Worthy Brewing: First look, first brew

Today was a big day for Bend’s newest brewery, Worthy Brewing Company: Brewmaster Chad Kennedy and Head Brewer Dustin Kellner officially brewed up their first batch of beer on the new 30bbl system! The beer is a standard American Pale Ale (dubbed “Eastside Pale” I believe) intended to test and calibrate the brewhouse as well as get that first brew under the brewery’s belt before the end of the year.

Lest you get the wrong idea, however, the brewery/restaurant/beer garden/campus isn’t open yet: construction is still underway on the beer garden, and there is finishing work taking place throughout the facility. And this first brew day itself was a series of fits and starts: it was originally planned for this past Sunday, then Monday and finally today; and as the brewing was itself intended to be a calibration of the system, wasn’t without its own learning curve.

When I’d learned about the (original) brewing date, I had email Kennedy to find out if I could stop by for a first look. He readily agreed, so I stopped in on Sunday for a visit—and hadn’t gotten the memo that the brew day had been pushed out. However, Kellner was on hand and was happy to take some time to chat about the brewery and the beer while I took some pictures. And then today (the real brew day) I stopped by again to touch base with Kennedy, check out the actual brewing, and got a closer look at the restaurant.

I’ve got all the pictures I took on Sunday and today below; and other than the updates to Worthy’s Facebook page (which also documented some of today’s brew), I believe these are the very first pics of Worthy’s facility (and brewing).

Overall the scale of the project is impressive, and one hard to judge from the outside—the building is big, really big, and it’s only when you walk inside the warehouse-like space that you get a sense of it. Relative to the interior, the brewhouse portion of the brewery occupies a fairly small-footprint space on the west end, with a great view of Pilot Butte and the Cascade Mountains (when it’s not snowing).

Of course, that size means there’s room to grow—plenty of it. The brewhouse is a 30-bbl system, fully automated (or nearly so), and they plan to bring in a 3.5-bbl pilot brewing system for experimentation, recipe development, and one-off batches. There will be more fermenters installed, and the canning line is already in place—a bottling line will follow next year at some point.

The restaurant is impressive too: the centerpiece (even though it’s towards the back) is a wood-fired pizza oven, covered in a colorful mosaic of glass tiles, a motif which continues in the concrete floor: a “strip” of glass-tiled mosaic inlaid into the concrete artfully depicting a laden hop bine twining through the restaurant. And the wood: all the wood in the bar, the beams above it, and the tabletops (which weren’t there yet) was all reclaimed from the old Oregon Mental Hospital, which was both the setting of the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and where the movie version was filmed (in Salem). That’s some interesting history right there.

As for the kitchen and food, pizza will be a focal menu item (of course), and they plan to incorporate beer into the recipes as much as possible: into the pizza dough (at least to see how it turns out), and possibly using spent grains as well. Pub food will round out the menu, but of a healthier mind—they don’t have a deep fryer or a griddle, for instance.

All in all, very impressive, and it looks as though no expense has been spared in the building of the Worthy campus. This first beer, Eastside Pale, should be ready before the end of the year, and I told Kennedy that I’d be happy to be the first to buy a pint—even if it is just a “test brew.”

Here’s the full gallery of pictures I took over the two days:

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