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Kickstart Your Beer 

Rat Hole crowdfunds for a new brewery

Rat Hole Brew Pub, the small taproom and Southwestern restaurant tucked into an unassuming corner of the Old Mill District, is expanding. And they'd like your help.

Earlier this week, Rat Hole—named after the storage barn on the outskirts of Bend where brewers Al and Susan Toepfer built their 2.5-barrel brewery—put up a page on Kickstarter detailing their current expansion plans. They've already leased a warehouse in the town of Sunriver, which they plan to turn into a 7.5-barrel brewhouse and taproom, and now they're crowdfunding to help pay for the work involved. Their goal: $26,250, which needs to be reached by August 21 for the campaign to succeed. (You're free to pledge however much you like, and you won't actually pay any money unless the project reaches that final funding goal.)

It might be a first for Central Oregon's beer scene, but turning to Kickstarter to fund nanobrew projects is nothing new. Prairie Artisan Ales, an Oklahoma-based brewer that makes a huge variety of heavy stouts and sour farmhouse beers (you can find 'em along the I-5 corridor), funded its original facility with more than $20,000 from Kickstarter. Modern Times Beer, one of the current darlings of San Diego's micro scene, raised more than $65,000 from 645 backers for its initial launch in 2013. Most famously, Stone Brewing managed to raise more than $2.5 million on a similar site, Indiegogo, to help break ground on its new facility in Berlin, Germany.

Will Rat Hole's efforts succeed? Hard to tell this early on. Plenty of crowdfunded projects have failed, too, after all. Two years ago, private-label distillery Gompers Gin tried raising $25,000 from Bendites on Kickstarter for its launch, but only received $1,796 in pledges by the deadline. (They managed to open for business anyway, though, and the gin can be found in liquor stores citywide now.)

But for a brewery that does some really neat stuff sometimes—including a 12 Beers of Christmas lineup last year that included a bread-pudding pale and a Belgian-style triple infused with dates—a successful Kickstarter could help make Rat Hole a much larger presence in the scene. Check out the brewery's Facebook page for all the info, including the multitude of rewards available to backers.

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