Posted in Breweries

Q&A with Sunriver Brewing Co.: Small Town Strong!

As you have probably already read on my Instagram, I had the most amazing time in Southern Oregon a few weeks ago.

Sunriver Brewing Co.
Brett Thomas, Director of Brewery Operations at Sunriver Brewing Co. -photo courtesy of Sunriver Brewing Co.

It’s now time I share some of those experiences with you guys. Oh and if you are wondering what the title is all about, Small Town Strong is Sunriver, OR,’s slogan… Anyway… We drove north in California and stopped at a few breweries along the way. Then we visited Grants Pass, OR and checked out a couple of beer spots. Before arriving in Bend, I spotted a sign on the side of Highway 97 for Sunriver Brewing Co. I had of course heard of those guys before and got super excited. Now, let me tell you… Not only do they have fantastic beer, but they also have pretty bomb food. I don’t get paid to say stuff like this. I truly had an overall great experience! And when I do… I feature the stuff on here. So I contacted them when I got back to California, and Director of Brewery Operations Brett Thomas got back to me with the following answers to my questions:

How did Sunriver Brewing Co. start?

Sunriver Brewing Co.
Sunriver Brewing Co. brewpub in Sunriver, OR -photo courtesy of Sunriver Brewing Co.

The brewery’s concept and name were developed by the Cameron family in 2011. They lived in the resort community of Sunriver, which at the time, was dramatically underserved with regards to craft beer and restaurants. They chose to remedy the situation by opening a pub and production brewery. Our first pub opened in July of 2012 and our production facility brewed its first batch in January 2014. The Cameron’s brought in several key staff members along the way, people that had significant experience in business management, sales and marketing, food and beverage and also craft beer brewing. 

What do you think about the Oregon and Central Oregon craft beer scene and where it’s going?

Sunriver Brewing Co.
Limited Release can of Pineapple Haze I picked up during my visit at the Sunriver Brewing Co. brewpub in Sunriver, OR

Oregon is definitely fixated on IPA, and Central Oregon maybe even more so.  People drink other styles, but they ALL drink IPA. Central Oregon is slowly beginning to embrace other styles though. The majority of craft beer consumers still shop by the numbers (ABV and IBU) but people are starting to develop a passion for more sessionable beers.  Pilsners, wheat beers and pale ales are all steadily increasing in popularity. The best breweries in the state have a wonderful balance of beer quality, stylistic diversity and creativity.

What is Sunriver Brewing up to these days?

We’ve been in a constant growth pattern since day one and I don’t see that changing in the near future. We opened our Oakway Pub in Eugene in April and are trending towards +2000 barrels in production year over year. June was our biggest sales and production month on record.

How do you go about creating recipes?

Sunriver Brewing Co.
From top to bottom: Vicious Mosquito IPA, Fuzztail Hefeweizen, Rippin Northwest Ale -photo courtesy of Sunriver Brewing Co.

Beer quality is first and foremost – as brewers it means everything to us. We operate “outside the box” with some creative one-offs, but we’re really into stylistic accuracy for our brands. That stylistic accuracy holds us accountable as brewers. Recipe formulation, generally speaking, is a group effort from the brewery leadership team (myself, Head Brewer, Lead Brewer and QA/QC Lead).  Our tap lists lean towards the hoppy side of the spectrum – always West Coast IPA, Hazy IPA and Strong Pale Ale. As is typical for us during summer, there is usually a great selection of sessionable beers – currently featuring Mexican Lager, American Hefeweizen, Blonde Ale and Cream Ale.

Tell us about some of the awards you have received over the years

Sunriver Brewing Co.
The brewery at Sunriver Brewing Co. -photo courtesy of Sunriver Brewing Co.

We’ve been quite competitive since day one. The brewery has won numerous local, regional, national and international awards. Our most notable performance have been on the biggest stages, with a gold medal at the 2016 World Beer Cup, medals three years in a row at the Great American Beer Festival, and we were awarded the highly coveted GABF Small Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year in 2017.

Anything else?

We’re a company that’s all about great people and great beer!

More photos from Sunriver Brewing Co.: