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
The totality of August’s full solar eclipse is just going to miss the craft beer mecca of Bend.
But if you want to watch the rare event take place for yourself and then enjoy a tasty Oregon brew, it’s just a short jaunt to the north to Madras, Redmond or Sisters, which all lie in the totality’s path Monday, Aug. 21.
The biggest planned event in Central Oregon is the Oregon Solarfest in Madras. The small High Desert town is almost directly in the center of the eclipse’s route, giving viewers the longest possible glimpse.
The meat of the event is camping, live music and a surrounding festival with activities galore. Four Bend breweries are sponsors: Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, Silver Moon Brewing and Worthy Brewing Company. A beer garden is planned, but the lineup of brews you can try is not yet available. However, Wild Ride is working with Cascade Lakes and Silver Moon on a collaboration for the festival, appropriately named “Wild Cascade Moon.” For more info and tickets: oregonsolarfest.com.
Since the full eclipse will fall somewhere between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in Central Oregon, most breweries and pubs won’t yet be open. But you can watch the sky show and talk it over during lunch with a beer right after — provided you can get anywhere in traffic.
There are no breweries in Madras regularly open to the public; for that, you’d have to travel south to Redmond. That’s the home of Wild Ride Brewing, Smith Rock Brewing Company and Cascade Lakes Brewing Company (served at 7th Street Brew House.)
The weekend before the eclipse is the first-ever Redmond Brewfest. The event at American Legion Park touts 300 different beers from more than 75 breweries. It takes place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 18-19. Live music, including Larry and His Flask, is featured.
If you want a prime view of the eclipse, Madras is the spot to be. The sky will go dark there for about two minutes. In Redmond, the event will last less than 40 seconds.
Be warned if you head to the area though: A lot of other people have the same plan. According to The Bulletin, the number of people in the region is expected to be double the norm. Law enforcement is preparing to deal with the surge, but area roads — particularly Highway 97 — may have a difficult time accommodating all the traffic.
If you’re just into the beer and not as much the eclipse, the safer bet is the annual Bend Brewfest, which takes place a week and a half earlier, Thursday Aug. 10 through Saturday, Aug. 12. Organizers moved it up a week from its usual dates because of the eclipse.
Want to get a view of the eclipse while also enjoying a craft beer in another part of Oregon? You’re in luck.
· BREWVANA is hosting tour that begins at the Oregon State Fairgrounds for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Solar Eclipse Viewing Party. Then it’s off to Vagabond Brewing for lunch followed by a tour of Crosby Hop Farm.
· Albany, Salem and Corvallis in Willamette Valley are in the path of the eclipse and have several breweries.
· The chance of clouds is higher on the Oregon Coast, but there are breweries in the path of the totality in Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Newport and Pacific City.
· Baker City and Ontario also boast breweries that will be the last in Oregon to experience the eclipse before the event continues east into Idaho.
· Be sure to call ahead to make sure the brewery you want to visit is open.
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.”
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
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