Tomorrow Deschutes Brewery will celebrate its 29th anniversary with the release of Black Butte XXIXat its Portland and Bend pubs. But just as the brewery enters its 30th year last week it announced that Michael LaLonde has been named president and CEO of the Bend based brewery.
Since his arrival in 2005 at Deschutes Brewery, LaLonde has held various senior management positions. Most recently he served as both the COO and president of the company. He will now take over for founder and chairman of Deschutes Brewery Gary Fish who formerly held the role of CEO.
“In reality, Michael has been serving in a CEO capacity for some time now, as he handles many aspects of strategic planning and daily operations of the company,” stated Gary Fish in a statement. “The title President and CEO more accurately describes Michael’s role and his guidance will continue to help us fulfill our goals.”
During his past 12 years at Deschutes Brewery LaLonde has held a few different senior management positions at the brewery. He has been heavily involved with the upcoming expansion in Roanoke, Virginia where Deschutes will be building a brand new brewery to serve the East Coast of the U.S.
We recently interviewed Michael LaLonde of a few different topics that focus on his background and where he plans on leading Deschutes over the coming years.
What brought you to Deschutes in 2005?
Michael: I was living in Scottsdale, AZ and I came home from work one day and my wife said we’re moving to Bend, Oregon. I had never heard of Bend at the time. So I wondered how she made the choice. She had gone on to a website called findyourspot.com typed in all the things we like to do as a family and Bend came up as one of the recommendations. We decided to vacation in Bend a couple of years and fell in love with the town. We decided to make the move. I planned on commuting until I found a job but it turned out Deschutes was looking for a CFO around that time. I was lucky enough to get the job.
You coined the phrase “Damn tasty beer”. Which beer from Deschutes is your favorite?
Michael: Who’s my favorite kid – tough one. Mirror Pond is my go to beer but a few of our new releases (Pacific Wonderland and American Wheat) are gaining ground. But I can’t forget about Black Butte Porter and Obsidian Stout. Tough question.
How is the progress on the new brewery in Roanoke going?
Michael: We are in the process of general design, which will lead into detailed engineering, tendering and construction. Although it seems like a long time from now, we have a lot of work to do. We are looking forward to holding our Street Pub event there in July, and opening a new tasting room downtown in late summer this year.
As the new CEO which direction do you want to take the brewery?
Michael: We plan 3 – 10 years in the future so I don’t see any major changes in the near term. We are focused on strengthening our culture, innovation and using the ideas of our great team to get better every day.
Are there any new upcoming market expansions for Deschutes?
Michael: We just entered North Carolina last week but there are no other market expansion plans as of now.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.