Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

Redmond’s craft beverage scene is frothing with startups in beer, cider and spirits.

Geist Beerworks began brewing this month on a 4.5-barrel system at 736 SW Umatilla Ave. near the Redmond Airport. Porter Brewing Co., specializing in English-­style cask ale, will open by the end of this month in the Jackpine Industrial Complex in northeast Redmond.

The industrial building at 611 NE Jackpine Court is also home to Dry Fields Cider, which opens next week. And by 2019, the complex will house Waterman Distillery, maker of Gompers Gin.

While the east-side industrial areas draw small-scale producers with taprooms, midtown Redmond expects to gain a full brewpub with Initiative Brewing. The new brewery is slated to open at the end of the year in a former bank building at 424 NW Fifth St.

“We’re really working on creating a beverage hub here in Redmond,” said Chuck Arnold, the city’s economic development program manager. Breweries help generate foot traffic in the city’s core, so Redmond has provided grant money to build out patios at The Vault Taphouse and Wild Ride Brew Co., he said.

Initiative is eligible for a low-interest property rehabilitation loan, and several of the new beverage makers could take advantage of tax breaks available in an enterprise zone, Arnold said.

Redmond’s business-friendly policies attracted Waterman Distillery owners Jessica and Michael Hart right off the bat, but it took several years to find the right location to open a new distillery, Jessica Hart said. “I love the vibe and the feel of Redmond,” she said.

Hart and her husband have been making their signature gin on another distiller’s equipment in Bend for five years. Since leasing space on Jackpine Court, they plan to import their own still from Holland and begin hand production of a variety of spirits. The tasting room will have a Prohibition-era style, down to a hidden room, she said.

Redmond seemed short on craft beer options when Kobold Brewing owner Steve Anderson opened The Vault Taphouse downtown more than a year ago, Anderson said. The Vault was so well-received, Anderson had to abandon most of his keg distribution.

“I used to have 20-plus accounts around Central Oregon,” he said. “Once we opened our own taphouse, I couldn’t produce enough beer to keep those going.”

Anderson is close to completing a 15-barrel system on NE Hemlock Avenue that could also have a second taproom. He’ll use the new system to get back into distribution while keeping his two-barrel system to make new beers for The Vault.

Porter Brewing’s owners are hoping to find a similar level of pent-up demand in Redmond. “There’s a lot fewer breweries out here,” said ­Avara Roberts, who is opening the three-barrel brewery with her husband and head brewer, Deven Roberts. “We’re offering something different. We’re serving only cask ale. That’s kind of a niche in the market.”

Deven Roberts, a longtime homebrewer, will keep his job as a mechanic until the brewery takes off, Avara Roberts said. “This is a family business,” she said. “We don’t have investors. We want to start with something manageable and go from there.”

Dry Fields Cider co-­owner Stephen Fields expects to serve a mix of dedicated ­cider drinkers and northeast Redmond residents in his new taphouse. “There’s not anything on the east side of the highway,” he said. “There’s no pubs or anything like that over here.”

A Redmond native, Fields was producing cider under the name Doc Fields for two years before he and his wife, Robin, changed the name of the business. As the new name suggests, his ciders are on the dry side, Fields said.

Despite its out-of-the-way location, Geist Beerworks has “tons of regulars,” owner Heather Wales said. “Quite a few customers have come here on recommendations from Kobold and Wild Ride,” she said. “Really just love the culture here.”

Her husband, Greg Wales, previously owned a brewpub in Arizona. The couple decided to relocate to Central Oregon after visiting Greg’s brother in Bend, but finding a place for a new brewery was difficult, Heather Wales said. “This one landed on our lap,” she said of the space near Consumer Cellular’s call center. “It had a great vibe to it, and it fit the equipment.”

Geist has 12 of its own beers and two root beers on tap, she said.

Silver Moon Brewing has room for a tasting room at its production brewery in Redmond, co-owner James Watts said, but the company decided to prioritize remodeling its pub and expanding the patio in Bend.

With the new breweries that have opened in addition to Wild Ride, Cascade Lakes Brewery’s 7th Street Brew House and Smith Rock Brewing Co., Watts said, “There’s sufficient ratio for the population and the tourist community in Redmond.”

—Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com