bend

Old Mill Brew Wërks Closes, Craft Kitchen and Brewery Takes Its Place

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Bend, Oregon’s Old Mill Brew Wërks untapped its last keg and closed last weekend. It’s always something just short of panic in the craft beer industry when a brewery closes—the idea of that infamous “beer bubble” creeps up again, just as we were feeling so comfortable that the thought was a figment of the non-believers imagination. However, where one brewery falls, another is there to take its place, as in this instance with Craft Kitchen and Brewery, which will also operate a new brewhouse and restaurant in the former Brew Wërks place.
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First, Central Oregon saw the fall of Phat Matt’s (although still unconfirmed due to a lack of responding to emails, it appears their death rattle was as silent as an actual death rattle), a brewery in Redmond with a couple of distributed bottles that seemed to fall off the face of the Earth mid-2013. Since then, the region has seen roughly 10 new breweries pop up, including two in Redmond.
But, with all the great beer coming into Central Oregon, some less-successful brands have to find their way out as is the case with Old Mill Brew Wërks.

R.I.P.

R.I.P.

Established in 2011, Brew Wërks started as a brewpub deep in the Old Mill area of town and purchased 10 Barrel’s original brewing facility on the Northeast end of town—near Oblivion, 10 Barrel and Bridge 99—where in 2012, brewmaster Michael McMahon created many of their recipes distributed at the pub and eventually around town.
The brewpub has largely been on decline, though, with local juggernauts Boneyard, GoodLife, Worthy and Crux joining center stage with Deschutes and 10 Barrel. McMahon separated from the brewery in summer 2014, as the brewing portion of the company was swinging blind to keep consumers drinking its beer.
Finally, on Sunday, January 4, the Brew Wërks page said the company was calling it quits and offered specials all day, clearing the restaurant of beer, food, and merchandise.
But, as Brew Wërks dies, another idea opens.
Craft Kitchen and Brewery, the replacement for Old Mill Brew Wërks, is already moving along at a blistering pace to take over what the failed brewery left behind.
“It’s a different group of owners, a different business plan, and a different projection of how we want our restaurant to operate,” said Courtney Stevens, owner of Craft. “We’re going to rebrand and strive for a fresh start and a new outlook.”
She said the company aiming for a “roots revival” relaunch, starting with scaling the brewhouse down from 10-barrels to 3 1/2 barrels and bringing McMahon back to the team.
“We are going to make beer for Bendites, and only for Bendites,” Stevens said, adding that the focus will be on interesting and unique beers, including reduced gluten options.

Craft Kitchen and Bar's new 3.5 bbl brewing system. Courtesy Craft Kitchen and Bar.

Craft Kitchen and Bar’s new 3.5 bbl brewing system. Courtesy Craft Kitchen and Bar.

It’s not just the beer getting a remodel: the restaurant will be experiencing a facelift as well. Where pricey entrees and rich burgers used to exist, now Stevens said the menu will fill with local offerings priced affordably and charcuterie.
With a brewing system designed by McMahon and Mathew Mulder (former owner of Phat Matt’s, story to come hopefully) and manufactured in the good ol’ USA, Stevens said McMahon is going to have full creative control of the brewery with some staples but plenty of unique beers to play with. Distribution won’t be a focus, but kegs could see their way around town or the region.
“Overall, we’re really focused on the locals,” Stevens said. “We want to get some home and amateur brewers involved with the process. We want to get the community involved with the process, because that’s what we’re here for—we’re community centric.”

Branden Andersen, AKA The Beer Detective, has been working in the craft beer industry since he turned 21. Starting as a blogger (www.thebeerdetective.wordpress.com) and moving through publications as a featured writer, he now works for Worthy Brewing Company in Bend, OR while freelancing for multiple publications on the side.

3 Comments

  1. LOL

    January 8, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Sorry but no thanx…. Too much bad blood!!!

  2. buzz_kill

    May 3, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    has anyone mentioned that “Craft” is the most vigorously defended trademark in the entire food and beverage world? some bald guy who is a Top Chef judge happens to own that brand and is not shy about sending cease-and-desist letters to protect his reputation and hard work. or is getting sued part of the marketing plan?

  3. marsha p.

    May 24, 2015 at 2:46 am

    “We are going to make beer for Bendites, and only for Bendites,” Stevens said. are you serious? so, you’re going to turn away tourists and foreign looking people, people who haven’t lived here from more than 20 years and pass a written test? and people who don’t grown their own veggies and make their own hemp clothing? this is the ultimate in absurdity of the “super local-local” marketing movement. if we were to ask the owners if they were born here in Bend, what would they say? I call bullshit on the local-local marketing angle. because that’s what it is…marketing b.s.

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