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DRINK LOCAL: A Family Affair – Greiss Family Beers

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It isn’t quite brewery row, but it is a pretty impressive start. With Climate City rejuvenating a turn-of-the-century brewery at the top of G Street, and The Haul a few blocks south on H Street, Griess Family Brew sits mid-point.

It is, like its name states, a family affair. Mom and pop are Dave and Susie. On a trip to Bend several years ago, a tour through the Deschutes Brewery sparked their interest in home brewing. It isn’t necessarily an original story: Established nearly 30 years ago, Deschutes was the first brewery in Central Oregon, and a maverick. Its massive success (now the eighth largest brewer in America) has inspired nearly every one who tours the friendly and humble brewery with the idea that they, too, could become successful brewers. But most just as quickly ditch those sudsy “I can do that” inspirations like New Year’s resolutions.

However, a small number hold the gumption to carry through—and the Griesses, along with their children, started homebrewing shortly after their trip and quickly grew into a modest 1.5 barrel system, a taphouse and what they identify as a nano-brewery. While nearby Climate City is massive and The Haul is impressive in size and selection, Greiss Family Brews is understated—what looks like a former tavern with brick façade on the exterior opens to a sparse, but welcoming interior. Their hours are limited (but limited to decent drinking hours, 4 – 9 pm). And, in spite of a slightly pretentious logo—a family crest buttressed by lions—the mood and attitude there is anything but. The interior looks like an old-time tavern scrubbed clean and sprinkled with charm and armchairs. Moreover, the service, well, makes you feel like family.

When three of us from the Messenger visited, we were greeted by a beaming young bartender, Dave Matthews. He let us know that he isn’t (Greiss) family, but more like an honorary member. He identified himself as the Director of Marketing.

Our Associate Editor, Sara Wiltermood, isn’t much of a beer drinker (which, yes, makes her a bad choice to go beer tasting), but she does like cider and Matthews hopped off to the back to grab a bottle of “Bite Me” cider, a taste they are tinkering with, and handed her a free bottle for a taste. She approved. Matthews then put a stout in front of our distribution manager, who also approved of its not too heavy, slightly coffee taste; and he steered me towards the Girlfriend IPA, which was closer to a pale ale, with understated hops and sly.

While Greiss Family growing into more beers, more hours and wider distribution would be welcome, they also are great at the size they are.


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