Beer & Brewing Resolutions for 2017

These are my beer and brewing resolutions for this year, which I got from Beer Simple.

Pint of Oblivion beer on a wooden table top

1. Brew at home!

This has been my goal for two years now and I really hope this is the year I can pull it off. I need to get my kettle modified and acquire a few more pieces of equipment and also nail down my processes that I want to use. But I either need to do this or give it up.

2. Revisit (one of my) least favorite breweries and drink at least 4 of their beers

There are several local breweries who I almost never think about–we are that blessed here in Bend, Oregon thankfully–but perhaps they have improved. It is only fair to give them another chance. Perhaps I’ll find a new favorite beer or at least be able to give more up-to-date info to others regarding them.

I also hope to be making a trip to Salem, Oregon this spring and let me just say I trashed every post I started to write after my trip to Salem two years ago. I am not a “If you can’t say anything nice” kind of guy but had to keep deciding that was best in this case. I am looking forward to giving pretty much all Salem breweries another chance.

I want to do this locally too, though, as there are several new(er) breweries in town I have never even visited, although I have had some of their beer. Ergo, no visit previously.

3. Read at least 3 new-to-me beer or brewing books

This one should be extremely easy but it is still important. I am already well into Beer, In So Many Words.

4. Attend a new-to-me festival

I would really like it to be something like the Oregon Garden Brewfest (June 16-18, 2017) or the Hood River Fresh Hops Fest (September 23, 2017) but I will take any new one that interests me.

5. Find a new appreciation for a passé or overlooked beer style

Bock or malt liquor perhaps, although it will be tough to find many of either.

6. Write a letter to a brewery making one of my favorite beers and thank them

Do it!

7. Learn one scientific lesson that will improve my brewing

Water profiles, perhaps?

8. Attend a homebrew club meeting other than my own (COHO)

Cascade Fermentation Association in Redmond I expect.

9. Participate in at least 2 group brews

I definitely need more experience and watching and/or helping others and seeing other systems and processes in action is a great way to get it.

10. Re-take BJCP tasting exam

This is scheduled for July and I am hoping to get a 70 or above. I got a 68 last year on my first go, which was better than I expected, but I want to be eligible to take the written exam even if I never do.

There are other things I hope to do but I need a better formed idea in the first place for one, or more ideas to expand on another, or simply to remember/realize some things for others.

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017 in your beer drinking, writing, appreciation, etc. and/or in your brewing? Cheers and Happy New Year!

Bend’s “Healthy Beer Culture”

NB: This post is my entry in this quarter’s #beerylongreads, hosted by Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog.

NB2: This post is a response to “SIGNS OF A HEALTHY BEER CULTURE?” at Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog. That post is over a year old now but for some reason the other day I was attracted to exploring that question locally. How well does Bend and Central Oregon’s “healthy beer culture” meet their criteria?

Preliminaries

A couple of weeks ago (12 Nov), Boak and Bailey tweeted a link to an earlier post on healthy beer culture in response to The Beer Father’s “provocative post,” “Which Side Are You On?”

[One should check out both of those posts and their lengthy comments. There is some carping but there are a lot of valuable thoughts too.]

Here are the tweets for reference:

That last archive retrieval prompted by @TheBeerFather’s provocative post: http://t.co/iRIv8ObcJu

From the archive (October 2013): signs of a healthy beer culture http://t.co/ZENKHDnq2F

I saw a great reply to the “Which side are you on?” question. I thought it was good because it helped me formulate my thoughts, and more eloquently expressed them: that I’m not choosing a side and that I hope to avoid anyone who has chosen any side. Perhaps it was in one of those comments; I don’t remember.

I do place myself along a spectrum, one that is most likely multidimensional, and give myself permission to move around that space. Historically, my beer drinking shows that change happens in which beers I consume. I also recognize that people choose, and often even like, different things than me and that that is, and should be, beyond questioning.

This post though is to address how Bend does on this heuristic, or at least my little spot in Bend. Which means, your walkability and public transit options may well be different than mine or you may live farther from downtown.

First, their caveat:

“Perhaps inevitably, there’s an obvious UK-bias in the way we’ve approached this, and in how we’ve worded the list, although we did our best to avoid it. We’ve also used lots of deliberately vague terms — don’t ask us to define ‘decent’! (Or ‘beer culture’…)”

Bend and Central Oregon

Bend is a town of ~82,000 in the so-called High Desert of Oregon. Being in the eastern foothills of the Cascades we are in the rain shadow and thus get little precipitation. We do, though, have a couple beautiful rivers, including the Deschutes River which runs right through town. We have world-famous rock climbing formations nearby and many other outdoor recreational opportunities.

Bend started as a way point, then gained a few ranches, and then spent many decades with two huge lumber mills. That ended a couple decades ago and tourism, primarily outdoor tourism, has been king since. Currently, beer tourism is a significant and growing portion of local tourism dollars. Beer goes with everything that goes on here, indoors or out. We also host several international sporting events, mostly of various kinds of bicycle racing, but also skiing and so on. There are times of year when we have less visitors but we always have plenty of them.

This list of the region’s breweries [found in the sidebar] is the most accurate and up-to-date. You’ll see we’re pretty well set. [Note: those are breweries, most of which have a taproom also because … most are brewpubs.][If you are particularly interested in the history of brewing in this region, then notice also in the sidebar the book, Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon, recently written by Jon Abernathy and the compiler of that most helpful list.]

Of that list, and in my opinion:

One is not really in business and I’m not convinced it ever was although the wife and I poured two of their beers at our 1st Bend Brew Fest.  OK, they have a license and every once in a while one or two is available somewhere, either at a local homebrew club meeting or a fest. But there is nowhere one can go and get any of this brewery’s beer on a normal basis. I’ve heard rumor a brewery is being built. So I’ll back off and give them the status “brewery.” I’m just saying it doesn’t really meet my definition of an “active” brewery, let’s say. I’m good with it not meeting my own minimum requirement for what a brewery is but it does get listed most places, so be it. Hopefully they’ll get a better chance soon to show us what they can do.

Another should be self-respecting and admit it gave up on beer. That’s fine really, they do have pretty good food and they’ve always had guest taps. But if they were all guest taps they’d have to come off of the Bend Ale Trail and I do not believe they’d want that for business.

I learned on Veterans/Remembrance Day that Bend has a new one coming this month, Monkless Belgian Ales. Read about it at Jon’s blog [In fact, you can read that post and see the listing of Central Oregon breweries from the same link.]

Depending on who asks and who replies and why, this puts Bend at the top, or certainly in the top, of breweries per capita in Oregon. Which puts it up there, in the world. And it is all craft beer. Well, until recently perhaps. See #3 below.

Boak and Bailey’s Heuristic Answered, by me, for Central Oregon, and my spot in it

The numbered bold statements are Boak and Bailey’s with my answers beneath the respective “criteria.”

By the way, if you are asking who the heck are Boak & Bailey, they are a British beer blogging & tweeting, book authoring, couple whom I follow in those venues. I own the print book but haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

1. There is a drinking establishment within walking distance of where you live where you like to spend time, and which serves decent beer

Definitely! Several. Deschutes Bend Public House, Bend Brewing Co., many others.

2. If you are skint, there is an acceptable drinking establishment within walking distance which sells decent beer at ‘bargain’ prices.

Probably. JC’s, D and D, …

[Note: To better answer this question for myself, I am undertaking a (minimal) form of Jeff Alworth’s Dive Bar Challenge. I started compiling a list of Bend dive bars, but may also need to look a tad further around Central Oregon. Thanks, friends, for all the suggestions so far.]

I think the real concern for us here is the acceptability of establishments (to us)  and not the quality or availability of good beer cheap. This is not to say these are seedy or dangerous or anything; simply not our style of establishment. But we could.

Decided to poke Boak and Bailey on Twitter and asked for their opinion on prices for a pint out:

.@BoakandBailey Where are the price points for you moving from cheap but acceptable pint to next level to premium? Sorry for Americanisms. https://twitter.com/bythebbl/status/534008041138446338

@bythebbl if we’ve understood your question correctly, we’d consider c.£2.60 to be cheap, £3.40 to be standard, £4+ to be a bit pricey. https://twitter.com/BoakandBailey/status/534009373664608256

@bythebbl that’s for standard bitter in the pub. We’d expect (and be reasonably happy) to pay more for 330ml of interesting bottled beer. https://twitter.com/BoakandBailey/status/534009651973869569

[Can I just go on record and say how I would love to taste a proper “standard bitter” in a British pub.]

Based on Google Currency Converter 16 Nov 2014, c.£2.60 (cheap), £3.40 (standard), £4+ (bit pricey) equates to $4.07 / $5.33 / $6.27 for a pint at a pub. That cheap price is tough but doable on most nights of the week. The standard price is close to ours. I’d agree the “bit pricey” is getting up there, although I often pay it or more for a 10, 12 or 14 oz snifter of “something interesting,” bottles or otherwise.

I can definitely find a pint of good (if not great) beer at that standard price ($5.33) in most of the places in town. There will also be beer above that point in most of those places. That price does not always include tip though. [Sadly, our pint glasses are only 16 Imp. oz. and not proper pints.]

But based on all of the locals nights at the many brewpubs and bars you can make that lower price point somewhere most any night of the week. And you can definitely make it in places we just don’t want to frequent. Not bad places; just not our style. But the beer is almost guaranteed to be better than “decent.”

Also have not mentioned beer in growlers. For that see #9 below. That can often be quite inexpensive.

I could always go by Deschutes brewery and get 4 5-oz samples. Every day it is open. For free. I hope I don’t get that skint though. I enjoy driving past it in the roundabout and knowing that I could go taste some great beer for free. That knowledge just makes the world shine a little brighter.

So, this gets a definite yes.

3. If you fancy something special, there is a pub or bar within reach on public transport (WRPT) which sells imports and ‘craft beer’.

I still don’t understand the difference between “craft beer” in America versus in Britain, but in Bend it is all craft, which is a good thing here.

Alright, that claim can now possibly be challenged as 10 Barrel is about to be bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev and according to the Brewers Association they will no longer qualify as a “craft brewery.” But that is a trade organization definition versus what the people think. Time will tell.

As for imports, yes to both walking and public transit: The Brew Shop, Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café, Newport Avenue Market, The Wine Shop & Tasting Bar (downtown) along with a few more I imagine, Whole Foods, and several others.

For both of these, also see #9 below regarding growler fills.

Definite yes.

4. The nearest town/city centre has a range of pubs serving different demographics, and offering between them a range of locally-produced beers alongside national brands.

Definitely. At least you can find national brands in a few places.

[Opinion: By the way, there are not too many “national brands” in the US anymore, as the ones most would think of belong to international conglomerates. People might call Budweiser a U.S. national brand but that’s crazy. The ones that come the closest are still, by Craft Brewers Association criteria, craft breweries; Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada, and a few others. A few like Stone and Deschutes are rapidly getting there.]

5. There is a well-established family/regional brewery.

Deschutes Brewery. Something like 6th largest craft brewery in US and 11th largest brewery in the US. Pretty well-established; since 1988. [#s vary depending on when/who you ask/how you look.]

6. There are several breweries founded since 1975.

Every last one of the 27 or so in our little region are from after 1975; the first, Deschutes, was in 1988.

I am unsure whether this  lack of older breweries is supposed to count against us regarding our “healthy beer culture.” I certainly don’t think so. This region had no breweries between 1906 and 1988; at least as current history stands. Some of my big questions in life lately center around this. Why no brewery in region before 1905? Why none between 1906 and 1916 when the state went to Prohibition? Why none after until 1988? That last one is the easiest but still.

I am not in any way against older breweries, we just don’t have any and I’m not holding it against us. [In fact, I respect old breweries. When they deserve/d it. Just like with a newer brewery.]

7. There is at least one brewery founded since 2005.

Since 2005? Well over half of them; or, more specifically, #6 through #21, and the one that has closed. Almost 3/4 of them have been founded since 2005.

8. There is a regional speciality — a beer people ‘must drink’ when they visit.

Perhaps not one, but Boneyard RPM IPA [Beer Advocate / ratebeer], Deschutes Black Butte Porter [Beer Advocate / ratebeer], at the very least. This one may not be a big plus for us but either I’m treating “specialty” far too narrowly, or few regions have such a thing. If the first clause is correct then I’d add The Abyss, Black Butte Porter Reserve, one of Tonya Cornett’s Crush beers, and so many more.

9. There is an independent off licence (‘bottle shop’) WRPT.

Looked up “off licence” but not exactly sure about the “independent” part. We have several [most of the places mentioned in 3 above] and one (beer, cider) bottle shop within walking distance. We also have a liquor store within walking distance. Been there once to get the wife some whiskey for her sore throat hot toddy. I would consider most of them independent.

Growlers, which were mentioned a couple times above, serve a big role in our beer ecosystem. Witness the plethora—which only continues to swell—for new forms/shapes/materials that they come in. Commonly 64 oz (1/2 gal) and 1.5 l, they come in other sizes also, which seems to perhaps depend somewhat on region of the US. We also have growlettes here, which are generally 32 oz or 2 pints. Great beers the equivalent of a “standard bitter” can be had for $8 a growler. Yes, some are more but many are close to this price point. That’s four (US) pints at $2 each. If we only consider proper 20 oz pints as would be served in England then we would get 3 1/8 pints out of it. That gives us a $2.56/20 oz pint cost.

We have at least eight growler fill stations, probably 1.5-2x that, in Bend and Central Oregon. If you add in all of the breweries/brewpubs that fill them your choices to purchase great beer affordably are greatly multiplied.

I put them here since they are for take-away. Of course, here there is little to no assumption that you are taking them home; you may be taking them to a party (anywhere), on the Cycle Pub, camping, hiking, or whatever.

10. There is a shop selling home brewing supplies WRPT.

The Brew Shop, which is a combined homebrew supply store and bottle shop, along with The Platypus Pub in the basement, is easily within walking distance. We have to cross one of the worst intersections in town but it’s a 5-minute walk.

11. There is at least one beer festival in the region.

We have several beer festivals in the region. The biggest is the Bend Brewfest in August every year, then probably The Little Woody Barrel and Wood-Aged Brew and Whiskey Fest at the end of Sep/beg of Oct. We also have the Sisters Fresh Hop Fest, and there have been several other smaller beer fests that may or may not be recurring. But there will be more.

Then there is Central Oregon Beer Week—in its 3rd year this year—which is 9-days in May given over to the region to celebrate its own beer. We, indeed, have much to celebrate.

Some additions that point to a healthy beer culture here:

Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization (COHO): We have a large and fairly active, local homebrewing club. The wife and I are members, although so far I have only helped a friend brew once or twice. I also took a class on all-grain brewing from one of COHO’s officers at which we brewed, of course. And I have been a judge this year and the last at the annual BJCP homebrew competition they hold.

Boak & Bailey asked about homebrew shops in #10 so I assume homebrewing is important. Since not everyone joins an organization—I have several friends who are big homebrewers who aren’t members—this seems a reasonable indicator that the homebrewing culture is healthy here; or, at least, tending that way.

Central Oregon Beer Angels (COBA): This is also a reasonable indicator of the health of our beer culture, I would argue. An organization of over 300 local women “who love all things beer.” My wife and several of our friends are members. I know quite a few of their board members. And I have poured beer for them at an annual party. Biased? Anyway.

Large groups of women enjoying beer sounds like a healthy culture to me.

There are other groups, both organized and not, that do tastings and bottle shares; e.g., a couple through MeetUp.

Access to our brewers: We have incredible access to some amazing brewers. I have seen them, met them, talked to them at breweries, festivals, tastings, beer dinners, educational events, pairings, and so on. I have even gone on a hike with one of my favorites. I met Darin & Meghann Butschy of Oblivion Brewery at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café on the day they sold their 1st keg because I was hanging out in my local of an afternoon.

We know, or can fairly easily come to know, the folks who brew our beer in this town. That should count for something. Perhaps it isn’t required but it matters.

Wrap-up:

So, I think the answers pretty much tilt in our favor as to having a healthy beer culture. Certainly by this heuristic.

I know there were several posts, at least, in response to Boak & Bailey’s post but this is the one I found and read: a specific reply to Bailey by Leigh Linley at The Good Stuff, as applied to Leeds, England.

No doubt somebody would quibble about my not penalizing Bend for not having a brewery prior to 1975, and someone could argue we have no regional specialty, and so on. How much does that mark us down? Are we going to start rating places by this (It is not a scale). I hope not. And I imagine Boak & Bailey would be horrified if people did.

But I think it provides a great springboard to consider your own regional “healthy beer culture.” Or other regions, but only for benevolent purposes. 😉

Let’s start a conversation about “healthy beer culture” in Central Oregon

So Bendites, Bend lovers, Bend visitors: What do you think? Do we have a “healthy beer culture” in Bend? What’s missing? What is “unbalanced” in your opinion? Did I just completely mess it up? Do we have a regional specialty?

Please comment here or write your own blog post or Facebook post or what have you and link back here. Then please comment with a link to whatever you wrote. If you prefer not to make it public, then feel free to email me or otherwise. If you know me you can find me.

I have some views. We have some flaws and weaknesses in our beer culture. All-in-all, though, it is simply amazing. That leaves an awful lot to discuss, including what both of those refer to.

I would love to see a larger conversation about our beer culture in Bend and Central Oregon. [I just worry that I am not the one to be the driver at this time as only my close friends know I am having some still undiagnosed health issues. No one should worry but it affects my productivity, my focus and thinking, and I must “keep calm and carry on” or things get painful quickly in my head.]

Nonetheless, let’s take this where we may Central Oregonians. And of course, anyone else is welcome to join in regarding any larger points not specific to our region. For example, should we be penalized for not having older breweries and, if so, why?

OHBA at Starshine Brewery

Wednesday evening we hosted our friend and colleague, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, in a little get-together at our place with friends and acquaintances. Tiah is the archivist for the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives at the Oregon State University Special Collections & Archives Research Center of Valley Library, Corvallis, Oregon. She had come on her first official visit to Bend.

[I have been sadly remiss in writing about OHBA here. Previous mentions on this blog: Tap Into History: Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives Launch Party 4 Mar 2014 and In which I admit my slackardly tendencies once again run amok … 20 Dec 2013.]

We tried to bring some folks together that represent differing aspects of Bend’s hops and beer culture. We kept it “close to home” and brought in friends who are our most frequent beer drinking buddies and some folks we know but want to know better.

This was really a social event but one with a purpose, or perhaps purposes, for us. We were hoping it would give Tiah a chance to wind down some in between her two research days. And considering she walked all over Bend in 90°+ sunshine she deserved a relaxing evening of conversation and sipping local beers.

One of our purposes was to welcome Tiah to Bend. We helped what little we could with connections for her direct research. Another was to put Tiah in touch with some other aspects of Oregon beer culture. She has understandably been primarily focusing on hops growers and early craft brewing history in Oregon but is well aware that there is much more besides all of the new breweries.

We wanted to expose Tiah to a bit more of the consumption/consumer end of craft brewing and hops: folks who put on bottle shares, acquire certifications even if not directly in the industry, write local beer/brewing history books, blog, take and sell pictures of beer/breweries, cellar beer, visit breweries, …, drink the beer. There are also new hop growers, including some over here in the so-called High Desert of Central Oregon, and plenty of new breweries who need to begin considering their history and how best to conserve that. With all of that in mind, these are the friends we invited:

Miles Wilhem – Exploring Beer, Central Oregon Beer Week 2014; Smith Rock Hop Farm@whydrinkbeer

Miles and Jon & Sherri (see below) are some of the usual suspects that we’d be drinking with, although only infrequently together so that was nice. Miles is into putting on beer tastings as educational events, along with bottle shares. He was a major contributor to the small but hard-working team that put on Central Oregon Beer Week this year. He also is now the farm manager/foreman/handyman/do-it-all/? for Smith Rock Hop Farm. To us, Miles represents a lot about craft beer culture. He is also interested in being even more involved in areas he isn’t currently. Just recently he helped start Smith Rock Hop Farm in Terrebonne, Oregon and in my opinion the history of hops growing in Central Oregon needs to be captured from its birth/rebirth. [I’m going with rebirth as I suspected. One piece of evidence, see pg. 2 in the 1st of 2 massive PDFs of The Hop Press (2 parts here). And why you should follow @brewingarchives on Twitter.]

Jon & Sherri Abernathy – native Bendite, co-founder of Central Oregon Beer Week; author of forthcoming Bend Beer, The Brew Site, Hack Bend@chuggnutt @brewsite

Jon just is Bend beer. He grew up here. He knows most everyone and has for most of the lived craft beer history in Central Oregon. He just submitted the final manuscript for his forthcoming history of Central Oregon beer called Bend Beer. It is due out in Sep. Sara and I have had the privilege of doing some proofreading of the manuscript. We are looking forward to holding it in our hands and re-reading it. Jon was a co-founder of Central Oregon Beer Week three years ago and a big factor in its first two years. He is the primary author of both blogs, The Brew Site and the repeatedly award-winning, Hack Bend. Jon and Sherri hosted The Abyss vertical tasting back in January of this year. Months ago when Tiah and Sara and I were discussing potential Oregon beer blogger’s sites to scrape for the archive Sara & I suggested Jon’s The Brew Site blog. Really, without being directly involved in the industry, Jon just is Bend beer.

Bend Brew Daddy & Bend Brew Mama (Matthew & Lisa Ward) @bendbrewdaddy @bendbrewmama

I first met Bend Brew Daddy on Twitter a while back and we met in person at the Big Woody Barrel-Aged Festival in Portland back in Jan. We’ve seen each other here and there around town so it was nice to have them over. Matthew is tearing up the beer photography #beertography around Central Oregon and further afield, particularly via the Internet. Again, I think that the people in and around craft beer need to be documented. Matthew is producing fine works of art and having fun and making some money doing it, all the while supporting the breweries whose products inspire him. Also, we wanted to get to know Matthew and Lisa better.

Darin & Meghann Butschy – Oblivion Brewing

I first met Darin and Meghann exactly a year previous from this event. I was down at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in the middle of the day hanging out and we were about the only folks in the bar this time of mid-afternoon. I was trying to behave but I was bored and buzzed and they were telling Jason that they were a new brewery in town and they’d like to bring some beer by and …. Once they were done chatting and Jason had wandered off, I took my toasty self over to the bar and introduced myself and gave them one of my cards. We chatted for a while and Sara and I’ve been there with them from their public start. Back when we lived closer and I could walk, I was at BTBS a lot in the afternoon when Darin (and once in a while Meghann) would be there. I was almost always drinking an Oblivion beer when he came in. I love Darin’s beers.

Meghann’s mind was blown when I mentioned to her that with them rapidly coming up on their 1st anniversary now it is time to start thinking about the history of the brewery and how to preserve that archivally. I truly like Darin’s beers and, to me, they are one of the very few standouts in all of our new breweries. So I am happy to help promote them. We also wanted to get Miles and Jon a little more familiar with Darin and Meghann and vice versa.

We sampled lots of local brews: Oblivion Aurora Golden Ale, Crux Double Cross, Crux Belgian Gale, BBC Scarlet IRA, BBC Sexi Mexi (thanks, Jon!), BBC Ching Ching, GoodLife Hat Trick triple IPA (quite tasty!), and GoodLife Mountain Rescue. Introductions were made. Conversations were had. Again, this was mostly social and just a start. Tiah is hoping to come back to Bend a few times in the future. And now when she reaches out to any of these folks they’ll know who she is.

Note: Starshine Brewery is the name of our [admittedly, currently nonexistent] home brewery. Untappd needs a name of a brewery, which also requires a named beer [our future massive Russian Imperial Stout is named Information Loss Paradox. Look it up. Being an aficionado of the many concepts and definitions of “information” makes it all the more intriguing to me in an ironic sense, among others. Especially for a massive RIS.] I got tired of not having a location for beers I was drinking at home and checking in so I had to create it in FourSquare/Untappd.

Oblivion Brewing Co. debut

Saturday night Oblivion Brewing Co. made its debut at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in Bend. And what a debut it was!

Darin and Meghann of Oblivion had done a little extra decorating to set the scene and had some friends helping out with the pouring and selling Oblivion merchandise. It started at 5 pm and lasted to just past 7 pm. We got there a few minutes early and it was already beginning to hop. As time went on, it got truly crowded. That was one of the busiest brewery tastings I have seen at Broken Top.

Not a great photo but a shot of part of the room and the tasting station.

Not a great photo but a shot of part of the room and the tasting station to give some idea of the crowd.

They started with three beers: Polar Star Pale Ale, Backside Oblivion IPA, and Knock Out Stout (if I recorded the names correctly, and from different sources). I began with the pale. Sara said she was going straight for the stout but upon having a sip of my pale she grabbed one of those to start. From there I moved to the IPA.

I asked Jason of BTBS if I had a current tap list as I didn’t see any Oblivions on the list. He checked in with Darin and they quickly had the pale on tap so I grabbed a pint of that to have with dinner.

Somewhere in there I grabbed the stout as did Sara. By this point our friend Miles had arrived and we proceeded to compare notes.

Keep in mind, except for my pint of pale, all of my tastes were from taster glasses, although I did have a couple of the stout.

Polar Star Pale Ale is an unfiltered pale which gives it a bit more body. It had a slightly dank hop aroma that tasted far mellower than the aroma suggested. It was a damn fine pale ale in my opinion and one of the best that I have had in a long time. I could easily drink a few pints of Polar Star Pale.

Backside Oblivion IPA had, to me, a slight floral and fruity aroma. I suspect it is also unfiltered, although it was a fair bit more clear than the pale and a bit more toward the orange end of yellow in color. It was quite creamy with a medium-low bitter finish. This was an exceptional IPA, at least if one is a fan of the more English-style than the bold-and-in-your-face PNW kind. I like a big bold Pliny the Elder on occasion but if I am going to consider an IPA as a general drinking beer then I want one just like the Backside Oblivion.

Knock Out Stout had a nice roasty aroma and was dark brown with a nice tan head. It too was nicely creamy. This is an excellent every day drinking stout. I don’t have the ABV on it (or its siblings) but I am betting this would be quite sessionable, even if it may perhaps sit a bit above the top end of the session range. I truly enjoyed my pint of the pale but Sara and I are both anticipating when we can actually savor a pint (or two) of this stout to truly get a feel for how it works as a beer.

I have to say that I was truly impressed with these first beers from Oblivion Brewing. Great job, Darin and Meghann! You are off to a amazing start!

But that’s not all. As a couple kegs each of the above beers began to blow Darin brought out his Darin’s Special Bitter (DSB) which I failed to take even minimal notes on (except name and rating). But let me say that it is another keeper. I have a growing affinity for, and interest in, the range of bitters and this is a darn fine one. I had a couple tasters of it too.

Then we got served a special version of the stout—for which I don’t even have a name, other than Darin called it a NW stout. It is basically the Knock Out but using a different yeast than the standard Irish Stout yeast used in Knock Out, and it is dry hopped with Cascades hops. This was very much like a thick, roasty Cascadian Dark. In other words, it was delicious! A couple of tasters of this too confirmed that opinion.

I checked the first three beers into Untappd as someone else had added them before I tried. I am glad they did as I would not have since I had so little info to add. If I don’t have the bare minimum of name, brewery, ABV (and hopefully IBU) then I won’t add a beer. The last two did not get checked in.

Darin and Meghann, I know you folks are busy but please consider claiming your brewery on Untappd and then claiming your beers so they display with your logo and not simply some generic one. If you would like a hand getting that done I’d be happy to help.

Folks, be sure to check out Oblivion Brewing Co.’s offerings wherever you can find them. Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café is a distinct probability [daily tap list here – pdf][Today’s BTBS list shows Darin’s ESB on right now!], and I understand some of the other early possibilities are Growler Guys [tap lists], Brother Jon’s and I’m blanking on anyone else. Darin or Meghann, feel free to comment and let us know where your beer can be purchased.

These are damn fine drinking beers, people. I am impressed!

 

Oblivion Brewing Co., newest brewery in Bend

Let’s all give a hearty welcome to Oblivion Brewing Co., Bend, Oregon’s newest brewery (for now)!

Tuesday afternoon as I sat minding my own business in Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café …. Erm. OK. Let’s be honest. As a librarian in the presence of those needing information or passing on great information I find it hard to actually “mind my own business.” Then again, discussions of new breweries in town are well within the realm of—at least what I consider to be—my business. I also made other friends that day by being a librarian and info junkie.

As I was saying, I overheard a conversation about a new brewery in town between the brewery owners and the waitress. I went over and introduced myself to Darin Butschy (owner and brewmaster) and Meghann Butschy (owner and manager) of Oblivion Brewing Co. I gave them my card and they gave me both of theirs and a sticker.

We chatted for a few minutes and I found out that they will shortly be on taps in Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café, Platypus Pub, Brother Jon’s and at least one of the growler fill stations.

According to Darin they brew primarily ales but they do have a pilsner. I also found out a bit about his brewing experience. He worked at SLO Brew which Firestone Walker bought out in 2001 and then brewed for FW for 6 years.

A bit later I went over to talk to Meghann about social media. They are still finding their feet in that regard but they do have a page at Facebook. [By the way, Meghann is a Bendite, born and raised. She makes perhaps the 8th person I have met who can claim that in the almost year that I have been here.]

Their Release Party will be at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café on Saturday, 24 August from 5 – 7 pm.

I am definitely looking forward to it! I hope to see you there.