In 1988, Gary Fish opened the Deschutes Brewery Public House in downtown Bend, OR. Within five years, “the brewery outgrew the pub’s brewhouse due to volume demands and built a brewing production facility near the Deschutes River with the ability to brew in 50-barrel batches,” Michael LaLonde, president and chief executive officer of Deschutes Brewery, told Beverage Industry. It then added “a 150-barrel Huppmann brewhouse in 2003, and more recently, sixteen 1,300-barrel fermentation tanks,” putting production at 450,000 barrels annually. According to LaLonde, “In 2017, Deschutes shipped 335,000 barrels with distribution in 30 states, four Canadian provinces and six countries in the Pacific Rim.”
Black Butte Porter, Cascade Golden Ale, and Bachelor Bitter were the Bend Public House’s first three brews. Black Butte Porter quickly became the brand’s top brew, and it remains the highest-selling craft porter in the U.S. “Fresh Squeezed IPA debuted in 2013 after becoming the local’s favorite at the pubs and quickly became the No. 1 selling brand,” LaLonde says. “Deschutes classics, Black Butte Porter, and Mirror Pond Pale Ale remain in the Top 5 selling brands. While these brands produce the highest volume, Deschutes takes great pride in the Reserve Series beers, like The Abyss and The Dissident, released in limited batches every year.”
The business is family-owned, but it’s not a typical family-owned company—it is also employee-owned through an employee stock ownership program. This keeps all the employees literally invested in the success of the company. And this, no doubt, is part of the reason this growing brewery is thirty years old this year. Another reason is a dedication to pushing the limits in providing customers with what they want, without losing quality. To this end, Deschutes is starting to offer Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Pacific Wonderland Lager, and Fresh Squeezed IPA in aluminum cans.
Deschutes is also installing a pilot brewhouse for research and development of new brews. They also anticipate expanding to the East Coast, having selected Roanoke, VA as its expansion site. This move will make it easier for the brewery to reach markets east of the Mississippi—something fans of Deschutes brews will surely appreciate.