Todd Clement and Kirk Meckem, former neighbors in a westside Bend neighborhood, bonded after a shared love of Belgian-style beers. Clement—a software product manager—and Meckem—an insurance agent—decided they didn’t want to spend so much money on beers for the kegerator when it wasn’t what they wanted to drink.
So, they purchased an extract homebrew kit and together made a Belgian Trippel.
About 3 years later, the two have licensed Bend’s first Belgian-only brewery, Monkless Belgian Ales.
“Every time we had friends over trying our beer, they would tell us we had to start selling it,” Meckem said. “You hear that enough times, and you start to seriously consider it.”
Still in Clement’s garage area, Monkless’s one-barrel system pulled together a batch of Dubbel in preparation for the grand opening event on Black Friday at Humm Kombucha, where the brewery will debut “Dubbel or Nothing.”
Using the year required to get proper licensing by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), Clement and Meckem converted a former “man cave” (complete with a kegerator and pool table) into the brewery, installing a center floor drain and stainless steel sink area.
Clement, who is a former process chemist with two degrees in chemistry, focuses on consistency between batches. After work took him to Antwerp on a couple of occasions, he developed a love of the beer and culture that came with it.
Although yeast management and biochemistry is a new field for him, Clement said he’s excited to open the door.
“It’s a whole new animal for me,” he said. “But, it’s all very interesting to me and I want to learn more about it.”
Todd Clement and Kirk Meckem stand by their 1 barrel brewing system.
Meckem, who will focus more on the sales and marketing aspect, said he’s excited to get the beer out there in front of Bend residents and get feedback about the beer.
“It’s daunting,” Meckem said. “But, I think there’s room for it. Everyone has an empty tap somewhere.”
Monkless adds to the regional brewery count—27 in Central Oregon and 19 in Bend proper.
They said they haven’t had the opportunity to network with many of the other brewers around town, but instead use their successes and failures as learning moments: Crux’s Belgian-style Dubbel, Double Cross, from the [BANISHED] series is widely successful and recreated, as are many of the beers from Dean Wise’s Below Grade brewery, which he is still running out of his Northwest Crossing garage.
Right now, Monkless will be working on tastings around town, starting with Humm Kombucha. But, the crew is working out an event at The Wine Shop and Tasting Bar for First Friday and returning to Humm Kombucha on December 4.
Also, Monkless is strictly served on tap—for now. Clement and Meckem know that many Belgian beers get better with age, so they aren’t ruling it out yet.
“We like to save a couple of bottles each time,” Clement said. “We just recently opened a beer we’ve had sitting for a year. It was fantastic.”
For more information, visit Monkless’ facebook page.
Monkless Belgian Ales