Cheers to 20 years with Bend Brewing Company!

Bend Brewing Company2015 is a special year for Bend Brewing Company—it’s their 20th anniversary this year! Indeed, they opened way back in 1995 as only the second brewery in Bend (as hard as that is to believe today considering we have 18 here in town alone), and have grown to become one of the most popular and award-winning brewpubs in the Pacific Northwest.

Bend Brewing Company

To celebrate their two decades, today (Friday, February 20th) they are having a party! All day long pints are $3 and appetizers are half-price; and tonight the block in front of the brewery will be closed and from 5 to 10pm BBC will be holding a street party with live music, food and drink specials, raffles, and “20 beers for 20 years”—they will have their 10 taps inside and 10 taps outside in the tent pouring through a staggeringly strong taplist—you can see the full list I posted here. And, to plug the book, BBC has generously invited me to set up a table and sell some books this evening!

BBC's 20th anniversary Outback XX

And to help commemorate their 20th, I am posting some excerpts from the book regarding their history here for your enjoyment.

[In] Bend [in November 1993], businessmen Dave Hill and Jerry Fox were hoping to launch the Brooks Street Brewery downtown, in a building a few doors up from the historic Pine Tavern restaurant overlooking the Deschutes River. Though they “both had experience in drinking beer,” Fox recalled, they had no experience in brewing it. Fox credited Hill with the idea to start a brewpub, and despite the need for extensive renovations for the building they purchased, they hoped the brewery would be open by the following summer.

That timeline proved to be overly optimistic, but the plans for the brewpub were not: the Bend Brewing Company (the name had been changed “in order to give it an identity that would be easy to associate with the city in which it was located,” said Fox) opened its doors in 1995, becoming Bend’s second craft brewery.

Bend Brewing Company opened to the public in February of 1995, located in a building on Brooks Street that had once housed a glassblower. Dave Hill and Jerry Fox oversaw renovations which installed a seven-barrel brewhouse in the upper level, a cramped space packed with tanks and equipment that looked out a large picture window to the dining room below. The west-facing dining room itself looked out onto the Deschutes River through large windows. The brewer was Scott Saulsbury, an alum of Deschutes Brewery who had joined Deschutes in 1993. The brewpub launched with a lineup of five ales: High Desert Hefeweizen, Metolius Golden Ale, Elk Lake IPA, Outback Old Ale, and Pinnacle Porter.

Hill ultimately had other interests besides the brewery, and Fox bought him out within that first year of opening and brought in his daughter, Wendi Day, to manage the day-to-day operations of the brewpub. Day had moved to Bend with her family from Cleveland, Ohio in 1986, and after graduating from Bend High in ‘88, left for Arizona State University to study accounting and marketing. It was at Arizona State that she met her future husband, Rob Day, and her post-college years found her in Seattle working in retail management. When the offer came from her father to manage the business, Day and her husband returned to Bend in 1995.

Bend Brewing from the beginning focused exclusively on the brewpub and restaurant business, with their small-batch beers served only in-house and not packaged for distribution. The brewpub soon became a popular downtown destination, particularly as a post-recreation stop for locals and tourists alike. “Bend Brewing is more upscale than its friendly competitor, Deschutes Brewing Company,” reported The Brewpub Explorer of the Pacific Northwest, published in 1996. “Large windows offer a pleasant view of the park and the Deschutes River. Antique tables and chairs possibly once gracing an old English pub are scattered about the main dining and bar area.”

By February of ‘96 the brewing duties for Bend Brewing had been taken over by Dan Pedersen, a graduate of the Siebel Institute who had spent the previous year and half brewing in Eugene, Oregon for the Eugene City Brewery. Scott Saulsbury moved on to southern Oregon, with brewing stints at Wild River Brewing in Grants Pass, Caldera Brewing in Ashland in 2001 and in 2008 joined Southern Oregon Brewing in Medford.

[The] brewpub continued to be an increasingly popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Brewer Dan Pedersen left in 1998 and brewing duties were taken over by Christian Skovborg, a former brewmaster from the defunct Nor’Wester Brewing. By 2000 Jerry Fox was anxious to retire and wanted to turn over ownership to his daughter Wendi Day. Day was reluctant at first, but partnered with her kitchen manager Terry Standly to purchase the business from her father.

Meanwhile, there was a quiet revolution taking place at Bend Brewing Company. In 2002 Wendi Day hired a new brewer, Tonya Cornett, who was to become one of Bend’s most well-known brewers thanks to a well-honed instinct for an emerging trend in sour ales, a number of high-profile awards, and a featured role in a documentary about women in the brewing industry. But that would be in the future.

Cornett grew up in Marion, Indiana, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology before moving to Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1996, where she experienced her first taste of craft beer and became hooked. She began homebrewing with a kit that had ostensibly been for her husband, Mark, and started working at H. C. Berger Brewing in Fort Collins putting together boxes and giving tours. Cornett then segued into an unpaid apprenticeship learning the ins and outs of commercial brewing, and when Cornett and her husband moved back to Indiana in 1998 she took a brewing job at Oaken Barrel Brewing.

After three years at Oaken Barrel, Cornett decided to enroll in the Siebel Institute to further her education. Enrollment in Siebel’s World Brewing Academy took her to Chicago and Germany, during which time her husband Mark was scouting three possible “go to” states on the West Coast to move to when she returned. She graduated in 2001, and was ready for larger-scale, production brewing; she wanted to apply her newly-acquired knowledge to a brewing operation beyond the scale of the brewpub. Ironic then, that Cornett ended up accepting a job offer with Bend Brewing, but the opportunity to run the show proved too appealing, and she started at the brewpub in 2002. (The recommendation for Cornett came to Wendi Day from a high school friend of Cornett’s who worked for Day’s cousin, who owned the Southside Pub in Bend.)

There was only a two week overlap with the former brewer, Christian Skovborg, and Cornett took over brewhouse operations entirely. (Skovborg subsequently opened and still owns the Reed Pub in southeast Bend.) She was working 50 to 60 hours per week, brewing four batches per week, and quietly improving the quality of the beer. “I do quality checks all of the time,” she told the Bend Bulletin in a 2002 interview. “I’ll even test the fermenting to detect change. From the beginning, I’ll make sure it’s on the right track.” In addition to cleaning up the house beers (there were no master copies of any recipes, only brewing logs), she was experimenting and developing new recipes, brewing beers such as a “peach lambick [sic] and a razzwheat” (types of beers that would herald the styles for which she would later gain notoriety). The fruits of this labor would begin to pay off in only a few short years.

[She] was consistently improving the core lineup of beers at the brewpub, and introducing seasonals such as Apricot Summer Ale, Axe Head Red, and HopHead Imperial IPA. The HopHead in particular was a popular beer, so much so that the brewpub began offering it in 22-ounce bottles available at the pub only in 2005, and in 2006 the beer won the gold medal in the coveted “American-Style India Pale Ale” category at the Great American Beer Festival—the first such medal for Bend Brewing, and a sudden thrust into the brewing spotlight for Cornett. She would follow up with a win in 2007 with a silver GABF medal for Outback X (a double, or strong, version of the brewpub’s popular Outback Old Ale) and Bend Brewing would go on to win at least one medal per year subsequently.

The GABF medals were followed by an even more prestigious award for Cornett in 2008: at the Brewers Association’s World Beer Cup, Bend Brewing and Cornett won the Champion Brewery and Brewmaster award in the “Small Brewpub” category. Even more significantly, Cornett was the first female brewmaster ever to do so.

Tonya of course moved to 10 Barrel Brewing in 2011, and brewer Ian Larkin took up the head brewer role and continued to rack up awards for the brewery, most recently with his Salmonberry Sour at last year’s Great American Beer Festival.

So make sure to come down to BBC tonight and help celebrate 20 years (and kick off 20 more!)—and if you want to buy a book, I can help you out there too.


This weekend: Costco and the Bend Public Library

This weekend I have a couple of book events lined up! If you’re interested in getting a signed copy of Bend Beer, or attending a reading, check these out:

Tomorrow, Saturday the 7th, I’ll be doing another signing at Costco. The first signing I did with them back in December was a big success, and they generously invited me back! I’ll be there from 1 to 3pm signing any and all books for anyone who wants one. These books are all sold through Costco, so once I sign you simply check out with it up front. On top of that, I’m happy to chat up beer and answer any questions too!

On Sunday, the 8th, I’m invited to the Bend Public Library’s monthly Second Sunday series—an open-mic forum at which I’ll be doing a reading from the book followed by Q&A. That one should be a lot of fun, and I understand there’s also poetry slam-styled stuff that happens after the main speaker, which will be cool. That starts at 2pm, come by if you’d love to hear me read and have any questions!

Looking forward to this weekend! Come on out!

Come brew beer with me in Redmond this Saturday!

This Saturday, the 31st, Redmond’s homebrew club, the Cascade Fermentation Association is having their monthly group brew—and I’m the guest of honor. The theme is “Brewing with Jon Abernathy” in that I’ve provided the recipe (Dusseldorf-style Altbier) and I’ll be set up with books for sale and to help brew and chat and drink beer with anyone who wants to come by.

Cascade Fermentation Celebration

So please do! If you are interested in homebrewing (either learning as a beginner, or are more advanced and just enjoy the process), or interested in beer and history and/or books, come on out! The brew day is open to anyone who wants to check it out.

Brewing will start by 11am, and it’s all taking place at Redmond Craft Brewing Supply, located at 235 SW 6th Street (about a block and a half from Wild Ride Brewing). This is also a great opportunity to acquaint yourself with Redmond’s homebrew shop and get a handle on the local beer scene.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! This has been an amazing year, one that started around this time last year as I kicked off writing this book in earnest, and there is no way the book would have turned out as good as it did (or even have come out!) without the help of many people. I’m very grateful for that help and for the positive response the book has generated! Thank you all!

And thank you to everyone who has bought the book as well! I hope more than a few of you found it under your tree this Christmas morning!

Looking forward to 2015!

Signing at Costco – worth fighting the crowds for!

Today (Saturday, December 20) I’m doing a book signing at Costco from 1 to 3pm!

Yes, I know—Costco? Really? In fact, Costco moves a ton of books and they do author signings all the time. And we were just in the other day and they have a huge pile of my books:

"Bend Beer" at Costco

So if you’re looking for the book for the holidays, brave the Costco crowds and come down to see me and I’ll sign one for you! (You still have to buy the book through Costco.) And if you need any last minute gift ideas (only 4 shopping days left!) you know where I’ll be!

Broken Top Bottle Shop and a holiday raffle

Broken Top Bottle ShopTonight I’ll be at Broken Top Bottle Shop from 7 to 9pm for a book signing—and to sweeten the pot, we’re doing a holiday raffle for a book that you can enter for free! (But you’ll have to be present at BTBS tonight to collect.)

Here’s how that will work: anyone who attends tonight will get a free raffle ticket. That’s it! We’ll draw for a book probably towards the end of the evening, maybe around 8:30, so you will need to stick around.

Want an extra raffle ticket? Go to this post on Facebook and follow the directions there. Easy!

And even if you can’t stick around for the raffle, come down for a little while and get a beer at one of Bend’s best beer joints—Broken Top Bottle Shop has been knocking it out of the park since early 2012, after they bought the defunct Abbey Pub. They have 12 taps of great beer and a killer menu that appeals to carnivores and vegetarians alike. Don’t forget their coolers filled with many bottles of beer and cider to go!

Come on down tonight, get a signed copy of the book, and stick around for the raffle! Cheers!

Worthy Winter Weekend!

This Saturday there two back-to-back events that I’ve got going on which should make for a fun day.

First up is a book signing at Worthy Brewing, one of Bend’s newest breweries (not even two years old yet!) that has one of the most amazing properties in town, with their hop yard, beer garden, greenhouse, 30-barrel brewery and expansive space, and great restaurant pub. From 1 to 3pm I’ll be on hand, selling and signing books—the perfect lunch hour break! So if you’re needing to take a break from holiday shopping, come over to Worthy from 1 to 3, grab a bite and a beer and say hello. And buy a book or two (or three)—it makes a great gift! You can get some of your shopping done while enjoying a beer—what’s better than that?

To sweeten the pot, Worthy will have a special firkin cask of beer on tap for the signing as well: their Eastside Pale Ale on French oak spirals. And a food pairing: Fresh Halibut Steak, basked with a lemon caper sauce, served with sautéed seasonal veggies and wild rice.

Don’t miss it!

Immediately afterward, I’ll be heading over to the west side to GoodLife Brewing for the Central Oregon Winter Beer Festival, where they have been kind enough to let me set up a table and sell some books. I should be there from 4 until 9pm when the Fest ends, so make sure to come by and check out the book and say “Hi.”

The Winter Beer Fest costs only $10 to enter, and you get the glass and first four tasting tokens with that. Additional tokens are $1 each. Almost all of Central Oregon’s breweries, plus Atlas Cider, will be there, pouring their winter specialties. I don’t have Atlas Cider in the book, but I wrote about everyone else—so enjoy their beer, then pick up a book to read more about those that brewed it!