“Do your best, and next time, do better.” Such is the motto of Deschutes Brewery, a brewery deeply rooted in its home and community of Bend, Oregon. As the eighth-largest independent brewing company in the country, and 15th-largest brewing company overall, it comes as no surprise that the brewery is constantly working to improve.
Aside from its serious business sense, and impressive sustainability efforts, Deschutes also knows how to have fun. Here are 10 things to learn about that brewery you didn’t know you were mispronouncing.
Deschutes Brewery is named after a river, a county, and a forest
It’s pronounced “Deh-schutes,” and it’s based in Bend, Oregon, a small, beer-loving city on the Deschutes River in Deschutes County. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the brewery names a number of its beers after nearby landmarks, like its flagship beer, Black Butte Porter. Black Butte — pronounced “beaut” (basically, a standalone hill with steep sides and a flat top) — is a hill formed by volcanic ash, and it’s a popular hiking destination in Deschutes National Forest. It is said to be a vantage point for central Oregon mountains like the Three Sisters, Mount Jefferson, Three Finger Jack, and, on a clear day, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and even Washington State.
Deschutes is 100 percent family- and employee-owned
The brewery is still majority owned by its founder, Gary Fish, and his family. In 2013, Deschutes announced an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), meaning employees are able to gain company shares correlating to their number of years at the company. To do this and be one of the country’s biggest breweries is pretty badass. “We are not owned by, or selling to, any large brewer or other entity, nor do we have any plans to,” Fish says. “We’re having too much fun to change.”
Deschutes turned 30 in 2018
You don’t turn 30 and look this good by winging it, trust us. In 1988, Deschutes opened Deschutes Brewery & Public House on Bond Street in Bend. Twenty years later, it opened a second brewpub in Portland, Oregon. Last year, Deschutes debuted its first East Coast location: a new tasting room in Roanoke, Virginia. The brewery also operates a tasting room out of its production facility in Bend, where it offers tours, brewery swag, crowlers, and, of course, lots of beer.
Deschutes is building an East Coast production facility too
The Roanoke taproom is already open, complete with 20-gallon pilot system, but the big debut is yet to come. Deschutes will be breaking ground in 2019 on a new production facility here, aiming to ship beer by 2021. Deschutes beer is already available in most cities in Virginia.
Deschutes likes to party!
For its 30th anniversary, Deschutes threw a birthday bash that featured 30 different beers on tap. A subsequent party at the brewpub, Brew Bash 5000, celebrated 5,000 batches of beer brewed. Deschutes also participates annually in a state-wide beer festival called Zwickelmania, organized by the Oregon Brewers Guild. February 2018 marks the 10th year of Deschutes’ participation in both Bend and Portland. For the special day, the brewhouses are open to the public for free tours, special samplings, and, of course, Zwickel tasting straight from the tanks, as per Bavarian tradition.
… And to party for good causes
Go Outside Fest, a partnership between the nonprofit Roanoke Outside Foundation and the City of Roanoke Department of Parks and Recreation, presented by health insurance corporation Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, encourages healthy outdoor activities for Virginians. Street Pub, an outdoor street festival in which Deschutes takes over an entire block, raises money for local charities around the country. Past locations have included Cincinnati, Roanoke, Milwaukee, Portland, Oregon, and Sacramento.
Deschutes loves food … a lot
In addition to operating two brewpubs, one in Bend and one in Portland, Oregon, Deschutes maintains an active blog with advice on beer cuisine-related topics like pairing beer and pizza, beer and ramen, and beer and pie (its favorite dessert pairing). The brewery also posts recipes that use its beers as ingredients, like Easy Porter Cupcakes (using Black Butte Porter) and Ale Seafood Ceviche (with American Wheat).
Deschutes makes a beer whiskey
Along with year-round beers, seasonals, the hop-driven Bond Street Series and a special Reserve Series that includes the famously annually released Abyss, Deschutes partnered with Bendistillery to create a malt whiskey from a Deschutes beer — you guessed it — Black Butte Porter. The whiskey is double-distilled from the wash of the beloved flagship beer. Black Butte Whiskey is available at the Bend and Portland brewpubs.
Deschutes is a leader in sustainability
Deschutes Brewery won a 2016 Sustainability Award in the leadership category for making sustainability an integral part of its business. The company also won a 2015 Oregon Sustainability Award after purchasing 5 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy (enough to take 763 cars off the road for a year); replacing production facility lighting with LEDs (this uses 69 percent less energy, enough to power eight homes for a year); and recycling 404,407 pounds of cardboard and plastic. The Deschutes pub in Portland also received an honorable Gold Certification through the City of Portland Sustainability at Work program.
Deschutes started distributing in cans in 2018
After 30 years as a leading craft brewery in the Pacific Northwest, Deschutes announced in February 2018 that it would finally release its beers it cans. In particular, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Pacific Wonderland Lager, and Fresh Squeezed IPA are available in 12-ounce cans nationwide, with the likelihood of rolling out more brands in the future.