tasting — the Sahalie or La Tache — and we might have a new bottle release with a couple others. We like to mix it up for the locals,” she said. “Still, many of the people who come here and know about Ale Apothecary are visiting from someplace else.”
The Ale Apothecary is one of those breweries that becomes a destination worth seeking out due to word-of-mouth, whether that’s in person at a bottle share or via a podcast. There was little-to-no pre-marketing for the tasting room, just a sign on the door that faces an alleyway saying it was coming.
The Bridge 99 Brewery tasting room opened two-and-a-half years ago when founder Trever Hawman moved the brewery out of his house to the current industrial location in northeast Bend. Amazingly, all of the 18 beers on tap are Bridge 99 brews. Amazing because brewers Hawman, partner Rod Kramer and Richard Anthony still work on the original 2-barrel system. That will change early next year when a new 15-barrel brewhouse is installed.
“With that system, we will have the capability to do 8-barrel, 15-barrel and double batches,” said Hawman. The major expansion will double the total space from 3,500 square feet to 7,500 with additional storage and a bigger seating area in the tasting room.
Hawman and others make a wide variety of beers. “We don’t really have a flagship, but the IPAs are bestsellers,” he said. Also popular are the barrel-aged red and porter, both resting in Bendistillery Rye Whiskey barrel for three months. One of the more unique brews Bridge 99 offers is an Irish ale made from a 100-year-old family recipe that one of Hawman’s former carpentry clients brewed with his father. The beer calls for buckwheat honey from Ireland, a dark, nutty honey the Irish made when Britain cut them off from sugar. Hawman wanted to recreate the recipe as close to the original as possible and also uses European malt and Irish ale yeast.
Hawman handles all sales and distribution to 40 or so accounts. “Our growth has been organic and steady. Word-of-mouth is our primary marketing,” he said. “We’re looking to expand into Portland and maybe Washington.”
And in case you were wondering, the brewery is named after a Forest Service bridge over the Metolius River.
The Vault Taphouse/Kobold Tasting Room
245 SW Sixth St., Redmond
The Ale Apothecary
30 SW Century Drive, Bend
Bridge 99 Brewery
63063 Layton Ave., Bend
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Andrew Bloo was not a farmer before founding Cascade Hop Farm, despite the fact that his roots were in agriculture.
“I was the first person that didn’t farm in my entire family,” Bloo said on a recent warm August morning in the shadow of his second-year farm near Bend, just outside of the small town of Tumalo.
After a career spent mostly in business — in marketing and as CEO of a software company — Bloo turned to hop farming as a way to spend more time with his family while starting a new endeavor.
Despite a lack of experience — outside of voluminous research on hop farming conducted by Bloo and help from his family of farmers — the first year resulted in a successful fresh-hop crop in 2015. Redmond’s Wild Ride Brewing used Cascade Hop Farm’s product for its Three Sisters Wet Hopped Red Ale.
“It’s exciting from the standpoint that someone showed the faith to buy it from us, a first-year farm, a local provider, instead of going to Yakima or over to the [Willamette] Valley,” Bloo said.
The Three Sisters beer quickly sold out last year, and Wild Ride came back to Bloo’s farm for enough hops to make a double batch this year.
The farm is also contracted with Central Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Brewing Company and Juniper Brewing Company this year. Bendistillery — literally right next door to the property — is also experimenting with a hop-infused product, Bloo said.
After that first year, Cascade Hop Farm has already increased its hop acreage from one to three acres in 2016. Another acre is planned for the coming years. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing in year two for Cascade: A late, hard frost in the middle of June killed most of the plants. But good weather and a solid root system allowed Bloo to start over nearly from scratch right as summer was starting. The farm, which is growing Centennial, Cascade and Nugget hops — is planning on harvesting early in September.
Cascade Hop Farm has helped to prove the so-called “craft hops” movement is on in earnest in Central Oregon, with a handful of small farms providing hops for area breweries.
For Central Oregon brewers, the advantage of getting their fresh hops locally is that the time from pick to boil is cut down dramatically. Getting hops from the big growers west of the Cascades or in Washington could take hours. Hops at Cascade Hop Farm or another local grower could go from bine to brewing in half an hour.
“You have such a limited window,” Bloo said on the harvest period for fresh hops. “A., you have to schedule a brewing opportunity, and B., your crop has to be ready. You can’t really sell hops until it’s time, and there’s this kind of tension of when brewers need it and when you can actually harvest a quality crop.”
Cascade has a lot of other things going for it besides having a quality product and attracting brewers who want to support a local business. Most of the property on which the farm is set is a wildlife preserve. The grounds surrounding the farm have been left in a natural state, and hop trimmings and spent bines are placed around the preserve so that animals can use it for habitat.
It’s also a truly family endeavor.
Bloo’s wife and children were out surveying the land in the morning as Bloo talked about the farm. Bloo’s mother lives in a house and acreage right next door to the farm and checks on the plants daily. Bloo’s father also visits regularly and plies his agricultural expertise to help the farm get off the ground.
“Our goal is really to do this as a family and spend our time out here,” Bloo said.
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Somewhere in the middle of the 70-mile Bend Beer Chase running relay, Jonahs Jennings had a revelation:
“I think we should be able to jump into a pool of Coors Light and then drink an IPA when we’re done,” he said, which was followed by chuckles from some of his teammates.
Jonahs and the rest of his race crew were waiting for one of their runners to finish a leg somewhere in the high desert of Central Oregon early in June. The second edition of the race took runners on a circuit through the area, from Bend to Redmond, then across Sisters before heading back to Bend.
The catch with this race? Relay hand-off points were located at many of Central Oregon’s breweries, and participants could enjoy samples at pretty much every stop along the way. More than 90 teams took part in the race.
“The Hood Pack,” a team of four women and two men from Sandy and Estacada, represented sort of a cross section of the participants in the race. Some, like team captain Elaine Knapp, consider themselves serious runners (she will have completed four different relays and an ultramarathon by the end of the summer). Others, like Jonahs and Elaine’s husband Seth, were doing their first relay and were there more for fun and for the beer. Elaine wasn’t the only running veteran on the team. Jonahs’ wife Jenn, Cari Nguyen and Alesia Soll have all done relays like the popular Hood to Coast and the Cascade Lakes Relay, which is put on by organizers of the Bend Beer Chase.
The race, like most running relays, is an amazing exercise in logistics, for both the organizers and the teams.
The night before the race, the Hood Pack drove from the Sandy area to a cabin near Sunriver. As nighttime descended, the team was a whirlwind of activity and laughter as they made preparations, such as decorating their support van with beer-inspired phrases including “It’s time to stout running,” as well red plastic cups that were tied to the roof.
“We’re going to try to run really fast, while still having fun,” Cari said as teammates bustled around in the gathering darkness.
Some teams took the race super seriously. An open men’s team from Bend completed the race in about seven hours, good for an average pace fewer than six minutes per mile. The Hood Pack finished in the middle of the competitors, with a time of 11 hours, 21 minutes.
A little bit of drinking went on during the race, but most of the Hood Pack stayed focused on supporting the team and running their legs quickly. Drinking beer and then running isn’t always the best mix of activities, especially with temperatures approaching 90 degrees on race day. Although early in the race Elaine jokingly opined that “beer and Coke are the best recovery drinks.”
As the name of the run suggests, beer is a major component. The race started at Worthy Brewing’s pub on the east side of Bend at just after 6 a.m. for the Hood Pack. The first leg took runners past 10 Barrel’s production facility, where Seth and Jonahs were able to scoop up a few free six packs of Joe IPA.
Mobile brewery stations were set up along the Oregon countryside at almost every transition point, usually along with a game like cornhole where runners could try to win prizes. Even early in the morning, Hood Pack team members gave some beer a try from Bend’s Bridge 99 Brewery, Redmond’s Juniper Brewing Company and Sunriver Brewing Company.
But after a particularly grueling and dehydrating leg as temperatures heated up, Elaine said “No more beer until after the race!” At least it meant no more for her.
There were also stops at the physical locations of Redmond’s Wild Ride Brewing, Sisters’ Three Creeks Brewing and the Bendistillery. In the two-mile “Keg Leg” after the official finish of the race, participants got free samples at six Bend breweries (Bend Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery, Silver Moon Brewing, Atlas Cider Company, McMenamins and Crux Fermentation Project).
Despite a lack of heavy drinking by the Hood Pack team, there was a fair amount of silliness on the course:
--Alesia took a picture of herself in a ridiculous costume that included a horse mask and a holster full of beers around her waist in an attempt to win a Bend Beer Chase “selfie contest.”
--A “proposal” of marriage occurred among team members with the aid of a ring pop handed out by one of the breweries.
--And teammates revived the Harlem Shake by performing it on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere while one of their members jogged past.
After the race, the team relaxed at Silver Moon, some hydrating with water while others enjoyed beer samples and a much-needed square meal after a full day on the road.
Despite being a relative racing novice, Jonahs offered this sage bit of perspective:
“The beer for this race is really good.”
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