Whether you're hitting the trail, rocking a concert, or just playing lawn games with friends, the guys at GoodLife Brewing know that the right beer can make any good day that much better. They invited us to Bend to share their vision, their beer, and teach us how to live the good life.
“We grew up on craft beer.”
While the rest of us spent our formative years choking down Coors and Natty Ice, the fellas at Goodlife Brewing were enjoying Mirror Pond and Black Butte. Craft beer isn’t something they discovered; it’s always been there. That’s what happens when you grow up in Bend, Oregon. But what kind of beer wisdom does a lifetime of quality inspire? “Don’t beer- bong a Dead Guy. It’s not a good idea,” Owner Ty Barnett told us.
With their roots solidly in beer country, it was only natural for Ty and longtime friend Curt Plants to gravitate toward a beer profession. The first step, decide to start an Irish Pub. The next step, learn to brew beer. “I never made beer before I went to brew school,” Curt told us. After a quick online course, Curt headed to Chicago to attend the famous Siebel Institute before spending a few years at Rogue. In the meantime the guys shifted their focus. “You can touch a lot more people with a production brewery than you can in your pub,” Ty said. “It took about 8 years to get from ‘We want to open a brewery,’ to actually getting it open.”
Much of that time was spent refining their recipes. “It’s not that we use super unique ingredients. It’s the fact that we can combine them in a different way.” Ty explained. Goodlife is one of the first breweries in Oregon to utilize hop-bursting. Rather than adding hops throughout the boil, they add all their hops to the whirlpool. A relatively short contact time at relatively low temperatures extracts hop oils without boiling them off or converting them to bitter compounds. The result? Their Sweet As Pacific Ale, a very floral, fragrant beer without any back-of-the-mouth bitter. Curt explained the approach as, “Bitterness is just a balancing act rather than being the main focus.” In fact, much of Goodlife’s success can be traced to getting this West Coast style flavor into the market just when craft beer drinkers needed an alternative to Pacific Northwest style hop-bombs.
This kind of forward thinking seems to be a trend at Goodlife. Take canning for example. At a time when canned beer was looked down upon by the majority of the market, they minimized bottling in favor of cans, relying on craft beer lovers to bridge the gap. “If you take a Fort George Vortex or a Descender or an Oskar Blues’ 10-fiddy and you put it in front of somebody, it’s going to change their mind of what canned beer is about.” Ty explained. And Goodlife continues to look ahead. To experiment with more recipes, they plan to bring in a two-barrel pilot system and they’re partnering with a local distillery to start a barrel aging program.
They Goodlife guys are staying busy, that’s for sure. But what’s it like brewing beer with your friends in the outdoor playground that is Bend, OR? Head of marketing, Chris Nelson, summed it up well. “It’s kind of cliché but it’s really fitting. This really is the good life.”