Spotlighting Klamath Falls’ Burgeoning Craft Beer Scene

February 17, 2021 Beer, Klamath Falls, Lifestyle 0

Ty Kliewer, co-owner at Skyline Brewing Company in Klamath Falls, remembers feeling unsure about how his nascent brewery—the city’s third—would be received when it launched in May 2018. When he got the last of his licenses approved before opening, Kliewer had all of two accounts lined up to sell Skyline’s ales around town.

Weeks after opening, he poured beer at the city’s Basin Brew & Q event, finagling a spot at the festival even after organizers had stopped accepting new entries. Going into the event, he wasn’t sure what kind of impact Skyline would make or how its beers would be received.

“It went from begging people to take our beer to people calling us and wanting it,” he says. Soon after the event, Skyline was sending beer to Central Oregon, the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon, and the Willamette Valley.

“In Klamath, there are plenty of beer drinkers, but they like the beer that comes in a silver can,” Kliewer says. “And the more people you get interested in craft beer, it’s ultimately very good for everyone.”

Kliewer’s experience isn’t unusual in the Klamath Basin brewing scene. The local community supported a new brewery, patrons were eager to try something different, and Kliewer made sure the brewing process—and the beers he continues to produce—showcased the best of Klamath County.

Skyline is hardly alone in taking pride in the community that made it all possible. Mia and Pia’s Pizzeria and Brewhouse has been brewing for more than two decades with discarded dairy equipment, Klamath Basin Brewing Company powers its beers with geothermal energy from just under city sidewalks, and Klamath Falls’ newest taphouse promises to be a fun and family-friendly community gathering spot.

Here’s a look at the Klamath County craft beer scene—and what sets each brewery and brewpub apart in a growing, yet tight-knit community.

Klamath Basin Brewing Company

KlamathBasinBrewery-DK18-4Klamath Basin Brewing Company’s beers are produced using geothermal energy that lies just below the surface of Klamath Falls. Discover Klamath

Some of Oregon’s best, most popular breweries evoke a sense of place with everything they do. Bend’s Crux Fermentation Project, for instance, is synonymous with its wide-open lawn and clear views of the nearby Cascade Range. And Fort George Brewery in Astoria pays homage to its history as both a military fort and auto dealership with photos, murals, and more.

Klamath Basin Brewing Company takes a slightly different approach in paying homage to its hometown. Housed in an 85-year-old former creamery in the heart of downtown, its beers are produced with geothermal energy. This is the same kind of energy that “heats” downtown sidewalks in winter and created the world-famous geysers in Yellowstone National Park.

The abundance of geothermal energy just below the surface in Klamath Falls heats the brewery’s building, powers its brewhouse, and keeps sidewalks snow-free during the heart of winter. Klamath Basin Brewing Company also takes pride in using pure, clean water from underground rivers from the nearby Cascade Mountains in its beers.

Local favorites include the smooth Backroad Vanilla Porter and the Hard Hat Hefeweizen (which sports notes of banana), and some of its past seasonal selections include a brown ale, a winter warmer, and a pumpkin ale.

Mia and Pia’s Pizzeria and Brewhouse

Mia & Pia’s Pizzeria & Brewhouse has the honor of being Klamath Falls’ first brewery—and is known as much for its ales and lagers as its filling pizzas and sandwiches.

Mia & Pia’s has been slinging fresh pies in Klamath Falls for more than 30 years—and got into the craft beer game in 1997, long before many of its regionally known counterparts. Owners Rod and Jodie Kucera, who’d once run a dairy operation topping out at more than 135 cows, converted an old dairy into the brewhouse. They constructed the brewery with some of the dairy’s old equipment and hardware.

Today, with more than a dozen house-brewed beers on tap at any given time, Mia & Pia’s is known for brewing a variety of classic and experimental styles. Highlights include an old-school, hop-forward IPA; a crisp Irish-style red ale; a seasonal märzen, and a crisp American lager.

Skyline Brewing Company

PourHorse@SkylineBrewing-61Skyline Brewing Company is Klamath Falls newest brewery and you can find their beer all over Klamath County. Discover Klamath

Fifteen years ago, Ty Kliewer received a homebrew kit for Christmas. “I’ve always been fascinated by beer,” he says, though he never did anything with the gift. But his brother Ry started distilling as a hobby a few years later, scratching the kind of competitive itch that only brothers can. It wasn’t long before Ty bought a few books on homebrewing and started assembling a proper homebrew setup.

The brothers eventually joined forces to launch Skyline Brewing in May 2018—becoming the newest brewery in Klamath Falls. And if a friendly sense of sibling rivalry first brought the brothers together, a commitment to their hometown has kept them going.

Skyline’s first few batches were produced with classic, off-the-shelf homebrew equipment. Two years later, the Kliewer’s brewhouse sits in a century-old, long-abandoned dairy on Ty’s farm. (Ty Kliewer produces purebred bulls, commercial cattle, and wheat, alfalfa, and barley on his farm.) The brothers pieced it together from repurposed and refurbished equipment—including a few discarded fermenters from a Hawaiian distillery—and it remains a bootstraps operation today.

Skyline doesn’t host an on-site taproom, but its refreshing beers can be found all over Klamath County. Ty is especially proud of his IPAs, but Skyline’s best-selling beer is its Red Blooded American Ale. The beer uses only malts and hops grown in Oregon—and blends malty Oktoberfest flavors with slightly fruity English esters for a complex flavor profile.

General Duffy’s Flightline

When it opens, General Duffy’s Flightline promises a community gathering spot that would feel right at home in the likes of Bend and Portland—but which offers an all-new craft beer experience for Klamath Falls.

That’s because the new pub, which will be housed on the site of a dairy that sat abandoned for decades, will open with a food cart pavilion, indoor and outdoor seating (for a year-round experience), fire pits, cornhole fields, a stage for live performances, and greenspace to unfurl a blanket.

It won’t be the first such foray for General Duffy’s co-owners Dick and Susan Robertson; the duo opened their first outpost—General Duffy’s Waterhole—in Redmond in 2019. In naming the new venue, they wanted to pay tribute to the nearby Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base. (The name is also a subtle nod to sampling “flights” of beer, as well.)

Written by Matt Wastradowski for Matcha in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.