Central Oregon’s New Crop of Breweries & Beer Bars

I am on a much needed vacation in Bend, and while I suspect many of you are familiar with the many great breweries here (Deschutes, Boneyard, Ale Apothecary, GoodLife, Sunriver, etc.), there are a few new places not many have heard of. In Bend and nearby Redmond there are at least seven new or upcoming breweries, as well as new offshoots or pubs from local favorites adding to the already incredibly robust beer scene.

Porter Brewing Co. recently opened in a new development of Redmond and is especially of note, as it is just the second Oregon brewery with a focus on cask ales. I wrote about Porter Brewing Co. and its commitment to proper cask serving techniques while exploring un-traditional styles earlier this year. Read the full writeup here and pay the place a visit when rolling through town.

Geist Beer Works is another new brewery that just opened in Redmond this past August with a 4.5 barrel brewhouse. There is a small taproom located in a concrete industrial space and apparently the owners formerly had another brewery called Copper Canyon Brewing in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and have brought that brewhouse to Geist. I didn’t get to stop by, but the lineup seems to be primarily fruited, big and barrel-aged beers and double IPAs. Geist is also contract brewing for another little startup called Braveheart Brewing. http://www.facebook.com/Geist-Beerworks-195965234447030/

Mystic Roots Brewing (formerly launched under the name Good Earth Brewing) is yet another Redmond startup, but what makes this one unique is its attachment to Smith Rock Hop Farm. The owners Clare Thompson and Natalie Hoshaw of the just three-year-old and one acre hop farm have founded the brewery with hop breeder and brewer Miles Wilhelm. Mystic Roots is awaiting final permitting, but plans to brew stuff like krieks, saisons and barrel-aged imperial stouts on a just one barrel brewhouse with hopes to expand to a 7bbl if successful. http://mysticrootsbrewing.com/

Initiative Brewing is looking to become a full brewpub with lots of outdoor seating, a full kid-friendly menu, and large fire pit just south of the downtown area in Redmond. First it will take some serious work in renovating the former Juniper Bank building, which doesn’t allow for a kitchen. Still, the owners are bullish on their prospects, as they have already published a full food menu on their website from which they plan to operate out of a mobile kitchen (not food carts.) They have secured a brewer from Rogue, and owner Ryan Churchill was strangely quoted in a Redmond Spokesman article proclaiming the following:

“We looked at breweries all across the state,” said the energetic Churchill. “Some are making some pretty awful beer and they’re growing at an exponential rate.”

Churchill also goes onto claim with confidence that the beers will be similar to Boneyard IPA and Block 15 Sticky Hands. Even stranger, he says the brewery will pursue a self-distribution model (which is not strange), but he says it is “unique to the industry.” I guess time will tell with Initiative Brewing.

Boss Rambler Beer Club is one of Bend’s newest breweries and is still in the soft opening phase. The oddly named brewery has purchased the former Ascent Board Shop on Galveston right between Sunriver Brewing and the 10 Barrel Brewing pub. Currently there is a beer garden and draft window open as long as the decent weather lasts. Usually there are just a couple of rotating house beers available, guest brewed at Silver Moon Brewing while Boss Rambler is working on getting its own brewery up and running on a local farm. Boss Rambler does have some experience behind it with Matt Moletta, the former sales manager for Crux Fermentation Project and a former Crux brewer, Jacob Bansmer, doing the brewing. The brewery’s initial offerings are hazy single and Double IPAs and there are already cans of the OH, HANA double dry-hopped hazy IPA available. Soon the beer window will close for the season while the crew builds out a full pub inside and works on getting the brewery operational. I stopped by the window and talked to Bansmer for a while about lagers, and he seems really keen to get into Pilsner brewing down the line, so it won’t all be hazy IPA. http://www.facebook.com/BOSSRAMBLERBEERCLUB/

Bevel Craft Brewing will attempt to convert a disc golf fan base into a brewery fan base wen it opens in Bend, likely sometime in early 2019. Founded by professional disc golfers Nate and Valarie (Jenkins) Doss, the website proclaims they are among the “most recognizable professional disc golfers in the world” and combined have seven professional world championship titles and two junior world championship titles. Bevel is currently finishing construction on its own building for a taproom and brewery on the eastside of Bend. The Dosses plan to focus on hops, hops, and more hops, which should go over well with the hoppy outdoors-obsessed Bend crowd. http://www.bevelbeer.com/

Spider City Brewing is the most mysterious new brewery in Bend. I hadn’t heard a thing about it until I saw the small sign off the alleyway in downtown Bend next to Tin Pan Theater. Right next to the alleyway entrance to the theater is The Wine Shop and Beer Tasting Bar, which now also serves as Spider City Brewing’s interim tasting room. Strangely there is almost no information to be found on this brewery, though there is a webpage and a facebook page. Even the Bend locals don’t know much, but it appears that Spider City Brewing is producing at an off-site location with future tasting room and the wine bar has about six of its beers on tap, which range from standard pale ales and porters to a smoked beer. I popped in for a taste of Spider City’s beers, but the bartender mostly ignored me, and when I finally did get his attention, I found that they wanted an outlandish $13 for four 3oz tasters of their beer. Out of principal I decided to move on and wait until they figure things out a bit better. http://www.facebook.com/spidercitybrewing/

Boneyard Beer Pub is the long awaited but just recently opened Boneyard Brewing pub with a full restaurant, large outdoor patio, and two indoor bars. The Boneyard Pub has replaced the brewery’s small tasting room, which was always insanely busy. The old room was a samples-only affair in the center of town, but the new spot offers a much more complete experience. Out front of the pub is plenty of covered outdoor seating with heaters, and along the side is multiple wood fire pits. Inside there are numerous seating areas and two bars. The main front room is counter service and you order a beer and food there and they deliver it to your table. What’s also unique is you can make your order online or via text message and they will deliver it to you without you having to get up. There is also a bottle, can, and merch/retail counter and a back lounge area where you can sit at the bar or in big circular black leather booths in an area that’s reminiscent of a biker pub.

Worthy Taps & Tacos is the new downtown outpost of Bend’s Worthy Brewing. This small offshoot taproom is right across from Drake Park off of Bond St. and is surprisingly low key when compared to the lavishness of Worthy’s main facility. I stopped into Taps & Tacos and actually found its simplicity to be welcome; you just order at the counter and grab a number. There is a small bar in a one room space with a selection of about a dozen Worthy beers on tap and coolers for bottles and cans to-go. Like any traditional taqueria, there is a wide selection of traditional meats, sauces, veggies and salsa/hot sauce bar. Again, they go for simplicity on the menu, though there are plenty of options; you can order a single taco for $5 or three for $12, which is expensive, but they were also quite good and sizeable. They offer sides like salads and wings and I really enjoyed my food paired with a great new lager called Sport Pilsner from the brewery that I hadn’t seen before. Worthy is worth checking out for a casual bites and beers and the slight upcharge on tacos is probably due to its prime tourist area location. 806 Brooks Suite 110 Bend, Oregon 97703

On Tap – Bend is a new taproom, beer garden and food cart pod in the Mountain View neighborhood of Bend’s eastside, a little past the Pilot Butte Middle School and almost right in the midst of the St. Charles Health System Center sprawling business park. For being located in basically a big commercial business park this space is beautiful on a great day. On Tap is a sprawling grassy patio surrounding a small covered, brick-and-mortar beer bar with a sizable selection of over 30 rotating drafts of beer, cider, wine, kombucha and cold brew. There are numerous picnic tables, a fire pit, grass seating, a cornhole field and tons of space for adults and kiddos alike to play with surrounding parking and six food carts. Not sure if this spot is anything without the good weather, though; they do have a tented covered area, but it’s small and nothing special. Still, that beer garden and the food truck options are fantastic. 1424 NE Cushing Dr. Bend, OR 97701

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