About a month ago, my wife’s family was in town, made their way to the patio at 10 Barrel, and called us to come meet them for a beer. It had been months since my last 10 Barrel beer, as there is so much fantastic beer in town and I hadn’t been seeking them out. On my way to meeting up with the family, I recalled bumping into Jimmy Seifrit several months prior, soon after the big announcement that he was leaving Deschutes to become 10 Barrel’s new Brewmaster. Jimmy was very excited about being able to get involved with a brewery at this stage and helping them evolve the way they thought about and produced their beer. Six months later, as I pulled into the parking lot to meet up with the family, I wondered if that enthusiasm had translated to the glass.
When I arrived I began the ritual of reading through the list and asking what was available. They were pouring a cask IPA, which I consider to be one of several beers that can provide insights into a brewing team’s skill and creativity. I was far from disappointed. It was clean, well-balanced, and deliciously hoppy on all the right fronts (bitter, aroma, flavor). From foundation to foam, this pint was a giant leap from my last 10 Barrel beer. It was really quite good.
First and upfront, the team has raised the bar on its beer. I didn’t need to visit the brewery to get that newsflash, but Jimmy talked about the fact that they have been making many tweeks to their materials and processes over the last 8 months or so. The increased use of whole leaf hops and dry hopping, subtle recipe changes, shifts in processes to create better yeast health; all incremental moves that align to create a better glass of beer. While at the brewery I had the pleasure of tasting a few of the beers they had on tap, and they were all solid.
In addition, 10 Barrel is also working on giving itself some significant breathing room in their production facility. As you can see in the pictures, the current 10 BBL brewery on High Desert Lane in South East Bend is tightly packed with fermenters, brite tanks, hop back, kettle and lauter tun (in addition to cooler space, storage, and offices). Depending on what they’re brewing, it could take 3 consecutive runs of that 10 BBL system to completely fill one fermenter with a single beer. That works out to 2 consecutive shifts. These guys are busting their butts, and it is really good to see that passion.
That’s today, but with a new brewery under construction on Northwest Galveston Avenue, they are building a foundation for more supply to meet current and future demand. From the ground up, the brewery is to be a creative lab with a design strategy that will facilitate unhindered creative brewing and barrier-free expansion. Included in the design:
- Visitor parking
- A new 50 BBL brewing system
- The existing 10 BBL brewing system
- A 3000 sq ft storage cooler capable of holding 15,000 BBL of finished product
- Dedicated hop cooler
- A temperature-controlled Barrel room
- A temperature-controlled Sour room
All of the above will give give the business the capacity it needs to grow far beyond its current size and reach.
Last, but far from least is the brewing experience:
- Jimmy Seifrit (Brewmaster) had a hand in producing many of Deschutes’ recent award-winning beers
- Dan Olsen (Senior Brewer) is “responsible for S1nist0r Black Ale” which is the most award-winning beer in the current 10 Barrel arsenal
- Tonya Cornett will be coming over to 10 Barrel as head of Product Development when the new brewery opens while continuing to oversee brewing operations at Bend Brewing Company
- Bobby Jackson and Ben Shirley round out the brewing staff and each come with real-world brewing experience from other breweries
This brewery is turning out to be quite the success story. With all that it has going for it right now and coming online soon, the current beers they’re putting out may well be but a Precursor of more-delicious beers to come.
Cheers, 10 Barrel!