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Food & Drink » Beer & Drink

The Story Behind Your Pint

"Bend Beer" explores Central Oregon's beer-soaked history

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"Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon" is not a travel guide. Which is good—you can already learn about our 26 breweries from a million other sources. Instead, what Jon Abernathy has written is a free-wheeling overview of the region's history, with the emphasis placed squarely on beer.

Published by the History Press (which released a similar history of Portland beer last year), "Bend Beer" begins the same place regional settlement did—in Prineville, where the Ochoco Brewery opened at fourth and Main in 1882 to become Central Oregon's first beer facility. Neither Ochoco nor the subsequent Prineville Brewery lasted more than a few years, and Olympia, Weinhard's and Budweiser were the drinks of choice in the bawdy saloons that lined Bond Street in Bend's first few years—until Oregon went dry in 1916, and, in fact, the region offered no breweries of its own between 1906 and 1988, when Deschutes Brewery was founded.

Abernathy's narrative freely jumps between the history of Bend, as it evolved from a mill town to a recreational hotspot, and the evolution of its beer scene in modern times. It's also packed with information (nearly all from primary sources) about the origins of every post-1988 brewery, as well as the men and women that launched them. Of particular interest: the early history of Deschutes Brewery, which barely scraped by its first few years and suffered from massive infection issues in the winter of 1988. (A consultation from Dave Logsdon, who now runs Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, ultimately saved the day.)

"Bend Beer" is available now online and at all decent bookstores; Abernathy is holding multiple signing events over the next few months, including one at 6 pm on Oct. 30 at Platypus Pub and at 6:30 pm on Nov. 7 at the Des Chutes Historical Museum. As a history, it's undeniably definitive; as a good read for the beer lover, it's indispensable.

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