By Branden Andersen
Paul Bergeman said that if he was going to open a brewery in the saturated Central Oregon market, he needed to do it right.
Wild Ride Brewing Company opened its doors in Redmond in May. The 1,000-square foot former lumber warehouse space was converted over the past year into part industrial-chic tasting room, part no-nonsense stainless brewing system.
Bergeman has earned his head brewer’s stripes. Ten years ago, on the realization that he loved homebrewing more than any job, Bergeman applied to every brewery in the state.
“I had a couple of people who called me back, but nobody was hiring at the time,” Bergeman said.
He took a job with a distributor, then a bussing job at Laurelwood Brewing in Portland.
“I talked with them initially to get started,” Bergeman said. “I would give Chad (Kennedy, formerly of Laurelwood and now at Worthy) and Christian (Ettinger, also formerly of Laurelwood and now at Hopworks) homebrew all the time.”
Then, Jacob Leonard—another Laurelwood alum now at Widmer—left to brew at Walking Man Brewing, leaving an open space on Laurelwood’s brew team for Bergeman.
“It was awesome to work with Chad,” Bergeman said. “He has a great mind.”
Bergeman worked for Laurelwood for about six years before he left for Hawaii to work as a cellarman for Kona Brewing.
“It was a step down, but I understood that it was a situation where I stepped down so I could eventually move up.”
Four years later, he moved up in a big way.
Taking lessons learned at both businesses, Bergeman aimed to create good beer first, then the building and ambiance to follow.
“It’s hard to say Central Oregon needed another brewery,” Bergeman said. “But, Redmond can support another one.”
Bergeman said he and other decision-makers at the brewery knew that Redmond would be their spot — benefiting from the Central Oregon water and the region’s reputation for excellent beer.
The building’s renovation features a nearly 20-foot solid wooden bar, stainless steel brewing equipment, and striped wooden tables—much of which were either repurposed or reused.
“We had a ton of people pitch in to help,” Bergman said. “When people see us out here, they think we spent a lot on it. But in all reality, we really nickel-and-dimed.”
Wild Ride recently signed with Point Blank distributing, which will send their beer around the state. “There really is so much great beer,” he said.
“But, people like variety—they like change.” On top of the eight beers that filled the taps since day one, everything from a light lager to a coffee vanilla stout, they have since added the Brainbucket Imperial IPA and Bitch Stout. They’ve also started a barrel-aging program, using both their maple brown and stout in Jack Daniel’s barrels.
“We have big thoughts, but it’s one step at a time,” Bergeman said.
Wild Ride Brewing
(a) 332 SW 5th Street Redmond, Oregon 97756
Brewer: Paul Bergeman
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.