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Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The idea that one good thing leads to another proved to be true last week, when my friend Margi Legowik, an artist and former resident of Tacoma, sent me this email after reading my latest post on Good Life Northwest:

"Hi Candace. I am sitting in the Good Life brew pub in Bend enjoying a pulled pork panini and a pint, checking my email. Clearly this is a place for you to visit!"

Photo by Justin Moore
I loved this coincidence and immediately sent an e-mail to the Good Life Brewing Company and introduced myself, mentioning my friend's message and how she thought we ought to become acquainted, since I write the Good Life Northwest blog. Before long, I'd heard back from Ty Barnett, one of the three partners behind a business that has beer lovers excited, even though it's only four months old.

"We’re in Portland right now," Barnett said. "We’re on the North Coast. We’re in some places in Eugene, and here in Bend, at other establishments and restaurants all over town. So we have quite a few outlets and we’re going to begin bottling in 22 0z. bottles in early December."
Photo by Justin Moore
Just as in the case of a few good bands I know, this all started in a garage.

For those readers unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest, Bend is located in Central Oregon, a sunny play land of outdoor recreation choices. Barnett moved there back in 2002, " go to the mountain, be a ski bum, and go to college," he says. Eventually he got a job in the restaurant business. Even though he didn't spend his childhood in Bend, Barnett says he and his friend and business partner Head Brewer Curt Plants "grew up" there. By that he means, "We turned 21 and started drinking good beer. We didn’t drink macro beers. We liked the good stuff." So they decided to try brewing their own.

Here's Barnett's story:

"As we started to home brew we liked it more and more and we thought that would make a career someday. If we were ever to be able to open a little bar and put a little brewery in it, that would be the life. My friend decided he was going to do it regardless. He enrolled in brewing school in Chicago. He studied in Munich Germany and came back and got a job as assistant brewer for Rogue Ales in Newport.

"He definitely has the talent to make good beers. We knew it at the home brew level but as soon as he started brewing for Rogue, our 'test batches' as we call them, starting getting really good, really tasty. We started giving them out to people. And we gave them to the right guy and he said, 'You guys should really think about opening something because this is the best beer I’ve ever had and you brew it in your garage.'
"We ended up giving it to some people who really know beer and they absolutely agreed. And one of them ended up being our third business partner, Pratt Rather. He was actually one of the founding members of SweetWater BrewingCompany in 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia, and also helped found Everybody’s Brewing Company in White Salmon, WA, which is just across from Hood River. So he had definitely been in the beer business for some time and knew a lot of the people. He knew how it worked and helped guide us through how you open a brewery."
Photo by Justin Moore  

But what about the name? I wouldn't be writing this if not for the words "Good Life" in their moniker. Barnett explains:
"Our motto was always going to be 'Good Beer for Good Life – Bend, Oregon.' We live pretty well down here. We have every outdoor recreation addiction that you could be a part of as well as really good beer. We wanted to provide good beer for whatever somebody’s 'good life' is. A few months into it, right before we opened, we decided we were going to be Good Life Brewing Company. We felt that it fit Bend, and it fit our personalities.
"Whether your 'good life' is at the golf course, at the top of  the mountain, climbing, or just in the backyard in the hammock, whatever you really love and enjoy doing, we wanted to provide the beer to enhance the enjoyment."

Photo by Justin Moore 
Confident of the appeal of their product, Good Life Brewing Company held back nothing when they opened on June 15, 2011. They leased an adequately large facility in Bend to set themselves up with a production capacity of 60,000 barrels per year, a goal they hope to reach in 10-15 years. If they do, they estimate their future rank as the fourth largest brewery in the region.
"We’re set up to put beer in the kegs and bottles and send them all over the Northwest," Barnett said. "So we're not just based in Bend. We’re basically going to be sending beer your way, hopefully in a year or so. Right now, we’re just concentrating on Oregon and getting our beer to all that want it here."
What about the beer itself? What makes it so special?
Barnett describes the Good Life difference this way:  "A lot of beers have been really bitter, maybe overly bitter, in the Northwest, for a few years. People have been not turned away, but it’s not really what they’re looking for. What we did was make beers that taste good and smell good, but have just enough bitterness to let you know it’s a beer.
So far, they offer four choices:
Mountain Rescue Dry Hop Pale Ale - The company's flagship beer is a dry hop classic American pale ale. Barnett says it is, "basically malty but a little bit more flavor and aroma than a standard pale, because of the aging process we do. We age the beer in the fermenter on hops. We make a nice hop tea out of the beer, so it gets this huge aroma.
IPA - "It has a hop bitterness to it, standard for that style. There’s an international rating unit for how bitter a beer is, called IBUs, and it’s basically one to 100, 1 being not bitter and 100 being very bitter and that beer is about 40, below the middle of the road for bitterness so it has a bite but it has more flavor of hops than it does bitterness of hops."
Oatmeal Stout -  just released. "About 7.5 % alcohol by volume. Nice robust, roasted malt flavor with a little bit of coffee and chocolate back notes. That’s going to be a really great beer," says Barnett.
Single Hop Pale Wheat Ale - "There's only one hop in the beer to give it all its flavor.
I have an invitation to visit my friend Margi, and if I do, I'll be sure to also visit the tasting room of Good Life Brewing Company. It's small but mighty. With only 40 seats, it packs in a crowd for the great beer, English and German style food, and its thriving live music scene. You can also take a tour of the brewery.
See what happens when you keep a positive vibe? Focusing on the GOOD things in your life attracts more GOOD things. Thanks Margi and Ty, for making this fun connection between Tacoma and Bend, and best of luck to the young but ambitious Good Life Brewing Company. Maybe I will show up there for lunch someday. That pulled pork panini sounds GOOD too.
Note: I also enjoyed discovering the outstanding photography of Justin Moore. If you want to take a virtual tour of Central Oregon, and other places, visit the "Places" page of his website by clicking here.
Photo by Justin Moore


Justin Moore said...

Thanks Candace and make sure to come down to Bend in the middle of the winter for beer tasting. A good stout always tastes better with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground.


Debra Ledford said...

Excellent blog! You can also read about GoodLife Brewing and all their fellow Oregon breweries in the new book, Oregon Brew Tour.

Candace Brown said...

You are most welcome, Justin. I know that on one of these dark and dreary Puget Sound winter days, I will envision your Bend sunshine on that fresh blanket of snow, the cozy tasting room, and the stout. That makes a trip to Oregon seem mighty tempting.

Thanks for the comment, and I do love your photos.

And many thanks to you too, Debra, for your kind words and information about the book. I will certainly check that out.

Best wishes to both of you,