Glenn Whittington is helping change Redmond’s palate.
“I’m turning Coors Light fans into microbrew drinkers every day,” says Whittington, 42, the owner and operator of Beer Dawgs, one of several growler-fill stations in Deschutes County’s second-largest city. “And for the people here that already were into craft brewing, I hear all the time, ‘This is great! Now I don’t have to drive into Bend.’”
Indeed, the Redmond beer scene is off and running. Wild Ride Brewing and Juniper Brewing both opened this spring, and Whittington’s mini-pub — picture a dream-worthy man cave with more than 30 taps — is among several businesses, including Smith Rock Brewing, the Pig & Pound Public House and the Lifeline Taphouse, that began welcoming customers within the past two years. Throw in Redmond’s original brewery, Cascade Lakes, which turns 20 this year, and all of a sudden The Hub of Central Oregon makes for a nice all-day beer trip.
“The Redmond beer culture has been awesome to be a part of,” says Wild Ride brewer and co-owner Paul Bergeman. “And we’re really excited to be a part of the Central Oregon beer culture in general.”
While multiple businesses are doing their part to make Redmond more of a destination for craft-brew lovers, Wild Ride in particular seems poised for stardom. Located in a former Parr Lumber storage space on Fifth Street, Wild Ride retained the industrial feel of the building, giving its taproom plenty of character. The ceiling is as high as 24 feet in some spots and patrons can watch brewers work while they drink their beers on bars made from reclaimed wood. An outdoor patio doubles seating capacity. Outside tables made of upcycled electrical spools — they look good! — are centered around a firepit.
As nice as the building is, Wild Ride’s beer, and its impressive number of options, steal the show. Bergeman — who previously brewed for Portland’s Laurelwood Brewing and Hawaii’s Kona Brewing — opened Wild Ride with no fewer than 10 different brews on tap. The brewery now has 11 of its own creations flowing after Bergeman made a single-hop, single-malt beer for Central Oregon Beer Week, and it offers up a bit of everything, from Big Booty Golden Ale on the lighter end of the spectrum to the big Brain Bucket Imperial IPA, which clocked in at over 9 percent on my recent visit.
“Being in Redmond, we wanted to open our doors with a (brew) style for any beer drinker,” says Wild Ride co-owner Brian Mitchell, 38, a 1994 Redmond High School graduate. “Knowing Redmond’s a little more old school, we expected some desire for some lighter ales. That being said, there’s an excitement for craft beer here. It really is an untapped market.”
Focusing on beer, at least for now, Wild Ride does not have a kitchen but houses three food carts next to its patio; Foodfellas (sandwiches, wraps, chili fries), the Patty Wagon (burgers, grilled cheese masterpieces) and Lil Bit O Texas (barbecue) were all on site earlier this week.
“It gives people in the food cart business a chance to showcase what they love to do and lets us focus on beer,” says Bergeman, 38. “We can showcase what we’re here to do, which is to make great beer.”
Bergeman and Mitchell have big plans for the summer, including bottling its beers, tap handles throughout the region and a trip to the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland. Wild Ride will also host Redmond’s annual Oktoberfest in the fall.
“We were always excited about Redmond,” says Mitchell, whose wife, Kelli Grey, is also a co-owner. “We were thrilled about finding our facility here, downtown.
Bergeman concurs: “Redmond’s coming around,” he says. “We like our concept, we’re having fun … and we’re excited to be here.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0305 or email@example.com