What: 10 Barrel Brewing 10th Anniversary Party
When: 4-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: 10 Barrel’s east-side taproom, 62970 NE 18th St., Bend
Cost: Free entry, $10 for a commemorative pint glass and two beers, $3 per beer
When I wrote “Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon” three years ago, I started Chapter 6 with the background of Chris and Jeremy Cox, the twin brothers who founded 10 Barrel Brewing Co. In 2003, the brothers arrived in Bend, casting about for new opportunities. Tired of working in the corporate world in Portland, they wanted to do something different. They settled on two possibilities.
“It came down to a drift boat company, or a bar, and the drift boat company was too expensive, we didn’t have any money,” Chris Cox said in an interview in 2014. “So the bar was super reasonable. We never worked in bars before or anything. We just wanted to get to Bend, we couldn’t find any other way to get to Bend to get jobs, so we bought a bar.”
They bought Lucy’s Place, a small bar and diner on Franklin Avenue downtown, and renamed it JC’s Bar & Grill. As the bar grew in popularity, the brothers grew intrigued by the possibility of opening a brewery. In 2007, they started Wildfire Brewing with Paul Cook, a brewer formerly with Deschutes Brewery. They launched with the beers Code 24 Pale Ale and Logger Lager.
A year later, facing legal challenges over the name “Wildfire,” they changed the name to 10 Barrel Brewing. Over the years 10 Barrel hit familiar milestones for a growing and popular northwest brewery: opening a pub, expanding into a 50-barrel production brewery, earning a number of Great American Beer Festival medals, hiring high-profile brewers away from other breweries and opening a satellite brewpub in Boise.
In 2014 everything changed. In late October the news broke that corporate brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev was acquiring 10 Barrel (ironically, within a week of the release of Bend Beer detailing their pre-acquisition history). This decision was not without controversy; as The Bulletin noted a year after the sale, “the reaction in craft-beer circles was almost universally negative, and the criticism on social media was deafening.”
Fast-forward nearly three years. The corporate backing has allowed the brewery to expand to include pubs in Portland, Denver and soon San Diego. Their distribution footprint increased to include several Midwest and East Coast markets. Production of their core brands has grown accordingly, and their barrel and sour beer program in particular received a big boost.
For instance, their two year-round sour ales available in cans, Cucumber Crush and Raspberry Crush, were previously only available as seasonal specialties. The Fancy Beer Series is their experimental playground for releasing high concept beers, such as last year’s Rose Bois, a three-year barrel-aged Belgian-inspired wild ale, and more recently, Spiral Staircase, a complex cherry Baltic porter.
Their latest brewery expansion in northeast Bend more than doubles their size and increases their annual capacity to 120,000 barrels. (The Oregon Liquor Control Commission reports that 10 Barrel sold 43,561 barrels of beer in Oregon in 2016.) This expansion includes a second pub, the grand opening of which culminates this weekend for their 10th anniversary celebration.
The party starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the new pub and expanded brewing facility located on NE 18th Street. The event is free and family-friendly and will feature live music from bands including De La Soul, Rubblebucket, and Brent Amaker and The Rodeo. And, of course, there will be beer.
The core beer lineup will be pouring, including Apocalypse IPA, Pub Beer, the Crush series and Sinistor Black Ale. Seasonals and specialties will be pouring as well, including special 10th anniversary beers as well as Code 24, a reimagining of the brewery’s very first beer, Code 24 Pale Ale.
10 Barrel has in fact released four versions of Code 24 since the beginning of the year. The first batch variation was dubbed “Old School” and based on the original recipe. It was followed up by two fruitier variations, designated “Bitter Orange” and “Juicy Citrus.” The fourth and final batch release is described as a “classic pine-flavored version created with Simcoe and Chinook hops.”
Four special anniversary beers will be pouring Saturday night, each brewed exclusively for the party by the head brewers from Bend, Portland, Boise and Denver. Abuelita, from Denver, is a cream ale brewed with guava; Freak Alley from Boise is a session IPA brewed with Comet, Chinook, and Mosaic hops; Portland’s 10th Anniversary IPA is brewed with Citra, Mosaic and Galaxy hops; and from Bend comes Sweet Cherryot, a cherry sour ale.
Beers will cost $3 individually, or for $10 guests will receive a limited-edition pint glass with two beers. Proceeds from beer sales will be donated to local charities.
— Jon Abernathy is a local beer blogger and brew aficionado. His column appears every other week in GO!