By Jon Abernathy

For The Bulletin

What: Immersion Brewing One Year Anniversary

When: 4-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Immersion Brewing, 550 SW Industrial Way, Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: imbrewing.com

What: Atlas Cider Four-Year Anniversary Carnival

When: Noon-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3

Where: Atlas Cider Tasting Room, 550 SW Industrial Way, Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: www.atlascider.com

The Box Factory, on the northern edge of the Old Mill District, has become something of a mini craft beer hub during the past several years. Bounded by Crux Fermentation Project to the east and Craft Kitchen and Brewery to the west, the shopping center is anchored by Immersion Brewing Company and Atlas Cider Company.

This weekend and next, Immersion and Atlas are celebrating birthdays, lighting up the Box Factory with festivities.

Immersion Brewing celebrates its first anniversary this weekend with a parking lot party on Friday evening and all day on Saturday. The party is part of Central Oregon Beer Week, which runs through Memorial Day.

Immersion opened a year ago with an unusual angle: a brew-on-premise operation in addition to the 10-barrel brewery and restaurant, where aspiring brewers can craft their own 5-gallon batches of beer.

It’s the first such operation to open in Bend, and given the popularity of craft beer in the region, perhaps it’s a bit surprising that something similar did not open sooner. (Although Bend does have a vibrant homebrewing scene.) Immersion provides the equipment, recipes and ingredients; customers brew their beer on the 7-gallon system, then return several weeks later to bottle it.

Of course, Immersion is not only known for its brew-on-premise setup. Head brewer Josh Cosci runs the 10-barrel brewhouse and keeps the beer flowing for the brewpub portion of the business.

Cosci’s signature beers incorporate a Belgian strain of yeast, rather unusual when brewing American styles such as pale ale and American IPA. By carefully controlling temperatures during fermentation, he is able to coax different characteristics from the yeast. Fermenting warm is ideal for Belgian-derived styles such as saisons, which subsequently exhibit the savory and spicy notes typical of the style.

Keeping the temperature on the cooler side, on the other hand, suppresses the yeast’s estery notes. (Esters are fruity flavors and aromas produced during fermentation, which can be reminiscent of apples, pears, roses, honey, and more.)

For instance, Bender, the brewery’s Belgian-style northwest IPA, tempers its ester profile with a balance towards American hops.

For Immersion’s anniversary, Cosci got creative with a barrel-aged specialty nearly a year in the making. “I’ll be releasing a barrel-aged beer for this event that was one of the first batches brewed at Immersion,” he said via email. “It’s a Flanders Red, the base beer is the IRA (India red ale) and it’s been inoculated with lacto and brett. The barrel is French oak and tart cherries have been added as well.”

“It’s been in the barrel for 11 months and (in my opinion) is pretty tasty,” said Cosci. Another planned specialty release is Cherry Sunset Saison, a saison-style ale with tart cherries. And for the first time, the brewery will be releasing two of its beers in bottles: Bender, and Little Fawn Saison. The bottle release party kicks off the weekend, starting at 4 p.m. Friday.

In addition to the specialty beers and bottle release, the party features music from five bands and a DJ, a pig roast, bouncy houses for the kids and more. The full music schedule can be found on the brewery’s website, imbrewing.com .

Atlas turns 4

The following weekend, Immersion’s next-door neighbor Atlas Cider will celebrate its fourth anniversary with a full-fledged carnival. This is not an exaggeration: in addition to the 80-foot Ferris wheel, rides will include the Zipper and Vertigo Swings, with bouncy houses for smaller children and live music spanning June 2 and 3. Atlas will debut its new summer seasonal cider, Pineapple Mango, for the festivities, as well. This tropical blend joins the other exotic flavors outside of the core lineup, Dragonfruit and Cinnamon Pear, which are released in winter and spring, respectively.

All of its ciders start with the base apple, and other fruits are blended in for flavor and balance. Blackberry Cider, their top seller, features a blend of blackberry and elderberry juice with the apple, while Dragonfruit includes dragonfruit and prickly pear juice. As of this writing, the company was developing the exact blend for the new Pineapple Mango. For an idea of what to expect from this blend, Portland Cider Company and Ace Cider offer pineapple variants that are worth seeking out.

The carnival will be taking place in the gravel lot next to the building, rather than taking over the parking lot as it did last year. Watch Atlas’ Facebook page at facebook.com/AtlasCiderCompany for updates on the weekend plans.

— Jon Abernathy is a local beer blogger and brew aficionado. His column appears in GO! every other week.

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