About two weeks ago I got a chance to meet the owner and sample the beers of Bend, Oregon’s brand-spanking-newest brewery, Bridge 99 Brewery—Central Oregon’s 22nd brewery. Beer writer Brian Yaeger was in town, doing a final sweep of breweries for his forthcoming guidebook, and we joined him to meet with owner/brewer Trever Hawman and his wife Angel at Wubba’s BBQ Shack for a couple of hours one evening.
Their beers are currently only on tap at Wubba’s BBQ Shack (which occupies a space just down the road from Boneyard’s new production brewery, in an industrial area of northeast Bend), and thus far I’ve tried three: Candle Creek Ale, ISA (India Session Ale), and IPA. All are solid beers; the Candle Creek is a fairly standard Pale Ale, the ISA lighter and cleaner as it should be, and the IPA is a good out-of-the-gate rendition of the style, focusing on pulling the flavors out of the hops at the back rather than beating you about the head with hoppy bitterness up front.
The strength of the beers is impressive for a just-launched brewery, and for good reason: Trever spent a considerable amount of time working on the recipes so they would be solid. (Always a good strategy: beers that are rough at launch can dog you for quite a while.)
Right now the beers are brewed on a one to 1.5-barrel system (the yield depends on the gravity of the beer being brewed), in a converted brewery space attached behind the Hawman’s house; however Trever is already thinking ahead to a seven-barrel system housed in one of the industrial buildings behind Wubba’s which would not only increase output substantially but also allow him to focus on the brewery full time. Trever has been working closely with the owner/manager of the Wubba’s restaurant and has some good ideas to expand the patio into something of an outdoor beer garden area as part of this expansion.
The name of the brewery comes from an actual Forest Service bridge over the Metolius River in Jefferson County (not too far from Sisters), and names of the beers are similarly inspired by regional landmarks. (Aside from the Candle Creek Ale, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I didn’t write down the names of the other two beers besides “ISA” and “IPA”!) The Forest Service theme extends to the logo (seen above) which was inspired (and intended to invoke) a Forest Service Ranger badge.
Both Trever and Angel seem to have no illusions about the business they are undertaking (as Yaeger points out, so many of the new nanobreweries are so enamored with the brewing of beer that they also forget that it is in fact a business) and after spending a couple of hours chatting over their beers, it seems to me they have a pretty solid footing even as they take the leap.
For now you can expect to only find their beers at Wubba’s (though honestly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some kegs make it over to the Platypus Pub or Broken Top Bottle Shop at some point) and hopefully that means at least three beers at any given time and ideally more. There are no plans (yet?) for bottling so for now that definitely makes Bridge 99 among the lowest-key or most under-the-radar breweries in the area. (Along with Oblivion and Shade Tree whose beers appear on tap around town in unpredictable intervals.)
So if you want to try their beers, head over to Wubba’s, at 63055 Layton Avenue in Bend. They go well with the barbecue (which is also among the best in Bend).