By Carlos Perez
Quite a bit has been written about Bend’s Boneyard Brewery – rightfully so, the talented crew over at Boneyard craft some of the tastiest brew around. Their top seller? R.P.M. A hop forward and well balanced IPA that just tastes great. It’s actually been such a big hit, that they needed more room just to keep up w/ demand. More room to the tune of 15,000 sq.ft. Enter the (mostly) RPM factory.
I met up with Tony Lawrence late November for a tour of the new brewery, located over on the north side of town surrounded by other commercial enterprises – somewhat of a departure from the original brewery spot downtown. It just so happened that Clay Storey (partner) was there at the time so that was a bonus. Boneyard’s new space is significantly larger than the the Lake Place location - way more elbow room for sure. By the looks of it these guys are now even more committed to producing copious amounts of beer for all the “Boneheads” (like me) out there.
Expansion: The Boneyard Way
New year new brewery! So, new brewery, new equipment right? Nope. Staying true to the Boneyard way, much of the brewing equipment has had some previous lovin’. The 40 bbl system was originally from Bert Grant’s (a craft beer pioneer in his own right) brewery in Yakima, Washington, which then worked its way down to Mexicali, Mexico, and back up to Bend – the copper kettle is a beauty. Other items in and around the brewery from the Mexicali deal include the whirlpool, bucket elevator, and grain silo. Most of the brewery components will be used for sure. There are four 100 bbl fermenters and two 200 bbl fermenters both from Sweetwater Brewery in Atlanta, a mix of Newlands (from Canada, eh) and Mueller (USA) tanks. The Mueller tanks are burley! Although the brewery system wasn’t completely dialed in when I was there, I could see the makings of a sweet full production brewery in progress. Tony also mentioned they had plans to install some massive garage doors that were previously part of the Sisters Fire Station.
In addition to the used equipment, there’s some new stuff too. Tony was particularly stoked on a G&D Chillers Glycol system which stood outside the facility waiting to be installed. The brewery floors, oh my. The floors were a pretty penny, but they wanted to do it right. Once the tanks go in, there’s no chance to upgrade the flooring, right? The original floors were demolished and removed, digging followed, rebar was then placed, and a drain system installed. The floors were designed with a slopes for easy drainage and then a special top coat was applied. It’s one of the nicest brewery floors I have seen. The next big install is the catwalk, which should fit in nicely.
Life-Friendly Production Schedule
The new brewery is set up primarily for production, and Tony has the numbers figured out. The plan? 40,000 bbl a year. That’s no random number. It’s based on several things, obviously the equipment, but also the Boneyard crew. The idea is pretty simple: 3 brews a day, Monday - Friday, no more weekend brewing and no more graveyard shifts. This will allow the brewers to meet the market demand, focus more on their family beers like Bone-a-fied and Armored Fist, have time to make some special brews, and have some free time to boot. Sounds good to me, but they’ll have to see how it actually plays out.
‘Live Up to Our Own Expectation’
More is more, but enough is enough. Now that Boneyard’s capacity to brew has pretty much quadrupled, you’d think that their goal is to continue to expand all over the place like several craft breweries have. But as Tony said “We want to continue to make good beer that can live up to our expectations and do our own thing.” And that thing may just mean getting beer to the good people of the Northwest and that’s it. Tony wants to keep Boneyard a well-oiled, finely-tuned machine and has high expectations on quality production. That translates to focused distribution of draught beer – canning is out, and bottles are on the distant, distant horizon, “We’re sticking to draught,” says Tony. Even with the new expansion, Boneyard is a “Sold Out” brewery, keeping up with orders is challenging enough, and producing anything else than draught is secondary. So for now keeping it simple is the plan.
That’s not to say that you couldn’t possibly one day get a Boneyard in a bottle tho, but not just any bottle. Beautifully painted, wax-topped liters or magnums filled with limited edition special brews (There happens to be a EASU & HUEBER filler station tucked away in the new building). But don’t hold your breath, it could be at least a year before this thought even manifests into a bottle in your hand.
Behind the new brewing facility is an older warehouse, pretty nondescript actually – less the Mexicali grain silo that stands next to it. However the closer you get, Boneyardiness sets in. Parked out front is a most excellent 1954 Buick Super that needs some TLC. As you enter, there are motorcycles: a chopper, a cafe bike, a dual sport, a motorized bike of some sort – all in various states of disrepair/repair, again, waiting for some TLC. It’s part garage, part keg storage, part workshop, all awesome. This is also where they’ll continue to hand make make their tap handles. With the move to the new brewery, Boneyard has successfully managed to bring some of the soul of what makes Boneyard Boneyard, and it resides quite nicely in what Tony calls “The Clubhouse”. I glance at Tony, and back again at the custom chopper waiting for some parts, mainly the motor – he say’s with a smile “I like horsepower and torque”, now the name R.P.M. set’s in. It’s apparent that this is where the playground will be, and if Clay, Tony, and the rest of the crew find the time, some of these bikes and that Buick will one day see the road again.
On the short walk back to the main brewery I notice what looks to be like scrap steel. Tony tells me that the pieces are steel from tank cradles. But they will not go to waste, they’ll make tables out of it. Another project, when time allows.
Boneyard has made the leap. With the combined efforts of the entire Boneyard crew and Tony, Clay & Melodee (Clay’s wife) at the helm, Boneyard has grown into a thriving full production craft brewing business in just over 3 years. If there’s one beer that helped pave the way, it would have to be R.P.M., and once you’ve had that, you’ll soon come to be a fan of all their other brews as well. And R.P.M. fans can rest assured that over the years the recipe has stayed true with only minor tweaks in process for clarity, and a .5% shift in ABV for drinkability.
For 2014, keep you eyes peeled for some Boneyard sour beers, as well as a collaboration with Widmer – it’s their 30th year Anniversary and only a handful of breweries were chosen to collaborate, Boneyard being one of them. Brew 1 will continue to operate and focus on specialty beers. The tap room will remain open to the public and people are encouraged to get their fill over there.
( a ) 37 NW Lake Pl, Bend
( p ) 541-323-2325
(h) 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every day
Owners: Clay and Melodee Storey and Tony Lawrence.
Brewer: Tony Lawrence
Note: The new brewery is not yet open to the pubic
By Carlos Perez
The Oregon Beer Growler crew and I had a chance to meet up with Ken Brown from 1188 Brewing Company in December. One of the first questions we asked about was the name 1188. Well it turns out, it’s a combination of two of the brewery founders fathers’ bib numbers from racing snowmobiles in the 1970s and 80s! But of course we would have known that if we visited their brew pub in John Day, which recently opened its doors (August 30, 2013) after taking six months to convert a former office supply store to a brewery.
Besides snowmobiling there was another inspiration behind the start-up, a pint of beer, or maybe two or three. Ken tells us he and his partner (Jeremy Adair) were looking around as they enjoyed a pint over at 10 Barrel one fine Indian Summer day and decided they too wanted to have a brewery of their own. So with little to no experience in the industry they decided to start with a little home brewing, and quickly jumped right into a SABCO Brew Magic system. And before you know it, they too were brewers! After brewing about twenty or so different batches, with a little hiccup along the way with a water filtration system (which they no longer use), they were good to go. But as Ken mentioned, it was all “Time well spent.” That phrase adorns the pub walls and is something Ken holds close. As he mentioned “Whether your brewing, drinking or serving beer - it’s time well spent.” I agree!
Ken’s schedule as a fireman allows for ample time at the brew pub where he helps any way he can – from brewing on their 2 bbl system named Mork & Mindy (which nets about 55 gallons regularly), to occasionally driving to Redmond and back to pick up some brewing essentials.
According to Ken, they have 7 solid beers. Ken was kind enough to bring by a couple of growlers, the one I tried was an IPA “Leaf Dropper.” He also mentioned a Habenero infused Red Ale, an Orange Honey Hefeweizen, and a planned Lemongrass Lager for the summer.
Currently the only place to get a 1188 brew is at their Brewpub in John Day. But Ken says they have plans in store over the next few years with a larger and possibly a 10-barrel system that would allow for some distribution.
I hope to make it out to his brewery sooner than later, it sounds like a nice place for a pint. Cheers!
1188 Brewing Co.
( a ) 141 E. Main Street, John Day
( p ) 541-575-1188
(h) 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Weds - Sat.
Owners: Ken and Jennifer Brown and Shannon and Jeremy Adair
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.