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.
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Gold Beach was named for the bonanza of gold found at the mouth of the Rogue River in the 1800s.
But now there’s a different source of gold in town. Arch Rock Brewing Company’s multiple gold medals have put a new sparkle in this scenic Southern Oregon coastal village. Since it opened three years ago, Arch Rock’s Gold Beach Lager has won prestigious gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and at the North American Beer Awards, as well as gold for its State of Jefferson Porter, also at the NABA. Additionally, the brewery was featured in a Cosmopolitan magazine article titled “Best Places for a Quickie,” referring to drinks, not the other kind.
Owners of the brewery, Larry and Marjie Brennan, and their production team, Kristen and James Smith, have filled the Brennan’s former cabinet shop with three 30-barrel fermenters, a 30-barrel brite tank, and a 15-barrel brewhouse. Since the unexpected accolades two years ago, brewer Smith said production has skyrocketed.
“People started taking us seriously,” Smith said. “Medals sure help to get your name out. The brewery is self-distributed for the most part in Southern Oregon, but also at a few bars and bottle shops in Portland. For the Cosmo-style “Quickie” experience, visit the brewery a mile or so off Highway 101, at 28779 Hunter Creek Loop, Gold Beach. In a small alcove with a window to the brewery, visitors can taste what’s on tap. Growlers are also filled onsite.
For those who want to sip Arch Rock suds in the comfort of a country bar, Hunter Creek Bar & Grill next door carries Arch Rock’s lineup.
How did this wilderness shop become an award-winning brewery so quickly? Smith claims it is luck, but three-peats prove it is his talent.
Raised in a relatively liberal Utah Mormon family, James started homebrewing in 1999. He joined the ranks of Uinta Brewing’s crew and eventually began brewing for them. Everything changed in 2009, the year James met and fell in love with Kristen, a Grand Teton Brewing Company employee, at the Great American Beer Festival. He followed her to Idaho’s Grand Teton Brewing, taking a job as a cellarman there. Within a few years, they started scouting out a small-town brewery they could run together.
At the same time, Larry and Marjie Brennan were looking for a better use of their cabinet shop space and had settled on a brewery. Together, the two couples hit gold -- medals, that is — within a year of opening.
“We’re both used to remote areas,” said Smith. “We wanted to be in a small town. This is perfect for us.” Kristen was born and raised in Michigan.
Today, the two couples run the business with help from a delivery driver. In 2014, Arch Rock sold 845 barrels. Last year, capacity expanded to 1,800 barrels.
Visitors to the brewery are welcome 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, visit their web page, archrockbrewingcompany.com or call 541-247-0555.
One of the founding partners of Plough Monday, Norm Vidoni, puts in the hard work to make sure his hops are grown organically, which means more labor — like weeding by hand. The Veneta-based brewery isn’t focused on making every batch the same, resulting in a unique experience for the consumer. Photo by Gail Oberst
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The vision began with locally sourced, organic ingredients for a true Willamette Valley beer. The reality has proven far more challenging. Veneta-based Plough Monday is adapting and plowing ahead with plans to bring as-local-as-possible beers to Oregon and Washington — despite making hard decisions to veer from their original plans.
Founding partners Norm Vidoni and Charlie Whedbee have been friends and homebrew partners for more than 20 years. From working a farm and trying to meet the challenge of raising organic hops, to learning not only how to brew, but how to build a market for their beers, the two friends keep adapting and learning. Through it all, the crew at Plough Monday has been producing 7 to 10 barrels a week, working toward a local tasting room and refining recipes for bottling and wider distribution of beers such as Fresh Hop Fuggle, American Brown Ale and Northwest Strong Ale. And, more recently, the brewery was certified organic by Oregon Tilth, a nonprofit that’s been advocating for organic agriculture since 1974. In this conversation, Norm Vidoni discusses farming, hops, the importance of local, the decline of organic beers, Plough Monday’s vision and how they are finding their way in a challenging agricultural environment and a crowded market.
What drives your passion for Willamette Valley-grown hops?
NV: Willamette Valley hops have a unique quality. They have less harshness to the bitterness, even at higher alpha acids. I think the aromas don’t have the same strong citrus qualities, but more of the lighter, floral aroma qualities. The climate here is much more similar to the climates in England and Germany, where they have those Noble varieties.
What are the challenges of growing hops organically?
NV: You have to be careful with organic inputs. Too much copper in the soil can make it so you can’t grow things. Weeding has to be done by hand, since you can’t use herbicides. Input is higher, but your output per acre is lower than it would be if using conventional fertilizers. These problems are causing people to start dropping out of organic hop production, and we likely will see drops in organic beer production.
How do mildew problems affect what you can grow?
NV: There’s one hop that’s totally downy mildew resistant, and that’s Magnum. That’s a great hop, and I’ve got lots of Magnums, but I think it’s only good as a bittering hop.
Fuggle, Golding, Perle and Orion all have some resistance, so they grow well here without getting decimated by downy mildew. No other hops can be grown organically here.
The hops industry hasn’t been focused on developing hops with these disease resistances. The Willamette Valley could be much more competitive in hop production if that had happened, but the focus has been growing hops that grow better in Yakima.
How are you adapting your own beer production?
NV: We’re recalibrating, long-term, for having sourcing as local as possible be more of a long-term goal than an immediate goal. It’s a quality decision. I really wish that there was more desire within the industry and the market for Willamette Valley-grown hops at this point.
What beers and styles will you be putting out?
NV: We’re moving more towards traditionally Northwest-style ales, but we are going to continue making the malt-forward, English-style beers, but with Northwest ingredients.
When we came into this, we had big hopes we could have a dogmatic, 100 percent local product. I see us moving more toward sourcing locally even if it’s out of our way, but if we can’t source it locally, we focus on where we get the quality or organic we seek. That’s disappointing to change from our original plan, but it helps us put out a product that the market wants.
How do you want people to view Plough Monday?
NV: We want to always be an artisanal brewery.
When we bottle, the bottles will have batch numbers. We aren’t focused on every batch being the same or every bottle being the same. We are always going to tweak our recipes and processes in between batches. We want there to be a variety, because we are always changing, learning, trying new things. That makes for an interesting product, and it allows you as a consumer to have some surprise in what you’re going to have. As time goes on, we hope to have three to five flagship, regular beers, then everything else work their way around those regular beers.
I’ve farmed organically for years, and I believe in it. I believe in trying to source locally. It’s great for the economy. It’s an important thing for the community at large to have these services, this agricultural production, within the community itself. But at the end of the day, people like to eat bananas, and those can’t be grown locally. We’re learning that we have to allow ourselves more flexibility than we’ve allowed ourselves to this point.
[a] 25327 Jeans Road, Veneta
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
“City of Sunshine”: Klamath Falls, population 20,000-plus, is hours off the beaten track for most craft beer tourists.
Fortunately, beers from the city’s largest and award-winning brewery, Klamath Basin Brewing Company, are available all over Oregon, as well as northern California and southern Washington.
But if you want the full Klamath Basin Brewing experience, you have to make the trek into the 51st state. Klamath Falls is nearly in the middle of the “State of Jefferson,” whose residents have been threatening succession since … Oregon’s statehood. Defiance Double IPA, Rebellion Red Ale and 51st State Pale Ale all allude to Southern Oregon’s traditional break from the status quo. Include this brewery in a weeklong high desert trek from Redmond down Highway 97 through Bend, ending in Klamath Falls. Or make up your own Southern Oregon brewery tour and spend a night in Klamath Falls. But bring your inner redneck. I know you have one, because you’re a beer drinker.
The restaurant and pub are separated from the brewery by a glass wall, all in the former Klamath Falls Creamery building, home of the late Crater Lake Dairy Products. Most of the historic building is home to The Creamery Brewpub & Grill, a popular eatery for locals and visitors. The 1935 building’s high barn-like beams speak to Klamath Falls’ agricultural history. Today, the beams sport colorful flags of favorite local, college and professional teams hanging over half a dozen flat screen televisions scattered throughout the main restaurant and bar area, including one screen almost as tall as a small house.
There are other nods to local history and culture. Pictures of the creamery’s old ice cream fountain hang on the walls right next to a sign with the message: “Hippies Use Side Door.” Relax hipsters. For the most part, you won’t be the target of K. Falls derision, as long as you keep your discussion to beer.
Anyway, Klamath Falls defies most preconceptions about rednecks. The restaurant brewery out-greens most others in its class: Its menu is loaded with steaks and seafood, burgers and nachos, but it also offers (by my count) more than a dozen vegetarian options. The brewery and restaurant’s owners, Lonnie Clement and Del Azevedo, feature foods made from local produce and beers made with Klamath Basin barley, Northwest hops and Oregon yeast. But possibly the greenest activity on site is the brewery’s use of geothermal-heated water in its brewing and heating. Volcanic hot water aquifers just below the surface of Klamath Falls provides the downtown with hot water that is used for everything from heating sidewalks to home showers.
In addition to hot water, Klamath Basin Brewing Company also brews with water from wells fed by springs from the mountains that surround the city.
Does all of that make their beer better? You decide. On my latest visit to The Creamery Brewpub & Grill, there were nine Klamath Basin beers on tap, three of which were award winners (Backroad Vanilla Porter, Crater Lake Amber Ale and Notch Eight IPA). In addition to the State of Jefferson inferences, Hard Hat Hefeweizen speaks to this area’s working-class values. Notch Eight IPA refers to the maximum velocity on a locomotive’s throttle.
Corey Zschoche has been Klamath Basin’s head brewer for the past six years or more after studying fermentation science at Oregon State University. His Beaver allegiance is displayed throughout the brewery: an orange door here, a beaver flag there. Billy Harwood-Sloan assists him in the brewery. Zschoche estimated that the brewery produced about 1,500 barrels in 2014 -- about a third of which was sold in the pub. The pub employs about 40 people.
The brewery is growing: Zschoche estimated production was up about 25 percent last year — with as much or more growth expected this year.
Klamath Basin Brewing
The Creamery Brewpub & Grill
[a] 1320 Main St., Klamath Falls
Owners: Lonnie Clement and Del Azevedo
Brewer: Corey Zschoche
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Chetco Brewing, a tiny brewery founded in Michael Frederick’s garage near Brookings, is making some big beers these days. In 2014, less than a year into production, Chetco won a silver medal for its Block and Tackle Stout in the World Beer Cup competition. That year, he produced 111 barrels.
His award-winning, American-style imperial stout is on tap at places in Brookings, Grants Pass, Portland and a few other towns. And as of May, the stout and other brews are on tap at Chetco Brewing’s new taproom.
Earlier this year, with a goal to opening a taproom in Brookings, Chetco raised over $15,700 to renovate a former Radio Shack space. The taproom is now open Friday through Monday, 3:30-9 p.m. at 927 Chetco Ave. in Brookings. The adults-only space has room for 49 and is outfitted with 10 taps. The brewery is also organizing the first Oktoberfest celebration in Brookings.
Frederick is expanding a 1 1/4-barrel system (“if you’re being generous”) to a new 7-barrel system and a new brite tank. He said he needs to increase production more to make a living. “My hourly wages don’t really pan out yet,” he laughed. “It’s inefficient at a small scale.”
The new taproom promises a production upscale.
Michael’s wife and partner Alex Carr-Frederick maintains her work in real estate sales while Michael continues to work as a masseuse and a yoga instructor. But the new taproom heralds more work at Chetco Brewing in the future.
Michael’s interest in brewing hails back to the 1980s. His brother-in-law was a homebrewer, and later, his wife bought him a brewing kit. “It blew my mind that you could make your own beer,” he said. He immediately began brewing all grain.
When the couple moved to Oregon, they planted a small garden and began using some of their own hops and berries in the brews.
When a friend left them a small inheritance, Michael began making plans for a commercial brewery, registering it in 2011. Family hardships and then the prolonged illness and death of their dear dog and “chief snuggler,” Hazel, bit into their windfall. “Life is what happens while you are planning something else, right?” said Michael. Two years ago, they finally licensed the brewery and are forging ahead with their dreams.
And speaking of dreams. Michael and Alex live and brew in one of the most scenic breweries I’ve ever seen -- perched on a cliff above one of Chetco River’s most popular fishing holes. If you’re lucky enough to be counted as “staff,” you might get to sit in the deck hot tub and watch the salmon and steelhead twitch at the end of a lucky angler’s line. With a stout in hand, the sun setting in the Pacific a few miles west, what could be better? Watching the fishermen cast into the river below me while Michael filled a growler, it dawned on me where the inspiration came from for Block and Tackle Stout’s name.
Visit Chetco Brewing’s website at www.chetcobrew.com. The website’s “On Tap” button tells you where you may find the beers in Oregon.
Chetco Brewing Company
[a] 927 Chetco Ave., Brookings
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