You unlock these files with the key of brewing imagination. Beyond them is another business dimension — a dimension of flavors; a dimension of experiences. You’re moving into a world where the intoxicating innovation of craft beers is combined with the overwhelming satisfaction of sustenance. You’ve just opened — The Brewpub Files, a series of brewpub case studies that investigates the strategies and philosophies behind some of the most successful brewpubs in the country. Today’s subject is an award-winning, Oregon-based craft brewing powerhouse.
Subject: Deschutes Brewery
Brewery size: More than 250,000 barrels (bbls) annually.
Mantra: “Bravely Done”
Brewpub representative: Mike Rowan, Food and Beverage Director
For the past 25 years, Deschutes Brewery has been devoted to understanding its customers and keeping them in the loop, explained Rowan. The brewpub in downtown Bend, Ore., has been the brewery’s flagship location since its inception in 1988. The production brewery opened in 1993. In 2008, Deschutes opened its pub in Portland Oregon’s Pearl District.
Deschutes Brewery focuses on the overall experience its visitors have when they come to its pubs. The brewery highlights its beers, of course, and showcases specialty beers, many of which are only available in the pubs.
“We want the first-hand experience that our customers have at our pubs to be extraordinary – with our beers, food and our people – so that they will have a positive impression of our brand,” Rowan said. “This is part of creating long-term, loyal fans for Deschutes Brewery.”
To keep the quality experience consistent, Deschutes looks to customer feedback from within the brewpub as well as on social media.
“From informal feedback from pub patrons happy to test out pub-exclusive beers to formal market research, we spend time discovering what our core consumer expects – and then delivers on those expectations,” he said. “We designed our Bend and Portland pubs with a model in mind: the classic English pub atmosphere. Here, with pint in hand, business leaders sit elbow to elbow with blue collar workers and discuss the matters of the day or tomorrow’s big game. In both the Bend and Portland pubs, there are 19 beers on tap, including experimental brews.”
Deschutes Brewery brings the same level of quality and care to its pub cuisine as it does its beer. It carefully selects fresh, local and regional ingredients. The emphasis is on selections handcrafted in-house whenever possible, including sausage, breads and pizza dough made from the brewing process’ spent grain, and sauces, mustards and all desserts made with Deschutes Brewery beer. In true cradle-to-cradle format, even the burgers come from freshly ground, locally farmed beef raised on the brewery’s spent grains. The brewery makes every effort to make as many food items as it can in-house from scratch and with local ingredients. Deschutes knows that there is a fine line to walk between price and value’s relationship with quality, locally sourced, house-made foods.
“As a general rule, guests visiting brewpubs have an expectation for a certain type of fare or food genre,” Rowan said. “When we feature food that pushes the envelope or falls significantly outside of their preconceived expectations, many don’t know what to think or do. They see these ‘outside’ menu items as foreign and are often afraid to try something unexpected.”
To grow its customer base, Deschutes holds several events each year at both brewpub locations, from launching new seasonal or specialty beers – often complete with a special menu or other themed activity – to annual celebrations such as the Deschutes Brewery Street Fare benefit event in Portland. Deschutes also offers classes on different beer styles taught by brewers, live music events, charity benefits, formal themed beer dinners and more to appeal to a wide audience. Additionally, the brewery promotes the brewpub and its activities through social media channels, public relations outreach, its website and print ads.