By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
Darin and Meghann Butschy have big plans.
The husband-and-wife team behind Oblivion Brewing Co. shared their first beers during a release party at Broken Top Bottle Shop last summer, where they poured Polar Star Pale Ale (a classic NW pale, light-bodied and moderately hopped), Backside IPA (with four varieties of whole flower hops, named after the backside of Mt. Bachelor) and Knockout Stout (rich coffee & chocolate notes, with 14 different barley malts). After the warm reception in the Bend community, the Butschys are now busy making more beer together.
In early June, they brewed their 100th batch of beer called the Quintessential Centennial Ale, an ISA.
“My dream was to be a brewer and retire at age 50,” Darin says. “Obviously since I’m already 45 I’ve still got work to do, but at least I’m living my dream!”
Darin attended high school in Walnut Creek, Calif., and traded science experiments for homebrewing. While the first beer he made was not drinkable (he screwed up the mash), he has come a long way since. At 17 years old, he was washing kegs at Devil Mountain Brewing Company, which opened in 1987 in California.
Under the guidance of brewmaster Jim DeBoer, who now works for Samuel Adams, Darin quickly honed his brewing skills. He became head brewer at SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo, Calif., working there from 1989-1994 for Dr. Michael Hoffman. During that time, Darin also attended California Polytechnic State University to study chemistry with the intent of gaining even more brewing knowledge; he graduated in 1994.
After moving to Bend, Darin had several cooking jobs, then later worked in construction installing rain gutters, always with the dream of owning his own brewery. When he met Meghann in 2000, she brought the computer and business skills needed to help start their own business. It took some time for all of the pieces to come together, but Darin’s dream was finally realized last year. Operating out of an 1,100 square-foot warehouse in northeast Bend, and brewing on a half-barrel system, they typically brew five to six times each week. When the beer is ready, they personally deliver kegs to a handful of select accounts.
The demand for their beer continues to grow, so the Butschys decided to lease the adjacent warehouse at their current location. Once they knock down a wall, they will essentially double the square footage of the brewery. They have already started brewing on a new 10-barrel system which has a 40-barrel capacity. There will be space for a small tasting room, scheduled to open by October.
And they’re brainstorming ideas for serving food, including the possibility of having an onsite food cart. Grilled cheese, anyone? Future plans call for canning but for now they will continue to self-distribute to wholesale customers.
While the brewery is not open to the public, you can find Oblivion Brewing Co. beers on tap at several locations around Bend, including Broken Top Bottle Shop, Growler Guys East & West, Barrio, and Drake. Fulfilling one of Darin’s goals, their beer was on tap in Portland for the first time at Growler Guys, which opened early last month. A website is in the works; check their Facebook page for frequent updates.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.