Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pink Boots at Deschutes

“Let your dream lead you.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Well I didn’t sleep so good, what with the instant replays of fishtailing trailers in my head. But then I had a great day...

I spent the morning with Jake Harper (photo above) who runs the 50-barrel JV Northwest brewery at Deschutes Brewing Company in Bend, Oregon. Jake is a marathon runner, and his long legs come in handy when he is running up and down two sets of circular staircases on three floors managing four brews at once. He’s been there 8 years, and he knows that brewery well. Luckily Deschutes Black Butte Porter is Jake’s favorite beer, because he makes four back-to-back batches on a regular basis. Jake works the first shift, and Chris the second.

After lunch I got a tour of the 130-barrel German Huppmann brewery, then the packaging line, the wastewater treatment plant, the warehouse and the lab. Everything is just as spiffy and wonderful as you would expect it to be from a good-sized regional craft brewery that takes the quality of its beer seriously.

And they seriously were more than happy to show me everything. Jake even let me suction out the hop back with a big built-in wet-vac hose. I tried to get my uniform dirty, but only my pink boots got a little dirty. Other than the sprial-staircase running, the 50-barrel system is very user-friendly. The 130-barrel system is automated so a brewer couldn’t get marathon fit running that one. The two breweries are in the same large building, so I got to go back and forth a bit.
After work, owner Gary Fish and Brewmaster Larry Sidor took Jon and I to Deschute’s original brewpub in downtown Bend. They replaced their original 12-barrel system with a shiney 10-barrel JV Northwest system about 8 years ago or so. I think they wore out their original brewery, brewing 7,000 barrels there the year before they opened the 50-barrel brewery.

The brewpub had about 16 beers on tap, including cask beer. They even had their original Bachelor Bitter on cask, which was a real treat. The medium-rare mushroom burger and fries were excellent.

All in all it was a most excellent day, and everybody I met at Deschutes was exceptionally nice. I have a feeling I’m going to meet a lot of exceptionally nice people on this trip. Pröst!

P.S. Thank you to Mia & Pia's Brewery in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Rod & Jodi Kucera let me take over their computer for a few hours so I could catch up on emails, photos, and blogs.

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