GoodLife Brewing, opened to the public in 2011, is now old enough to qualify as a veteran
of Bend's beer community. Originally set to launch as Noble Brewing (until California-based Noble Ale Works opened first), GoodLife's been putting out enough Sweet As and Descender IPA in cans across the Northwest to keep beer fans practically doused in the stuff—something any visitor to its location off SW Century Drive can see, given the mighty stacks of aluminum by the brew equipment, just waiting to be filled.
Nonetheless, 2017 was a tough year for the GoodLife crew, given the sudden passing of Co-founder and Brewmaster Curt Plants in April. The hand he lent to the business and the beer allowed GoodLife to grow rapidly in recent years, putting out 14,000 taxable barrels for beer in 2016, according to Oregon Liquor Control Commission figures. That makes it the ninth-largest brewery in Oregon, and it couldn't have been possible without Plant's original Sweet As and Descender recipes.
Time marches on, however, and GoodLife has already announced the release schedule for the rest of 2018. It's looking like an exciting one, especially for those looking to see more of their tastier taproom-only releases outside of the taproom.
On that, "2018 looks to be a breakout year for us," owner Ty Barnett said. "After a hard year with the loss of Plants, we have been working hard to build a great team, along with some restructuring in the company. We have a plan to grow 15 percent to 20 percent this year, which is being helped in part by interest after our GABF [Great American Beer Festival] gold medal for Sweet As. We have begun opening up additional distribution in California and Chicago, with other markets in planning for this year."
Sweet As and Descender remain the outfit's flagships, but it's now joined by Comatose Imperial IPA, slated to be available in cans all year. A perennial favorite at the taproom, the 8.5 percent Comatose is up there with Boneyard's Hop Venom in its smooth, bitter delivery that doesn't feel anywhere near as strong as the ABV says. It replaces the Tie One On session ale in the can lineup, although Mountain Rescue and Wild Land will continue to see seasonal six-pack releases.
Also new this year is the HighCamp series, which features both constant and seasonal beers in a 500-milliliter (16-ounce) bottle. Comatose will be available in this size all year too, and it's joined by barroom favorites Pass Stout and Evil Sister Double IPA. (Evil Sister being a year-round bottle is big news—it's another fine, hoppy IPA, but it's usually only made once a year due to tank space and ingredient procurement issues.)
Those looking for more uncommon things on tap also won't be disappointment. Stop in next month to try Secret Stash, GoodLife's entry into the very busy hazy-IPA genre. This is followed by a Helles lager for spring, a summery saison—and right after that, it's back to fresh-hop season. A whirlwind of a year, but it's bound to be a Sweet-As one.