There are now officially too many great beer spots around Bend's downtown and nearby west side to visit in one go-around—at least if you want to keep your liver and headspace fresh.
Over the past year or so alone, the area around Galveston Avenue—home of the already-popular 10 Barrel and Brother Jon's Public House—has become increasingly crowded with the opening of a growler-fill joint, a food truck pod with built-in beer bar, a wine lounge, and an outdoor beer garden in front of Aspect Board Shop. (And let's not forget Westside Tavern, Bend's top choice when it's 1:30 am and you just don't want to go home.)
Now, in the site of the gone-but-not-forgotten Westside Café & Bakery (1005 NW Galveston, between Aspect and Versante Pizza), the westside avenue is about to see yet another beer destination. Oblivion Brewing Co. began distributing around Bend and beyond starting in late summer 2013, opening up shop with a single half-barrel system at first, but—as passersby along Galveston have no doubt noticed the past few weeks—they're about to have a much more physical presence in the scene.
"We weren't really looking to start a pub at all," Oblivion business manager Meghann Butschy told the Source. "The opportunity came about, though, and it felt like we're at just about the right point in our history to seize upon it."
Meghann, alongside co-owner and head brewer Darin Butschy, are hardly strangers to beer. Darin's been involved with beer since the early homebrewing era of the 1980s, becoming head brewer at SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo, California, in 1989. (The brewery was purchased by Firestone Walker several years later.) A ski trip brought him to Bend and one of the first batches of Jubelale inspired him to stay. Since then, Darin has worked a variety of jobs before he and Meghann had enough equipment to launch a brewery of their own. Now Oblivion's running a full 10-barrel system, part of the reason Polar Star Pale Ale and Backside IPA are now regulars on tapwalls across Central Oregon.
The Galveston taproom will serve as the nerve center for Oblivion's operations, although the actual brewing will continue at the company's production facility. Expect a variety of Oblivion taps available, along with a full restaurant menu and a back patio for summertime reverie. There's even a breakfast menu planned from Friday to Sunday, so the old Westside Café spirit will survive to some extent.
"Our menu is geared around and paired with our beer, from appetizers to desserts," Meghann noted. "We'll be starting with six Oblivion beers, but we'll definitely be adding more as we grow."
Of course, the food's only part of the picture. Oblivion's most popular beers are undoubtedly Polar Star and the IPA—both smooth, refreshing, and reliable, although neither major standouts in our jam-packed pale ale scene. To beer nerds, the brewery's track record with one-offs is the real draw. Think about Snowblivion, which showed up in places like Cabin 22, Pizza Mondo, and Broken Top Bottle Shop a few months back. A dark, hoppy winter ale, the 6.8% beer was filled with chocolate notes and a nice, hoppy scent—one that was only further improved with the keg they released that was aged in Bendistillery's rye whiskey barrels.
Construction is currently reaching a crescendo at the taproom, which Meghann said is slated for a mid-May opening. Once it launches, tourists and local beer nuts can tour the length and breadth of Central Oregon's beer offerings without even having to leave Galveston Avenue—and, hey, if you get the munchies, the food options aren't bad either.
"We feel super excited to be part of the growing west side and the culture," Meghann said. "We're still self-distributing right now, but hopefully we'll have a distributor a year from now and become available throughout the state."