By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

Chad Kennedy handed over the reins Monday as brewmaster at Worthy Brewing Co., in Bend, to his colleague and head brewer Dustin Kellner.

Kennedy, 42, said he parted ways amicably from the east-side Bend brewery he helped create, one that grew in two years into the 12th-largest brewery in Oregon, according to in-state sales reported in January to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Worthy sold nearly 8,000 taxable barrels of beer in Oregon in 2014, according to the OLCC. The brewery also distributes its products in Washington and Idaho, British Columbia, Hawaii and Vermont.

Kennedy said he reached a point where, like a ship at sea or passenger plane, the organization takes care of itself. Takeoff and landing are tricky, but once the plane is at altitude, autopilot takes over.

“There’s a lot of growth going on, but it got to a point, my gut instinct said it’s time for a change,” he said.

He said he wanted to spend more time with his daughters, ages 9 and 11, who live with their mother in Portland. Kennedy said he put 60,000 miles on his Honda Pilot in three years driving between Portland and his home in Bend. He said he’s moving to Portland and has no immediate plans, but he expects to find new employment soon.

“When it comes down to it, family comes first,” said Lindsay Landgraf, Worthy’s digital marketing manager. “We’re going to miss him.”

Kellner, Worthy’s new brewmaster, followed Kennedy to Worthy from Laurelwood Brewing Co., in Portland, where Kennedy was head brewer from 2006 until 2011. Kellner, who’s worked for Worthy since November 2012, created Prefunk Pale Ale, which Worthy released Monday as the replacement beer for Worthy Pale Ale, Kennedy said.

“He’s a talented brewer in his own right,” said Worthy CEO Chris Hodge. “That part of the business will go unchanged.”

Kennedy, who got his start as a homebrewer, said the expansion of craft brewing is hard to believe. The Portland Business Journal in March reported Worthy, which opened in February 2013, as the fastest-growing brewery in Oregon with in-state sales 177 percent greater last year than the previous year.

“If you were to talk to any manufacturing business, and ask, ‘What do you think of 150 or 200 percent growth, year over year?’ They’d look at you like you were crazy,” Kennedy said.

Nonetheless, at some point in craft brewing, “There has to be attrition,” he said. “There’s only so many spots on the grocery story shelves.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,