Wild-fermented ale lovers, rejoice. Gone are the days of hunting down the coveted Ale Apothecary bottle, recognizable from its signature “¿APOTH?” label. On May 11, the locally renowned Central Oregon brewer officially opened a brand-new tasting room in downtown Bend—meaning there's a new way to score the small-batch sour ales previously only found at a few specialty bottle shops or by appointment at the nanobrewer's off-the-grid brew house.
The new, cozy tasting room from owner and brewer Paul Arney, which stands across from GoodLife Brewing, is now open Thursday–Saturday from 2–7 p.m. The tasting room opened with little fanfare, yet according to Arney, the first couple weeks have seen already beer-lovers flooding in from all corners of the state.
The brewery gets its name from the Arney family’s three generations in the pharmaceutical profession (Arney's great-grandfather wrote prescriptions for alchohol during the prohibition.) Ale Apothecary's base of operations remains its rural brew house, located 10 miles west of the new Bend tasting room near Tumalo Falls. Here, Arney's distinctive ales benefit from clean air, sap yeasts, bacteria from the area's fir and spruce trees, and “some seriously amazing water” supplied by the brewery’s private well and aquifer. Arney uses local ingredients with hops from Goschie Farms in Silverton and malt from Mecca Grade Estate Malt in Madras. He prefers to keep operations small, brewing about 300 barrels and bottling just shy of 2,000 cases a year.
Arney began brewing in 1995, when, as he recalls it, different conventions ruled the craft. “[Many brewers thought] fruit shouldn’t be in beer, wheat beers and low alcohol were lame, and all beers have to have hops,” he says. “I feel that what we are doing now at my brewery is both new and old. We are discovering the potential of our own yeast culture and brewing process, but it’s similar to what old-world brewers did.”
With his tasting room now open, Arney is focusing next on expansions to the brewery and the upcoming release of a brew he calls ¡Vámonos!: a Sour Beer for Sour Times.