Deschutes Brewery is celebrating its 29th anniversary in the craft brew industry. Native to Bend, Oregon, the company started out as a small brewpub and has steadily climbed the ranks to become the nation’s eighth largest craft brewery. Its beers have been available in North Carolina on draft since June and on shelves since the end of August.
“Deschutes is honored to join the group of breweries who have expanded into North Carolina,” said Erik Frank, the company’s Marketing Manager in charge of Education, Expansion, and Pub Marketing. “North Carolina is a big deal where craft beer is concerned.” Indeed, the market in NC is prime real estate for the industry. “The Southeastern US ranks high as a new frontier for craft beer,” said Frank. And, since North Carolina is a gateway to the region, “this is an introductory handshake for us to get to know beer drinkers in the South.”
But there are other, deeper reasons for the move. Just as Oregon is considered a capital for craft beer on the West Coast, said Frank, North Carolina is considered the capital on the East Coast. Oregonians have an affection for the state, said Frank. “We look at North Carolina and see a reflection of ourselves.” After all, both states contain outdoor spaces that attract tourists from around the country, including mountains, oceans and everything in between. As Frank put it, “wonderlands abound.”
It is just this sort of adventurous, wonderland-seeking mentality that drives Deschutes Brewery. The company’s entire portfolio is designed with drinkability in mind, said Frank. Take, for instance, one of the four beers currently available in NC: the Pacific Wonderland Lager. The only lager Deschutes makes year-round in six-packs, the beer is perfect for all outdoor adventures. “It’s good for hiking the Appalachian trail, boating in the Atlantic or walking the financial corridors of Charlotte,” said Frank. The beer is accompanied with two other year-round six-packs in NC: Fresh Squeezed IPA, balanced for hop flavors with low bitterness; and the best-selling porter in the nation, Black Butte Porter.
In addition to those three year-round offerings, Deschutes also plans to rotate seasonal beers into its lineup. The current one, Hopzeit, is an Autumn IPA with a light malt profile and a very present hoppiness perfect for leaf-changing weather. This will be followed in mid-October by the company’s answer to Christmas ales, the 30th release of its Jubelale. January will see the Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, and the Twilight Summer Ale will be available in April/May.
Over time, the company will offer more variety, said Frank. “But the slow growth is deliberate and thought-out. We are geared toward making all the beer that the state can drink.”
For craft beer fanatics in Charlotte, that is certainly music to our ears.