One of Central Oregon’s family-owned breweries has launched a long-awaited second location. Porter Brewing Co. brings The Cellar, an underground brewpub, to Downtown Bend. The 100-year-old historic underground building features Porter Brewing’s cask ales— and a few tokens of Bend’s past.
Underground Bar in Downtown Bend
Avara and Deven Roberts opened Porter Brewing Co. in September 2018 in Redmond. They aimed to create Central Oregon’s first all-cask brewery, specializing in cask-conditioned ales. Now, the Roberts are thrilled to bring their cask ales to the underground cellars in Bend. In a speakeasy-like setting, The Cellar features in-house brews like Irish Red-mond Ale, Jackpine IPA, and Best Bitter. Also, site-specific beers are being brewed for the Redmond and Bend locations, respectively.
Bend Brewpub on the Horizon
One year after opening Porter Brewing Co., the Roberts got an opportunity to open a second brewpub in Bend. For their underground bar vision, they knew the subterranean downtown building was the perfect location. Finally, after months of preparation, they signed a lease for a historic and unique space — in February of 2020.
“Unfortunately, COVID derailed the original opening date, and everything got pushed out,” Avara shares. “Things seemed to move much slower during [the pandemic], especially the first half of the year. It took longer to get permits, for paperwork to process, to book contractors, even the cost of building materials skyrocketed. We never really talked about stopping the project. In our minds, we had already made the decision to persevere through the unknown of 2020 and move forward with the taproom.”
Thankfully, the couple didn’t give up on their dream to open the newest Bend breweries — they knew the location and setting were unparalleled. “We were confident that once The Cellar opened, we would be able to offer a deliciously unique product, and a comfortable space for the community to enjoy,” Avara says. “And I think folks in Bend are ready for that, especially after such a long period of solitude.”
The Cellar Preserves History for Beer, Bend, and Family
Some breweries force-carbonate their beer using carbon dioxide. Cask conditioning uses a different method that allows carbonation to occur naturally during its secondary fermentation process. Beer is transferred to the casks, where yeast consumes its sugars and thus producing carbon dioxide.
It’s also during this time that unique flavors are developed. “You’ll find this was the traditional method of serving beer in the pubs in Britain, and it dates back to hundreds of years ago,” Avara explains.
Similarly, The Cellar features eight beer engines and hand pumps imported from the UK. With its centuries-long history, hand pumps pay homage to the preservation of cask conditioning. Also, they look very cool. Another reason the underground brewpub feels like it was made for serving cask ales.
“When we started demo[lition], we pulled the drywall down off the walls and ceiling and uncovered two really cool lava rock walls and some beautiful wooden beams in the ceiling. That was definitely something we wanted to highlight. All the quirks in the building add to the history and charm of the space, which we love,” Avara shared.
The Cellar displays many family heirlooms throughout the brewpub, which pay homage to Deven’s English heritage. Also, the brewpub features unique findings that showcase the building’s historic roots.
And, in one corner of the brewpub, you can enjoy a frosty ale in the classic ‘Snug’. “Back when it was frowned upon for women to be seen in bars and pubs, they could enjoy a drink in this private room called a snug,” Avara shared. Additionally, a small nook at the brewpub’s forefront features antique chairs, a gas fireplace, and old board games.
English Pub Fare in Bend
Their food menu consists of savory pies, soft pretzels with beer cheese, and sausage bites. “And really, what pairs better with a Scottish meat pie or a chicken curry pie, than a cask-conditioned ale,” Avara cheerfully exclaims. Vi’s Pies are a tribute to their daughter, Violet, while Porter Brewing gets its namesake from their son, Porter.
Porter Brewing Co. and The Cellar have been a labor of love, especially through a pandemic. Avara and Deven actively participate in business operations. But, with two elementary school-aged children at home, it makes this journey exceptionally challenging. Still, they continued forward.
“Our kids are seeing firsthand what hard work looks like, and my hope is that we’re teaching them that if you put in the time and energy, you can achieve your goals. We are also fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family who has been a tremendous help through the entire process. It really does take a village.”