From dishwasher to head brewer, from trash heap to production brewery, Boneyard Beer has climbed from humble origins to the top of the Oregon beer scene. They sat down with us and shared what it takes to bring attitude and a tap list full of heavy hitting ales to Bend's beer community in Hopstories #5.
“The skull references stuff that was left out to die,” co-founder and brewer Tony Lawrence told us, explaining Boneyard Beer’s distinctive logo. “The cross bone wrenches are because we do most of our own welding. We like to be pretty handy with the tools.” And they’ve had to be. Nearly every piece of equipment at Boneyard was discarded by another brewer (they have equipment from at least 13 breweries) before Tony and his crew patched, polished, and cobbled it together to build one of Bend’s most successful breweries.
Since their first beer was released in May 2010, Boneyard Beer has become synonymous with high-quality IPAs with brews like RPM and Hop Venom earning wide spread recognition. Tony credits their success to what was, at the time, a different approach to the category. “It’s about having a beer that’s hoppy and floral in aroma rather than being bitter. I often laugh about people who post about their 120 IBUs. That’s such a crappy reference.”
After a meteoric start and three years of 60 hour weeks centered on pumping out as much volume as fast as possible, a few recent speed bumps have forced them to reflect. “We cooled our jets and really looked inward,” Tony told us. Their plans include a new brewery and a reinvigorated approach to their beer. “We’ve tried to really ramp up our game in terms of making an even higher quality product with increased clarity and shelf-life.” They’re also working to find balance in their day to day operations. “It’s a much simpler plan: build the new brewery and keep a real simple operational structure. No weekend brewing. No night brewing. The team’s going to be happing. I’m going to be happy. That’s the balance between professional and personal.”
Tony’s also trying to take more time to appreciate Boneyard’s success. “We’ve been working so hard in this humble little building on a dead in street that I know nothing else. I’m still having a difficult time realizing what we have achieved. I do the numbers every month so I’ve seen the growth curve and that’s pretty rewarding but in the last year there have been so many kind comments from people, bar owners and home brewers, all interested in what we’re doing and I’ve really gotten a kick out of that. That’s what’s made me feel like we’re doing something and we’re being noticed.”