We’ve been to GoodLife Brewing a number of times now, so I feel like I’m past due to write up a review (and missed being the first: the Bend Oregon Beer blog beat me to it with a short post a couple of weeks ago). GoodLife is Bend’s newest brewery (actually Below Grade Brewing “opened” after they did, but GoodLife has the newest physical location), originally slated to be called Noble Brewing, and is located over on Bend’s west side in the Century Center complex, a relatively new venue for music and events.
GoodLife occupies a large space (a former indoor tennis center) that is largely mostly empty—affording them lots of room to grow. Currently they are set up on a 30-barrel brewing system, which compared to the latest trend of nano-brewing (starting out on less then 10-barrel systems) seems huge; they are definitely serious about brewing and expanding.
They’re not just a product brewery: also part of their building is the Bier Hall, the pub that is currently pouring their two launch beers as well as eight additional guest taps pouring a nice selection of craft beers. There’s a limited food menu available as well, with a nice selection of what I’d consider “kicked up” pub far (to borrow a phrase from Emeril Lagasse): on it you’ll find several salads, pasties, and things like a Farmer’s Plate and even a Bourbon Baked Brie. No, that’s not a typo!
The Bier Hall is more in line with what you’d expect for the name: there are several round bar tables but the majority of the seating is at long tables that encourage large groups and sharing with others. There’s a lot of wood and even though it’s a bit minimal I find it extremely comfortable and inviting—of course, having the bay doors open on a hot summer day helps the atmosphere immensely as well.
And of course, the beer. GoodLife is currently pouring two of their own beers: Mountain Rescue Pale Ale and Sweet As, a pale wheat summer ale. I’ve been enjoying these beers each time we’ve gone in, and I can comfortably say that they are solid, well-brewed beers—not always something you find with new breweries.
Mountain Rescue Pale Ale is a nice representation of the American Pale Ale: 5.5% alcohol by volume and 40 IBUs, with a crisp malt snap and a nice balanced hop bitterness that finishes clean and dry. Actually, that was the first batch; they have since tweaked the recipe a bit to produce a similar beer with a more piney hop characters that “pops” on the tongue a lot more. Not that there was anything wrong with the first recipe, but I did like the revised version better, particularly tasting side-by-side. Of course, it was very fresh which always helps.
The Sweet As is interesting: nominally a seasonal summer ale, the grist is half pale malt and half wheat. Normally you would expect such a beer to be lighter than the pale ale, but not so: this one has 6.7% alcohol, putting in more in line with what you’d expect for an IPA as compared to the pale. Not that you taste that strength; it’s well-hidden in a light, crisp, really drinkable brew that has a nice yeasty cloudiness to it and finishes thirst-quenching. I like it better than the pale, and on our first trip I filled up a growler of Sweet As to take home; it’s perfectly drinkable in hot weather but it’s no lawnmower beer.
Overall I am really liking GoodLife, despite any initial skepticism I had when it was first announced (along the lines of, “another brewery in Bend? How many is too many?”). They are well-grounded with eyes toward expansion (they are in fact also building an outdoor beer garden on the east side of the building) and have launched both their beers and their pub on strong footing. And other folks I’ve spoken with who have been there agree.
And incidentally, that Bourbon Baked Brie is delicious (I know you were still thinking about that).
Finally, because I promised him I’d post this, a picture of my friend Paul (another beer aficionado) enjoying the Mountain Rescue Pale Ale: