Book Review – Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon

I read a lot. And I read a lot of beer books. What I have come to appreciate are the histories of the craft beer movement. Be it of a style, a brewery, or going up a rung, the larger, beer scene of a region.

Bend Beer – A History of Brewing in Central Oregon slots into that last history as author Jon Abernathy starts at the beginning of beer in Central Oregon and takes us up to just about before the sale of 10 Barrel Brewing to SABInBev.

Abernathy, the blogger behind the Brewsite beer blog has a tricky territory to cover. The City of Bend plus Sisters and Redmond just don’t have a lot of meat on the bone in regards to beer history. Partly due to population and also prohibition, the heat doesn’t really rise until the first mention of Deschutes Brewing.

Once that happens you almost need a genealogical chart to map out which people left Black Butte Porter behind and what brewery they started. For the most part, Abernathy doesn’t lose you in all of what I call the “begats”, the biblical dead spots where we learn who everyone’s ma and pa is.

It is fascinating to see how each brewery got started. Though I would have liked to see more about how the city and community played a part in the brewing evolution. Was Bend amenable politically to craft beer? Did they make it easy to open up shop? What beers did the people of Bend gravitate towards? Is there a discernible Bend terroir?

Unfortunately, Abernathy has already spent 1/2 the book before even getting to Gary Fish and Deschutes. But that is also the strength of the book, I am reeled in and want to know more and more. Let’s hope an updated version is around the corner.