Q&A with Joe Barker, General Manager & Brew Master, Ochoco Brewing Company

BEND, Ore. – January 3, 2016 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) recently sat down with Ochoco Brewing Company General Manger, Joe Barker, and his partner, Uriah Dombrowski, to catch up on where the brewery has been, where it is now, and where it is going in the future. Here’s what’s hoppin’.

EDCO: Tell us about Ochoco Brewing Company.

JB: I opened Ochoco Brewing Company (then called Solstice Brewing Company) back in 2011. I had been a home brewer in Portland before that and I really enjoyed making good quality, tasty beers. At first Solstice was just a brewpub, but by the end of 2012, we were fully operational and making all of our own beers.

EDCO: What made you choose Prineville?

JB: I grew up in northeast Oregon in a small town called Summerville, which is near La Grande. When I came to Prineville for the first time, it really reminded me of Summerville. It had that small town feel where you’re always running into people you know and everybody says hi to each other at the grocery store. At about the same time, we were looking to move out of Portland. Prineville was attractive because it was very affordable and it also needed a brewpub.

EDCO: Tell us about your beers and your menu.

JB: We make good quality beer from solid recipes that appeal to a broad spectrum of people. Prineville is newer to the craft beer scene, so we stick to what people like and are familiar with. On average, we brew about 16 different beers at a time and 11 of those are on tap at the new brewpub. The most popular beers are Double Dam IPA and C.W. Schnocker.

I would describe our menu as high quality pub food. Our Executive Chef, Jeff Batty, has been with us for three years and we’re always growing and tailoring the menu. Our kitchen uses as many fresh, local foods as possible and we support businesses like Prineville Beef Company, Dancing Cow Farm, Timber Creek Farms, Flying Pig Hops, and Big Ed’s Bakery. We’re mostly known for our “hand-patted” burgers and we get a lot of positive feedback about our food.

People also come for the live entertainment. Tuesday is open mic night and Wednesday is a blue grass/country jam session.

EDCO:  What’s your favorite thing on the menu?

JB: I could eat the Irish Smothered Nacho Fries and Steins Pillar burger every day, but then there would be two of me (laughs).

UD: The Cod Fish and Chips are really good.

EDCO: Where do you see Ochoco Brewing 3-5 years down the road?

JB: With the addition of Uriah and Brie Dombrowski as partners, we have more bandwidth, so big plans are in the works. We just finished moving the brewpub to a new location, which is a block north of our old spot. In the short term, we want to get the new brewpub operating at capacity and make it the “go-to” spot in Prineville. We’re also in the process of moving production to a new brewery space that’s bigger and has quadruple the capacity. At some point, we’d like to hire a head brewer and a brewer’s apprentice.

Right now, our main limitation is production. We need to have the ability to produce vast quantities of beer, so it can be bottled or canned and distributed outside of Central Oregon. We’d like to see Ochoco sold statewide and in surrounding areas like Washington and California.

EDCO: How has EDCO helped your business grow?

JB: EDCO has been a great resource for doing business in Prineville. They’ve helped us better understand tax incentives, permitting, human resources, liquor licensing, and the Enterprise Zone.

EDCO: Anything else we should know about Ochoco Brewing Company?

UD: Yes, I’d like to add that Joe really knows what he’s doing when it comes to making good beer. I knew that after one sip of his Winter Schnocker.

(EDCO note: Ochoco Brewing Company’s new brewpub is located at 380 N. Main St. in Prineville. They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and breakfast Friday-Sunday. For more information, visit their website.)

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