High and Dry soars toward its fun and funky 5th anniversary party

Owner/head brewer Andrew Kalemba is all smiles in advance of High and Dry’s fifth anniversary bash.

A fifth anniversary is a big one in the craft brewing world, and now its High and Dry Brewing’s turn to celebrate the milestone.

Wait, High and Dry is five years old? It seems like just yesterday that the neighborhood pub opened its doors on Adams, just south of Lomas.

Well, five it is, and those years shall be celebrated with the brewery’s upcoming anniversary bash on Saturday, February 11. To learn about that and more, I sat down with owner/head brewer Andrew Kalemba on a sunny Sunday on the patio for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

“2022, a good year, kind of a year that felt like we were kind of back in the pre-pandemic days,” he said. “Lots of not thinking about that and all the unnecessary things that come with that. We’re all still scarred from that. I still don’t know how to interact socially quite yet.”

One positive that came out of the COVID era was the expansion of the High and Dry patio, which is now officially approved by the city in its current layout. Kalemba said they will “probably pretty it up over the next 12 months.”

The biggest move of 2022 did not take place at High and Dry, but about a mile away near the corner of Copper and Carlisle.

Public House, High and Dry’s first offsite taproom, is going strong on Copper near Carlisle.

“We got our satellite taproom open, Public House, the wine bar,” Kalemba said. “That ate up a lot of our time over the last 16 months or so, if not a little bit more. It’s kind of always the same process opening something new, and even though you’ve done it a bunch of times, you’re just kind of numb to all the wackiness going on. You get to be someone else’s punching bag for a while. I enjoy it, obviously.”

The taproom may be wine focused, but there are a couple of High and Dry beers on tap over there.

“That’s fun having that on the side, just being a little bit under a mile from here,” Kalemba said. “It gives our customers kind of a little bit of variety. A lot of customers tell us, ‘I live in between, which way should I go?’ Well, if you want beer, you go this way, if you want wine, you go that way.

“We keep a couple beers on over there. As we feel that out, too, we may start doing a unique brew for over there that we don’t have at the brewery.”

High and Dry has certainly kept up with the unique beers over the course of the year, with a wide range of styles on tap. Another change that hit the brewery as the year closed out was the departure of its assistant brewer and the promotion of his successor.

“Michael (Crowder), who was helping me brew, he’s moved on to his chosen professional field from college,” Kalemba said. “We had an awesome two years working at this. We have a new gentleman, John (Klug), who’s been training for the last two weeks, who’s going to be helping me in the brewery.”

Things are going well at the brewery these days.

Kalemba said that overall, 2022 was about getting back in stride. With no restrictions in place, High and Dry also got the chance to embrace local music even more than before.

“We’re still doing music on Saturdays, open mic every Sunday, still, and we’re now starting to pipe in music on Fridays,” he said. “We’re working with Brad Frye from Desert Records on that. We actually just had one of his bands in here on Friday, from Austin, Betty Benedeadly, that was great. On Thursdays, we now have a resident band, the Chacalacas. Awesome instrumental, pedal steel, three-piece, eclectic music. They’re awesome, they’re super fun.”

In summation, 2022 was a good year, and now things will really kick off in 2023 with the aforementioned anniversary party.

“The year end has some pretty significant milestones of a few things happening,” Kalemba said. “We’ve got the patio (approved), Public House is hitting three months, and the anniversary party is coming up. It’s kind of nice, it’s right after Dry January, right before Valentine’s Day, so hopefully it’s in that sweet spot where people have some time, maybe a little bit of money, and are looking to drink.”

After going all out in 2022 for the fourth anniversary, the fifth will be a more measured, but still enjoyable experience.

“It’s not as ambitious as last year, which is fine,” Kalemba said. “That was all the COVID restraints coming (off). As usual, following our formula, beer release, T-shirt release. Five-year anniversary is a big milestone for us. We’ve got crowler labels coming out, stickers, glasses that we’re drinking out of right now.”

Anniversary glass on the left, sample of the anniversary beer on the right.

Doobie’s Smokehouse will be providing the food on February 11, while live music will come from Goddammit Jimmy at 1 p.m., Edgar Wonder Band at 3 p.m., and Hooks & the Huckleberries at 8 p.m.

“Musically we’re going more Americana focused this year,” Kalemba said. “Last year was just bringing back everybody that had done stuff for us in the last two years. Kind of a (post) COVID friend appreciation party. Me and a couple of other friends who I jam with might play a few songs at the beginning of the day.”

As for the anniversary beer, Kalemba said he made it for his customers, who have been asking for a special sour ale.

“I had this idea in the back of my head for a while,” he explained. “On the sour front, I wanted to do something that’s more chocolatey. Chocolate and fruit, maybe raspberry and chocolate, or that gross Valentine’s Day candy that you spit out. We’ve kind of gone with this little breakfast stout vibe in there.

“We’re calling the beer Brunch Village, in tribute to anyone that’s seen any Portlandia. There’s a whole episode about it. I could not get my hands on marionberry puree, that would have really driven it home. Basically it’s a chocolate wheat dominant in the malt, a kettle sour, with blackberry, maple, and vanilla. It’s got a little bit of the breakfast stout undertones. There’s a lot going on in there. … It’s changed quite a bit since I tasted it a while ago.”

Trust me, he is not kidding. There is a wave of flavors in every sip, as at different points on your palate you will taste the maple, vanilla, blackberry, and the base chocolate wheat malt.

And then, as if to hammer home the breakfast theme, there will be homemade donuts from some friends of the brewery.

Say hello to the anniversary donut. Trust us, it goes with the beer.

“We’re having friends making some donuts that we’re going to give out,” Kalemba said. “It’s going to be a cake donut, probably with some pink frosting, with Fruity Pebbles on it. … This might be the most ambitious and wacky beer we’ve ever done here. Last year, the chai vanilla latte beer went pretty good. That’s what we’ve got this year.”

Yeah, that donut is exactly what was dropped off at the table as we sat outside, enjoying the first warm day in a while.

“I’m excited about this (party),” Kalemba said. “It’s going to be great music. Hooks and Huckleberries, it’s been a good six months or so since they’ve been back. Hopefully we get good weather and get the doors open. If we get it like this, it’s going to be a beautiful day.”

Overall, the optimism at High and Dry is just what we need to kick off 2023.

“We’ve got lots of fresh blood, probably try some new stuff,” Kalemba said. “I think some new ideas and fun stuff will come out. We’ve got some new faces in the brewery. Public House is going. Our motto is find the sweet spot, keep it going, keep people happy. I’m hopeful that this summer is even going to be better than the last. I think the world is coming back to normal and the world is getting a little bit of amnesia of the last couple years.”

A big thanks to Andrew for the interview and the beers. See you all at the anniversary party, which should be a nice warm-up for Super Bowl Sunday.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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