Bill Mintiens
The Redmond Spokesman

Geist Beerworks

Where: 736 SW Umatilla Avenue; Redmond, OR 97756

Phone: 541-728-8663

Email: geistbeer@yahoo.com

On the net: facebook.com/Geist-Beerworks-195965234447030

Another brewery has hopped into the rapidly expanding Redmond beer scene.

Not intimidated by the growing competition, Geist Beerworks co-owners and brewers Heather and Greg Wales believe they’ve got the industry and brewing experience to carve out a nice customer following.

“For us the beer culture here is exciting, we like to get out and experience all the different breweries, it’s very motivating for us as brewers,” said Heather.

Arizona natives, the Wales moved to Redmond last year after owning and operating a brewery/restaurant/bar in Lake Havasu City called Copper Canyon. They were the fourth brewery to open in Lake Havasu City.

“The other three breweries were making really good beer, which is why we decided to brew on a nano-scale,” Greg Wales said. “We had a four-barrel brew system as compared to other breweries with 15-30 barrel systems. We made boutique-style beer, brews that were a little bit out of the norm and fill a void in the marketplace.”

The Wales produced boutique beers in Arizona like “white chocolate raspberry” that made sense economically for a small brewer but not for larger breweries.

This is the same market strategy the Wales brought to Redmond with Geist Beerworks, , located at 736 SW Umatilla Ave. Along with boutique beers, Geist plans on having everything from the lightest pilsners to the darkest stout beers.

“There are so many good breweries here in Central Oregon,” Greg said. “We’re not here to make a better mouse trap, we’re here to make a different mouse trap.”

Since opening their doors earlier this year, Geist has been brewing and distributing 15.5 and 5.2-gallon kegs to restaurants and bars throughout the region. Their customers include the Platypus Pub in Bend, the Bite in Tumalo, Sons of Beer in Prineville, and, soon, Mazatlan Mexican restaurants.

The brewery also plans to start a bottling operation this fall, as well as open a tasting room at its brewery. Food trucks are also part of the Wales’s plan but that plan is still in the works.

Geist also plans on entering the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this fall.

“This will be my fifth time there, it’s the largest beer festival in the country and we love having constructive feedback from certified judges on our beers,” Greg said.

Greg Wales gets excited talking about a special brew they’ve planned for this fall.

“We’re going to have a Russian Imperial Stout,” he said. “We’ll be filling two whiskey barrels, about 110 gallons, and we’ll do a limited bottling run. Because it’s a Russian Imperial Stout in a whiskey barrel the alcohol level will be a little over 12 percent and infused with the flavor of whiskey.”

“Chick beers,” which are a little lighter in alcohol and feature special flavoring, are one of the ways Geist plans to be different from other breweries.

“We have one that’s blueberry and vanilla, another that’s enhanced with cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries,” Heather said. “And we also have a watermelon beer called Sandia. In the fall we’ll have one that’s oatmeal raisin cookie which is to die for.”

Heather Wales makes it clear, however, that chick beers are not just for women.

“Plenty of men like these beers as well,” she said.

Geist Beerworks is collaborating with the Braveheart Brewing to raise money for injured veterans. Geist’s “Intrepid Hero IPA” is named for the Intrepid organization which helps veterans suffering with traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.

There’s also a “POW/MIA Pilsner” and an “Frog Man Imperial Red Ale.”

A veteran himself, Greg Wales felt this was the right thing to do.

“It was just a natural fit,” he said. “Craft beers are such a big thing these days, we knew this was a great way to help the three groups.”

Heather agrees — “It’s amazing, there aren’t very many causes better than helping our military.”

Anticipating that the Braveheart promotion will go nationwide, Geist will contract with larger breweries to produce and can their special brews this fall.

Geist’s tasting room is tentatively set to open around Aug. 1. In addition to trying the different brews, customers will be able to purchase kegs or fill growlers at the brewery. Bottles and cans will follow as the brewery grows.

“We’re taking things a step at a time, after all we’re just a mom and pop operation, it’s just the two of us,” Heather said.

Well actually a mom, pop and seven children operation. The Wales’s kids, ranging in age from 7 to 20, have been involved with the business from day one.

“They’re great helpers,” Heather said.

Greg is thrilled with the startup help that the city of Redmond has provided.

“The city has been just great, getting permits, whatever we needed, they have been amazing,” he said.

It’s a good time to be in the brewing business and an especially a good time to be in Redmond, Heather said.

“We want to be part of the whole brewery scene here, it’s an exciting time to be in Redmond,” she said.

So, are you still wondering how the Wales came up with the name “Geist Beerworks?”

Heather explained that the name was chosen because of her affinity for ghosts. “I really like the paranormal and the word geist means ghost in German.”

Greg added, “It’s so hard to name a brewery these days, there are so many out there, and we also wanted a power word so it just seemed to fit.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2185, bmintiens@redmondspokesman.com

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