Beerlandia: Roger Worthington’s Oregon beer paradise
written by Jeremy Storton
“I want to buy up all that wood. One day I’m going to use that wood. That’s Cuckoo wood,” said Roger Worthington, who defines himself as the Bull Goose Looney at Bend’s Worthy Brewing, as he sat across from me and my Strata IPA. He is a disciple of poet-warrior and Oregon author Ken Kesey, who wrote One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Worthy Brewing is now adorned with wood from what was originally called the Oregon Insane Asylum, where the movie was filmed. Worthington, a lawyer and hop developer, then explained how a conversation with fellow lawyer and beer icon Jim Koch, of The Boston Beer Company, led him to the brewery biz. Worthington was expounding on new hops and new flavors for beer drinkers when Koch asked, “Don’t you want to be there to see their faces light up?”
Every brewery has its schtick—Northwest IPAs, German lagers, Belgian ales, macro, nano, you name it. Defining Worthy’s schtick is a bigger challenge. Mix equal parts state ambassador, Cuckoo’s Nest museum, garden education center, environmental hub, galactic observatory, center for art and science as well as brewery and pub—now you’re getting warmer. Worthington simply calls it, “Beertopia.”
Worthington, who “always envisioned building a mini-campus where, in one place, you can combine art and science,” blends creativity and execution and surrounds himself with like-minded folks. “This around you, right here,” he continued, “speaking from the Hop Mahal at Worthy Brewing, a little place we call Beertopia, is a result of a lot of dreaming and a lot of doing.”
“Around here,” he waved his hand as if to display all that Worthy stands for, “we’re firm believers in drinking up and dreaming on.”