One of Bend’s oldest breweries, Cascade Lakes Brewing, has two new owners, replacing three partners who had been part of the brewing operation for more than a decade.
Andy Rhine and his father, Bruce Rhine, own a 75 percent stake in the company with Chris Justema, who will remain as a shareholder and the company president. The Rhines, who have no prior experience brewing beer, bought the ownership stakes held by Rick Orazetti and Doug and Ron Kutella.
The sale went through in October but was kept quiet until Tuesday when the company issued a statement. The company also announced that it has hired brewmaster Ryan Schmiegie, who worked at Deschutes Brewery as an assistant brewmaster for 15 years.
“I fell in love with the culture that breweries create,” said Andy Rhine, 23, in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re big fans of breweries. Cascade Lakes has a great feel at their pubs and the people working there.”
Founded in 1994, Cascade Lakes operates two brewpubs, one in Bend and another in Redmond. Its beer is brewed in a 25-barrel system, also in Redmond.
Cascade Lakes is distributed in six states, brews six beers year-round and keeps 14 beers on tap. Last year, it produced 7,600 barrels of beer.
One of the big changes customers will see is more innovation, said Bruce Rhine, 61. Innovation and change are keys to staying current and maintaining shelf and tap-handle space in the crowded field of craft brewing, he said.
Today, there are 7,000 craft brewers in the country. Oregon has about 266 craft breweries, and Bend has about two dozen, according to the Craft Brewers Association, a Colorado-based craft brewing trade organization.
“The lifetime of beer is a lot shorter than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” Bruce Rhine said. “The need for constant innovation is a skill set that breweries our size need now and that wasn’t required 10 years ago.”
Customers should expect new brews coming out of Cascade Lakes Brewing, including sours, seltzers, barrel-aged beers and possibly cannabidiol, CBD-infused beer.
To accomplish that, Cascade Lakes plans to fire up its pilot system and test a wide variety of beers.
“We’re implementing new changes in canning, and we’ve added a new pilot and R&D system for experimental beers,” Bruce Rhine said. “The combination of the product line and the talent line will enable us to move quickly and adjust to the changes occurring in the marketplace.”
Justema, who has been an owner of the 25-year-old brewery since 2003, said the delay in the announcement had do with the process of transferring ownership, bringing the new owners on board, acquiring equipment and personnel.
The Rhines have ties to Central Oregon. Bruce Rhine, who lives in Vancouver, Washington, was the CEO of Accent Optical Technologies, a process control and metrology systems company based in Bend. He sold the company to Nanometrics Inc. in 2006. Andy Rhine, a homebrewer who lives in Bend, has a chemical engineering degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“Our mantra is 25 years, but we’re just getting started,” Justema said. “We’ll be working to provide an improved product quality, and we have a renewed sense of energy around the brand.”
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