Dr. Jack | Fresh Hop IPA

Named for hop pioneer Dr. Jack Horner – creator of the Cascade hop – this trailblazing IPA features freshly harvested Oregon-grown Cascade hops, added to the kettle the very same day they’re picked in order to maximize all the floral and citrusy goodness this legendary hop has to offer. Inspiring as our brewery’s view of the Cascade Mountains at sunset, this fresh expression of their namesake hop is one we know would make Dr. Jack proud. 6.9% ABV

Way Two Fresh | Fresh Hop IIPA

To craft this fresh hop tour de force for third year in a row, we once again simultaneously harvested hops from two valleys in two states on the same morning, combining them into a single kettle that very afternoon… dream big, right? Fully hop-forward with rich tropical qualities, this flavorful blend of fresh Willamette Valley Mosaic and Yakima Valley Simcoe hops is an Imperial IPA that’s double the trouble and downright delicious. It’s dangerously drinkable at 9.9% ABV so imbibe with caution!

Pert Near | Fresh Hop IPA

Our first fresh hop beer of the season is on tap and available in 16oz cans – not just in our tasting room but also throughout Oregon and Washington. This year we brewed Pert Near with Tettnang and Centennial hops, both grown by Goschie Farms in the Willamette Valley. The unique melon flavors from these early season hops are once again the main attraction in this dank IPA which clocks in at a respectable 6.9% ABV.

Cruxpansion for the People

If you’ve been around Crux recently, then you know they’ve been working on a pretty hefty, beautiful, and very necessary expansion. I recently spent a morning with founder/master brewer, Larry Sidor, in honor of their 7th year of absolutely crushing it so I could fill you in on exactly what went into this awesome new space. Warning: you’ll learn some things in this article, use your new knowledge to impress your friends or your mom or your dog.

You might already know this, but Crux used to be an AAMCO transmission shop (if you didn’t know, that’s cool because now you do). The entire industrial feel of the original space was carried over to the brewery, so it was vital that the expansion felt the same way. Boy did they nail that! But first, why even expand? Larry said it best, “Our goal is to get beers in hands as fast as possible while keeping the wonderful sense of community that Crux is known for”.

Something that really stuck with me from our conversation is that Larry never expected that the original tap house would be full. Well Larry, wrong. Thankfully for all of us it was realized in 2015 that the original space just wasn’t going to cut it so the expansion planning started. I’m not going to get into a bunch of details about the plans and reasons behind details, but I am going to point out a few VERY cool features.

One of the very first steps in the expansion was getting the (formerly) outdoor container bar going. Considering how popular the outdoor space at Crux is, it was super important for them to have easier access to tasty brews for the sea of people enjoying the lawn. Now you can still hit the container bar, it’s still in the exact same spot, you just have to venture into what is basically a giant covered patio. One thing people have always loved about this space is the accessibility to the outdoors along with the stunning mountain views. The design team did a stellar job of creating a space that easily opened up for sunny days, but still gives us the outdoor feel when all the giant garage doors are down.

One of the main goals of the expansion is getting beers in hands as quickly as possible. Which is a goal I can really get behind. With that in mind, there are now three places to order: the original bar, the container bar, and the front counter. I have spent a fair amount of time at Crux and can tell you that I have never been in a line for beer longer than 5 minutes, and it’s generally much quicker than that. Gone are the days of table service, it just doesn’t make sense for a space that is so oriented around community and fun. Order at one of the bars and go mingle, pet some dogs, meet some new people, have fun!

Now for a few little details. This is the part you’re going to want to remember to show off to your friends. Next time you’re in there are a few things to notice: the ceiling in the expansion, all of the copper light fixtures, and some very specific silver plating pieces. First, take a look at all the lighting fixtures, both inside and outside, they’re all that same beautiful copper that you’ll see in the brewhouse. How? Well, they’re all part of the original brewhouse that Larry held onto when they installed it, the original stacks were much too tall for the space so the copper found a new purpose.

Now take a look up past those beautiful lights and you’ll see some random silver panels hanging down. They might look like nothing to you, but they are actually a very cool piece of brewing history. See, Larry was once the head brewer at Olympia Brewing, back before craft beer was even on the radar. Those silver panels come from his time there. They are all original lauter tun filtration plates that were used as a hop jack before Olympia switched over to the current whirlpool method with the transition from whole flower hops to pellets. Needless to say, those pieces hanging from the ceiling are much more than just a piece of metal, they are a piece of brewing history that harkens to the roots Crux has in the industry.

The last interior piece to point out also requires that you look up, I suggest taking a seat before this because it can be a bit mesmerizing and I’d hate to have any beer casualties… The entire ceiling of the new expansion is a beautifully nerdy piece of design. Stemach Design is responsible for the entirety of the expansion design, but this ceiling is the shining star of it all. The variation in the ceiling is due to the use of randomly alternating 2×6’s and 2×8’s which are aligned at the top and give a wonderful texture to the side we see. According to the designers, there were two main reasons for this. First, it just looks cool. Second, it “helps dampen the reflection of sound in the space”. Considering the amount of metal and concrete in the space it is super important that sound has somewhere to go, otherwise it would be impossible to hear anything.

If you thought all that was the cool part, you’re in for a real treat. The design of the ceiling and organization of the boards created an “exactly random” pattern. Now, I can’t really tell you much about the science and engineering that goes into making something exactly random, but what I can tell you is that it not only looks rad but also contains a secret message. The pattern of the ceiling was dictated by assigning a value to letters of the alphabet then writing out the message… The message in the main seating area says “WELCOME TO CRUX FERMENTATION PROJECT” and the western part of the outdoor area reads “DRINK MORE BEER HERE”. Can you figure out the code?

Moving outside, you’ll see they didn’t change much. The food carts are still there to provide added tasty options on top of the existing menu, there’s still a ton of space to spread out, and there are still fire pits. However, there are added permanent benches available and a brand new fire pit; not just any old fire pit either, there was a lot of work put into this bad boy.

This isn’t just some random fire pit that was bought and installed, it’s all custom and really stays home with the vibe at Crux. The base of the pit is actually a former brew tank that Larry bought and had cut down to create the 8-foot base. Those letters are hand made and welded specifically for the fire pit, meaning this baby is going to be around a long time. Due to the large size of the base, a good number of people are able to cozy up to it, again focusing on that wonderful sense of community the brewing industry is all about.

I’m so very excited to see how far Crux has made it in the last seven years and can’t wait to see what the next seven hold. Big shout out to Jason from Crux for taking the time to help set this all up and to Matt from Stemach Design for providing all the wonderful design information. Also, big shout out to Nathan’s Custom Woodworking for making all of the tables (from a single 100 year old Douglas fir) and to Stuart Breidenstein for crushing that fire pit design.

Now go grab a tasty beer, nestle up next to a fire, and enjoy a terrific view with great people!

Cheers!

Thanks to the Positive Brew Dude for capturing this with his words and photos!

The Play Wave Pursuit


photo: john trapper | surfer: travis yamada

The pursuit of the perfect wave (or beer, for that matter) never ends.

A few years back, we partnered with our friends at Sierra Nevada, Columbia Distributing, and the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance to support a cause close to our hearts (and our brewery) here at Crux – proceeds from Paddle Trail Ale helped fund the downtown reconnection of the Deschutes River and build what is now the Bend Whitewater Park. It’s one of our prouder moments, and one we reflect on often while yearning for a flavorful pale ale along the banks of our favorite river…

Today, the spirit of Paddle Trail Ale lives on with the debut of Play Wave: a next-generation Pale Ale bursting with big flavor and complex hop character. Named for the whitewater surf feature built as part of the Bend Whitewater Park by Crux brewer and whitewater kayaker Chris Meinke, Play Wave is a refreshing ride built for days on the water. Innovative brewing techniques have allowed us to squeeze a crazy amount of juicy hop flavor and floral aroma from a power trio of Mosaic, Galaxy, and Centennial hops making this easy-drinking pale a tidal wave of citrusy goodness, without the bitter wipeout. “I mostly like to drink really good lagers all the time…” says Crux brewer Joshua Keithly “…but Play Wave is just stupid good. I could drink this every day.”

As brewers and river enthusiasts ourselves, we’re stoked on this beer and all the endless sessions to come. Throw a six-pack in the cooler and keep chasing your wave. We’ll keep chasing ours.

Barrel Maintenance & Repair

There are many benefits to employing used barrels for beer fermentation & aging. You can get different flavor profiles depending on the previous liquor – at Crux, we use bourbon, red & white wine & rum barrels. You can get different char/toast levels within the barrels depending on its previous use & barrels can be made of different woods that can lend a great amount of complexity to your beer. Due to these wonderful characteristics, it’s important to keep your barrel stock in good shape.

Before we dive into maintenance, let’s define some basic barrel anatomy:


A couple common reasons barrels may need some maintenance:

1. The barrels were kept empty too long & dry out

See the spaces in between the staves? They are caused by the wood drying out and shrinking. This barrel will not hold liquid!

2.They have been damaged (either in transit, storage or maybe even by me!)

This can include broken staves, bent/broken/missing hoops, dented heads, etc.

Good news: the barrels can be fixed! Now to introduce some tools & techniques we use:

The tools on the left are called a Cooper’s Hammer & a Hoop Driver. They are the best tools for the job when it comes to “driving hoops” or moving the metal hoops further along the barrel to tighten the wooden staves. Until I got the hoop driver, I used the piece of copper pipe pictured on the right. Looking at those sharp edges, I’m sure you can imagine my elation when the hoop driver came in the mail!

Another important tool for fixing barrels is basic: water & steam. Hot water rinses on the inside and outside provide the barrels with much needed moisture and can expand the staves to fix leaks. Steam gives you a couple benefits – it will provide moisture to expand the barrels and the heat helps take down the microbial load. Some barrels may come in very dry or not smelling great. The steam will kill most of what is in the barrel (microbially speaking) & restore a healthy balance for the beer. We don’t want too many outside microbes interrupting the secondary fermentation or beer aging process within the barrel.

In general, the wine barrels come to us in the best shape. Bourbon barrels are aged longer so they tend to be a bit more beat up. The rum barrels are by far the worst – they are usually retired bourbon barrels used several more times for rum.  Pictured above are leaking bourbon (left) & rum (right) barrels. Since these barrels are already full of beer, I can’t exactly hot rinse or steam them. In this case, I will hoop drive to tighten the barrel. You can see a yellowish substance on the front of the rum barrel. Rum barrels are usually double bunged (one on top, which is normal, then one on the head). This head bung can be problematic as it tends to leak due to aging our barrels on their sides. The yellowish substance is barrel wax. This is a last resort and in this case, I covered the entire front bung with wax. Now I need to tackle the head leaks with the hoop driver!

These are just a few things we do to maintain barrels at Crux. There’s a reason a Barrel Cooper is a full-time job! Even with the high level of maintenance, record keeping & expense that goes along with a barrel program, I believe the resulting beer is worth the effort!

Be sure to stop by our Tasting Room often as we release many new Banished beers to the pub only (in very small quantities so they go fast!)

Cheers!

– Katie Liebl
Brewer, Barrel Program Manager

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2016 [BANISHED] Tough Love

The fall season transition is always an exciting time at Crux. After the rush of fresh hop season is over and the weather starts to cool, it’s time for my favorite beer – Tough Love 2016! It’s a labor of love as we deal with this complex Imperial Stout all year long. It starts an entire year earlier (October 2015) with the arrival of 100 fresh bourbon barrels direct from the heart of bourbon country in Kentucky.

 

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The barrels are so fresh they are often “wet” meaning they still have bourbon in the bottom of the barrel. We fill each barrel with fresh Tough Love and let it mature for 1 year in a cooled room. This year’s blend was pulled out of barrels in mid-October and pumped into a bright tank where it cools down, becomes carbonated & sits on fresh cut Madagascar vanilla beans & cherry bark for 2 weeks. This year’s version is incredibly complex – dark as night with a beautiful, mocha-colored creamy head. You’ll get a lot of barrel character this year with a smoky oak & pronounced bourbon heat. The vanilla & cherry bark blend perfectly with the dark chocolate & licorice base.

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This is a heavy beer that manages to maintain its smoothness and will keep you coming back for more. For me, this is the perfect beer to have in front of the fire place (or out by our fire pits!) on a chilly night. Cheers to Tough Love season 2016! Look for it at our Tasting Room & in stores the week of Thanksgiving! Cheers

– Katie Liebl
Brewer, Barrel Program Manager

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