It’s no secret that Deschutes Brewery has been eyeing the East Coast for expansion for a while now. The 27-year-old brewery is #7 on the Brewers Association’s list of Top 50 craft breweries, and they are shipping beer to something like 28 states and two Canadian provinces, so it makes sense—shipping and refrigeration of liquids is expensive, not to mention environmentally costly from a carbon footprint viewpoint.
So it was interesting this weekend to see an article come out of Asheville, North Carolina—itself quite a beer town, not unlike Bend—highlighting that as a possible destination for a new Deschutes production facility. Here are some quotes:
Representatives from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, the sixth-largest craft brewer in the country, visited Asheville in December and plan a second trip in late May, according to company president Michael LaLonde, who spoke highly of the mountain region.
Among the sites company officials visited was the 137-acre parcel Buncombe County recently bought from Henderson County for $6.8 million to entice an undisclosed economic development prospect.
“We’re looking at a number of locations in a number of states,” LaLonde said. “We’re looking in North Carolina, we’ve looked in Virginia, we’ve looked in Tennessee, as well as South Carolina.”
The brewery also looked at sites in the Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina, areas, LaLonde said. The company was impressed with Greenville.
The company plans to open an East Coast operation by 2019, LaLonde said, “so we have a little time, but not much.” He said the search and securing land would likely take about a year, with construction taking another year.
Plans call for a brewery that could produce about 200,000 barrels of beer annually, with the capability for growth. That would require about 100 employees for the brewery and packaging operation, and another 100 or so if it adds a brewpub on site.
Deschutes would be joining a small-but-growing number of regional craft brewers who have expanded east, including New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Oskar Blues (also in the Asheville area), Lagunitas (Chicago) and Stone (building a brewery in Virginia). And from an historic standpoint (since this is a blog about Bend’s beer history, after all!) it’s amazing to watch the continued success of a brewery that almost didn’t make it way back in 1988 when they opened in the economically-depressed milltown-in-transition of Bend.
It will certainly make an interesting addition to a future edition of the book!