Happy Repeal Day!

The Bulletin, December 5, 1933: Prohibition EndedToday is Repeal Day, in which we celebrate this date (December 5) in 1933 when Utah became the final state needed for a majority to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution—ending Prohibition. To commemorate the date, I’m posting some excerpts from the book about Prohibition and Repeal as it happened in Central Oregon. So crack open a beer and read along!

The state of Oregon, like many states and communities prior to the onset of national Prohibition in 1920, was no stranger to the temperance movement. Temperance took hold in the Oregon country even before the state entered the Union in 1859: in 1844, the Provisional Government of the Oregon territory (not to be confused with the organized incorporated Territory of Oregon, which was established in 1848) passed a prohibition law that was to prevent “the introduction, distillation, or sale of ardent spirits” in Oregon. (“Ardent spirits” referred to beverages in which the alcohol content is measured by proof instead of by percentage.)

Although this law did not last for more than a few years, the temperance movement was not yet finished in Oregon. In 1854, a prohibition petition was circulated and signed by seventy-four people to ban liquor (the “worm of the still”), but as the idea of prohibition did not enjoy the support of the population of the Oregon Territory, the petition was denied.

In 1887, the WCTU and the national Prohibition Party managed to get a strict prohibition measure on the Oregon state ballot for the election of that year. Oregonians weren’t having any of it, defeating the measure by a three-to-one margin. This and other state- and national-level setbacks helped the WCTU, ASL and other temperance organizations to realize that attacking alcohol at the state (and higher) level was fruitless—focus at the local level instead was the key.

Thus were born the “local option” laws, which quickly became the most powerful weapon in the temperance movement’s arsenal. Local option allowed for the individual counties in a state to hold elections to determine whether they would remain “wet” or go “dry,” allowing the prohibitionists to focus their efforts on a county-by-county basis and later, under the “home rule” laws, on a city-by-city basis.

In 1904, the WCTU and ASL were successful in getting a local option bill passed in Oregon, and began working on getting the individual counties to go dry.

Crook County elected to go dry in 1908 in a two-to-one vote that surprised many residents, wets and drys alike. Crook County at the time encompassed all of Central Oregon: Prineville, Bend, Redmond, Sisters, Madras and more. Local prohibition was in force as of June 30, 1908, and all of the saloons in the county were forced to look for other, legal avenues of business or close their doors.

However, by 1910, many residents had had enough of the dry spell, and petitions were filed “by the liquor people” for a new vote on Crook County’s local option measure for the fall election. In November, the county (and the state) voted itself wet again, as did nearly all of the cities under the home rule measure—all but Warm Springs, which voted to remain dry.

With women [acquiring the right to] vote [in 1912], prohibitionists renewed their efforts in Oregon, and in 1914, a state prohibition measure was once again placed on the ballot. [It] was the pivotal role of Oregon’s enfranchised women that carried state prohibition—an estimated three out of every four women who voted chose prohibition—and the law went into effect on January 1, 1916. Oregon became a bone-dry state.

On January 16, 1919, Nebraska became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment, and it officially took effect on January 17, 1920.

Overall, the arrival of national Prohibition had little impact on Oregon, largely due to the fact that the state’s moonshiners and bootleggers already had nearly four years’ head start. The High Desert was full of ideal hiding places for the moonshiners’ stills: the openings of lava caves, abandoned homestead shacks, sheltered coves and gullies—all spread out over hundreds of square miles.

Central Oregon still, during Prohibition
Courtesy Deschutes Historical Society

American became fed up with Prohibition as it had exactly the opposite effect its proponents had promoted: violent crime had risen dramatically, enforcement was ineffectual, and corruption among the upper class and law enforcement was rampant. Hence Congress fast-tracked the necessary constitutional amendment needed to repeal the 18th Amendment.

Congress put forward the Twenty-first Amendment in February 1933, but it would still take time for the ratification process, so in the interim, an immediate solution sponsored by New York representative Thomas Cullen and Mississippi senator Pat Harrison proposed legalizing the manufacture and sale of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent by weight (4.0 percent by volume). The Cullen-Harrison Act was enacted by Congress on March 21, 1933, and signed into law by President Roosevelt on April 7.

Meanwhile, ratification sped through the state conventions. Oregon was the seventeenth state to ratify the Twenty-first Amendment on August 7, 1933, and on December 5, Utah became the thirty-sixth and final state needed to ratify the amendment. Prohibition was finally over.

The Bulletin, December 5, 1933, the City Prepares

Meet the Writers, Buy Some Books Dec. 3

Meet the Writers at Bazi Bierbrasserie

Add another event to the Portland schedule this weekend, on Saturday, December 3: a Meet the Writers event at Bazi Bierbrasserie! It takes place from 5 to 7pm. Here are the details:

Join us for Happy Hour and meet the writers of these must own beer books:

Jon Abernathy – Bend Beer Book
Jeff Alworth – The Beer Bible
Pete Dunlop – Portland Beer Book
Niki Ganong – Field Guide to Drinking in America
Steven Shomler – Portland Beer Stories

Writers will be onsite to answer questions and sign copies. Get an extra 10% off your tab when you purchase one of these books for your collection.

It is amazingly generous of Bazi to offer the 10% discount with a book purchase! Bazi is a terrific Belgian-themed beer bar and one you should be visiting anyway—but especially come out and visit on Saturday night! I and my fellow writers will be more than happy to sign a book for you.

See you there! Cheers!

Books & Beer at N.W.I.P.A. in Portland, Dec. 4

Holiday Books & Beer at N.W.I.P.A.

On Sunday, December 4, I will be one of several authors signing and selling books in Portland at N.W.I.P.A. beer bar for their Holiday Books & Beer Event taking place from 2 to 5pm! This is going to be a terrific event and the perfect opportunity to do some Christmas shopping for the beer and book lover in your life!

We’re bringing together local publishers and a few local authors to sign books this holiday season. A signed book is a great personalized gift!. You’ll find gifts for beer lovers, traveling tipplers, art fans, books for the tikes and toddlers in your life and more. The team at N.W.I.P.A. will help you select some gift-worthy bottles of beer and cider to round out your holiday shopping list. Stop by, buy a book, buy a bottle and raise a glass all in the name of getting things done this holiday season!

This event is age 21+

Meet the authors:
Jeff Alworth (The Beer Bible)
Niki Ganong (The Field Guide to Drinking in America)
Brian Yaeger (Oregon Breweries)
Steven Shomler (Portland Beer Stories)
Matt Wagner (The Tall Trees of Portland and art director for Gigantic Brewing label art)
Jon Abernathy (Bend Beer)
and more to be announced!

We’ll also have books by these publishers:
Overcup Press
Hazy Dell Press
and more

N.W.I.P.A. is a beer bar that almost exclusively serves—you guessed it—IPAs, along with other limited-availability beers. Come on out, have a beer, and get a signed copy of the book!

See you there!

Fresh Hop Beers

Fresh hops

We’re on the tail end of it, but this time of year is the peak season for the release of one of the most ephemeral types of beer—those made with fresh hops. These beers are made with freshly-harvested, un-dried hops (sometimes called “wet hops”) and added to the beer at some point in the brewing process. Sometimes they replace the regular dried hops entirely, more often they are used to complement dried bittering hops.

The use of fresh hops lends a very different character to the finished beer than those with dried hops. They can be intensely floral and fruity, have very “fresh” plant or vegetal characters like fresh-cut grass or chlorophyll, and (in my opinion) can be very “bright” in a way that’s tough to describe without having smelled and tasting one yourself.

Fresh hop season is one of my favorite times of the year for beer, and these beers don’t last long. To help commemorate the hop harvest this season, I thought I’d write a bit of history on fresh hop beers, particularly focused on Central Oregon.


The first documented commercial fresh hops beers date to the early to mid 90s. In 1993, the late beer writer Michael Jackson chronicled a fresh hop beer made in England:

Trevor Holmes, head brewer at Wadworth, of Devizes in Wiltshire, was inspecting the harvest a year or two ago when he began to wonder how beer would taste if it were aromatised with hops fresh off the vine.

The practicalities are such that it could be done only once a year. Mr. Holmes tried it first last year [1992]. The 100-barrel brew was meant to last a month; it sold out in a week. This year, there are almost 300 barrels.

Mr. Holmes has used the first of the new seasons malt to make his “green hop” beer. The brewery calls it simply Malt and Hops. I can think of only one other brewery that has tried making such a “biere nouvelle,” and that is in the far West of the United States.

The “other brewery… in the far West” of the U.S. Jackson referred to was probably Bert Grant, whose Yakima Brewing (located among the hop fields of Yakima, Washington) was the first post-Prohibition brewpub in the United States. Portland-based beer writer Jeff Alworth wrote a few years ago:

In the mid-90s, he decided to take advantage of the vast wealth of hops that grew within a few miles of his brewery in Yakima (where well over half all domestic hops were grown at the time). He sent folks from the brewery out to the hop fields during the September harvest while he started prepping the mash tun. They gathered a batch of fresh hops, brought them back to the brewery, and within minutes of having been picked, were dumped into the boil.

Concurrently with Grant’s fresh hop beers, California’s Sierra Nevada in 1996 brewed their Harvest Ale, their first fresh hop beer, with freshly-harvest hops flown in from Yakima.


Here in Central Oregon, Deschutes Brewery was the first to release a fresh hop beer, Hop Trip, in 2005. It was an American-style pale ale infused with fresh Crystal hops sourced from the Willamette valley. This was only three years after Karl Ockert at BridgePort Brewing brewed what was probably the first fresh hop beer in Oregon in 2002. (In a nice bit of synergy, Ockert is now Director of Brewing Operation for Deschutes.) So Deschutes was definitely on the forefront of the Oregon fresh hop phenomenon.

Deschutes Brewery Hop Trip, first brewed in 2005   Deschutes Brewery Hop Trip, 2008

In 2007, the Oregon Brewers Guild partnered with Travel Oregon’s Oregon Bounty to launch the first “Fresh Hop Tastivals” around the state; Deschutes Brewery hosted the Tastival when it came to Bend. This event is what eventually morphed into the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival in 2010, which was started by Three Creeks Brewing.

In addition to Hop Trip, Deschutes regularly brews something like a dozen fresh hop beers each fall, and packages several, including Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA.

Deschutes Brewery fresh hop tasting, 2008

Other breweries followed suit, like Silver Moon with their Hoppopotamus, Three Creeks with Cone Lick’r, and Crux Fermentation Project which regularly brews four or five different fresh hop beers each season, including one using hops grown in front of the brewery.

These days it’s almost more unusual for a brewery to not brew a fresh hop beer each fall, and this year (2016) saw at least three dozen beers from 16 Central Oregon breweries. A unique feature to a number of these beers was that the hops were locally grown:

I’m sure there are others I am missing from this list as well. Hop farming has been growing in Central Oregon, and while it will likely not get anywhere near the levels seen in the Willamette Valley, it has become an important local component to the regional beer economy. Especially at a time when “local” is more important than ever in beer.

There are still some fresh hop beers on tap now—don’t miss out on the last of this ephemeral beer season!

Released two years ago today!

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the release of Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon!

Bend Beer is out!

It has been a terrific two years and Bend’s beer scene is as vibrant as ever. I wrote a post last year summarizing the changes that occurred in the one year since the book was published; of course there have been even more changes since then!

  • Monkless Belgian Ales expanded into the 10-barrel brewery formerly occupied by Fresh Tracks Brewing (which started as Brew Werks Brewing, and this space was originally 10 Barrel’s).
  • Immersion Brewing opened their brewpub and brew-on-premise location, in the Old Mill Marketplace complex next door to Atlas Cider.
  • Kobold Brewing opened, a two-barrel production brewery headed up by former homebrewer Steve Anderson.
  • Deschutes Brewery announced that Roanoke, Virginia will be the location of their east coast brewery.
  • New breweries for the region are in the works, including Good Earth Brewing (Terrebonne), Crooked River Brewing (Prineville), and possibly Crooked Jay Brewing (Bend) and White Mare Brewing (Bend) — these last two are still in the rumored stage.
  • New cideries, the growth of hop farming, and even more beer-related businesses and services have punctuated the past two years as well.

But don’t let that deter you from the book itself! If you haven’t read it yet, you can still pick it up  at Amazon and a number of places around Bend and Central Oregon (see sidebar).

And of course I greatly appreciate all the support of those who have bought Bend Beer over the past two years! That definitely makes it all worthwhile.

Have you read the book? Have a favorite period in our beer history that stands out to you? (I’m partial to the frontier days and Prohibition, myself—such interesting stories from those days.) Let me know, and always feel free to send any questions my way!


Frontier Brewing: the Woods Brewery at Tetherow Crossing

During my research for the book I uncovered hints toward a frontier-era brewery being located at Tetherow Crossing, a fording point of the Deschutes River about five miles west of present-day Redmond. Andrew Tetherow filed a claim for the land in 1877, and by 1879 he had built a cable ferry across the river, which eventually was upgraded to a bridge. The Crossing became a way point, with a stage area and a store for travelers coming over the Cascade Mountains bound for the Crooked River valley.

Tetherow Crossing location
Map view of historic Tetherow Crossing location

One of the first clues about the brewery that existed there was found in old photographs indexed by the Deschutes Historical Society; there are a number of them of the Tetherow Crossing buildings and bridge circa 1900, and tantalizingly, someone had written “Brewery in background” below one of them—unfortunately, the building it referred to in the background was indistinct. Other clues I found on the web on sites like this one mention “a store, farm, ranch, orchard, garden, dairy, blacksmith and brewery,” but I couldn’t find cited sources.

Author and historian Phil Brogan, writing for the Bulletin in 1980 on the history of Tetherow Crossing, made no mention of a brewery—instead, he mentions a still, on the west side of the river.

So I didn’t have enough to go on for the book, and within my deadline I really did not have a chance to dig deeper on this Tetherow brewery at the time. But you know, research is really an ongoing project, and just recently I discovered much more detail about the brewery—found in the book Central Oregon Place Names, Volume III: Deschutes County, by Steve Lent and just published within the past year!

Lent references the brewery as Woods Brewery, and he wrote:

This early brewery was located at Tetherow Crossing on the Deschutes River west of Redmond. It was west of the Tetherow stage stop and on the west side of the river. Lynn Woods from Prineville built the brewery at the site in 1890. He preferred the clean water of the Deschutes River for his brewing. He built a frame building about 35 by 50 feet in which his brewing activity took place. The brewery operated until 1898.

He sources the Bend Bulletin and the 1880 Wasco County Census (I will try to find specific date/issue of the Bulletin for this info).

I’m glad to see this confirmed, and this means early Central Oregon had three frontier breweries: the Ochoco Brewery in Prineville from 1882 to 1890; the Woods Brewery; and the Prineville Brewery from 1893 to 1906.

Now to figure out just what they brewed there…

Take an extra 25% off of “Bend Beer” at Amazon now!

Right now, through December 14, Amazon.com is offering 25% off any one book! That means you can get Bend Beer at Amazon for the stunning low price of $10.33! Just use the coupon code “25OFFBOOK” when you are checking out.

This is the perfect time time buy Bend Beer for yourself or better yet, as a Christmas gift for the beer and/or history lover in your life! What are you waiting for?