(Steve and Heather Anderson | Photos courtesy of Kobold Brewing)
Kobold Brewing’s story starts with a gift from a wife to a husband.
When Steve Anderson retired after more than 26 years as an air traffic controller, Heather Anderson signed him up to take a How to Brew class at Central Oregon Community College.
She never imagined how Steve’s hobby would grow into an exciting business adventure. The Andersons are the owners of Kobold Brewing and The Vault Taphouse in Redmond. They moved to Bend in 2011 from Colorado to be closer to family members.
Discovering he had a knack for making good beer and receiving encouragement from his neighbors on Third Street, Steve took what he learned in his classes to design and build a two-barrel, nano-brewery. In 2015, he started Kobold Brewing and sold one keg at a time. Heather and Steve quickly learned they would need to expand to keep up with the demand for Kobold beers that have fun and creative names such as Oathbreaker Baltic Porter, 3rd Street Cred Red Ale, Crooked Fate IPA and Krazy Haze Hazy IPA.
Their decision to name it Kobold came from discussions drinking beer with their neighbors. “One of our neighbors tossed out the name Kobold, and we honestly had to look it up and see what a Kobold was,” Heather said.
According to German folklore, a Kobold is a “mischievous household spirit who usually helps with chores and gives other valuable services.”
“There are Kobolds called Biersals, who would help out in the cellars and finish any tasks you didn’t get done during the brew day,” Heather said. “They would refrain from mischief and acts of treachery as long as you paid them with a daily jug of beer. We do have to explain our name a lot, but once we do, people seem to appreciate the creativity.”
In 2016, they purchased a building in downtown Redmond and opened The Vault Taphouse in 2017. Steve continued to brew beer on his two-barrel system in Bend, crafting award-winning beer, but he realized he needed a bigger system. In 2018, they purchased industrial space in Redmond and built a ten-barrel brew house.
“Transitioning from a two-barrel system to a ten-barrel system was a pretty big step, but again, we couldn’t even keep up with the demand at The Vault Taphouse, let alone try to sell our beer any place else,” Steve shared. “I didn’t really see us owning all that we do and being as busy as we sometimes are, but it has been a lot of fun and we’ve met such amazing people along the way.”
Steve, 57, and Heather, 49, chose Redmond for their business locations because of the assistance they received from the city of Redmond, the Redmond Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO).
Redmond Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Eric Sande said the seven breweries in Redmond are Porter Brewing, Geist Beerworks, Kobold Brewing, Silver Moon Brewing, Wild Ride Brewing Co., Cascade Lakes Brewing and Initiative Brewing.
“The Redmond brew scene is a vibrant part of the community. Redmond’s first brewery/pub was Cascade Lakes Brewery, which opened their doors in 1994,” Sande said. “Since then, the Redmond brew culture has grown to embody the spirit of the community, providing a place to gather and to connect with friends and family.”
Kobold Brewing and The Vault Taphouse was voted in 2019 Business of the Year by the Redmond Chamber of Commerce. Steve and Heather love collaborating with local businesses and being involved with what’s happening in Redmond.
“With how small our operation is and how involved we are, we are able to listen to our customers and continually strive to improve our craft beers,” Steve said.
Steve and Heather said their advice to new business owners is to make a five-year business plan. “Our venture has been way more work that we anticipated but also such a learning experience,” Steve said. “I would also say getting involved with the city and local chamber is key.”
While the work keeps them busy, they said they are motivated by their customers and their employees. “Everything we do is guided by feedback from our loyal customers,” Steve said. “Our customers and neighbors in Redmond are what truly make this a fun business and what keeps us going. We have been so fortunate with our employees, and we know The Vault wouldn’t be what it is without them. Creating great, interesting beer and a friendly, welcoming pub was our goal and we feel like we hit the jackpot in Redmond.”