Out With the Old, In With the Hoppy | Beer & Drink | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Out With the Old, In With the Hoppy 

Distributor churn leads to more competition

Beer, by its nature, is seasonal—not just in terms of seasonal releases, but in the natural churn of brands available across Bend's shiny beer-shop coolers.

Take Orlison Brewing, for example. Remember them? The lager-only brewery, based near Spokane, descended onto the Central Oregon scene in late 2013, offering innovative takes on the classic genre including the caramel-like Lizzy's Red and the dark and roasty Ünderground "stout lager." But don't bother looking for their gray-and-black tallboy cans around town, because they pulled out of Oregon in early 2015, necessitating a trip to Vancouver to enjoy their stuff. The reason? "There were some things going on" with their distributor, one Orlison rep told the Source at last month's Great American Beer Festival, although he declined to go into details.

But with craft beer still firmly in the "boom" phase of the curve, if someone bows out, there's always someone else out there to take their place. Most recently, for example, Knee Deep Brewing made its debut in bottles across Bend—and their beers couldn't be more different from Orlison's.

Knee Deep, a local favorite across much of Central California, has a pretty interesting story. It was founded in June 2010 by Jeremy Warren, who began brewing on a contract basis with a Lake Tahoe-based company and mostly distributed kegs to metro Reno, Nevada. Warren and company, "CEO & Janitor" Jerry Moore, moved the operation to the Sacramento suburb of Lincoln a year later, segueing out of contract brewing and quickly making a name for itself across California with intense IPAs. Now they have a 40-barrel system churning away in the nearby town of Auburn, expanding their distribution across 13 states and two provinces, with more expansion to come.

How did they grow so fast? Chiefly, it's thanks to their tongue-melting IPAs, a genre that almost monopolizes their bottle lineup. Breaking Bud is their baseline beer, offering tropical bitterness with its Simcoe and Mosaic hop package, but their real flagship is the Hoptologist Double IPA, a nine percent ABV number whose blend of German, Canadian, and UK malts creates a taste profile akin to chewing on a pine tree. Not quite enough for you? Then march right over to their Simtra Triple IPA, a Citra/Simcoe megaton bomb clocking in at 131 IBUs. One gets the sneaking suspicion that, with this sort of lineup, Knee Deep's gonna fit in just fine around here.

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