Old Mill Brew Wërks closing update

Quick follow up to my story yesterday about Old Mill Brew Wërks closing: we stopped in today for their last day for a couple of happy hour-priced apps and a beer and picked the brain of our server a bit to find out more details. According to her, it’s the restaurant part that is closing, as they reorganize and transition to new owners. There will (probably) be a remodel involved and they’re targeting being (re)open by March 23, in time for spring break April 1. Take it with a grain of salt, as appropriate, until we see otherwise.

Not really sure where that leaves the brewing part of the business, because it sounded a bit like they were reworking at end of things as well but as near as I can tell it’s up in the air (they just have “things planned”). A quick OLCC check shows Brew Wërks Brewing holding their brewpub license through October of 2015 for what it’s worth.

So for now I am considering them (restaurant and brewery) closed, unless I definitively hear otherwise. If they come back with the same name by March, then I’d likely consider (at least the brewery part) still open after all, but for now they’re on my “Closed” list.

Update: I got word from one of the new owners that April 1 is the targeted opening date.

Old Mill Brew Wërks is closing – confirmed

Old Mill Brew WërksBend, 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.

The Session #95: What beer book which has yet to be written would you like to see published?

The SessionIt’s the first Friday of 2015, this second of January, and that means another round of The Session—collaborative beer blogging, open to anyone and everyone. (Read all about it at that link Jay Brooks maintains.) The topic for this month was selected (or rather, posed as a question) by fellow long-time beer blogger Alan McLeod (Alan is, as far as I know, the only other active beer blogger today who started just before I did). His question is posed in the title of this post: What beer book which has yet to be written would you like to see published?

What is the book you would want to write about good beer? What book would you want to read? Is there a dream team of authors your would want to see gathered to make that “World Encyclopedia of Beer and Brewing”? Or is there one person you would like to see on a life long generous pension to assure that the volumes flow from his or her pen? Let us know.

Bend BeerHaving just written a beer book, I’m not sure if this is a question that’s easy or hard for me to answer. I mean, part of my answer is easy—of course I would love to be the one writing this next great book (and perhaps I will). But by and large I don’t have any particular preference as to who should author it, as long as it’s well-researched and well-written—good writing is good writing.

There have already been stabs at the kinds of books we’ve seen that Alan’s sub-questions ask. The Oxford Companion to Beer, for instance, was kind of an all-star effort. As was 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die. And Brewers Publications continues to publish a well-rounded lineup of beer books across a variety of subjects.

I have some ideas of what I would like to see. At least one was published recently: I thought someone should do an up-to-date definitive guide to all of Oregon’s breweries, and lo and behold Brian Yaeger just published Oregon Breweries. A couple of other ideas are ones I think I want to tackle at some point, so I’m keeping them to myself for now.

But here are some others that I think would be interesting that I hope someone writes:

  • A history of hop farming in America. In truth, while I have Stan Hieronymus’ For the Love of Hops on my shelf I haven’t yet read it, so I don’t know that he doesn’t touch upon American hop farming history, but given its overall breadth I’m thinking not, at least in depth. I’d like to see a deep dive into America’s hop history, examining the farms and farming, the trends, the successes and failures, the personalities, and the development of new hop varieties. Where and when was the very first hop farm established?
  • A novel involving a beer ticker-type seeking out Ghost Whales that don’t exist anymore—so he or she invents or co-opts a time machine to travel to the past to drink various historic beers. Late-nineteenth-century Budweiser, the first Pilsner from Plzeň, Guinness Stout, “lost” styles, and so on. Hijinks ensue.
  • Stan is working on a book about indigenous beers. This is definitely something I want to see, but worldwide (Stan’s will be for North America). I love reading about the indigenous beers from other countries and continents, and I think an in-depth profile/history/how-to is much needed.

The great thing is, for all the beer books on the market now, we’re still just scratching the surface, and I hope we see these and many more of this month’s Session ideas making into print soon.

The Session #94: Sort of but not really…

In actuality the 94th edition of The Session took place last month, the first Friday in December—and it was the first one I missed. The main reason for that was that I was in Portland that entire weekend for book events—including a talk and signing at Powell’s—and just didn’t have the time or energy to get to it. And the rest of the month was swept up in the Beer Advent Calendar and the holidays, so… I did at least want to acknowledge that Session.

I’m not writing that post now, a month later, but I will point to Ding’s Beer Blog who hosted last month, with the topic of “Your role in the beer scene.” Ding wanted to know where you saw yourself in the scene, which is a question with some depth as well as being loaded. Perhaps I’ll write a non-Session Session post on this topic sometime, but that will have to wait until after tomorrow—tomorrow is the 95th edition of The Session, hosted by Alan McLeod, with a question to ponder than I cannot not write about:

What beer book which has yet to be written would you like to see published?

What is the book you would want to write about good beer? What book would you want to read? Is there a dream team of authors your would want to see gathered to make that “World Encyclopedia of Beer and Brewing”? Or is there one person you would like to see on a life long generous pension to assure that the volumes flow from his or her pen? Let us know.