Back on the 3rd (it’s the 14th already? Where’s this month going?), I met with Jason Randles, one of the marketing gurus I’ve been corresponding with at Deschutes Brewery, and got an "insider’s tour" of the brewery. We also talked a bit about blogging, beer, other breweries, and this whole "new media" thing.
First off, though, most of the tour I received is, I imagine, much the same as the standard brewery tour that they offer; this is at their brewing and bottling facilities down on the Deschutes River in Bend (as opposed to the brewpub downtown). I mention this because if you haven’t been on a tour of the Brewery, go! I’m kind of ashamed to say that prior to this visit, I hadn’t even toured the place myself. (I’d been to their Mountain Room several times, though.) It’s totally worth it, and you get the first four tasters at the tasting room free.
Among things I saw or learned from this trip:
- A sneak peak of the artwork for this next year’s edition of Jubelale (the beer itself is already brewing, too);
- Some info about their new Portland Pub (grand opening May 2);
- The Brewery has really expanded over the years, but some of their year-round, flagship beers (like Obsidian Stout and Cascade Ale) are still brewed in the original 50-barrel(?) system… which surprised me a bit because Obsidian is fairly popular—I would have thought they brewed it in larger quantities;
- In the face of the hops crisis, Deschutes is dedicated to using whole flower hops for the long haul—and in fact, they’ve even sold off extra hops to smaller breweries (like what Sam Adams is doing);
- I got to sample something called "Seaweed Porter" from the employee taps;
- I saw where The Dissident is being aged under lock and key—with Brettanomyces yeast(!).
There were some things I can’t talk about, and no, I didn’t take pictures.
One of the things I did strongly encourage was a blog on their website; Jason and I talked quite a bit about this whole blogging/"web 2.0" thing and no surprise, I’m pushing blogging. He loves the idea, but is concerned about time, which is fully understandable (it’s largely just him updating the site as it is). I even volunteered to blog for the brewery pro-bono if they get that off the ground—so consider this a possible disclaimer in advance (I should be so lucky!).
All in all, pretty exciting stuff. I highly recommend taking the brewery tour and stopping by the tasting room—it won’t quite be the tour that I got, but it’s definitely worth the time.