Worthy’s on a mission. We won’t rest until you are happy with our beer, our food and our overall vibe. Strike that. “Happy” is too weak a word. We want you to be blown away – flat-out, head-banging, fist-pumping crazy about what we do.
And we want you to feel good about supporting Oregon’s fastest growing industry – craft beer – which is steadily replacing timber as the state’s leading export.
Why the focus on nuttiness? Well, let us try to connect the dots. ....
Back in the day, say about 1890, our rugged forefathers were swinging double-bladed axes in old growth forests of Douglas Fir.
About that same time, our great state was warehousing “mentally disturbed” non–conformists in a nut house in Salem that was unapologetically named the “Oregon State Insane Asylum.” Nowadays, we just don’t use brutally frank language like that!
The wood used to build the “Insane Asyulm” was in fact Old Growth Doug Fir felled using double-bladed axes. Hearty, sturdy, robust, beautiful, timeless.
Fast forward to the 1960s. Ken Kesey, perhaps Oregon’s greatest visionary and certainly our best novelist, scribed a seminal story called One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He wrote the book while at Stanford, where Kesey reputedly experimented with psychotropic drugs (we don't’ know what beer he imbibed, probably Lucky Lager). He also had interned at a veteran’s hospital where he began to form the notion that “insanity” was an arbitrary condition that was being over-diagnosed.
Fast forward to 1975, when the movie based on Kesey’s book fetched 5 Academy Awards. A personal anecdote: in 1974, while watching the Beavers beat UCLA as a punk kid at Gill Coliseum, I happened to see this larger than life character walk past. I had seen this guy with leading man good looks before on The Streets of San Francisco, a popular TV drama at the time.
I followed the guy, who turned out to be Michael Douglas. I walked up and, being young, dumb and star struck, all I could think to say was: “So how are the streets of San Francisco?”
Idiot! I’ll never forget: he looked around furtively and whispered, “keep it down, kid,” as if a stampede was imminent. So I whispered back, “What are you doing in Corvallis?” (as if the word itself meant “Hicksville.”) My little hometown wasn’t exactly a celebrity hot spot. He replied, “I’m shooting a movie up in Salem.”
Well, that movie was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s not widely known but young Michael Douglas was a co-producer.
Anyway, the movie starred Jack Nicholson as the defiant yet compassionate Randolph McMurphy – a self-described “goddamn marvel of modern science.”
So what does all of this ballyhoo have to do with Worthy?
Fast forward again another 35 years. We learned that the Oregon Mental Hospital was being demolished (don't get me talking about their big asbestos abatement problem). We took a look at the old growth Doug Fir, in pristine condition, and I was reminded of Punch Worthington’s dictum: “Recycle good. Re-use better.” (Punch was my dad, a boxer/Phd geneticist/union organizer who modeled himself after another iconic Kesey character, Henry “Never give an inch” Stamper, from Sometimes A Great Notion, one of my favorite novels).
We sourced about 9,000 board feet of the OMH timber and set about using the wood for our restaurant bar top, table tops and benches.
So there you are. Worthy’s mission is to brew great beer and bake great pizzas, but wherever possible, source materials and ingredients locally. Along the way, we want to give big credit to those pioneers who helped strip off the creative straightjackets of orthodoxy, whether in art, science or brewing. Ken Kesey is certainly a worthy Oregonian that merits our awe and respect.(1)
Our respect for the timber history is particularly apt in Bend. As the mayor has said, "today, craft beer has replaced timber as our leading employer and export! Hail the gritty woodsmen of yesteryear!"
[FOOTNOTE 1]: Mr Kesey would want us to clarify, I think, that he did not care for the movie, primarily I’m told because of a dispute with the producers over the cast and script, as well as the royalties.
Also, our first Master Brewer Chad Kennedy is a big fan of Kesey’s. Chad went to graduate school in journalism at the University of Oregon and was privileged to meet Kesey. I met His Swarthiness in 1983 in Austin when he gave a crazy awesome speech in which he challenged his youthful audience to stay young, exuberant and curious.