One of the glorious personality traits about Central Oregon's beer scene is its sheer inclusiveness. On one extreme, you have massive production facilities capable of producing tens of thousands of barrels per year—to say nothing of AB InBev's recent foray into our collective doorstop. On the other, you have breweries that literally consist of a couple guys in a basement.
"This used to be the pool table room," Monkless Belgian Ales brewer Todd Clement told the Source as he showed off the new, sparkling-clean brewhouse down the stairs in his house in northern Bend. An organic chemist by training, Clement was bit by the beer bug when his job took him on frequent trips to Belgium. "I was always amazed by the scene they have over there, the sheer flavor and originality you see in it," he said. "It was something that, when I began homebrewing later on, I knew I wanted to try and recreate for myself."
As it goes with good homebrewers, one thing led to another. Clement entered his Belgian-inspired ales in competitions while also receiving feedback from his neighbors—including Michelle Mitchell, co-founder of Humm Kombucha, who encouraged him to take the plunge and start a real brewery. Now, alongside business partner Kirk Meckem, he's founded Monkless, the 19th (!) brewing operation within Bend city limits.
Monkless will debut November 28 at the Humm taproom on NE Second Street, offering the Dubbel or Nothing Belgian-style double ale (the official launch party is December 4). That'll be followed by a Belgian strong dark in midwinter, as well as a Belgian IPA that combines the trademark yeast of Flemish beers with Pacific Northwest hops for a taste that's not unlike a hoppier version of Deschutes' Foray IPA. "I think there's a pretty good niche we can make for ourselves here," Meckem said. "We'll see how things work out going forward."