The last time I saw brewmaster Larry Sidor, he was still working at Deschutes Brewing, but I already knew he had a new project in the offing. Since leaving his old job at the end of last year, he’s been building a new brewery in Bend, a brewery without a name, and the progress has been chronicled at Yet To Be Named Brewery. I got the word today from brewery partner Paul Evers that they’ve finally settled on a name: Crux Fermentation Project.
The three Founders of Crux Fermentation Project on the roof of their under-construction brewery with grain silos in the background. Left to right: Larry Sidor, Dave Wilson and Paul Evers. (©2012 Photo by Brian J. Bulemore, ABACUS PHOTOGRAPHY.)
Here’s the explanation, along with a basic overview of the new brewery and their plans, from the press release:
Crux Fermentation Project — an introduction
We’re really excited about how quickly the beer world is evolving. It wasn’t that long ago when IPAs hit the scene and took everyone’s taste buds to a place many of us weren’t sure we were ready for. Today, beers like the Abyss, Pliny the Younger, the Dark Lord, and many others, are unapologetically blowing up taste profiles with their complexity and creativity. Our team will focus primarily on these beers — it’s at the heart of what we do, pursuing the next great beer. To achieve this, we’ve designed the brewery to deliver beers that take us on a journey. From decoction mashing, open fermentation, barrel aging, crazy yeast varieties, and the use of experimental hops we hope our project delivers beers that will take you on a ride!
Crux … what does it mean anyway?
- a vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point. “The crux of the matter.”
- something that torments by its puzzling nature; a perplexing difficulty.
Our name, Crux, celebrates the moment where tension and conflict meet. It’s that critical do or die moment where everything comes together— striking that perfect balance. Some people perform their best in these moments, and surely the moment inspires innovation and creativity to push through. We’re not pursuing convention — we want to face the “crux of the matter” and push through to the other side. What’s there? We can’t wait to find out.
Fermentation Project also has meaning for us. Fermentation lies at the “crux” or “the pivotal point” of the brewing process. And Project best describes the process we’ve experienced in sharing our dream with friends, families and a wide variety of beer lovers from both inside and outside the industry. With each step, more and more people have joined us and contributed to the vision. We had an ah-ha moment— we realized this will always be a “project” — experimental and collaborative at its core.
Who are the founders?
The founders are Larry Sidor, Dave Wilson and Paul Evers. Each of these three friends has a passion for extraordinary beer and a long rich history in the industry. How’d they meet? Working together and testing the boundaries of craft beer— they’ve collaborated on projects for Deschutes Brewery and 21st Amendment Brewery. Larry, a celebrated brewmaster, has an extended list of gold medal beers he created while at Deschutes Brewery with The Abyss, The Dissident, Hop Trip and Red Chair being some of his more notable creations. We can’t wait to see what’s next! Dave is a veteran in Sales and Marketing who also worked at Deschutes and most recently turned the entire country on to the red-hot 21st Amendment Brewery. Dave’s approach to distribution and his relationships will help us deliver our beer to the right folks. Paul, with his team at the creative shop tbd, has a gift for story telling through thoughtful and imaginative design. They’ve created packaging and branding for Deschutes, Odell Brewing and most recently, along with Dave, the breakthrough packaging for 21st Amendment.
How did the vision come together?
Over beer, of course. The vision for this project came out of many late night discussions between friends while enjoying some amazing beers. They tasted, first hand, beers that were pushing the conventional brewing path, and were inspired to join other brewers in that ambitious journey. Larry, Dave and Paul gained a deep appreciation for each other’s passion and skills and saw an opportunity to collaborate and embrace the talents of each other with a new brewing project. With a team made up of a celebrated brewmaster, a charismatic sales guy and a soulful creative director, we got pretty excited about the full potential of how, together, the sum could be much greater than the parts.
How did we choose the location that we’re in?
After looking at over 50 industrial properties in Bend, Paul came across an old listing for this old AAMCO Transmission shop online. We started asking around about the property, sought the advice of our real estate broker and the opinions of those we respect. Most shook their heads and gave a puzzled expression because it was isolated off the beaten path in a forgotten old mill area that few were familiar with. Some told us that we definitely didn’t want to go there. Our response? — we got psyched. We wanted something different. Turns out — it’s an amazing site. Folks in Bend know our location as both easy to see, but hard to get to. In the middle of nowhere, but right in the heart of Bend — it’s located literally at the intersection of the four quadrants that divide Bend between east and west and north and south. We love how this site sits in the balance of contradictions — at the “crux”. We aim to create beers that do the same—so it just felt right. And then, there’s the panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains, of course.
What is our capacity?
Not much. Initially, we’ll only have a few thousand hectoliters of capacity. With added fermenters and bright beer tanks, we could push that to 11k hectoliters. We’re committed to being a purely metric brewery, but if you’re looking for the conventional barrel as a measurement, we will max out a few years from now in the ballpark of 9,000 barrels. But limited capacity excites us too. With smaller batch sizes, we can experiment and push some brewing boundaries that might not be approachable with larger batch sizes.
How will our beers be offered?
Your best bet is to come to our Tasting Room and take in the brewery and a variety of beers first hand. We’re working hard to create an experience that connects beer lovers to the brewing process — when you visit us you’ll get to hang out in an actual operating brewery. You’ll take in the rich aromas of the mash, the waft of warm spent grain and, of course, the fruits of all the labor in all the exciting new brews. Beers will be served in 500ml and 300ml pours. Bring your growler (1,900ml), too.
We will also offer our beers in draft at fine craft pubs and in bottles in three sizes at bottle shops and specialty grocery stores. In the near future, you’ll be able to check our website for locations near you. Our expected initial footprint will be in Oregon and on the opposite side of the country — the Northeast. Go figure.
What will be the prices of our bottled offerings?
We’ll offer some beers at about $6 for a 500ml bottle. Other brews will be more complex and
would be priced at around $16 for a 750ml bottle of those. Our highest end we expect to sell for $13 for a 375ml—but those won’t be ready for a year or two as they’ll be barrel aged . We’re not after scale. We’re not trying to win with the masses. Our focus is on producing small batches of thoughtful high quality brews that have higher ingredient streams and more complex processes and aging.
When will you be ready to share our beer?
We’re working hard to make beer available in June. That’s what we’re chasing.
Sounds like it should be spectacular, but then given Larry’s track record, I’d expect nothing less. Personally, I can’t wait until June.
The three Founders of Crux Fermentation Project celebrate the installation of their two grain silos. From left to right: Larry Sidor, Paul Evers and Dave Wilson. (©2012 Photo by Brian J. Bulemore, ABACUS PHOTOGRAPHY.)