My Assistant Beer Guru, Sam Wynne, and San Antonio General Manager, Lucas Mobley, just got back from Bend, Oregon and it looks like they got to check quite a few breweries. The most recognizable of them all would have to be Deschutes brewery.
Deschutes is one of the largest craft breweries in the country. Based out of Oregon, they sell most of their beer on the West Coast. They got their start as a little brewpub in 1988, but since then have blossomed into one of the biggest users of whole cone hops in the world. Their flagships Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter are some very fine examples of their respective styles, and Obsidian Stout is the best selling American made stout. Only Guinness outsells it in this country.
Above is the old brewhouse, which is still in use, but mostly for the smaller batch brews.
These mash tuns are where full scale production takes place. To maximize production each of these vats have beers in varying stages of the process.
Here, hundreds of pounds of malted and milled barley are being mixed with hot water (150+ degrees) to get the mash started. That skinny layer of dark roasted grain around the outside is enough to make this beer black as night.
One of the wildest things about large scale production breweries is always the bottling line.
You cant go see a brewery without drinking some of their brews, and outside of Texas they are allowed to have their own pubs.
Most of their beers are named after local landmarks. Mirror Pond Pale is named after a local pond, Red Chair is named after the oldest ski lift on Mount Bachelor, Inversion IPA is named for the dense fog that sweeps through the mountains, Black Butte Porter is named for a local mountain, and so on. Many of their smaller batch beers don’t make it far from the brewery, and in the case of their 22nd Anniversary beer Black Butte XXII and Nitrogen pressed Abyss 2010, they don’t even make it out of the brewpub.
They checked out a few other local breweries as well. Silver Moon is a cozy little pub, that distributes around Oregon. Their porter and ESB were a big hit.
Boneyard Brewing is one of the newest breweries in Bend. They make some tasty brews, and have even done a collaboration beer with Three Floyds out of Munster, Indiana. They don’t send their beer out of Bend…..yet.
10 Barrel Brewing also has a few pubs around Oregon, this one served a great Cabernet Barrel Aged Old Ale called Double Woody.
It sounded like Lucas and Sam had some fun and got to try some new brews. They bring back word that The Abyss by Deschutes Brewing is getting very close to TABC approval for Texas distribution this year, and that they have a few cases allocated for the Moth and some Saucers if this happens. Keep your eyes out for this brew that currently sits as BeerAdvocate.com’s #4 beer in the WORLD. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!
Sam is off to World Beer Festival next. January 22nd in Columbia, SC….. Tough job.