The perfect Father’s Day gift!

Father’s Day is this Sunday and I can’t think of a better gift for Dad than a copy of Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon! Fortunately I’ve got you covered—in addition to being able to buy the book online (you can find it at History PressAmazon.comBarnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books), you can also find the book around the area at the following places:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Bowman Museum (Prineville)
  • Broken Top Bottle Shop
  • Central Oregon Locavore
  • Costco
  • Deschutes Brewery (the Tasting Room)
  • Des Chutes Historical Museum
  • Dudley’s Bookstore
  • High Desert Museum
  • McMenamins Old St. Francis School
  • Paulina Springs Books (Sisters and Redmond)
  • Pine Ridge Inn
  • Redmond Craft Brewing Supply
  • The Brew Shop
  • The Growler Guys (East side)
  • Visit Bend (Bend Visitor Center)
  • Worthy Brewing

(If you can’t find it at one of those locations, please let me know!)

And don’t forget to pair the book with a beer! Happy Father’s Day!

Deschutes Brewery will be on the East Coast by 2019

Deschutes BreweryIt’s no secret that Deschutes Brewery has been eyeing the East Coast for expansion for a while now. The 27-year-old brewery is #7 on the Brewers Association’s list of Top 50 craft breweries, and they are shipping beer to something like 28 states and two Canadian provinces, so it makes sense—shipping and refrigeration of liquids is expensive, not to mention environmentally costly from a carbon footprint viewpoint.

So it was interesting this weekend to see an article come out of Asheville, North Carolina—itself quite a beer town, not unlike Bend—highlighting that as a possible destination for a new Deschutes production facility. Here are some quotes:

Representatives from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, the sixth-largest craft brewer in the country, visited Asheville in December and plan a second trip in late May, according to company president Michael LaLonde, who spoke highly of the mountain region.

Among the sites company officials visited was the 137-acre parcel Buncombe County recently bought from Henderson County for $6.8 million to entice an undisclosed economic development prospect.

“We’re looking at a number of locations in a number of states,” LaLonde said. “We’re looking in North Carolina, we’ve looked in Virginia, we’ve looked in Tennessee, as well as South Carolina.”

The brewery also looked at sites in the Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina, areas, LaLonde said. The company was impressed with Greenville.

The company plans to open an East Coast operation by 2019, LaLonde said, “so we have a little time, but not much.” He said the search and securing land would likely take about a year, with construction taking another year.

Plans call for a brewery that could produce about 200,000 barrels of beer annually, with the capability for growth. That would require about 100 employees for the brewery and packaging operation, and another 100 or so if it adds a brewpub on site.

Deschutes would be joining a small-but-growing number of regional craft brewers who have expanded east, including New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Oskar Blues (also in the Asheville area), Lagunitas (Chicago) and Stone (building a brewery in Virginia). And from an historic standpoint (since this is a blog about Bend’s beer history, after all!) it’s amazing to watch the continued success of a brewery that almost didn’t make it way back in 1988 when they opened in the economically-depressed milltown-in-transition of Bend.

It will certainly make an interesting addition to a future edition of the book!

Happy National Beer Day!

Bend Beer on April 7, 1933Happy National Beer Day! It was on this day, April 7, in 1933 that the Cullen–Harrison Act went into effect—the legislation that legalized the sale of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% by weight (or 4% by volume), which heralded the end of Prohibition.

Since this blog is about Bend’s beer history, I looked up the issue of the Bend Bulletin for April 7, 1933,  and thought it would be fun to reprint the local article on the day here. Enjoy!

Bend’s Beer Supply Disappears Quickly

Bars Are Busy Places For Short Time Today

One “Free Lunch” Appears When Customer Brings It From Own Pocket

Beer, clear as liquid amber and capped with white foam, made its appearance in Bend shortly before 11 o’clock this morning and for the first time in 17 years local residents publicly, uafriad ad in groups quaffed an alcoholic beverage. But the quaffing did not last long. In less than two hours the half-barrel allotments to local pool halls had disappeared and the bars, minus their brass rails, were again deserted. [Illegible] early hour this afternoon, Bend was again “dry”, so far as beer on draught was concerned.

Only five kegs, each holding 16 gallons, reached Bend in the first shipment, and one of the five was sent to Prineville. At one pool hall the beer supply was exhausted in 40 minutes, with three “bar tenders” sliding out the foam-capped glasses just as fast as an open space appeared.

One of the highlights of the morning was the appearance of Fred Gotchey at a bar with a lunch. He ordered a glass of beer, his first in 20 years, pulled out his lunch and sipped and ate.

Bottled goods were being distributed this afternoon and it was expected that another shipment of kegs would reach the town sometime tonight or early tomorrow.

Opinions were varied as to the “kick” of the percentage beer and it appeared to be the general opinion that America will never be known as a nation of drunkards as long as the alcoholic content of drinks is kept at 3.2 per cent. However, some persons whose taste had not been dulled by high-content home brew maintained that the 3.2 per cent stuff is just as good as the beer of the old days.

Legalized beer has its advantage, one very thirsty man said. For instance, a person can enjoy a drink from a bottle without paying any attention to the bottom or fearing that the beverage will be discolored by yeast sediment.

One man who drank enough glasses of the beverage to get himself into a reminiscent mood said he recalled that back some 17 years ago prohibitionists said it would be a “cold day” when beer returned. This reminiscent individual, wrapped in a heavy overcoat, added that the prohibitionists were right.

This weekend: Come see me at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters and Redmond

This Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4, I’m pleased to be the guest of honor for a book event and signing at both Paulina Springs Books locations in Sisters and Redmond! I’ll be in Sisters on Friday the 3rd, and in Redmond on Saturday the 4th. Both events start at 6:30pm.

Paulina Springs Books

And there will be beer sampling at both events as well! Friday in Sisters, Sisters’ own Three Creeks Brewing will be on hand pouring samples of their terrific beers, and the following evening in Redmond, Juniper Brewing of Redmond will likewise be pouring samples of their own fine beers. Books and beer—it doesn’t get much better!

Paulina Springs Books is a great local bookseller (at both locations) with a wide selection of books to offer—I’ve seen titles that aren’t stocked elsewhere which always provides unexpected delight. They also do a great job of hosting authors and events, although I believe these books-and-beer ones are the first of this kind they’ve hosted!

So please come on out either or both days, say “Hi!” and buy a book so I can sign it for you! I should also be doing a talk and/or reading and that should pair well with the local brews being poured. The events officially start at 6:30 though I will likely be there by 6:00 and will be more than happy to answer any questions, sign books, and chat about our local history and beer.

See you there! Cheers!

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.