Kevin Stewart keeps an eye on his latest creation
Photo by Branden Andersen
By Branden Andersen
Hidden away in a residential district off of Redmond’s main street, Smith Rock Brewing is not on Central Oregon’s brewing grid. For now, that’s the way co-owner and co-founder Kevin Stewart likes it.
“We’re just a neighborhood place,” Stewart said. “As long as our customers are happy, we’re happy.”
Smith Rock Brewing opened in November 2012 with a homebrew kit in a house-turned-restaurant. Located 3.5 miles from its namesake, the half- barrel brewery currently only brews enough to keep a couple of its beers on tap, but, an expansion is under way. Stewart is upgrading to a 3-barrel system, with hopes of one day distributing.
“If you look at what we’re doing, we’re not built to be huge,” Stewart said. “We’re on the north end of Redmond, and we’re way lower key. We’re not trying to compete with Cascade Lakes.”
Stewart met his wife, Danielle, in Southern California, where they both worked in the restaurant industry. Kevin, a restaurant equipment manager at the time, said both Stewarts knew they wanted to run their own restaurant one day.
Around five years ago, the Stewarts, along with Danielle’s brother and his girlfriend, weren’t finding beers that matched their palates, so they started homebrewing with beer-making kits. Kevin built a system fit for 22-gallon pots, giving them the capacity to brew enough for two couples that love beer.
Soon, word got out about the Stewart’s beer, and the possibility of opening a place became a reality.
“Friends will tell you they love your beer,” Stewart said. “But the question is, will they pay four dollars a pint for it?”
It turns out the Stewarts felt comfortable enough answering that question to open their own brewpub. They settled on a location in residential Redmond, in a space that was formerly an Italian restaurant. Stewart reinterpreted the previous decor and gave it a stucco-filled southwest feel, accentuating the outdoors focus and national park-themed wall hangings.
Stewart said the experience has been exciting, but not always easy. Danielle’s brother and his girlfriend, who once worked at the brewpub, are no longer actively involved.
“It requires long hours, no pay, and a generally tough life,” Stewart said about owning and operating a restaurant and brewery. “We absolutely don’t blame them.”
Stewart tries to keep at least two Smith Rock beers on tap, which can vary depending on the season and what Stewart wants to try brewing. Their loosely-defined year-round offerings consist of 8am Pale Ale, a smooth easy drinker; and Morning Glory IPA, brewed with an eye on Boneyard’s RPM IPA, with Centennial, Cascade, Citra, Sterling and Magnum hops. The brewery has also produced beers ranging from a cream ale to a Cascadian Dark Ale.
Going forward, Stewart said he’s excited about the expansion and the prospect of putting out more beers. The idea is to keep their consistent beers available, while trying more experimental styles and continuing to produce great food.
“We’re so small, we really can experiment with different styles and have fun with it without huge cost to us,” Stewart said.
“We came in at a good time,” Stewart said. “The beer industry is growing around us and we’re getting regulars from our area to keep coming back. It proves our theory: Provide good food and good beer, and people will know through word of mouth. We’re going to grow at a gradual pace, and we’re okay with that.”
Smith Rock Brewing
[a] 546 NW 7th St., Redmond
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
When I pull up to the modest green house in the Northwest Crossing neighborhood in Bend, there is no indication of what lies within. As Dean Wise greets me at the door and invites me into his living room, I would never guess that there is a brewery in the basement. There are a few beer-related books on the shelves lining one end
of the room, but it takes more than a quick glance to spot them. There’s no beer paraphernalia, no bottles on the nearby kitchen table, not even a hint of the smell of mash. There is, however, a 100-pound rescued mixed breed named Enzo who barks loudly at the back door until Dean asks if I mind if the dog is allowed inside.
We settle into cozy armchairs and, after greeting me with some friendly nuzzling, Enzo eventually lies down on his bed at one end of the room. I quickly learn that if I gesture too much with my hands, Enzo interprets that as an invitation to come over; thus Dean ends up spending most of the interview trying in vain to keep the dog by his side.
While Enzo is not exhibiting his best manners, Dean has much better control of his brewing process. In fact, it becomes readily apparent that one of the things he takes the most pride in regarding his Below Grade beers are their high quality and layers of flavor. “I do not want my beers to be a one-note experience on the palate,” Dean explains.
Dean gained an appreciation of craft beer early in life. He remembers asking his parents to buy beer for him when he was a teenager. Born in Eugene, OR, he has lived in Bend since 1978, with the exception of spending six years at Portland State University where he studied art and architecture.
In 1991, Dean read The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian for the first
time. The book peaked his interest and he started brewing shortly thereafter. He made a handful of extract beers before switching to all grain. After a decade of home brewing, Dean started focusing on being more precise in his methods with the goal of making better quality beers. He has many dog-eared notebooks to attest to those efforts.
In 2010, with years of positive feedback on his homebrews and after losing his job in land development, Dean decided to market test his beer.
Over the past few years, Dean has brewed a variety of unique beers including Identity Crisis, a blend of his naturally soured Nevermind White IPA and Validation Imperial IPA. Lately, he has “enjoyed experimenting with fermentation using Lactobacillus versus Brettanomyces.” Self-distributing to a few local bottle shops and pouring from a booth at the summer-only NorthWest Crossing Farmers Market, his beers have been well-received to the point that he can’t keep up with demand.
Now brewing one barrel twice per week with
an average of 50 barrels per year, Dean is looking to scale up his brewing operation and thus needs
a larger facility in which to brew. He is biding his time, waiting for the ideal space in a preferred area to be available. The focus will continue to be on the beer, so there are no plans for anything more than a brewery with a small tasting room.
The new operation will allow him to increase annual production twelve times. While he understands the advantages of a 10-barrel system, Dean plans to brew on a 5-barrel system three times per week. He’ll continue to make noteworthy beers like Faux Pilz, made with Carapils malt and Saaz hops, that he will debut at Bend Brew Fest
in August. After the expansion, he just might need to change that Seriously Underground Ales tagline!
Dean Wise is scaling up his brewing operation to meet local demand .
BY ALETHEA SMARTT LAROWE
Situated on a large piece of property on the north side of Bend just off Hwy 97 and across the street from the Deschutes River, the RiverBend brewpub has gone through many incarnations. Built in 1992 and opened a year later as the Italian Cottage, the building was later leased out as the Country Cottage. It most recently was known as Rivals Sports Bar, featuring poker tables and karaoke.
Owners Gary and Linda Sobala reinvented the space again last year, wanting to make it more welcoming. The first thing to go was the poker, although there is still a small Video Lottery room tucked away in a back corner. They added a large
outdoor seating area with a gas-powered firepit and cornhole. The interior space still has a sports-bar vibe with lots of big TVs and sports paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling and on the walls. However, minors are now welcome at all hours.
Opened on November 6th, 2013, RiverBend Brewing & Sports Pub also has a new emphasis on food, which Gary refers to as “98 percent from scratch.” With typical pub favorites like sandwiches, burgers and pizza, the menu also features seasonal salads, sliders, mac and cheese, wings and dips, all made from fresh, local ingredients. Food pairs very well with the made-in-house beers.
The “if you brew it, they will come” vision is at the forefront of the new business’s identity. Adding the brewery across the parking lot was just another way to attract more customers. Lifelong beer lovers, Gary and Linda were at the Deschutes Brewery opening in downtown Bend in 1988. He remembers seeing an employee polishing the brewery’s front door and thinking “Just let us in so we can drink the beer!”
The new head brewer, Daniel Olsen, has been brewing since he was a 17-year-old in Colorado. He apprenticed at Silver Plume in Clear Creek County then moved to Bend to work at Deschutes as a pub brewer for nine years. He later became head brewer at Wildfire Brewing Co., now known as 10 Barrel.
Daniel is excited to “explore the concepts, materials and methods that have been on my drawing board for some time, including a line of soft drinks for our new guests.” After making more traditional beer styles first, he is now experimenting with herbs, fruits and spices. Recent choices at the pub include a variety of hoppy ales as well as a saison, nut brown, Irish stout and wintermint stout. When Gary purchased a rye whiskey barrel to make into taster trays, Daniel filled it with Imperial IPA before the saw blade made the first cut. He plans to age the as yet unnamed beer for two to three months.
Gary has spared no expense on the new brewery. All equipment was made by Marks Design and Metalworks in Vancouver, Wash. RiverBend opened with a 12-barrel system—1,800 barrels per year capacity—and have been brewing roughly 20 barrels per week. They are already in the process of adding two fermenters and three brite tanks, bringing their capacity to 3,500+ barrels per year.
Starting in May, RiverBend is now featured on the expanded Bend Ale Trail. They currently have 10 of their beers on tap at the pub plus eight others including a cider. You can also find their beer on tap at a few other Bend locations. With a focus on great beer, food and sports, all in a family-friendly atmosphere, RiverBend Brewing Co. has scored the winning run.
NEW BREWER AT TRACK TOWN ALE
Track Town Ales in Eugene has a newbrewer at the kettle - Sam Scoggin.
Scoggin was born near Seattle but spent most of his life in the Portland area. After moving to Eugene for college he started home brewing during his free time. He soon realized that brewing was a passion, so after earning an associates degree, Sam left for England to take a three-month course in Sunderland for a diploma in British Brewing Technology. He was an intern at several English craft breweries, learning about English brew systems, casks, and the art of ale. In 2012 he landed a position at Walking Man brewery in Stevenson, Wash. While at Walking Man he worked under Cory McGuiness, and then James Landers who came from Portland Brewing Company.
The experimental stage included moving to larger quarters at 3028 N.E. Sandy Blvd. In December, the owners added a cooler with room for about 1,000 more bottles, in addition to the 20 taps, according to Dan Miner of Hollywood Beverage.
WINE CAPITAL DUNDEE TO ADD NEW NANO BREWERY, "DECEPTION"
Dundee, center of Oregon’s wine universe, was overdue for a brewery. Brian Wheatley is co-owner and brewmaster of a new nano-brewery in Dundee, “Deception.” Ben Hoffman is the other owner and head brewer.
The moniker is exactly opposite of what their beer will be, according to Hoffman.
“While many things around us are not what they seem, our beers hide nothing,” said Hoffman. He said he intends to create true and honest, hand-crafted ales.
After two years of planning, Deception will open this spring at 1174 S.W. Highway 99W in Dundee, former home of a wine gift and tasting room. The building was purchased by Jody Kroft of the nearby Red Hills Market, who is leasing the space to Wheatley and Hoffman.
“The inception of Deception has been an aspiration of two lifelong friends for a very long time, but isn’t opening a brewery every man’s dream? Well, there are moments where the time is ripe to act on those dreams and we finally decided that the time is now,” said Hoffman.
FULL SAIL AND DESCHUTES WIN KUDOS IN INTERNATIONAL CONTESTS
These breweries aren’t getting older, they’re getting better. Beers from Full Sail Brewing in Hood River and Deschutes Brewing in Bend are among winners of several international beer awards this winter. Both breweries were among those established in the 1980s in Oregon – Deschutes in 1988, and Full Sail in 1987.
Blind judging for the World Beer Awards are held in heats in Asia, Europe and the Americas. The finals for that judging, called “World’s Best” awards, are held in Norfolk, U.K.
Full Sail’s Amber Ale won the “World’s Best” in the American Brown Ale category. Full Sail’s Session Premium Lager also earned a gold medal in the “Americas Best” awards, in the regional competitions.
Deschutes Brewery also fared well in the same competition. Deschutes River Ale was named the World’s Best Bitter and The Americas Best Bitter (in the up to 4 percent category).
Among other Deschutes beers earning medals in the World’s Best competition was The Dissident, Obsidian Stout, The Abyss and HopHenge Experimental IPA.
In the World Beer Championships, a blind tasting competition held by the Beverage Testing Institute In Chicago, Full Sail medaled on every lager it entered, despite competition from brewers around the world. Lagers winning gold included Session Premium, Session Fest Premium, LTD O6 Black Bock, LRD O4 Pale Bock, LTD O3 Bohemian Pilsner, 26 Cascade Pilsner and Bid Daddy Js Imperial.
Full Sail beers winning silver at the World Beer Championships included Session Black Premium Lager, LTD 07 Oktoberfest, LTD 05 Vienna Lager and Vendell Veizen Weizen Bock.
Deschutes held its own at the European Beer Star 2013 in Germany, one of Europe’s largest beer competitions. The Abyss took home a gold medal in the Imperial Stout category. A total of 1,512 beers from 40 countries participated in the 2013 competition.
At the Brussels Beer Challenge, Deschutes won gold for its Obsidian Stout and silver for The Abyss and Deschutes River Ale.
And on the topic of getting better: Deschutes Brewery in Bend last year expanded its brewery and now has a total of 10 new 1,300-barrel fermentation tanks, giving it the capacity to brew up to 460,000 barrels annually. Currently, it produces about 250,000 barrels and distributes in 21 states.
WILD RIDE TO OPEN IN REDMOND
A Redmond-based ownership group will open the first of three new breweries in Central Oregon this spring. Wild Ride Brewing is under construction now at the 334 S.W. 5th St. in Redmond, according to Brian Mitchell, one of the owners.
The partnership is converting a vacant lumber warehouse into a production and destination brewery. Already, the design has earned the architect, Ambient Architecture of Bend, “Best Commercial Remodel” accolades from the High Desert Design Council.
The 8,650 square-foot brewery will produce and distribute beer from a 20-barrel brewhouse. The group is also building a 1,000 square-foot tasting room and patio area attached to the brewery. The partnership also includes brewmaster Paul Bergeman, the former brewing manager for Kona Brewing Co. in Hawaii. Bergeman has also brewed for Laurelwood Pub and Brewery in Portland.
“Ultimately, we expect we’ll be brewing our beers and opening our doors to the public in the Spring of 2014,” said Mitchell. He expects the brewhouse equipment to be delivered this month.
Look for updates at Wild Ride Brewing’s Facebook page and on Twitter (@WildRideBrewing).
EX NOVO BREWERY TO OPEN IN MAY
Former Boneyard Brewer Ian Greene, of Bend, has been hired by Ex Novo Brewing, a new brewery under construction in Portland. Greene has a degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot Watt in Scotland, and has worked for Stone Brewing in California, Voss Bryggeri in Norway as well as Boneyard.
Ian will begin work on the ground floor, helping in the design/layout and assembly of the new brewery, said Joel Gregory, founder and president of Ex Novo. “He’s confident and creative and wants to brew the best beer in the world -- I believe he’ll put Ex Novo on the map in this already great brewing city of Portland.”
Ex Novo, when it opens in May, will be the first non-profit brewery of its kind, according to Greene and Gregory.
Ex Novo’s mission is to donate 100% of its profits to organizations that are working to affect positive social change in Portland and beyond. More information about Ex Novo is at their website, www.exnovobrew.com.
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