Boneyard’s Been Pouring High Quality Liquids for 13 Years | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Boneyard’s Been Pouring High Quality Liquids for 13 Years

As luck would have it, Boneyard Beer's anniversary party is this Saturday

Elevators don't go to the 13th floor, yet the number is good luck for Boneyard Beer founder Tony Lawrence, who's certainly achieved great heights. The brewing industry veteran — who got his start in beer at Deschutes in 1988 — says of Boneyard's baker's dozen trips around the sun, "It's aged me 26 years."

click to enlarge Boneyard’s Been Pouring High Quality Liquids for 13 Years
Courtesy Boneyard Beer Facebook

Born in 2010, Boneyard is now Bend's sixth-oldest brewery. There was no RPM (or any IPA) when it opened. Craft beer styles fall in and out of fashion. I still pine for Boneyard's killer black ale, Black 13, which should've been brought back from the dead (it was only in steady production from 2012 to 2017) as a fitting pint to hoist in celebration on Saturday, May 6.

It didn't take too long for Boneyard to have a huge impact on modern IPAs when it canceled the then-requisite crystal malt; Northwest IPAs used to indicate a heavy presence of caramel malts, but most IPAs today are built on all pale or pilsner malts for a crisper bite that let our beloved PNW hops shine. The fact that RPM remains a cult favorite is a marvel.

The first time I met Lawrence was a full decade ago as Boneyard was preparing to expand from its original, and still-in-use brewhouse on Lake Street into its second brewhouse on Plateau Court. You had to suck in your beer gut when squeezing between the 18 fermentation tanks crammed into the former garage. Oregonians simply demanded more RPM.

Back then, Boneyard ran a radio ad that declared, "No burgers, just beer."

With "Brew 2" online, Boneyard made good on its goal to brew 30,000 barrels of beer (that's nearly seven and a half million pints!) annually. Of which, nearly 90% was RPM IPA, making it the best-selling draft IPA in all of Beervana. No small feat. Although Lawrence had purchased a small canning machine back in the beginning, it was never put to use as Boneyard managed to pull off the enviable trick of succeeding as a draft-only brewery. Packaged (canned or bottled) beer is great for volume, but it's less profitable.

"The majority of these 13 years," says Lawrence, "I had one distributor and one SKU...It blew my C.P.A.'s mind (when she learned she only needed to invoice one account)." The downside came when the pandemic slaughtered draft beer sales and not just for the "two weeks" we were initially told we'd have to quarantine.

With unsellable kegs piled high, Lawrence needed a solution, which, luckily, was already staring him in the face: Bend's OG craft brewery, Deschutes, was Lawrence's entrée into the biz. Same goes for Boneyard's talented top brewers in John Van Duzer, Mark Henion and Dana Henion. A year into the "two-week-shutdown," Boneyard partnered with Deschutes. RPM is now brewed at the large production facility on Simpson Avenue, which explains why it's now also available in cans, and also now available from San Diego to Seattle and beyond. As for Boneyard's second brewhouse on Plateau, it's now lager-centric Van Henion Brewing Co. with Van Duzer and the Henions at the helm.

The Boneyard Pub, which opened in 2018 and remains independently owned by Lawrence, will host "13 Years of Beers." In addition to ultra-fresh RPM will also be fan favorites. A celebratory new elixir manages to top Notorious Triple IPA (11.5% ABV): a 13th Anniversary Quadruple IPA (13%). Let's see what they brew in three years, given that the legal limit in Oregon for a malt beverage is 16%.

Reflects Lawrence, "This project was to express my love of craft beer. And be self-employed." And he's still exploring the ever-evolving world of hop varietals and products and applications, and "questing for the (next) unicorn IPA."

The event includes special collaboration beers with friends at Georgetown Brewing Company (Seattle), Great Divide Brewing Company (Denver) and Barley Brown's Beer (Baker City, Oregon, whose own 25th anniversary is next month and who also excels at producing what Lawrence calls "HQLs," high quality liquids).

The Boneyard event offers live music, special swag and food trucks and pub food specials. For all the things that have changed at Boneyard over the last 13 years, perhaps the best is that Lawrence was compelled to renege on that promise from the radio spot. Heck, when the pub opened, the policy was initially nothing fried. But the people have spoken and we wanted burgers and fries, which we can now get, and hopefully soon we can wash 'em down with a pint of Black 13.

Boneyard's 13th Anniversary Party
Sat., May 6, Noon-8pm
Boneyard Pub
1955 NE Division St., Bend

About The Author

Brian Yaeger

Brian Yaeger is a beer author (including "Oregon Breweries"), beer fest producer and beer-tasting instructor at COCC. Because he’s working on doughnut authorship, you’ll find he occasionally reviews our local doughnut scene. Yes, he absolutely floats all summer long with a beer in one hand and a doughnut in the...
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