Enjoy this random ad for Olympia Beer

“It’s the water,” of course. It’s kind of amazing the kinds of things you find when doing research, nuggets of pure gold that may not make it into the book but are too good not to share.

Like this ad for Olympia beer from the June 30, 1965 issue of the Bend Bulletin. It doesn’t really fit any of the other beer advertising I’ve looked at so far:

Olympia Brewing fiesta ad

Brewing a pre-Prohibition American lager

I’ve been homebrewing for years, since the mid-90s really, and one thing I thought might be fun to do—as time allows, of course—is brew up some beers inspired by the local beer history I’ve been researching.


The first beer that came to mind was inspired by the very first brewery to exist in Central Oregon: the Ochoco Brewery of Prineville, which lasted from 1882 until 1890. Of course a pre-Prohibition brewery at that time—with an Austrian brewer, no less—would have been brewing a lager, though a stronger, darker, maltier lager by today’s commonly-understood “American lager” standards. So I set out develop a pre-Prohibition lager recipe loosely based on what I would imagine might have been coming out of the Prineville brewery.

Now, in all the time I’ve been homebrewing, I had never done a true lager prior to this. The main reason is temperature control: lagers require a fermentation temperature of under 60 degrees Fahrenheit (45-55 is pretty ideal) and I’ve simply never been set up to do that. However, during the winter our garage stays a relatively-stable 55 to 57 degrees, day and night, so while we had the colder weather I went for it.

Malt in the mill

Here’s the base recipe I put together:

  • 7 pounds of American 2-row malt
  • 1 pound of Munich malt
  • 1 pound of flaked corn
  • 2 ounces of chocolate malt (~350°L)
  • 8 ounces of cane sugar
  • 0.75 ounces of Perle hops (~8% alpha acid) for 60 minutes
  • 0.25 ounces of Santiam hops (~5% AA) for 60 minutes
  • 1 ounce of Santiam hops for 15 minutes
  • 1 ounce of Santiam hops for aroma
  • Wyeast 2035 American Lager

Homebrewers familiar with the style will note I’ve taken liberties with it. The use of 2-row versus 6-row malt, for instance. And likely there wouldn’t have been much in the way of specialty malts available in frontier Prineville, but I can imagine having an imperfectly-kilned malt which could have lent darker colors and roastier, nuttier flavors to the finished beer. And the hops would possibly have been Cluster or some similar Willamette Valley-grown early variety.

Also, I do a simple single-infusion mash, whereas lager brewers of the day likely employed step-infusion or even decoction mashing.

The end result is a 6.3% amber-brown lager that is tasty and I hope befitting the beer being brewed in Central Oregon 130 years ago!

Ochoco Lager

First interviews

A big “thank you” to Tyler Reichert (who founded Silver Moon Brewing) and Chris Justema (co-owner of Cascade Lakes Brewing) for offering up their time for the first of many interviews I’ll be conducting among all the various beer people in the region.

I met with Tyler last week at the Platypus Pub, and with Chris this week at the Cascade Lakes Lodge during their 20th anniversary celebration—and enjoyed some fine beers at each, enjoying the Platypus Pub’s own Haste Ye Back Wee Heavy, and Cascade Lakes’ 20th Anniversary IPA.

And of course, lots of good history and information is coming from the interviews, hopefully much or all of which will make it into the book! The scope won’t just cover the breweries, of course, but also other beer-related topics that contribute to Bend’s amazing beer culture, like homebrewing for instance (Tyler used to own the Brew Shop back in the day).

Tomorrow, I’ll be spending some time with the crew over at 10 Barrel and I expect a lot more good information to add to my research.

Announcing “Bend Beer”

The History PressWelcome to the official site for the upcoming book Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon! I am very pleased to announce that I have been contracted by the History Press to write the book on the history of beer in Bend, as a part of the History Press’s American Palate series for beer. The book is targeted for a publication date of late summer 2014, and on this site I will be posting updates and details, tidbits and factoids, and other bits of miscellany and behind-the-scenes looks at writing the book.

Who am I? My name is Jon Abernathy and I’m a native Oregonian and long-time resident of Central Oregon—and a beer geek (or aficionado, if you prefer). I’m the owner/writer of the longest-running American beer blog, The Brew Site, as well as Hack Bend, an “insider’s guide” blog to Bend, Oregon.

Bend Beer should be similar in “flavor” to another recently-published History Press beer book, the excellent Portland Beer, by Pete Dunlop, as well as other books in HP’s American Palate series.

Portland Beer, by Pete DunlopI’ve got a Facebook page set up for the book, and over the next few days will add other social media links as well. If you would like to contact me, you can fill out the contact form on this site or ping me on Facebook or other social media as it goes online.