Goodlife Brewing Company’s founders Ty Barnett and Curt Plants aim to create the best beers using quality ingredients and unique methods, all while enjoying life and having a good time. That philosophy fits their hometown of Bend, Oregon’s reputation of being a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts—where playing and working hard go hand in hand. Goodlife was the ninth brewery to open in Bend as of 2011—a number that has nearly doubled in the last 18 months.
“We started homebrewing when Plants and I were roommates,” said Barnett. “He liked it so much he enrolled in a master brewing program in Chicago and then studied in Munich, Germany. After graduation he was hired at Rogue Ales in Newport. While brewing there, he soon became assistant head brewer alongside brewing legend John Maier.”
Growing up in Bend created an intrinsic appreciation of craft beer for Barnett and Plants. “We grew up with Mirror Pond and Black Butte as opposed to big brand beers,” said Barnett. “The Northwest is about the good stuff: good food, good wine and good beer. We get to enjoy a great quality of life here, and craft beer is just part of enjoying a good day or…good life.”
GoodLife’s primary focus is on balance and unique flavors. Utilization of lesser-known or underutilized hops is key to their process. “I would say the most unique thing we do is brew using a method called Hop Bursting,” said Barnett. “The key is to retain the hop characteristics from the brew through fermentation. When carbonated, they effervesce and you have a beer that has an amazing aroma and flavor. It’s both science and art.”
What beers does Barnett recommend to those new to the beer scene in Bend? Porter, amber or wheat ales top his list, with GoodLife’s Sweet As Pacific Ale coming in as their most unique beer. Brewed with a New Zealand hops, Barnett describes it as “light, citrusy, very balanced, flavorful and not bitter. That is a beer I can hand to almost anyone and they will enjoy it.”
Barnett continues, “The beer that embodies our brewery the most is our Descender IPA. We are a brewery not only in the Northwest, but in Bend. Beers are bigger here. We made this IPA to be balanced, clean but flavorful. We work very hard to craft our recipes to balance all aspects of a beer. Aroma, color, body, flavor and finish. We want to make sure all areas are within style guidelines, unique to our brewery and exciting to the drinker. We want you to enjoy the first sip as much as the last. And Descender IPA currently has a 94 rating which doesn’t hurt.”
What’s on the horizon for GoodLife Brewing? Barnett describes their goals and views of the current trends in craft beer: “We are huge fans of canning, barrel aging, blending and sours. We are going to avoid the current trend of cutting quality in order to grow.”
Barnett is keeping an eye on production and growth, with a desire to increase fermentation capacity by 120 percent.
Barnett’s hope for the future: “Enjoy a GoodLife out of a can and continue to bring the GoodLife to more and more people.”
Emily Engdahl is the founder of Oregon Beer Country, a travel and tourism site dedicated exclusively to the craft beer culture of Oregon. As a craft beer writer, community events coordinator, and homebrewer, Emily encourages consumer education, community craft beer connections, resource building, informed craft beer choices, and keeping craft beer fun and accessible. Emily is also a self-taught graphic designer and trained mediator. Find her on twitter at @emilyengdahl and @ORBeerCountry.