The Brew Site

The Session #97: Up-and-Coming Beer Locations

Today being the first Friday of March calls for another round of The Session, group beer blogging wherein everyone shares their thoughts upon a particular beery topic suggested by the host for the month. It’s open to all, and this month our host is Our Tasty Travels, and the topic at hand is Up-and-Coming Beer Locations:

We all have our favorite beer locations. Some have been around for centuries. Others have made such a name for themselves in the past 25 years, they have reached beer-legend status and are ranked up there with the “old-world” beer destinations.

For this month’s session, I’m asking you all to share which locations you see as the beer destinations that everyone will be talking about in the next few years.  Where are the beer scenes just emerging, or coming into their own? Some may be brand new locations. While others may be old-world destinations seeing a renaissance into the world of new craft beer styles.  Some may even be locations where familiar names from around the world are planning on setting up shop to bring new styles to old palates.

I wish I had a good answer for this, but the reality is, for as much as I’ve been writing about beer over the years, I just don’t travel enough to get a good handle on where the next big beer destination is going to be. I don’t know. At least not on the macro level.

I live in Bend, Oregon, which has become quite the beer destination in its own right, and I’m pretty immersed in it, so perhaps there’s also a myopia of sorts, a difficulty seeing the forest for the trees (or the hop field for the bines, if you will). Fixated on the micro level? Perhaps.

If I were to hazard some wild guesses, some areas that sound promising (assuming they aren’t already beer locations that I’m simply behind on!) would include New Zealand, Austin, Texas, Grand Rapids, Michigan (which I think may already be well on its way), and, god help me, Florida (if only because the new brewery boom seems to be in full swing there).

On the other hand, if I go hyperlocal I can tell you what I’m pretty sure the next up-and-coming beer destination is for Central Oregon: Redmond. There are a number of reasons.

Redmond now has four breweries (three of which opened in the past three years), and I’m aware of several more in concept or planning. There’s a terrific English-style pub, the Pig and Pound, serving up good beer and great food, and a relatively new homebrew supply shop which also helped to organize the Redmond homebrew club, the Cascade Fermentation Association, 140 members strong in just over a year. And I hear that Jersey Boys Pizzeria has one of the best taplists in Central Oregon—44 of the 50 taps dedicated to beer, and if this list is accurate then I’d be hard pressed to argue it.

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. They’ve 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.

So next time you’re considering coming to Bend to check out the beer scene—don’t forget to check out Redmond a mere 15 minutes away—it’s the new up-and-comer, you know.