Presidents’ Day Weekend was highlighted by Zwickelmania, Oregon’s statewide open house event in which folks were welcomed into brewhouses to sample craft brewers’ wares, many direct from the brite tank nozzles, or zwickels. This year, we headed to Bend, Oregon, arguably the state’s most burgeoning city for artisan brew.
Recent growth makes Bend the champion of craft breweries per capita. New breweries are popping up all over the city, and several are making great strides in expanding and opening in new locations and sometimes intersting locations. Some notable newbies include the forthcoming Worthy Brewing fronted by former Laurelwood brewmaster Chad Kennedy and a “yet to be named’ brewpub directed by former Deschutes brewmaster Larry Sidor.
Fresh out of the gates is GoodLife Brewing whose beer is majorly impacted by former Rogue Ales brewer Curt Plants. On the expansion front, Deschutes Brewery recently completed a sizable upgrade to their gift shop and tasting room at the SW Simpson brewery. Moving a into new production location, 10 Barrel Brewing is certainly a shining and perhaps most impressive example of Bend’s head-turning brewing evolution. On the horizon is a much larger production facility in the works by the popular Boneyard Beer.
We headed east over the great Cascade Mountains on Friday in pursuance of Bend’s rich offerings. In Bend, we landed at Silver Moon Brewing for a dinner alongside quenching pints of their award winning Bridge Creek Pilsner. Soon after, we visited 10 Barrel Brewpub on the south side of town, where we met up with their newly acquired brewer Shawn Kelso of Barley Brown’s in Baker City. Kelso will aid the 10 Barrel in breaking ground at a soon to open location in Boise, Idaho while additionally assisting in recipe development at the company’s streamlined new Bend production brewery. At 10 Barrel’s brewpub, co-founder Chris Cox and his staff treated us to an awesome array of food and brews that were simply mouthwatering.
Saturday at 11AM, the Zwickelmania commenced around town thanks to a shuttle bus that ran 70 minutes at each brewery location. These hot spots included the recently expanded Deschutes Brewery, the new 10 Barrel Brewery, downtown (access to Silver Moon Brewing, Bend Brewing, and Deschutes’ Bond Street pub), Boneyard Beer, the “Yet to Be Named” Brewery (Sidor’s undertaking), and GoodLife Brewing.
Our Zwickel adventures began at 10 Barrel’s new brewery where a brewer trifecta consisting of Jimmy Siefrit, Tonya Cornett, and the aforementioned Kelso was present to discuss brewing while co-founders Brad Wales, Garrett Wales, Jeremy Cox, and brother Chris were serving up the tasty treats. Featured for free sampling alongside brewery tours was a stout, “Palsner” session pale (base beer for a work-in-progress forthcoming summer release being dialed in by Cornett), Apocalypse IPA, and a hoppy brown ale. Soon after festivities kicked off, a slew of inquisitive beer enthusiasts rolled through the door while sliders were served from a barbecue. According to Chris Cox, a lot of changes in the way of beer are in the making. An elaborate barrel-aging program will be lead by Siefrit and many new and unique one-off beers will be developed here.
After soaking in the wonderful new ambiance at 10 Barrel, we hopped on the shuttle bus and made our way over to Boneyard. Here, a lively crowd shuffled into the brewhouse to experience the evolution of their popular RPM IPA first hand. Co-founder Melodee Storey served up 1, 6, 10, and 14 week old progressions of the citrusy ale. The youngest was in its worty stage, the 6-week old highlighted bright grapefruit notes from its murky body, while the 10 and 14-week old samples were much more complexed and refined with a crispy lingering resinous finish. In the packed taproom, pours of several alluring brews including Skunkape IRA, Backbone Chocolate Espresso Stout, Hop Venom IIPA, and Suge Knite Imperial Stout were featured. Storey’s husband and co-founder Clay greeted thirsty zwickelers and provided tours of the cozy soon to relocate and expand brewhouse, telling us “If we’re brewing beer (at the new location on the north side of town) this year, I’ll be happy.”
After we escaped the elb0w-to-elbow insanity at Boneyard, we jaunted close by to the “Yet to Be Named” Brewery. Still in its infancy, the 7,000 square foot future brewpub was a torn apart AAMCO Transmission building before primary investors Paul Evers, Dave Wilson, and Larry Sidor moved in. Wilson is an enthusiastic face of the company with a breadth of distributor experience from a recent post at 21st Amendment Brewing of San Francisco, CA, and before that, with Deschutes Brewery. Sidor brings a wealth of experience as well and will oversee production in the brewery after several years serving as Brewmaster at Deschutes Brewery. In an undisclosed nearby location, a 10-hectoliter, 4-vessel open-barrel Albrecht German brew system acquired from Japan waits to come to life and concoct higher ABV Belgian-style and barrel-aged tipples. Of Sidor, Wilson says “He’s like a car builder talking about his car. He gets pretty giddy when he starts talking about beer.”
To be continued…