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Deschutes County Approves This Crazy Idea of Ours

Good Earth Brewing Building Permit Conditional Use PermitAfter way too many trips to the Deschutes County Community Development office, and way too many county employees looking at us with a confused look on their collective faces… they sent us a building / conditional use permit that states the following:

The Deschutes County Planning Division has approved a Conditional Use permit to establish a small brewery operation (“nano-brewery”) as a Type 1 home occupation on a 18.54-acre parcel in the Exclusive Farm Use Zone.

This was only possible because of the engineering documents drawn up by local firm LB Engineering. It’s now time to start building!

The 2017 Craft Brewers Conference

Currently sitting in the Redmond, Oregon airport waiting for a flight to Portland that will connect me with a flight to Washington D.C. It’s 4am, I slept about 3 1/2 hours, but damn I’m excited. That’s because my partners at Good Earth Brewing and Smith Rock Hop Farm believe in what we’re doing and trust enough in me to see value in sending me to the Craft Brewers Conference.

Craft Brewers ConferenceFrom the conference’s website: “The Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) is the only industry event that serves both brewpubs and packaging breweries. This is an annual show that travels to different cities each year.

For professional brewers, CBC is the number one environment in North America for concentrated, affordable brewing education and idea sharing to improve brewery quality and performance.”

I have packed my week full of interesting and informative seminars, meet-n-greets, lectures, and brewery tours. Here’s what it looks like:
– Wood & Beer Seminar with Peter Bouckaert, the brewer from New Belgium

– 5 brewery tour in the Virginia countryside (7am to 5pm)
– Welcome reception at the Natural History Museum
– Sierra Nevada Beer Camp @ Union Market

– General Session I (Keynote Address)
– Brewing History
– Staying relevant in the brewing industry
– Hospitality Suite: Economic Developement Partnership of North Carolina
– Starting with Quality: Planning a lab and quality program
– Brewers Association Quality Subcommittee/Glass Quality Group Open House
– Official Nightly Event: Ball Presents Oskar Blues 20th Anniversary Party

– Historical Beers Roundtable
– The Truth About Diacetyl
– When Yeast Attack: The Story of Bell’s and Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus
– Brewers Association Brewpub Committee Open House

– Harnessing Brettanomyces for Flavor Development
– Dry Hopping and its Effects on Beer Bitterness, the IBU Test, and Beer Foam
– Pilsen-Style Lager Beer Production: Secrets and Variations

Let the engineering…begin!

I might have mentioned that our new septic system has been on hold for months. We received a quote for it, had them dig several test pits, paid the county of Deschutes for a site evaluation, and even passed the evaluation. But as soon as the contractor connected with the county, they discovered that our proposed brewhouse is a structure that was not permitted by the previous owner, so therefore it is not on record.

LB Engineering - Bend, OregonAfter receiving several referrals, multiple quotes, and having one engineering firm bail at the last minute… we chose a highly recommended firm by the name of LB Engineering. Lori and Lennie were out at the farm today for their first visit, which included an up close look at the proposed brewhouse. They have estimated 4-6 weeks for plans to be drawn up, submitted to the county, and for them to be approved.

What’s A Nano Brewery?

Back on January 13th, we submitted our Land Use Application to the Deschutes County Community Development department. The permit is needed so that we can operate a business from a residential property, much like an accountant or a pet groomer. Technically, we’re a Type 1 Home Occupation in an Exclusive Farm Use Zone. Sounds fancy, but just limits what we can do with our brewhouse, the amount of traffic we can contribute to the main road, etc.

The approval process can take up to six months, depending on the backlog. Along the way, the county can ask for clarification with respect to how the operation will be set up. Luckily, so far they have only asked about the dimensions of the grain room/dry storage and the yeast lab, what our expected output will be, and what exactly defines a “nano brewery”. An email from the county:

I’ve started to draft the decision and I’ve noticed the referenced Wikipedia definition for “nano-brewery” has been revised. Can you provide a robust explanation for what a nano-brewery includes, citing your sources will be helpful, and how the proposal falls within this definition.

kobold brewing - steve anderson - source weekly

Steve Anderson of Kobold Brewing, Bend, OR, on his 2bbl system. Photo copyright The Source Weekly

Like with any “definition”, it depends on who you ask. The general consensus is that a nano brewery brews 3bbls (93 gallons) or less. Some even put this maximum at 7bbls (217 gallons), which is seen as the minimum size needed to truly see a profit in brewing. Here are the references I sent the county:

“The most-widely accepted description of nano breweries is a brewery that produces in batches of three barrels or smaller.”

“It’s a loosely defined term, so suffice to say that the designation describes any brewery that 1) makes very, very little beer (say, between one and three barrels, or roughly ninety gallons at a time)…”

“…although nanobrewery production generally doesn’t exceed 100 barrels a year, said Paul Gatza, director of the nonprofit Brewers Association based in Boulder, Colo.”

None of these are truly official sources, most likely because the definition is something coined over a few pints and has been used loosely in marketing over the years. To us it doesn’t mean we are doing things in a better or worse way than larger breweries, but it does say something about our current size. That means we have to work a bit harder to brew each batch, but our risk is lower …since dumping $200 worth of beer is easier to swallow than dumping $20,000 worth of beer.

– Are nanobreweries a good first step …?
No-o to Nanos

Let’s Talk Flooring – Cascade Floors Pays A Visit

Lately we have been relying heavily on referrals for everything from engineering and drains, to flooring and electrical work. It can be tough to find someone responsive, honest, and knowledgeable.

Cascade Floors - Barley Brown's Beer

The Cascade Floors crew working on Barley Brown’s in Baker City, Oregon

Paul at Wild Ride has been helpful in supplying contact information for companies he trusts to help build out a brewery. One of the first individuals he sent our way was Chris Klein at Cascade Floors, Inc. Chris even drove over from the valley in last week’s snowstorm to meet with us (and a few others in Central Oregon.)

He took a look at our brewhouse floor and we discussed the process for applying epoxy to a concrete slab as well as the quality and cost of different types of epoxy We also discussed our future plans for possible expansion, and he recommended a floor drain supplier and local construction company that he trusts.

Working directly with Chris may be months away, but meeting in person was a chance to get to know him and a little about his business. He will be one of the last people we work with in the process, but we have a feeling we’ll be sharing plenty of beer along the way.


“Hop farmers growing farmhouse brewery near Terrebonne” – The Bulletin

The Bulletin published a story in the business section of the paper yesterday. The reporter did a wonderful job of getting all of the details correct, and we appreciate the interest so early on in this project. You can read the original article here.

Hop farmers growing farmhouse brewery near Terrebonne

Good Earth still in development stage

By Joseph Ditzler, The Bulletin, @josefditzler

The next newest brewery in Central Oregon is still in the development stages but launching from an established base.

Good Earth Brewing LLC, a project of Clare Thompson, Natalie Hoshaw and Miles Wilhelm, is taking shape on an 18½-acre property on NE Smith Rock Way, east of Terrebonne, where Thompson and Hoshaw already grow hops on 1 acre. The 3-year-old Smith Rock Hop Farm LLC has produced Cascade and Centennial hops for Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond and Immersion Brewing and Worthy Brewing in Bend.

Good Earth Brewing - Terrebonne - Miles Wilhelm - The Bulletin - Joe KlineWilhelm, a hop grower and part-time brewer, is managing the project day-to-day for Thompson and Hoshaw, a midwife and an OB-GYN doctor, respectively, at St. Charles Center for Women’s Health, in Redmond. Katy Wilhelm, a labor and delivery nurse and Miles Wilhelm’s wife, also works there.

“I’ve guest-brewed but never worked on a system this size,” Miles Wilhelm said Wednesday. “Even though it’s a one-barrel system, we’ve plussed it up. A lot of big breweries get this system as a pilot system.”

The brewing system is one piece of the operation in place, or nearly in place. The brand-new, all-electric system from Ruby Street Brewing, of Fort Collins, Colorado, arrived at the site in November.

The owners have numerous bureaucratic and engineering hurdles to surmount before they turn out their first keg of beer.

Wilhelm has nearly finished an application to the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates labeling and advertising of beer, which must be complete before Good Earth Brewing applies for a license to brew beer from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Thompson, who owns the property, will be head brewer, Wilhelm said.

The property is cleared for an on-site septic system to handle the wastewater coming from the future brewery, according to Deschutes County Community Development Department records online. Wilhelm said 90 percent of the wastewater will be applied to a compost pile, which ultimately is applied to the 900-plant hop farm.

The spent grain will feed the ducks, chickens and other animals on the farm, he said. The 800-square-foot brewery building needs an engineering review before work begins on the septic system, Wilhelm said.

The business also needs a land use permit from the county, and Wilhelm is using the permit application submitted by another nanobrewer, Rat Hole Brewing, as a model for the Good Earth application. Like the first Rat Hole brewery, Good Earth is located in an exclusive farm use zone.

Wilhelm said he hopes to see the brewery producing beer for sale by the third quarter. Plans are for keg sales, a bottle release club and, eventually, a tasting room.

Steve Anderson, owner of Kobold Brewing LLC, a 2½-barrel nanobrewer in Bend, is one of three local brewers Wilhelm said he turned to for advice. The way ahead will be tough, Anderson said Wednesday, but Good Earth can succeed if it proceeds carefully.

“It’s really tough to exist and be profitable with a small-batch brewing system,” he said. “If they have niche, there’s a shot it’s going to work.”

Wilhelm said Good Earth plans to produce styles not often found in Central Oregon, including barrel-aged saisons, kriek lambics, Belgian dark strong ales and Russian imperial stouts. The owners plan to start small and stay small with expansion at most to a 7-barrel brewing system, he said. He said they have no rent to pay so pressure to succeed immediately is nonexistent, leaving room to experiment.

“We don’t have in Central Oregon a farmhouse brewery, that I’m aware of,” Wilhelm said, “that can put the hops from 50 yards away right in the boil and make some farmhouse beer.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,