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Once Upon a Brew Pub: Good Life Brewing Company

One of the standing jokes where I work is, if you don’t like what’s going on, wait 10 minutes and things will change. Several weeks ago after driving my three hours to work on a Monday morning, I was asked if I would like to go to Bend, Oregon for the week. Visions of brew pubs flashed through my head.

“When do I leave?” said I. So off to Bend I went.

The drive to Bend is beautiful and very scenic. The town sits near the eastern boundary of the Cascade Mountains, and the Deschutes River runs through it. If you enjoy craft beer you will have some difficult choices to make. There are 10 different microbreweries to choose from. I thought on my first night out I would try one of the newer and lesser well known ones, and decided on Good Life Brewing Company.

Even with a GPS it was a little hard to find. I expected it to be on the main road, and actually pulled up in front of the wrong building that looked like a pub. I did find it set well back from the street. The brewery was at one end and you walked past it to get to the restaurant/pub. The room was light and airy with floor to ceiling windows separating the pub/dining area from the brewery. Viewing the mash tuns, boil kettles, and fermenters was impressive. Everything looked new, gleaming, and spotless. It would be very enjoyable to sit, have a beer, and watch the brewing process.

Within the pub, there were tables and chairs, a pool table, and an area where a band was starting to set up. The seating at the bar was limited to about 6 stools.

Although there were 5 beers on tap, I did not try a sampler at Good Life, and just had a couple pints with dinner.

The first beer I tasted was an Oak Aged Pale Ale. This beer was not actually aged in an oak barrel, bourbon soaked oak chips were used instead. The oak flavor was detectable, but was a little too subtle for my taste. Getting the proper balance with oak is difficult. It is very easy to overwhelm a beer with the tannins derived from the oak. The IBU’s (International bittering units) at 55 gave a pleasant bitterness without being overly assertive, with a moderate hop aroma. The ABV (alcohol by volume) was 5%. The hop bitterness was lingering rather than up front. The malt was well balanced with the hops. This was a brew that seemed to improve the longer I drank it. Overall it was a very quaffable beer.

The next sample was their dry hopped Mountain Rescue Pale Ale, Winner of the People’s Choice Award – 2011 Bend Brewfest. This beer was named to honor the mountain rescue teams that help make the wilderness safe. Wow, I really liked this one, enough so that I brought a bottle home to share with a couple home brewing buddies. They loved it. The color was golden with a lasting head. The hop aroma from the dry hopping was a wonderful grapefruit, citrus, with low subtle malt notes. Moderate bodied with a pleasant hop bitterness balanced by the malt. This is a beer you could drink more than one of at a sitting. There was a brochure on the bar with the basic ingredients. I’m going to try and duplicate this one.

For dinner, since I was having Pale Ales I had their Stromboli, which was a house-baked pastry rolled with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, salami, Parmesan cheese and tomato sauce and served with a side of marinara and ranch dressing. This was a great paring with the two Pale Ales. This a brewery well worth trying if you’re ever in Bend.

GoodLife Brewing Company
70 SW Century Drive 100-464
Bend, OR 97702

Click here for Don’s first pub column about Dustbowl Brewing Company Tap Room in Turlock, Calif.

Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don’s job requires extensive travel, and he enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Cottonwood, CA.