Craft beer drinkers in Bend, Oregon, will finally be able to answer the question, “Am I Worthy?” when Worthy Brewing Co.opens to the public today, February 4th. Worthy’s been filling almost 3 acres on Bend’s east side withhop gardens and a greenhouse, a beer garden,a stone hearth oven, a large and inviting tasting room, and a cavernous, high-tech production facility.
Two things are immediately evident upon arrival: Worthy Brewing absolutely did not start small, and the place did not cut any corners. The brewery is over 30,000 square feet, and can produce upwards of 60,000 barrels of beer per year. As Worthy’s Brewmaster Chad Kennedy puts it: “We’re not just a brewpub. We have plans.” The founders thought of everything, and they figured out how to do it with a sustainable footprint. Windows face west to capture afternoon sunlight, 75% of their power comes from solar, and there is an on-site wastewater treatment plant. Foods and ingredients come from a few miles, if not a few feet, away from the kitchen. Worthy went well above and beyond what was required to keep its impact on the community positive.
The tasting room is comfortable and impeccably furnished, and intricate tile work reminds you where you are. A long, L-shaped bar (made with wood sourced from a famous Oregon insane asylum) guides you toward the glass wall that separates the restaurant from the production area. With 150 seats inside, the decor is upscale and underscores Worthy’s attention to detail–every beer even has its own size and shape of glass to perfectly enhance its aesthetic characteristics.
Worthy Brewing Co. aims to be a place the whole family can enjoy, with make-your-own-pizza and mac-n-cheese options on the kid’s menu, outdoor bocce ball courts, and movies shown on the wall outside in the warmer months. A root beer will be joining the menu soon, and rumors of live music and an upcoming fashion show should give anyone a good reason to test their Worth.
When it’s warm, it’s time to head outside to the quarter-acre beer garden, or perhaps stroll by the hop garden and greenhouse to meet some of the uber-fresh ingredients of tomorrow’s ales and meals. Worthy has partnered with Oregon State University and Oregon farmers to grow hops on-site, opening the door to research and experimentation that will culminate in even more flavors to enjoy. Meats from Redmond and cheese from Prineville will round out the locally-sourced menu.
Regardless of whether a brewery starts out in a kitchen or an airplane hangar, it’s all about the end product, the beer. Worthy’s first batch is appropriately named GTX for Go Time Extra Pale, and it serves as a solid home base for a pale-heavy quartet of initial offerings. You won’t hear any complaints in Central Oregon, where hoppy beers are currently very popular among local brewers.
Where the GTX showcases its smooth spice from the use of Sterling hops, Worthy’s East Side Pale goes a maltier, dry-hopped route. With 6.0% ABV and a 50 on the IBU scale, the ESP is a cross between an ESB and an American Pale ale.
The heftiest of the first wave of pales is the Worthy IPA. This is an American-style IPA that is all about balance and aromatics. At 6.9% ABV and 69 IBUs, the Worthy IPA uses Meridian and Crystal hops to produce a tropical feel with a crisp and refreshing finish.
On the darker side, Worthy offers up Lights Out Stout – a black hybrid stout with hints of vanilla, oats, and chocolate malt. Be careful: while you’re smiling and calling this stout “sweet”, its 7.7% ABV is listening… and waiting.
All of this highly-anticipated beer sampling will surely increase your appetite, and this is where Worthy kicks it up a notch: the same zeal used in creating the beers is also brought to the world of pizza with a Wood Stone oven. An artistic masterpiece itself, the oven creates mini works-of-art by blending flavors of different types of wood with the unique stone. The chefs will apply their artistry to everything from beer-inspired pizza crusts to soups and appetizers.
The process of canning beer is steadily growing among craft breweries, and Worthy will be ready to do just that by this spring. The brewery plans to produce 12- and 16-ounce cans, and will have the capacity to put out 3,000 cans per hour. Not only is canning cheaper, but it makes the fruits of the brewers’ labor much more portable to the out-of-doors, not to mention protecting the beer from all that sunlight you’re out enjoying. Keep an eye open for cans of Worthy IPA and a new Kölsch by summer.
From adhering to green building practices like rainwater collection and utilizing good ole “High Desert AC”, to creating a cycling club, to providing jobs to the area, Worthy Brewing aims to make a positive and healthy mark on the Central Oregon community and beyond. Be sure to check out the “soft opening” on February 4th from 11am to 10pm, and remember to save some worthiness for the Grand Opening on February 26th.