The next newest brewery in Central Oregon is still in the development stages but launching from an established base.
Good Earth Brewing LLC, a project of Clare Thompson, Natalie Hoshaw and Miles Wilhelm, is taking shape on an 18½-acre property on NE Smith Rock Way, east of Terrebonne, where Thompson and Hoshaw already grow hops on 1 acre. The 3-year-old Smith Rock Hop Farm LLC has produced Cascade and Centennial hops for Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond and Immersion Brewing and Worthy Brewing in Bend.
Wilhelm, a hop grower and part-time brewer, is managing the project day-to-day for Thompson and Hoshaw, a midwife and an OB-GYN doctor, respectively, at St. Charles Center for Women’s Health, in Redmond. Katy Wilhelm, a labor and delivery nurse and Miles Wilhelm’s wife, also works there.
“I’ve guest-brewed but never worked on a system this size,” Miles Wilhelm said Wednesday. “Even though it’s a one-barrel system, we’ve plussed it up. A lot of big breweries get this system as a pilot system.”
The brewing system is one piece of the operation in place, or nearly in place. The brand-new, all-electric system from Ruby Street Brewing, of Fort Collins, Colorado, arrived at the site in November.
The owners have numerous bureaucratic and engineering hurdles to surmount before they turn out their first keg of beer.
Wilhelm has nearly finished an application to the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates labeling and advertising of beer, which must be complete before Good Earth Brewing applies for a license to brew beer from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Thompson, who owns the property, will be head brewer, Wilhelm said.
The property is cleared for an on-site septic system to handle the wastewater coming from the future brewery, according to Deschutes County Community Development Department records online. Wilhelm said 90 percent of the wastewater will be applied to a compost pile, which ultimately is applied to the 900-plant hop farm.
The spent grain will feed the ducks, chickens and other animals on the farm, he said. The 800-square-foot brewery building needs an engineering review before work begins on the septic system, Wilhelm said.
The business also needs a land use permit from the county, and Wilhelm is using the permit application submitted by another nanobrewer, Rat Hole Brewing, as a model for the Good Earth application. Like the first Rat Hole brewery, Good Earth is located in an exclusive farm use zone.
Wilhelm said he hopes to see the brewery producing beer for sale by the third quarter. Plans are for keg sales, a bottle release club and, eventually, a tasting room.
Steve Anderson, owner of Kobold Brewing LLC, a 2½-barrel nanobrewer in Bend, is one of three local brewers Wilhelm said he turned to for advice. The way ahead will be tough, Anderson said Wednesday, but Good Earth can succeed if it proceeds carefully.
“It’s really tough to exist and be profitable with a small-batch brewing system,” he said. “If they have niche, there’s a shot it’s going to work.”
Wilhelm said Good Earth plans to produce styles not often found in Central Oregon, including barrel-aged saisons, kriek lambics, Belgian dark strong ales and Russian imperial stouts. The owners plan to start small and stay small with expansion at most to a 7-barrel brewing system, he said. He said they have no rent to pay so pressure to succeed immediately is nonexistent, leaving room to experiment.
“We don’t have in Central Oregon a farmhouse brewery, that I’m aware of,” Wilhelm said, “that can put the hops from 50 yards away right in the boil and make some farmhouse beer.”
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