New Years Eve, 1988; it seems like a month ago this week started. The busiest week in the brief history of the brewpub, far busier than any that preceded it. Everyone’s tired. But everyone’s still game for what is to come. I’m tired, really tired, but relieved that people still want to come out and see us. I’m tired because my Christmas day was largely spent with a hot water hose held on the cone of one fermenter we are still trying to get started. Fortunately, I have a great wife and great parents that kept me company for a large part of that day. Even more fortunately, it seems like we might survive this week, and this first year (6-months really) and, although we’re battered, we’re still here, still in business. I’m excited for our new bookkeeper who is starting in a week. It’ll be the third we’ve had in the first 6 months and I don’t need to be hiring another one. So many things to do and all I can think about is getting some rest. Oh well, no one asked me to be here. I guess I’ll keep going and look for things to improve. We got our beer to the Mountain (Bachelor) and they seem to be happy. I haven’t skied yet, but, then again, don’t think I’ll have time this winter. We have a city league team that I’m on and I think I can get to the race, then come right back to the pub, if I time it right. It’ll be nice to ski, but I’d sure like a warm up run, or two….
The story can certainly go on, and on. As I sit here writing this on New Years Eve, 2013, the reflections come flooding back. Not something I’m prone to, melancholy. But, I do enjoy thinking about the people, and the romanticesque (sic) struggles we enjoyed so long ago. Now at the sunset of our 25th annum, after having had so many celebrations of that silver anniversary this year, I allow myself a little trip down memory lane. I may yet find myself down at that pub today to enjoy a pint with some of our earliest customers who still enjoy that space as much as I do.
What we have accomplished this year seems incredible to me, in view of that first year. Our barrel production will tip close to 285,000 barrels (we won’t know exact numbers for a couple of weeks), in that first semi-year we did 385 barrels. Our original crew was 12 people, we now have over 412. We had 4 tap handles at the pub with 4 beers (when we could produce that many), where we now have 23. The original pub had 100 seats plus 20 at the bar, we currently have 350 seats, plus our pub in Portland has 300. We sold beer all the way to Mt. Bachelor that year. This year we sell beer all the way to Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). In 1988 we had one small brew house in our pub, today we have four brew houses and the original was replaced in 1994 with one with better efficiency. In that first year we produced four beers; Black Butte Porter, Bachelor Bitter, Cascade Golden Ale, and Jubelale which we hand-bottled in champagne bottles for sale over the bar. Today we still sell Black Butte Porter and Jubelale and Bachelor Bitter is still the favorite of the locals in Bend (a fact we could not repeat at our pub in Portland). Cascade Golden Ale has been replace with Deschutes River Ale.
In 1988 we struggled with just about everything we did—everything was hard. This year we enjoyed brewing four beers with six breweries who’s history is reflective of our own; Class of ’88 Barley Wine with Rogue and North Coast Breweries; Class of ’88 Smoked Imperial Porter with Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland; Class of ’88 Belgian Style Strong Golden Ale with Goose Island Brewing in Chicago, and a pub only Class of ’88 Bitter with Gritty McDuff’s in Portland, Maine. And since enjoying brewing is really what it’s all about, we celebrated with these friends their successes as much as our own. And, we brewed Black Butte XXV, our sixth version of this special, annual excursion into blending old with new and traditional (our tradition of course) with experimental.
Because one celebration is never enough, we had two birthday parties here in Bend. One was celebrated with a community bike ride from Black Butte to Mirror Pond and a large community celebration in Drake Park and one, our traditional Party on the Patio out back of our pub with all our friends, old and new. Somehow I never tire of those Parties on the Patio.
So, our 25 years has been special. Special for me, because of all the people who have passed through my life on this journey. It has been special for our community of beer lovers, because, well because we love beer. But mostly it’s been special because it hasn’t been easy. It’s been special because all the bruises and all the scars, and all the friends and all the successes have made it special. It hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been clean and we’ve made our share of mistakes (maybe more than our share) but out of all that we’re here, and we’re staying, maybe for another 25. I hope you’ll be joining us.Cheers to 2038!
Happy New Year,