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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BTU Brasserie: Alternative to Traditional Brewpubs

When it opened last summer on Northeast Sandy Blvd, BTU Brasserie was a much-anticipated addition to a strip that is dominated by Asian-themed eateries. Combining Chinese cuisine with a brewery is a pretty unique concept and one that may have traction with folks bored with standard brewpub fare.

Frankly, I believe offering an alternative to traditional pub fare is a great idea and one that makes a lot of sense around here. Food, whether better or just different, is a great way to differentiate yourself in a city xthat is virtually overrun by brewpubs and craft-centric restaurants.

In the case of BTU Brasserie, the folks running things have significant experience on the culinary side. Co-owner Nate Yovu served as head chef at Burnside Brewing and also has training and experience as a brewer. One of his partners, Chris Bogart, has a strong culinary background and also worked at Burnside. Nate's brother, Jay, has homebrewing experience and assists with the brewing program.

It's certainly fair to say these guys have a greater depth of experience with food than they do with beer. That's probably what accounts for the beers being what they are. And what they are isn't bad. But I believe there's a difference between brewers who brew for standalone drinkers and those who brew mainly to enrich or complement a restaurant menu.

For example, Fire on the Mountain brews beers that are largely designed to fit with the hot & spicy food they serve. So they have some beers that are intended to put out the fire, so to speak. That isn't all they have, but it is a definite focus. These beers aren't often seen outside FOTM locations.

An alternative example is Laurelwood, which features mostly standard pub fare and brews a variety of beers. Some of those beers cater to non-beer geek patrons. But Laurelwood also brews standalone beers like Workhorse, that bring people into their pubs and are regularly poured at various watering holes around town.

The Beers
When I walked into BTU last summer, they were in the middle of renovating the space. A brand new 7-bbl brewhouse was in place, though it appeared they were a month or more from opening. When I returned a couple of months ago, they had only two of their beers on tap. I resolved to come back later when they were up to speed with the brewing.

Having recently received word that they were now pouring seven beers, I resolved to stop in. Early Saturday evening proved the perfect fit.

First things first. The cost of a seven beer taster flight at BTU is just $7. And these are solid 4 oz pours, so nothing to shake your fist at. This is a good deal and what you should expect to pay for this much beer. Too many places jack up prices to discourage taster flights, which are admittedly a bit of a pain is the ass.

BTU's flagship brew (from the beer menu) is BTU Lager, an amusing little beer that clocks in at 5.5% and 22 IBU. It's brewed with Chinese short grain rice and filtered. This beer is clear, clean and crisp. It also lacks significant character. If it hadn't been under-carbonated, I might have mistaken it for Coors Light. I suspect it's their flagship because it goes well with the food.

Rusty's Red is another one of their popular beers, at 5.8% and 52 IBU. It's billed as a generously hopped American Red Ale. It seemed coarsely bitter to me. Maybe it could use a little residual sweetness. Out For a Rip IPA fell into the same category. Its numbers, 6.4% and 55 IBU, aren't big compared to other IPAs out there. But it struck me as being intensely bitter with almost no hop aroma or flavor. It reminded me of the IPAs I made 15 years ago as a home brewer, in which all or most of the hops went into the boil. Those days are gone and I think these beers need some work.

It gets better. Dark Helmut Schwarzbier (6.3%, 28 IBU) is a nice representation of the style. It's smooth and mildly roasty. The name may not fit with the Asian theme, but the beer works perfectly with some of the food. There's also Sandy Blonde (5.4%, 25 IBU), a golden ale featuring Cascade hops, that works well. Polaris Wheat (5.4%, 34 IBU), named for the Polaris hop, is a mildly bitter rendition of the style. I think it probably pairs nicely with some of the spicier dishes here.

The outlier on the beer list is Joulupukki Festive Bock (5.8%, 16 IBU), a holiday beer spiced with pumpkin, peppercorns, fresh ginger, star anise, cinnamon, orange peel and coriander. The spicy character of Joulupukki is pretty subtle and gets more pronounced as it warms up. I'm not sure where it fits in with the theme or the food, but it's worth trying.

It seems to me the BTU folks have succeeded in producing beers that complement the food experience there. The owners, I suspect, are still in the process of figuring out their brewing system and tweaking recipes. The beers will evolve. They will get better and there will be even more variety going forward.

There was talk early on of distributing kegs. As it stands, there isn't  a BTU beer that would have much traction in a taproom, pub or growler fill station. These aren't standalone beers. If I were going to pick one to market outside the restaurant, it would be the Schwarzbier. Why? Because it's a well-made beer and there aren't a lot of competing dark lagers out there. Just saying.

The bottom line with BTU Brasserie is this: It isn't a place you're going to go strictly to have a beer, although it may well become a beer destination down the road. For now, it's a place you're going to go to have lunch or dinner and a beer. Because it seems to work really well on that level.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Texas Messes with its Craft Breweries

About 30 years ago, the state of Texas invented its "Don't Mess With Texas" slogan. If you aren't aware, it was part of an anti-litter campaign targeting 18-35 year-old males, thought to be the state's worst litterbugs. The idea worked, reducing litter substantially between 1986 and 1990.

Texas being what it is, the slogan morphed into a sort of cultural phenomenon. Bigheaded Texans plastered "Don't Mess With Texas" stickers on their homes and cars. The tourism industry latched onto the slogan and sold branded trinkets to millions of visitors, despite the Transportation Department's efforts to enforce trademark rights. That's Texas for  you. Love it or leave it.

They've got a new kind of mess in Texas these days and it involves craft beer. Back in 2013, the Lege (that's Molly Ivins-speak) passed Senate Bill 639, which made it illegal for breweries to accept payment for the right to distribute their beer in specific areas or territories in the state.

In effect, the law forced brewers who wanted to sell their beer in areas beyond their own reach to give distributors the right to do so in exchange for, well, nothing. And there's more. Distributors who acquired the right to a particular beer in a particular area were free to sell those rights to another distributor for a profit. You gotta love Texas, huh?

It's pretty apparent that SB 639 was pushed through the Lege on behalf of the state's beer distributors, who didn't feel quite right about paying for the right to distribute any beer. But the state's growing craft beer community has been put in a serious bind by the legislation.

So earlier this week three Texas breweries sued the state, saying SB 639 violates the state Constitution because it requires them to give away their distribution rights for nothing. And allows distributors to profit through the sale of those rights, something they didn't pay for or earn.

The effect of the law, the brewers say, has been to slow their growth. How so? Because they are unwilling to give up their territorial rights for nothing, they have refused to sign any new distribution agreements. That leaves them self-distributing, which they can't effectively do throughout the state. Growth has been put on hold.

I'm not in the business so I don't know how these things work. But a distributor friend gave me the lowdown on how distribution agreements work in Oregon. If you want to distribute a brewery's beer, you negotiate an arrangement. In some cases, particularly with remote breweries, a distributor may pay nothing or very little. In the case of a brewery whose brand is sought by more than one distributor, the price may include marketing dollars per case or keg for some specified period of time.

We'll see what happens with the Texas lawsuit, filed by Live Oak Brewing of Austin, Peticolas Brewing of Dallas and Revolver Brewing of Granbury. These guys would all like to be expanding their production and distribution, but are unwilling to do so due to unfriendly, unfair laws in the state.

As Molly Ivins said some time ago, "All anyone needs to enjoy the Texas Lege is a strong stomach and a complete insensitivity to the needs of the people." For the time being, insensitively and stupidity is threatening the growth and well-being of the craft beer industry in the state.

Stop messing with craft beer, Texas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Idaho Continues Efforts to Limit Anheuser-Busch

There's all kinds of good news in the world of craft beer. Today's Year in Beer report from the Brewers Association has all the details. The grey cloud hanging over the good news is Anheuser-Busch, which is buying up distributorships and mucking up the three-tier system wherever it can.

I've reported on the ongoing antics of AB in the past. Doing so has earned me a place on their list of undesirables. When the suits from AB and 10 Barrel were in town hoping to drum up some positive press for the acquisition, I failed to make the list of potential "friendlies."  Shucks, I suppose you can't blame them.

Forget the 10 Barrel deal for just a second. There are going to be more deals like it in coming months and years. If we truly are opening 1.5 new breweries a day in this country (that's a Brewers Association stat), there are going to be a lot of buyouts and consolidations coming down the pike. But never mind.

Last spring, I reported that Idaho was considering legislation that would block Anheuser-Busch's stated desire to acquire distributorships within the state. Such acquisitions are a clear violation of the three-tier laws that came into existence following Prohibition. Unfortunately, a lot of state laws have loopholes that have enabled AB to come in and buy distributors. Oregon, by the way, is one of those states. Idaho is one of a few states that decided to do something about it.

With the passage of House Bill 524 in late March, Idaho amended its laws to state that only brewers producing less than 30,000 barrels annually can hold a retail, wholesale (self-distribution) or brewpub license within the state. The intent of this amendment, which is slightly more detailed than this, is to prevent big beer from owning distributorships, retail outlets or pubs within the state. It effectively reinforces the three-tier system.

Now comes word that Idaho Beer and Wine Distributors are asking state courts to review the language of the law (Title 23) and verify that only brewers producing less than 30,000 barrels may enjoy the privileges as stated in the law. This comes on the heels of the 10 Barrel deal. If you aren't aware, 10 Barrel brews 40,000 barrels a year, owns a brewpub in Boise and is, of course, now fully owned by Anheuser-Busch (which produced 122 million barrels in 2013).

Some folks are wondering if the move by the Beer and Wine Distributors is directed specifically at Anheuser-Busch and 10 Barrel. Hmmm. That's a touchy question. But it's pretty obvious that the Distributors are testing the water to see if the barrel limit, signed into the state code well before the recent acquisition of 10 Barrel, will stick.

This ought to be interesting. For if the courts somehow rule that the 30,000 barrel limit is not a binding part of the law, it will mean passing laws designed to slow the encroachment of Anheuser-Busch and other big brands is an ineffective means of addressing this problem. Then what?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Ale Festival Off and Running in Portland's Living Room

It was a festive crowd at Wednesday's opening day of the 2014 Holiday Ale Festival. As usual, there were a lot of beer geeks in attendance, sucking up the beers and yakking about the good, the bad and the ugly. Just another day in beer paradise, you know.

I actually managed to sample 20 or so beers during the six or so hours I was there, including most from my own hit list. I was fortunate to hang out with folks who were tasting different beers, which allowed me to taste more beers than would have been possible on my own. For those coming down in ensuing days, that's a great approach. These are big beers, mostly.

Before I get to my beer picks, I want to briefly mention a couple of issues.

First, there are quite a few double and triple ticket beers at this event. And the signage doesn't always clearly identify them. Organizers dropped the ball on this. Hopefully, it will be fixed by the weekend, when things get crazy.

Second, why does this festival continue to use the pin-up girl motif for branding and promotion? I really don't get it and I'm not alone. I didn't hear much discussion of this during my visit, but several beer people I know said they found it offensive and wouldn't attend the event. When will this festival move on? Inquiring minds wonder.

The Beers
Of the beers on my hit list from the other day, there were a couple of "must try" favorites and a few duds. This is always the case at the HAF, I suspect because many of these beers were made specifically for this event. One-off beers are hit and miss. You knew that.

The pick of the litter from my list was 13 Virtues Barrel-Aged Max Stout, which features a well-balanced combination of barrel notes and malty complexity. This beer comes in at 10.5 percent, but is smooth as glass. It was pouring in the Skybar. Don't miss it.

Some people were surprised by McMenamin's entry, Lord of Misrule, a rum barrel-aged stout. The surprise is getting old. The fact is, these guys have bumped up their game. It's the consequence of being based in Oregon, where there are so many great beers. McMenamin's brewers have always had latitude to create interesting beers. Today, they have more freedom when it comes to spending what it takes to create those beers. Lord of Misrule features a nice blend of cocoa, coffee and a very mellow presence of habanero peppers in the finish. Great stuff.

Hopworks seems to always have a decent entry here. Kronan the Barbarian was popular last year. This year's beer, The Incredible Abominable of the Enchanted Barrel Forest, is a revved-up version of their winter seasonal, Abominable Winter Ale. The Incredible packs serious barrel character, which is more or less balanced on a malty background with a vaguely hoppy finish. Very nice, indeed.

When you reach the point where you must cleanse your pallet due to (perhaps) too many barrel-aged beverages, look no further than Firestone Walker's Luponic Distortion. Hopheads will be pleased with the citrus notes courtesy of Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe hops.

If you want to see what others are thinking, Jeff Alworth is usually reliable. So are Sanjay and Kris. And there's always The New School. You can also follow posts listed at the upper left column here.

One thing to keep in mind as you go about your tasting at this event is that most of these beers are too cold when they hit your mug. Let them warm up a bit. That's what allows big beers to reveal their true character. This isn't the Oregon Brewers Festival. The beer in your mug will need a few minutes to warm up.

Book Beat
If you get bored with the beer or don't have anyone to hang out with, stop by Brian Yaeger's table (near the Small Bar) and buy a copy of his new book, Oregon Breweries. He'll even autograph it! Brian was there selling books and chatting with beer fans on Wednesday and will be back today and Sunday. He may join Jon Abernathy, who will be there Friday afternoon selling and signing his new book on Central Oregon beer. Even if you don't want a book, stop and say hello.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Commons Gathers Around Third Anniversary

Times flies when you're having fun. And they've been having fun while making good beer at The Commons since 2011. They're holding a party to celebrate their success this coming Saturday, Dec. 6, at the brewery on SE Stephens.

When Mike Wright decided to start this place three years ago, he had no idea how successful his little business would be. Today, The Commons has earned widespread respect for its line of Belgian-influenced beers, some of which have won medals at the World Beer Cup and GABF. Their beer is widely available at stores, restaurants and finer watering holes in Portland and beyond.

There are those who think opening a brewery is the secret to great wealth and adoration. But building a brand in the hyper-competitive craft beer marketplace is an arduous task, even if you have great beer. Wright and his compatriots, Josh Grgas, Sean Burke, Travis Sandoval and others, have leaned on their expertise and a lot of hard work to make The Commons what it is.

Wright at the 2012 celebration
This year's anniversary celebration will be the last in the brewery on Stephens. As most who read this know, Wright and Co. have been diligently working on a new and significantly larger space on SE 7th and Belmont. They hope to be open there by the spring, though they are realistic enough to know these things don't always happen the way you plan.

There will be no bottleshare this year. That had a been a prominent and well-attended event the past two years, and will return once they are in their new space. It seems the current landlord is uncomfortable with use of the common areas in the building. That's unfortunate, but somehow understandable given the appeal of these events.

Regardless, the beer list for their Third Anniversary is really fantastic.

Opening Taplist
  • Urban Farmhouse: The flagship saison has been on tap #1 since the day the brewery opened.
  • Buckwheat Grissette: Belgian table beer with Buckwheat and Brettanomyces.
  • Trillium: Blended farmhouse ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Brettanomyces Lambicus and house grown cultures.
  • 3rd Anniversary Stout: Imperial Stout featuring 10 different malts aged in Bourbon barrels previously used for Bourbon Little Brother and Brotherly Love. 
  • 2014 Bourbon Little Brother: Sneak preview of their popular winter bottle seasonal. Belgian Dark Strong Ale partially aged in Bourbon barrels. 
  • 2014 Maybelle: Farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels with BSI’s Brettanomyces Bruxellensis variant Drei.
  • Putin from the Wood: Baltic Porter aged in Bourbon barrels.
  • Pils: Northern German Style with Perle and Spalt hops.  
5:00 PM Taplist
  • Gin Enkel: Possibly the last keg of one of their most popular beers. Belgian table beer with spelt and rye aged in fresh Old Tom Gin barrels with apricots. 
  • Dark Czar: One off Baltic Porter/Imperial Stout blended with Stumptown Guatemala Finca el Injerto coffee and vanilla beans.
  • …plus a special to be announced keg from a friendly Midwest brewery. 

The party gets underway at 2:00 p.m. and will run through 9:00 p.m. or so. Obviously, this isn't the only beer event in the city this weekend, but it will be a good one. You aren't going to have a better opportunity to Gather Around Great Beer, a slight modification of The Commons tagline. Come toast the success of this humble brewery.

Celebrating three years

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Holiday Ale Fest Returns for 19th Year

They say Pioneer Courthouse Square is Portland's living room. Assuming that's the case, Portland's living room will welcome back the Holiday Ale Festival next Wednesday through Sunday. This is the event's 19th year, if you're counting.

There aren't really a lot of secrets with respect to this festival. It routinely features bold beers. These aren't run of the mill beers.The great bulk of what you'll find pouring here is made specifically for the event. They have a way of getting some great stuff. We're talking high octane ales, barleywines, barrel-aged beers, etc. Perfect for winter.

As most know, the HAF is housed under clear, heated tents. The weather may turn out to be perfectly dreadful outside, but it will be warm and toasty under the tents. So you won't need to wear your favorite ski outfit to be comfortable. Views of the city skyline and the holiday tree add to the festive appeal of this event.

Another interesting thing about the HAF is it seems to attract people from all over the place. I've mentioned this in previous posts, but it's worth mentioning again. I can't count how many times I have met people who are from faraway places. They come for this event and for all that is Portland.

Because things tend to get a little nuts during prime time, organizers again say the best days to taste are Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. The first two days are good because a lot of working stiffs can't get down there until the evening, if at all. Folks who show up on Friday or Saturday will likely have to deal with some lines, although it usually doesn't get too wild until mid-afternoon.

There are plenty of details available on the event website here. For example, you can pre-purchase a tasting package there. The beer list is there. A couple of significant factoids to keep in mind: This is a 21 and over event and the kiddies are not welcome.

As for recommended beers, I'm quite sure everyone can manufacturer their own hit list from the online program. If you want to know what the experts are tasting, there are plenty of online and print sources you can consult. As for myself, these are a few of the brews I hope to try:

13 Virtues Brewing Co.
Barrel-Aged MAX Stout
Imperial Stout
10.5% ABV, 70 IBU
Aged in both Eastside Distillery and Bull Run Distillery Whiskey barrels for three to four months, supposedly offers the complexity of oak and vanilla notes and textured layers of deep, dark secrets. I'm sold.

Firestone Walker Brewing
Luponic Distortion 
Double IPA
8.5% ABV, 75 IBU
A complex blended IPA boasting huge citrus notes by the crafty use of Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe hops. Sounds worthy.

Fort George Brewery
Santa's Dinner Jacket 
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale
8.3% ABV
Aged in Bull Run Distillery barrels. Sipped slowly and allowed to warm, this beer tells a story of time spent in the barrel infusing this heftily hopped ale with notes of port, sherry, caramel and toffee. 

Gigantic Brewing 
Red Ryder BB Gun
Cranberry Saison
6.3% ABV, 22 IBU   
The sweet aroma of cranberries melds perfectly with spicy saison yeasts. There is just enough fruit and tartness to balance the beer's finest pilsner malt. Sounds like a live one.

Hopworks Urban Brewery
The Incredible Abominable of the Enchanted Barrel Forest 
Barrel Aged Imperial Winter Ale 
9.0% ABV, 100 IBU
The infamous uncle of the renowned Abominable Winter Ale.This imperial version was aged in freshly emptied Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels and features notes of vanilla and spice mixed with the already delightful flavors of citrus and caramel.

McMenamins Edgefield Brewery 
Lord of Misrule   
Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Mexican Mocha Stout 
7.6% ABV,. 24 IBU
This dark and spicy imperial brew was made keeping all the joyful customs surrounding this ancient practice in mind. Brewed with cacao nibs, kilned coffee malt and habanero peppers, then aged in rum barrels post-fermentation. 

Migration Brewing 
Frankie Claus
Belgian Imperial Stout
11.8% ABV, 60 IBU  
This Imperial Belgian Chocolate Stout was brewed with French cocoa, Belgian Trappist yeast, and plenty of attitude. Frankie Claus is layered with notes of banana, cocoa, dried red fruit and toasted almonds, creating a very smooth 11.8% ABV stout with a soft, warming finish.

Portland Brewing
Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout 
Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Stout
10.0% ABV, 25 IBU
Brewed just for the 2014 Holiday Ale Festival, this massive brew boasts a huge backbone from seven different malts, a Northwest hop profile, and notes of roasted coffee balanced by delicious cherry flavors from an Oregon-grown sweet cherry puree.

Stone Brewing 
New Desecrator
Black Barley Wine
12.0% ABV, 100 IBU
This black barley wine has nearly the same profile as Stone Old Guardian, but surrounded by de-husked darkness. To give this demon its own flair, Stone fed it generous portions of Herkules, Amarillo, Comet, El Dorado and Pacifica hops. Coming in at 100+ IBUs, Stone says New Desecrator may just kill Santa Claus and end your holidays early. Yikes!

Of course, there will be a number of special beers tapped during the course of this event. If you want to follow that stuff, there's a mobile version of the Holiday Ale Festival website that your smartphone will automatically detect. Tune in there for on-the-fly updates on special tappings and locations, as well as other event details.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jon Abernathy's 'Bend Beer' Earns Two Thumbs Up

Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon by Jon Abernathy
Foreward by Gary Fish
The History Press/American Palate, 171 pages

Bend, Oregon is widely recognized as one of the top beer cities in the country. In fact, articles published in the national media have routinely referred to it in recent times as Beer Town USA. That's based largely on the number of breweries per capita and the quality of the beer.

Jon Abernathy's new book traces the transition of Bend (and Central Oregon) from frontier homesteading to the timber boom era to recreation, tourism and, finally, beer. It's a long and winding road, with a number of fascinating stopovers along the way.

The first thing you realize is that Bend's history does not parallel that of Portland, Oregon's largest city and the place where craft beer in the state was born. Henry Weinhard Brewing had a dominant presence in Portland and the Northwest for more than a century. There was only a small brewing presence in Central Oregon until Deschutes Brewing was born in 1988. That's when Bend's beer trajectory starts to line up with Portland's.

Without many breweries to write about in the early period, Abernathy focuses mostly on the economic development of Central Oregon. The area possessed a tiny population of subsistence farmers and ranchers. Bend wasn't even incorporated until 1905, largely a result of the fact that the area was economically isolated. That changed in a big way with the arrival of the railroad in 1911, which opened to door to the timber era and dynamic growth.

Strangely enough, the coming of the railroad and the launch of the timber boom era coincided closely with state prohibition in 1916. Bend had been a haven for saloons and brothels from its early days and the temperance movement was greeted by many. But not all. One of the more fascinating stories from the prohibition period involves the role Central Oregon played in the manufacture of moonshine for the region. I won't give it away, other than to say the countryside "lit up at night."

Confiscated still
By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, Bend's economy was dominated by timber. Taverns and bars opened or reopened and the beer flowed. Bond Street, the eventual home to Deschutes Brewery and Public House, once again became a bustling strip. The area's beer experience during the period following Prohibition mirrored that of the country, as the national brands moved in.

The timber era began to decline by the late 1950s, gradually replaced by recreation and tourism. Mount Bachelor (known at Bachelor Butte until 1983) led the way as a magnet for visitors from outside the area and accounted for a growing financial footprint. As the onslaught of the national brands intensified during the post-World War II era, Central Oregon aligned with the rest of the state in supporting regional brands Olympia and Blitz-Weinhard.

Deschutes under construction. 1988.
Gary Fish was operating a restaurant in Utah and watching the craft movement expand in the mid-1980s. He looked at the brewpub model and saw something he liked. Northern California is where he wanted to establish a brewery, but high real estate prices and competition proved problematic. His parents, having visited Central Oregon, suggested he take a look at Bend.

Deschutes Brewery opened in June 1988, less than a year after Fish visited the area to check things out. Abernathy documents several interesting points here. First, there were others who had plans to open a brewery in Bend around this time. None succeeded. Second, Deschutes was not an instant success by any means. They were problems with employees, customers and infected beer. These were uncertain times.

Collection of Jubelale bottles
"You could shoot a gun off in here a lot of nights and nobody would notice," Fish is quoted as saying. Some nights he sent employees home and ran the place alone business was so slow. That's a hard concept to fathom today, given what Deschutes has become.

Most of the second half of the book deals with Bend after Deschutes. Abernathy rolls through the successes and growing pains at Deschutes and traces the history of breweries that came later: Silver Moon, Cascade Lakes, Bend Brewing, 10 Barrel, etc. The names and travels of countless brewers, many of whom passed through Deschutes and other places on their way to their own gigs, are tracked.

Bend Brewing
Because it happened after the book was published, Anheuser-Busch's purchase of 10 Barrel Brewing is not covered. That's probably just as well. Any future edition of this book will certainly address that deal and the not-so-friendly response to it. For now, interested folks will have to be satisfied with news reports and blog coverage.

As many who read this surely know, I wrote the history of Portland beer. The Bend book shares the same publisher and, as you can see, the same cookie cutter cover layout. I have never met Jon Abernathy, but we had several online conversations regarding his project. Still, no one told me I had to like his book or recommend it. Bend's story is really quite different than Portland's for reasons that are readily apparent as you read the book.

At the end of the day, some of the most interesting history is local history. For it is local history that traces the development of communities and people most clearly. Jon Abernathy does a fine job laying out and explaining the forces that shaped the transformation of Bend and Central Oregon from frontier to modern times. The brewing part of that history happens to be most prominent after 1988. Still, there is great history here.

This book will be of interest to residents, non-residents and tourists who want to know how Bend and Central Oregon became what it is today. The hoards that travel the Bend Ale Trail annually will find plenty to like here. The story is well-researched, well-constructed and expertly written. And it will occupy a seminal place in the literature of this area for years to come.

Jon has launched a series of events in support of the book. Some have already taken place and I assume they have gone well. Here in Portland, he will appear at Powell's Books on Burnside on Friday, Dec. 5.  He will partner with Brian Yaeger, whose book, Oregon Breweries, comes out next week. Both books have Facebook pages and websites with more info. I urge interested folks to learn more.