By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
There are lakes with landlocked salmon (they can’t get away!). There are huge fields of volcanic basalt and obsidian to explore. There are rivers that flow right through the middle of cities. There are unique Old West towns with horse rails. Best of all, any day/week/month in Central Oregon could include a visit to more than two dozen local breweries, many of which are expanding. Here’s an update on what’s happening in Central Oregon’s beer world this summer:
To the Sky and Beyond
Roger Worthington, Worthy Brewing’s owner, is watching his part of the universe expand — by 7,500 square feet, to be precise. The brewery and restaurant campus on the east side of Bend is growing to include a three-story observatory, topped off with a telescope that will connect the earthbound to the skies. The observatory is a silo-like structure rising at the edge of the brewery’s new covered outside patio on the ground floor. An open-air bar on a deck outside the second floor is also under construction and due for completion this summer.
Worthy Brewing’s expansion adds seating for at least 100 more patrons on the 2,400 square foot deck, according to Seth E. Anderson, architect at Ascent Architecture & Interiors. Details include custom furniture, lighting, circular staircases and unique bi-fold garage doors. A new banquet hall will also be a part of the $3.5 million renovation.
Monkless on the Move
Monkless Belgian Ales has moved their former 1-barrel, garage-based operation to a lucky space in Bend’s Northeast business district. The new location is not open to the public yet, but the building on High Desert Lane was once the home of 10 Barrel Brewing’s original shop. Chris and Jeremy Cox, former owners of 10 Barrel before it sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev last year, still own the building and have leased it to Monkless.
Monkless’ owner and head brewer Todd Clement, an organic chemist who graduated from University of California, Davis, spent the first 18 years of his post-college career missing his obvious connection to brewing, working instead in the pharmaceutical industry and then for a software company. His travels took him to Belgium, and his work brought him to Bend. “I grew to love Belgians,” he said. Clement started the brewery in 2014 with his friend Kirk Meckem, but recently purchased Meckem’s interest in the company. With a 10-barrel brew house in place, Clement in April gave up his full-time job and is now focusing on getting the expanded brewery online.
Demand for Belgians has increased in Central Oregon, as evidenced by presence of the style at other outlets like 10 Barrel Brewing, Bend Brewing Company and Crux Fermentation Project, Clement said. Already, Monkless has won kudos for its Pour Pour Pitiful Me, a high-alcohol quadruple fermented on cherries.
Watch for more Monkless in the months to come in Central Oregon brew pubs including Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails, and White Water Taphouse in Bend. The beers are also on tap at The Abbey Bar & Bottle Shop in Portland.
Kobold Sells to More Outlets
How do you turn a quaint, Craftsman-style home in a quiet neighborhood into a quaint, craft-style brewery? Ask Steve Anderson of Bend’s Kobold Brewing. His 2-barrel system is tucked into an 800-square-foot building that looks like it came with his historic house, but was actually designed specifically for its purpose. Above the tight brewery is a second-story sales room with a small, sunny deck that looks like the perfect place for a cold beer on a hot day.
The shiny, new 2-barrel brewery is not open the public, but Kobold beers are on tap in the region. Anderson, a retired air traffic controller, originally got his college degree in architecture. He used those latent skills to design his brewery.
Anderson sold his first Kobold brews in December 2015 to Platypus Pub in Bend. Today, Anderson counts about a dozen outlets that carry his beer, including all three Baldy’s Barbeques, The Lot, Growler Guys, Broken Top Bottle Shop, White Water Tap House, Pour House Grill, Primal Cuts Meat Market/Growler Phil’s and Big Dog Growlers. By June, you may find any one of his three stouts, an IPA, a CDA, a blonde, a couple of red ales and an ISA on tap.
By Branden Andersen
For Oregon Beer Growler
There is something for just about every taste profile in Bend’s beer scene. From the perfectly hoppy Boneyard to the classic Deschutes, all the way from Crux’s experimentation to Ale Apothecary’s funky creations, beer drinkers from every corner can find something within the city limits.
Except for Todd Clement and Kirk Meckem, founders of Monkless Belgian Ales, who thought Bend was missing one particular branch of the beer tree.
“If there ever were any Belgian-style beers, they were limited release,” Meckem said. “We were trying to keep beer on our kegerator rather than buying a bunch of bottles.”
Around 2006, Clement and Meckem met while living in Bend’s west side Mt. Washington neighborhood. After discovering they both had a passion for Belgian-style brews, they started going in together on beers. Like many Bend-ites do, Clement and Meckem decided if they wanted to have Belgian beers all the time they would have to take matters into their own hands and start homebrewing.
The two friends didn’t waste any time chasing their goal. Their first brew was an extract Belgian tripel, a style known for its copious amounts of malt flavor and alcohol.
“We knew what we wanted and we just decided to go for it,” Clement said.
After that, Clement and Meckem did two more batches — a Belgian dubbel and tripel — before they decided to switch to all grain. And at that point, they say, it was only a matter of time before they started looking toward selling their beer commercially.
“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.”
The process started in 2011, when Clement and Meckem started taking the suggestions seriously. They turned Clement’s former sub-garage into their future brewery, purchased a 1-barrel system, and started brewing while working through the maze of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau licenses and regulations. Clement, a former process chemist, worked to make sure that the beers they made on their smaller system translated to the 1-barrel system.
“Every batch we put through has come out better than the beers we made on a smaller scale,” Clement said. “We’re still working the kinks out, but we’re really happy with the beer we’re making now.”
While Clement, now a software product manager, handles the quality control of the business; Meckem, a financial insurance representative, will take care of the sales and business building.
“We saw a need,” Clement said. “From our perspective, we see the success of (Crux’s Belgian-style ale) Double Cross as a data point that Bend wants Belgian beers.”
“It’s daunting,” Meckem added. “But everyone tasting our beers says we have to sell it. I really think there’s room for it.”
The addition of Monkless Belgian Ales makes 27 breweries in Central Oregon, 19 of which are in Bend proper.
Monkless is looking take handle space at local businesses for their first beer, “Dubbel or Nothing,” a 7% ABV drinkable Belgian dubbel. Meckem said the most consistent place to find their beer is on Humm Kombucha’s taps, but they hope to expand.
Right now, Clement and Meckem are working on draft-only to keep from complicating the process. But don’t count out bottles for their age-friendly styles.
“It’s going to be one step at a time,” Meckem said. “We’ve got to make sure we put one foot in front of the other, because we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. But we feel that we’re putting out good, unique beer and Bend will respond to that.”
Being in their garage, Monkless Belgian Ales’ tasting room is not open to the public. For more information, refer to the brewery’s Facebook page.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.