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Bend seniors brewin' up awards at Aspen Ridge

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Aug 24 2013 12:13:57 AM CDT

Seniors at the Bend retirement home win big awards for their homebrews

BEND, Ore. -

Ask the residents at Aspen Ridge Retirement Home in Bend, and they'll tell you 73-year-old Joe Reeves is the real brewmaster.

"I'm not sure how that happened, but they've labeled me that way," Reeves said Friday, with a laugh.

It's a label that's stuck with him since he helped start the community's resident-led home-brewing program last year.

Now a new title for Reeves: award-winner, after being honored with the Enrichment of Life Award from the Oregon Health Care Association.

"I'm honored, that's a really nice recognition," he said.

Though he's a humble man, Reeves and the other brewing residents have a lot to boast about. The crew won first place and best in show at the Deschutes County Fair for their Imperial IPA, "Machine Gun Maggie."

They also took first place in the fruit beer category with the Sweet Tart Cream Ale.

"This whole thing is a big collaborative effort," said Aspen Ridge Activities Director Sandie Noell.

It's an effort that also earned the assisted living center another award from OHCA for spearheading new, innovative ideas -- like making jam, which also won awards at the fair, orĀ  brewing their own coffee and much more.

"We try to offer things that they like to do, not just things we think they might like to do," Noell said.

Even the beer labels are designed by a longtime artist who lives at Aspen Ridge.

"They're involved in all aspects and it just makes life fun," Noell added.

And speaking of fun, Reeves is ready to start brewing another beer, maybe after the weekend.

"We'll do that next Monday," he said, again laughing.

Aspen Ridge also entered their beer and jam into the Oregon State Fair this weekend. They should find out soon how they did.

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