Bend Brewing Company, that humble brewpub in the oddly-shaped building on Brooks Street which has a knack for collecting beer-fest medals, is turning 20 this Friday. It's a tough milestone for any restaurant to reach, but considering how consistently avant-garde and tasty the BBC's releases have proven to be over the years, they have every right to be proud as a peacock of their legacy.
Originally announced as the Brooks Street Brewery in November 1993, Bend Brewing didn't actually open until February 1995, thanks to the building that founders Dave Hill and Jerry Fox purchased requiring extensive renovation work. (Among the additions they made were a seven-barrel system crammed into the tiny space upstairs—the same system that produces all their beer today.) It was the second brewpub to open up in Bend after Deschutes Brewery itself, and while Deschutes is now one of America's top regional beer brands, the BBC two blocks down is still a tiny outfit, producing less than a thousand barrels per year and restricting bottle distribution just to Central Oregon and a couple of Portland bottle shops. That's the philosophy taken by current owner Wendi Day, who took over after Fox, her father, retired in 2000.
What their production line lacks in quantity, though, is more than made up for in quality. Between 2002 to 2011, when Tonya Cornett (now at 10 Barrel) was the brewer, the BBC's beers began to attract national attention, with the Hop Head imperial IPA winning gold at the Great American Beer Festival in 2006. Cornett (and current brewmaster Ian Larkin) followed that up with heavy experimentation in souring and fruit flavoring, releasing beers like the Ching Ching Berliner weiss (winner of two GABF medals) and the astoundingly rich and flavorful Lovely Cherry Baltic Porter.
On Friday the BBC will take over Brooks Street, offering outdoor entertainment, 20 different beers (including a ton of vintage-aged releases), and a bottle release for Outback XX, a wild-fermented strong ale. Stop on in and raise a glass—the BBC proves that even small businesses can make huge waves in this industry. Happy Birthday, Bend Brewing Company.