In a town steeped in hops and yeast, one business, housed in a stately old church on Northeast Third Street, stands out as a beer mecca.
If the largest brew selection in Central Oregon—located in the upstairs portion of the building— isn't enough to satisfy your beery curiosity, perhaps the 15 rotating taps downstairs will offer something to your liking. Either way, owners of The Brew Shop/Platypus Pub, Jeff Hawes and Glen Samuel, invite you to stop by and check out the choices. If they don't have it, they'll try to order it for you.
Hawes manages the Brew Shop upstairs while Samuel takes charge of the Platypus Pub downstairs. While not a home brewer himself, Hawes stocks everything to get the home brewer started, from the basic equipment to convenient starter kits. He recommends the latter for newbies who want to start brewing at home. "I have watched people do it and I was always interested in it. It's kind of fun and addictive, really," Hawes says.
Even in the land of professional breweries, home brewing is still a popular hobby. "Once you get over the initial cost of the equipment, you can get a recipe dialed in to get a beer that you really want and really like," Hawes says.
Concerning trends and what's hot in the brewing world, it's still the hazy IPAs that are all the rage, according to Hawes. "IPAs are still number one. I like IPAs. It took me a while to get into sours, but I can appreciate a good sour. But in the wintertime, I really get into imperial stouts."
Besides the current popularity of hazy IPAs, Hawes says Block 15 from Corvallis is a hot seller, especially its "Sticky Hands" releases. "When that hits, it flies off the shelf," he adds.
"Cans are really catching on around here. In the summertime, gotta have 'em. It's better for the beer. Absolutely no light can get to them, and that affects the flavor," he says.
Hawes grew up in Madras, attended Central Oregon Community College and then earned a degree from the University of Oregon. When the business opened around 2006, there were four partners who met while working at the post office in Bend. "It was kind of one of those things where we could become our own bosses," he recalls. The business started out on Division Street but has been in its current location since 2011.
Samuel is from the small community of Scio, south of Salem, but has been coming to the Bend area for hunting and fishing since he was about five. Samuel says he was in the Marines, stationed at Camp Pendleton near San Diego around 1990, when he decided it was time to move to Central Oregon.
As for beers, "I'm all over the board. I like a clean, crisp pilsner, but I really like the sour beers now. I like all styles, some more than others," Samuel says.
Besides the 15 rotating tap handles in the Platypus Pub, there's a tap dedicated to the unofficial beer of Central Oregon: Boneyard's ubiquitous RPM. The rotating kegs range from 5 to 15 gallons and can last from two to three days or longer, Samuel says—who agrees with Hawes that the New England-style, hazy IPAs are especially popular these days.
"We try to have something on for everybody: IPAs, pilsners, ciders, sours and we always have a nitro on tap," Samuel says. "It's hard to keep things on an even keel sometimes," he adds, referring to the variety of beers on tap. Now and then, the pub scores a prized keg of Pliny the Elder, from Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, Calif. Saumel recalls a special occasion about six years ago when Platypus obtained a keg of the ultra-sought-after Pliny the Younger.
"We sold tickets for that," he recounts. "We wanted to control the chaos. People were lined up on a Sunday." A portion of the proceeds went to the local Humane Society. "It was a good day for the dogs, for us and for the customers," Saumel says.
"We do have a good local following, a good customer base, and they are knowledgeable. We want something a little different and our customers help us," he adds.
Besides a fresh rotation of tasty brews, Platypus Pub's main feature is trivia night on Tuesdays. Regular participants include not one but two repeat champions on the national TV game show, Jeopardy.
The next big event is a tasting on March 22, 5-7 p.m., for a collaboration beer between Deschutes and Crux.
The Brew Shop/Platypus Pub
1203 NE 3rd St., Bend