Bend, Oregon’s Old Mill Brew Wërks, opened in 2011 as the region’s tenth brewing operation, officially announced their closing today on Facebook—with tomorrow (Sunday) being their last day. Here’s their post:
This Sunday we will be CLOSING the doors to Old Mill Brew Werks!! A farewell to all our fans we will be running happy hour specials all day with mention of this post!!! And free swag giveaways!! Come down and say bye to us all. We will miss all you all!!!
This comes as no real surprise to folks who had been hearing rumors over the past several months. I’d heard a couple of months ago that an unspecified brewery in the Old Mill District was for sale, and speculated that it was OMBW. And I later found out that brewer Michael McMahon hadn’t been with Brew Wërks since something like the beginning of (last) year, with one of the original brewers Justin James manning the helm of the brewery. The separate Brew Wërks Brewing entity, in fact, spun off in 2012 to handle the brewing side of the business, seemed to no longer exist this past year, by which I speculate it had merged back into the main OMBW biz. (There is only one updated for all of 2014 on the Brew Wërks Facebook page, as well as comments about their phone number no longer working.)
Finally, Brian Yaeger’s article in the New School yesterday about Oregon breweries that have closed states, “most recently I hear from New School’s publisher that includes Brew Wërks in Bend,” though seemed unconfirmed until today.
Michael McMahon, who had been the brewer since Brew Wërks Brewing split off from the pub part of the company, apparently hadn’t been with Brew Wërks through most of last year, brewing duties instead being taken up by Justin James (who had been overseeing brewing of the OMBW beers at Silver Moon when co-founder Loren Lancaster departed shortly after they opened). I don’t know yet what James will be doing next, nor what will happen to the 10 barrel brewery located in northeast Bend (in the original space occupied by 10 Barrel Brewing); perhaps the brewery and space will be sold to another enterprising brewer in Bend.
I’m sorry to see them close their doors, because as a brewery they always seemed to have great potential to really get on the local beer map. The pub had really good food and a great location with a deck overlooking the Deschutes River and the Old Mill District, but over this last year (the first 6 or 7 months of it, at least) the beer quality had seemed to be going steadily downhill—which I would attribute now to not having a brewer for awhile putting out new beer, hence the remaining inventory was getting staler and staler. Unfortunately that’s the sort of thing that can and will be a death knell for a brewery, and can be difficult to recover from. And that’s likely what contributed in this case.
So if you’re in Bend tomorrow (Sunday), there’s one last chance to visit Old Mill Brew Wërks for some beers (no idea if they are their own, or guest taps), food, and swag. RIP Brew Wërks.