Redmond, Oregon’s growing beer scene

Among beer destinations in Oregon, my hometown of Bend receives much of the attention in recent years for a variety of reasons (which I’ve written about here at length and, yes, even written a book on it). Bend dominates the Central Oregon beer landscape in much the same way that it dwarfs the other cities in the region, but there are breweries and good beer in those other communities as well. Sisters has Three Creeks Brewing; Prineville has Solstice Brewing; Sunriver has Sunriver Brewing.

And then there’s Redmond, 16 miles north of Bend along Highway 97 and the second-largest city in Central Oregon. And, I believe and alluded to in this month’s writeup for The Session that Redmond is the next up-and-coming beer town for the region. Accordingly it’s time to take a look at what’s happening in the Redmond beer scene.

Current Breweries

Cascade Lakes Hop SmackCascade Lakes Brewing was established in 1994 by David and Steven Gazeley, who had cobbled together a brewhouse from salvaged equipment, including used dairy tanks from the nearby Eberhard’s Dairy, on a shoestring budget. In 2001 the brewery was purchased by Doug Kutella and Ray Orazetti, who were joined by Chris Justema a year later, and together they revitalized a flagging brand that was suffering from quality issues. Enjoying growth every year but one since, they celebrated their 20th anniversary last year and have been successful releasing a number of new and rebranded beers, including Snow Park Extra Pale Ale, Paddleboard Porter, and Hop Smack IPA. They sold nearly 6000 barrels in Oregon last year according to the OLCC report (PDF), and overall were in the 7200-7500 barrel range for 2014. In Redmond, they currently brew on a 25-barrel system at their original location, and also have the popular 7th Street Brew House.

Smith Rock Brewing was opened in the fall of 2012 and is (still) the region’s smallest (nano)brewery, crafting their beers on a 0.8-barrel (25-gallon) system—for all intents and purposes, a large homebrewing system. The beers are exclusively available at their pub on Northwest 7th Street, where they typically have one or two on tap at any given time. The pub food is excellent, and the pub itself, located in a renovated house, has a homey, intimate feel. They’ve been working on expansion plans for some time now, with no recent developments that I’ve heard.

Juniper Brewing CompanyJuniper Brewing opened last year, 2014, and in fact celebrated their first anniversary just this month. Owners Curtis Endicott and Scott Lesmeister are homebrewers-turned-pro, and currently brew on a two-barrel system—and cannot brew beer fast enough. In order to keep up with demand and sales, they are looking at expansion; initially this will be additional fermenters (they currently have three) and at some point they will seriously need to consider a larger-scale brewhouse. Fortunately the space they currently occupy (industrial, across the road from the Deschutes County Fairgrounds) is ample enough to handle any immediate needs. They have a tasting room at the front where you can find their current lineup. (The tasting room is 21+ only.)

Wild Ride Brewing also opened in 2014, and where Juniper (and Smith Rock) started out small, Wild Ride went big, with a 20-barrel brewhouse, three (I believe) 40-barrel fermenters, and plenty of room to expand into the space formerly occupied by the Parr Lumber warehouse. They opened with a strong lineup of nine beers, solidly-brewed, and big plans: they are already bottling a number of beers and I believe have already added fermenters over the past year (I might be wrong on this). They have a prime location in downtown Redmond on 5th Street with a terrific tasting room and outdoor “patio” area. As Redmond’s second-largest brewery, they sold 897 barrels in Oregon their first year according to the OLCC, and I’m quite sure are on track for much more in 2015.

Wild Ride Brewing

Upcoming Breweries

First things first: Bend-based Silver Moon Brewing is opening a production facility in Redmond. Since being purchased in 2013 by James Watts and Matt Barrett, the brewery’s growth curve has been going up significantly, and they have effectively outgrown their Bend brewery. They are not moving however, and brewing will still take place in Bend at the Greenwood Avenue location; that will continue to be their pub and main outlet, and I imagine once the new system goes online, the “experimental” brewery.

Their new Redmond brewery will be a 30-barrel production brewery (making it the largest in Redmond when it goes online), and is located somewhere behind Juniper Brewing in the same industrial park area. It is currently being built out, but I have no information as to when that might go online. (I will be making some time to visit and document this.)

Rising Dawn Brewing: Curtis over at Juniper Brewing mentioned this to me a little while back, and I’ve confirmed the name is registered with the state. Basically, Ted Waldbillig is a homebrewer looking to go pro at some point, and his schedule is determined by availability of funds. From what Curtis was telling me it sounded like a serious venture, but it’s not going to be here anytime soon, likely (until we hear otherwise). Time will tell.

Other Side BreweryOther Side Brewery: This one apparently is happening, and relatively soon. It’s a venture by the founders/owners of Nikobrew, a hop merchant (along with a few other goodies found on their online store) who announced at the beginning of the year their plans to open a production brewery in Redmond (location unknown at that time—not sure if it’s been settled as of yet). In February they posted a job for a head brewer to the Probrewer forums, which gives a great overview of what they are doing:

We, the owners of Nikobew (Myself/Niko, and my wife Alexis) are proud to announce we are opening a production brewery with a tasting room in Redmond, Oregon. We are working on securing our exact location and our aim is to be in operation sometime within the next 6-10 months.

We have purchased a 10 BBL system built by Dan Schulte in Cazadero, California. It’s badass and beautiful.

Nikobrew will remain in full operation and the brewery’s name is “Other Side”.

I’ve emailed the owner, Niko, to find out more and will report further when I do.

Other

There are of course several growler fill stations in Redmond, three of which are in a short strip on Highway 97 on the south end of town, including Fin & Fire (a fly fishing and grill shop with a 36-tap growler station inside), Lucky’s Growlers inside the Lucky 7 Deli/Lottery store, and the most prominent of them—Beer Dawgs. They have 32 taps, six of which are devoted to kombucha, and a current peek reveals that all but one of the beers are local—mostly to Central Oregon, several to Portland and elsewhere. (The very non-local is Shock Top.) They also just hosted their 2nd annual Beer Dawgs Brewfest this past Saturday the 14th, advertising 20+ breweries pouring beer—no mean feat all things considered.

Beer Dawgs Growler Fill Station

Redmond also has a thriving homebrew community, anchored by the Redmond Craft Brewing Supply homebrew (and general fermentation) shop on 6th Street about a block-and-a-half from Wild Ride Brewing. The homebrew shop is also the main meeting location (for now) for the Cascade Fermentation Association, the local homebrew club—separate from Bend’s Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization, though there is crossover with members (like myself) belonging to both.

The shop caters in more to all things fermentation beyond beer and wine, with kits for making cheese for example. Likewise, the CFA club regularly features wines, meads, ciders, and even kombucha for both tastings and educational portions. Both the shop and the club are fairly active within the local beer community (for instance, doing a demonstration homebrew at Beer Dawgs’ fest event last weekend).

Redmond Craft Brewing Supply, owner Jesse Sweetman
Redmond Craft Brewing Supply owner Jesse Sweetman prepping for a homebrew club group brew

They are already starting to outgrow the existing shop space on 6th Street, and are actively looking for a larger location which will ideally allow them to include a bottle shop. No word yet on the timeline for that but I would suspect sooner rather than later this year.

And then moving out beyond the breweries there are a growing number of places offering up wide selections of good beer. My favorite is The Pig and Pound, modeled after an English pub, serving up excellent pub food (with English-styled staples like bangers and mash) and offering 10 or 12 taps of well-curated brews, many local. It’s become a preferred non-brewery stop when we visit Redmond, in part because they have a fantastic, mind-blowing dessert that’s a must-try (stop in and ask for the “Chocolate Pig.” You won’t be sorry) and of course, great beer.

Jersey Boys Pizzeria is not a place I’ve visited in person yet, but they have perhaps the most taps in all of Central Oregon—50! Six of those taps are devoted to non-alcoholic sodas and kombuchas, but that sill leaves 44 taps for beers and ciders, and when you look their beer list, it’s clear they are aiming to have the best draft selection in the region. (Yes, this even despite the macro/industrial beer selections—Redmond is getting there, but there are still plenty of Coors Light and Bud Light drinkers in this part of the state.)

The Lifeline Taphouse is not far behind, offering up a selection of 30 beers and ciders on tap and overall it’s a well thought-out selection, complemented by standard pub fare (burgers, sandwiches, wings, and so on). We’ve visited once so far, this past fall, and I enjoyed my first pint of Deschutes’ Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA of the season at that time. (Lunch was so-so, and we haven’t had a chance to get back.)

And I’m quite sure other restaurants and bars in town are serving up good beer as well, but I don’t have much data on those (yet).

So what’s behind the strong uptick in the Redmond beer scene? In part, simply because the time is right. But also, as I wrote earlier this month for The Session:

And it’s also the business climate in Redmond—the city is actively building jobs and the local economy, and is definitely welcoming breweries and willing to work with them to bring their business to town. Why not Bend? Well, there’s a bit of an open secret that no one is really talking about here: sewer capacity—specifically, the lack of it. Basically, Bend’s sewer system, particularly in the downtown core area, is at its limit, and simply cannot handle another large-ish brewery. (I’ve heard that GoodLife Brewing on the westside was the last one of its size (30 barrels) to squeak in anywhere close to downtown.) So Redmond is more than happy to court any new breweries looking to open up in Central Oregon that simply cannot open in Bend.

So Redmond is one the rise, beerily speaking, actively looking to draw in brewery business and offering a solid foundation of existing breweries that are largely in growth mode. [The City has] been revitalizing the downtown core, giving it a much-needed facelift and drawing in more of the tourist traffic that was passing on through even just a few years ago. And there’s a strong community of homebrewers and enthusiasts experimenting and spreading the word.

Redmond is the city to keep an eye on for beer in the coming months and years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of breweries grow from the current four to six or even seven within the next year or two. And there’s a whole other segment I haven’t even tapped into to talk about: agriculture. Redmond was founded as an agricultural community, and that continues today as well. There are a growing number of hop farms being established in the region, for example, and I would not be surprised to see a lot of that type of beer-related agriculture and more centering on or near the city. But that’s a topic for another post.

Time to visit Redmond—it’s a quick and easy drive from Bend and there’s enough beer to make a day (or several) of it. And if you do, here’s a list of the beer-drenched locations I’ve been writing about:

  • Cascade Lakes Brewing, the Brewery: 2141 SW First Street, 541-923-3110, tours by appointment
  • Cascade Lakes, 7th Street Brew House: 855 SW 7th Street, 541-923-1795
  • Smith Rock Brewing: 546 NW 7th Street, 541-279-7005
  • Juniper Brewing: 1950 SW Badger Ave., Suite 103, 541-548-2739
  • Wild Ride Brewing: 332 SW 5th Street, 541-516-8544
  • Fin & Fire: 1604 S Hwy 97 #12, 541-548-1503
  • Lucky’s Growlers: 2392 S Hwy 97, 541-548-1503
  • Beer Dawgs:  2498 S Hwy 97, 541-693-4161
  • Redmond Craft Brewing Supply: 235 SW 6th Street, 541-504-4229
  • The Pig and Pound: 427 SW 8th Street, 541-526-1697
  • Jersey Boys Pizzeria: 527 NW Elm Ave., 541-548-5232​
  • Lifeline Taphouse: 46 NW 6th Street, 541-526-1401