Larry Sidor is a big name in the Bend, Oregon brewing community. He’s been in the industry for years, done all kinds of things, and is a mentor to many of the region’s finest brewers. He recently left an 8 year stint as Brewmaster for the formidable Deschutes Brewery to open his own operation. He’s named the new brewery the Crux Fermentation Project and was kind enough to have us in for a personal tour.
Larry was doing about twenty things when we showed up at our pre-arranged time, and he didn’t stop for one second. He’s a whirlwind of activity, obviously loves what he’s doing and it’s infectious. Rather than giving us the basic history and tour, he invited us to join him as he went about his morning activities and, as we helped him brew, we learned about Crux (which was most likely his plan all along).
Built in an old Midas muffler shop just east of the Old Mill District and a stone’s throw from downtown Bend, Crux is an invention that combines Larry’s long history in brewing with a love of collecting antique, and often rare, brewing equipment. This, combined with the open feel and design of the brewery and brewpub, gives the visitor a unique feel and draws them into the brewing process (just as Larry drew us in) unlike any brewery we have visited.
While most brewpubs allow the visitor to enjoy a tasting or pint while watching the action from behind a glass wall, Crux invites the visitor into the brewery and one really gets the feel that the brewing process is coming to life all around them.
They can watch Larry and Pat “Patio” Shea, a veteran of the Pacific Northwest Brewing industry and Larry’s first draft-pick, as they bring their fantastic creations to life. As you enjoy the open air brewpub, the fragrant steam of the hot wort as it’s mixed in a stainless steel tub, of Larry’s own design, fills the air and, if you happen to be standing directly over it as this happens (as we were), it beats the hell out of an aromatherapy sauna any day of the week and gives you a dramatic sense of how the boiling wort is instantly transformed by the 20 pounds of cascade hops into a magical blend that is so distinctive to the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to being a legend in brewing industry (think…the creator of Deschutes’ Abyss), Larry is also a collector and he has incorporated 20 plus years of collection brewing equipment into every inch of Crux. There is a rare antique hop locker next to the polished brass brewing tanks. Behind a glass wall (for sanitation) are four open air fermenting tanks. In the middle of the brewery, there is the stainless steel “Hop Tub” (as ACB’s dubbed it). In the pub area, the unique woodwork that adorns the bar and much of the pub, the fascinating sculpture and metal work, and even the bathrooms whose walls are papered with old blueprints and brewers association documents all contribute to a brewery EXPERIENCE that is an absolute must see in Bend, Oregon.
That’s basically how Larry Sidor rolls – That’s why he’s the Yoda of brewing.
Thanks again to Larry Sidor and the entire Crux Crew for having us in.
If you are planning a beer trip to Bend, OR, Crux should be at the top of your list for visits. It is now part of The Bend Ale Trail, so be sure to pickup a map of the trail from the Bend Visitor Center or download the free iPhone app.