Deschutes Brewery TourSaturday, November 27th, 2010
I visited Deschutes brewery in Bend, Oregon recently. The tour was fun and the free beer was great. They let visitors enjoy four complimentary 4oz samples from any of their main styles (Stout, Porter, Mirror Pond, IPA, and Cascade Lakes Organic). That works out to a free pint! They will also have small number of seasonals or special brews on tap to choose from. Do not expect the same selection available at their brew pubs (one in Bend, one in Portland). I hit up the brewery both days I was in Bend. It just happened to be ‘on the way’ to where we were going on our trip through central Oregon.
I highly recommend the tour, it was hands down the best I’ve ever been on. They are used to having home brewers visit and are open about their processes. It was a great learning experience. Here are some of the highlights:
Deschutes Brewing Process:
- They centrifuge their beer (as opposed to pasteurize or filter).
- They use 4 carbon filters on the local city water, then add brewing salts to style.
- Brewing kettles come from Germany, Huppmann brand. They are seamless construction. The kettles are so big they had to shut down a highway to truck them into Bend Oregon.
- They re-pitch yeast up to 4 times.
- Use an advanced laboratory for analyzing ingredients, wort, and beer to ensure highest quality and consistency. If they get an off batch they will make another batch to offset the problem and then blend the two.
About The Business:
- Founded in 1988, still privately owned and independently operated by its founder Gary Fish.
- Deschutes is currently the top independent brewer in Oregon, and has a goal of becoming the top microbrew in the US.
- Deschutes is looking to buy or build a brewery on the east coast to expand operations in that part of the country.
- The ‘restroom’ adjacent to the lunch room is actually a tap room.
- Everyday each employee gets a free pint of whatever they would like.
- They have a gourmet chef on site to prepare food for the staff.
- They have a strict quality control process and use lean practices.
- All employees can participate in tasting the beer for quality control. This includes being slipped off flavors and learning to distinguish between defects. Very cool way to learn about tasting!
For Home Brewers:
- They will give you hints about their recipes, but it is not a lot to go on. They give a rough outline of the ingredients only. The times, temperatures, and amounts are up to you. Turns out that is essential to getting it right, I’m still trying to perfect my Mirror Pond clone…
- Here’s a hint I saw written on a whiteboard in the brewery: boil the ESB and Green Lakes for 75 minutes.
The main Deschutes hub is in Bend, OR (brewery on west side of river, brew pub downtown). If you are ever in Portland, check out their brewpub in the Pearl District. They have a wide selection of locally made brews, and great food.
For more information:
Deschutes was kind enough to hook me up with a t-shirt for writing this post.