In 1994, just off 7th Street, Redmond’s first microbrew opened its doors. Today, Cascade Lakes Brewery continues the tradition of crafting fermented beverages and is joined by other breweries, a cidery, and a distillery. Redmond’s flourishing brew pub scene is yet another great reason to visit the heart of Central Oregon.
Redmond Brewing: A Rich Narrative
The city’s regional craft beer movement has its roots in its state’s brewing history. Before Oregon was Oregon, German immigrant Henry Saxer opened the Liberty Brewery in Portland in 1852, and the renowned Henry Weinhard began building his beer empire. Prohibition, however, brought beer production practically to a halt. It wasn’t until the 1980s, that the craft brew industry blossomed and Oregon became a “microbrew mecca” for beer geeks. Today, well-crafted beer is considered one of the main food groups in the 33rd state.
It turns out that Oregon has an abundance of natural resources to support its love for brew which Redmond brewers have easy access to. The grand European tradition requires four simple ingredients — water, malt, hops and yeast.
Water is essential for great tasting beer, and some of the wildest, cleanest waters in the US run right through Oregon’s veins of rivers and lakes. Redmond breweries draw that water from a deep aquifer beneath the city.
Malt is what brings sweetness and balance to beer and provides its grainy, roasty or toasty flavors as well. The type of malt will also determine how dark a beer will be. Redmond brewers aren’t afraid to break away from the traditional malted barley to choose malted wheat, rye, oats — even buckwheat. Be prepared for decision-fatigue when you face the beer menu.
Hops: Redmond locals have a big appetite for hoppy beers so there will always be a vast array of IPAs to sample. Why? Well, we’re clannish. Cascade hops were developed right here in Oregon and has won the popularity contest, hands down, with craft brewers from across the country. Oregon is also the second largest hop producer in the US. Add Oregonians’ love for all things local and it’s easy to see why we love our hoppy IPAs.
Yeast: Did you know that Oregon is the first state to adopt a state microbe? That’s right — in 2013, the microbe known as brewer’s yeast was given that honor for its significance to the craft beer industry. Call us weird if you like; we take it as a compliment.
Oregonians are perfectly suited to be dominant players in the brew pub scene with their creative and independent spirit. It was the self-determination and will of its founders that discovered the path to sliding fresh-poured pints across the bar to their customers. A small group of Oregon homebrewers helped pass a law that allowed brewing and serving beer on the same premises.
You’ll recognize these trailblazers now as McMenamins, BridgePort Brewing, Portland Brewing, and Widmer Brothers Brewing. Since then, the craft brew pub scene has burgeoned, fueled by the same do-it-yourself mentality. From almost every Oregon town, it seems you can throw a rock and hit a taproom that serves a vast array of made-in-Oregon ales.
Redmond is no exception. From its oldest brewery (Cascade Lake Brewery opened in 1994) to its newest brewery (Initiative Brewery opened in 2019), Redmond has forged a brewery culture which exudes the city’s spirit — hard-working, fun-loving, down-to-earth, and dedicated to quality and service. Here’s a guide to help you explore the Redmond’s brew pub scene with confidence.
Perhaps you just stepped out of the Redmond Municipal Airport. If you happen to need a cold one fast, Geist Beerworks would be your first stop on the Redmond Tap Tour. While all Redmond brew pubs are sure to offer a great lineup from lights to darks, they each have a niche which just might suit the particular mood you’re in.
736 SW Umatilla Ave, Redmond, OR 97756
Owners: Greg and Heather Wales
Beermaster: Greg Wales
Heather’s obsession with the paranormal and Greg’s time in Germany with the army led to the name of this brewery. Geist is German for “Ghost,” which happens to also be the name of their flagship beer, Ghost in the Machine IPA. Look for other spectral references like Phantom Pilsner, Reaper Imperial Ale, and Dark Shadow Porter.
In addition to all the usual options of IPAs and ales, there are three house-made sangrias, two house-brewed non-alcoholic root beers, and their one offering not made in-house — a cider. If you’re a sweet-beer lover, you’re in good company. Geist differentiates itself by offering a variety of sweeter beers since co-owner Heather Wales is a fan. Plus, for those with special dietary issues or just carb-conscious, almost all of their beer is 99.5% gluten free.
From Geist, head into the city proper and visit 7th Street Brewhouse, Redmond’s oldest brewery.
7th Street Brewhouse (Cascade Lakes Brewery)
855 SW 7th St., Redmond OR 97756
Owner: Andy Rhine
Beermaster: Ryan Schmiege
The leaders of the oldest brewery in Redmond certainly aren’t resting on their laurels. Recently, their Pineapple Kush IPA made quite a splash on the brewscape. Under new management, Andy and Ryan will continue producing the brewery’s popular mainstays like Blonde Bombshell and 20” Brown, while putting out hip new beers that challenge the status quo. In the future, look for barrel-aged beers, a process which adds multiple layers of flavors to the beer. Bikers and runners should also take note. The brewery will be releasing low-calorie beers that won’t undo the healthy benefits of your workout. Enjoy indoor and outdoor seating (with a fire pit to keep you warm during the brisk evenings) and horseshoe pits.
Next on the downtown strip is ...
332 SW 5th St, Redmond, OR 97756
Owners: Brian Mitchell
Wild Ride lives up to its name by producing beers that are fun and fearless. Try their Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter, Laughing Face Imperial Coconut Porter, and Stand Up And Shout Vanilla Coffee Stout. Some beers off the beaten path would be their Tarty to the Party sour ales, hazy IPAs, Whoopty Whoop Wheat Hefeweisen and a Red Ryeno Imperial Red Rye Ale. Also, they have a special beer that raises money and awareness for ALS — the Brenna A Amber Lager. High marks for the fun artwork showcasing their bold and flavorful beers.
One of the best things about Wild Ride Brewing is its location. Set in the very heart of downtown Redmond, Wild Ride offers extensive outdoor seating with open fires and large umbrellas depending on the weather. Sundry food trucks dot their extensive parking lot and the Wild Ride complex acts as the de facto hub of festivals, car shows, and special events.
Just on the other side of the two main streets through downtown is ...
The Vault Taphouse (Kobold Brewing)
245 SW 6th St, Redmond, OR 97756
Owners: Steve and Heather Anderson
Brewmasters: Steve Anderson and Michael Porter
Kobold started as a homebrew project and remembers its roots with beer names that are derived from the couple’s neighborhood in Bend like Screeching Blonde Pale Ale and 3rd Street Cred Red Ale. When Steve decided to turn his side hustle into a full-fledged business, they rebranded with a fantasy figure from German folklore. This launched them into the world of fantasy and soon beer names alluded to The Lord of the Rings, ancient European folklore, and Dungeons & Dragons. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself among D&D fans while queuing up for a beer. The taproom is a great place for all games, not just D&D. And whether your favorite brand of fantasy is novels, football, or your dream vacation, you’ll feel right at home. Kobold also offers outdoor seating with fires for those cold, high desert evenings.
Kobold gets a superstar for offering a larger line-up of dark beers. For a small operation, these brewmasters don’t shy away from spending the grains and malts to compose robust beers like their Cascadian Dark Ale, Baltic Porter, and Russian Imperial Stout. Kudos for details like aging their beer in barrels from Oregon Spirits Distillery and lavishing extra time and labor on specialty beers like the Lookout Lager.
Next and newest is ...
424 NW 5th St., Redmond, OR 97756
Owners: Ryan Churchill and Chris Brumley
Brewmaster: Chris Brumley
Head Chef: Matt Anderson
Other than 7th Street, no other brewery reaches gastropub status with a full-service family-friendly restaurant along with vegetarian and vegan options. Initiative offers a comfortable and welcoming environment — there’s ample indoor seating, a conference room upstairs, plenty of bathrooms (complete with baby changing stations), and outdoor seating with fires. Extra points for their line of lagers and a buckwheat brown soon to arrive on the tap list. Extra, extra points for “Whimsical Jack” — the cool jackrabbit on their logo.
Cross Highway 97 via Maple Street and enter our most diverse zone of fermentation projects.
Porter Brewing Co.
611 NE Jackpine Ct #2, Redmond, OR 97756
Owners: Deven and Avara Roberts
Brewmaster: Deven Roberts
There’s no comparable pub within a hundred miles of Porter Brewing Co. where they serve authentic English ale, unfiltered, unpasteurized and unadulterated. You’re sure to get a unique experience from the only cask brewery in Central Oregon and one of two in all of Oregon. From the British varietals of grains and hops to the hand-pumped 20 oz imperial pints daringly served at cellar temperature, this is about as close as you’ll get to an English pub without flying across the Atlantic Ocean.
611 NE Jackpine Ct #8, Redmond, OR 97756
Owners: Michael and Jessica Hart
Head Distiller: Michael Hart
When you walk in the door to Gompers, you’ll be transported into a scene from Boardwalk Empire. It looks like Al Capone could walk in the door behind you. Don’t be intimidated. The Gompers tasting room, decked out as a Prohibition-themed speakeasy, is just one more way the Harts show their love for detail and excellence. You’ll get nothing but delicious spirits and kind-hearted service in this just-opened venue.
Gompers deserves special recognition for tying the distillery to an important historical family narrative. From escaping the Nazis to running an L.A. bakery loved by the Hollywood stars, Opa and Oma Gompers were people full of zest and exuberance. The Harts hope to capture that spirit in every bottle they distil.
Time to Call for a Ride
Well, that wraps it up. On the Redmond Taps Tour, you’re destined for a fun time. From fruity, sweet beers to their dark, malty counterparts, finding a craft brew you love is a good bet. And if ales and lagers don’t agree with you, there are other ways to indulge that just might be the right fit.
Remember to drink responsibly. Arrange for a ride, appoint a designated driver, or walk to brew pubs. Don’t drink and drive.