5 Questions with Goodlife Brewing’s Tyler West

Tyler West

Tyler West is a native of Boise, Idaho who fell in love with Oregon after attending a Pontiac GTO Rally in Bend with his dad in the late nineties. Today he is the Head Brewer at Bend’s Goodlife Brewing that just finished a year of highs and lows with a Gold medal win at the Great American Beer Festival but also the tragic loss of co-founder Curt Plants. Goodlife Brewing was founded in 2011 and quietly became a powerhouse of a production brewery that could not keep up with their popular canned beers like the newly gold medal crowned “Sweet As” Pale Ale with wheat and “Descender IPA.”

West moved to Bend at 20 years old and was attending Central Oregon Community College. Tyler fell in love with Oregon right away “it was the ideal state to live in with Alpine mountains, Dense tree’d forests, High Deserts and the Oregon Coast!” says West. It wasn’t long before he became interested in homebreweing and was quickly offered a part-time job at the local homebrew shop that would later spawn Bend’s Silver Moon Brewing. His time at The Homebrewer (later renamed The Brew Shop) opened his mind to a point where he “immediately grasped at the concept of working in a brewery.” West became so embroiled in the homebrew scene he helped co-found “COHO” the Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization back in 2006.  A few years later West’s was tired of hitting up his friends who worked at Deschutes Brewery for knowledge so he pulled together enough money to go to Chicago and brewing school at the Siebel Institute. He returned to Bend and continued to work at Silver Moon Brewing until the Spring of 2012 when he went to work for Oakshire Brewing in Eugene. After working for three and a half years under Oakshire Brewmaster Matt van Wyk, West was promoted to Director of Brewery operations in 2015 after Wyk left to pursue opening his own Alesong Brewing & Blending in 2015. After a stint as head at Oakshire, West returned to Bend to take a job at Goodlife Brewing in January of 2017.

I remember meeting Curt Plants, and Ty Barnett [founders of Goodlife] in 2011. When I learned they were going to start a brewery, I followed them closely” remembers West. After learning they were going to open a production brewery with a 4-vessel, 30 bbl brewhouse West immediately submitted his resume. “I really wanted to get out of pub brewing, and go to work for a production plant, with a team atmosphere, and what they were building was exactly that.” Though Goodlife Brewing didnt immediately hire West, he asked them to keep his resume on hand and call him when they were ready. “5 years, and several conversations later, we were able to come to an agreement.  After 5 years at Oakshire Brewing in Eugene, I moved back to Bend,” says West about the gig he has had since just January of 2017 and not long before he helped lead the team to their first GABF gold medal in October as Goodlife’s Head Brewer.

This is chapter nine in a monthly-ish series in which we check in with brewers on what they are drinking, eating, enjoying and what’s currently bubbling away in their fermenters.

Bend’s Goodlife Brewing brings home GABF Gold for their Sweet As Pale Ale

Q: What are your favorite beers right now? (Goodlife and others)?

Tyler West: Other than Sweet As!  My favorite beers right now are some of the barrel aged beers, and experimental IPA’s we have been working on at GoodLife.  I am really happy with how our Ale Apothecary collaboration turned out, “Brett Lager”  I like drinking beer made by my friends!  I drink beer made by my former co-workers and friends, and they all continue to blow me away!  Oakshire, Alesong, Barley Browns, Deschutes and Sunriver beers are all awesome, the list goes on and on!

Q: What is the brewing/beer scene like in Bend as compared to Eugene or Portland?

TW: This is a tough one, I brewed beer at Oakshire brewing in Eugene for 5 years, where I learned a ton about the industry.  This was my first production job, where before I left I was the Director of Brewing Operations.  This was a huge accomplishment, because I remember it being so difficult to get a job in Bend before I left in 2012.  I moved back to Bend 5 years later in January of 2017, and a lot has changed.  There are several production plants now which have grown from brewpubs, or small production facilities.  There are also a lot of new startups which has the market in a little confusion.  I feel like when I visit Portland, and Eugene, I see a very diversified community of beer drinkers, who visit a variety of breweries, taprooms, and beer bars.  In Bend, it is not unlikely to feel a drinking team type dedication.  It is easy for someone to have a great experience at one of Bend’s several great breweries, or just out and about with a sales, marketing, or brewer person, and become hooked to that brand.  Its kind of like being a part of a Branded Beer drinking team!  It’s really cool, because it creates a modest competitiveness for us Brewers, to earn those accolades of who’s wearing our hat type deal!

Q: What is the most interesting or exciting thing going on in Bend or Central Oregon?

TW: I think the most exciting thing going on in Bend right now is the outdoor scene.  Everywhere you go, there are people outside branded in Beer Gear!  Mtn. Bike trailheads all year long, up at Mt.Bachelor, and the snoparks surrounding in the Winter, and lakes and rivers in the summer and fall.  Everywhere, there are people drinking beer and just enjoying themselves, and their lifestyles!  People are hardcore in Central Oregon,  they work hard, and Play even Harder, with a beer in hand!<

Q: What is new or fresh on draft or bottle now from Goodlife?

TW: We worked all last year on our Secret Stash Experimental IPA series, which was super fun and we got pretty creative with it.  This year we a re focusing on one Secret Stash release, draught only, in the Spring.  This will be a Hazy IPA this time around.  Yes, our friends are all doing it, so we wanted to showcase our (The Brew Teams) talents and make a Hazy beer as well.  We do have some pretty awesome hops as well, and wanted to showcase these in our 2018 Secret Stash.

Q: What beers do you have in the tanks right now or in the works to be made?

TW: We will be focusing this spring on a couple barrel aged projects as well as getting ready for our new spring releases.  The main one is we are releasing Comatose Imperial IPA in a 6 pack can!  We are super stoked to be putting an Imperial IPA in a can, and not just a single serve bottle.  This is exciting for us, as we have been making this Imperial IPA since the beginning, one of our local favorites, and now we can go to the wholesale market with Comatose, and spread the love in a can throughout the state!

Goodlife Brewing is expanding their 500ml bottle lineup with Pass Stout, AM Stout, Evil Sister Double IPA, Redside IRA and Puffy Coat Porter in 2018. Comatose Imperial IPA is now year-round in cans. Last but not least Goodlife is adding to their QA/QC program for quality control on all their beers without farming it out of house.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com