Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon

Bend Beer Book

Bend-based beer blogger Jon Abernathy has just released his first book, Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon. Bend Beer is published by the History Press as a part of the American Palate series, which features the stories of how regions become known for their beer, wine, and food.

Jon has been writing about beer in Bend for 10 years, so he knows his stuff, and other than Deschutes, I don’t feel much of the city’s history or why it is such a beer mecca has been revealed. Obviously, Deschutes Brewery, founded in 1988, was a milestone for Oregon beer and has had even larger regional ramifications, but outside of that I personally know very little history.

While I have not yet received my copy of Bend Beer to review, I thought I would ask the author a few questions to spice up the piece, getting a few quotes along the way. In typical writer fashion, Jon got back to me with a full story worth of answers, so rather than edit them, here are the entire questions and answers.

Author Jon Abernathy

Author Jon Abernathy

Q: What was it like to write your first book? Can you share any trials and tribulations there?

Jon: It was a bit surreal but a great experience, and definitely a different mode of thinking/working than writing for my blog. I worked on the book on evenings and weekends, after-hours from my day job, and a big part of the early effort consisted mostly of research and interviews. The writing process itself after that was interesting–when I said it was a different mode of thinking than writing a blog post, it really was because I was constantly trying to mentally fit what I was writing into a larger framework, looking ahead to how I wanted to approach a topic while thinking with how it should relate, thematically, to the history of what came before. And then keeping track of all the various facts and dates and numbers poses its own challenge.
As for trials and tribulations, not too many really (which is lucky!). The publisher was very anxious to release the book this fall, and wanted to know if I could have it completed by mid July–which essentially gave me a seven month window from the time the contract was signed. So, in that regard I do wish I’d had more time for research and interviews. But even then, I came in 2000 words or so above the contractual obligation, and wasn’t asked to cut any of the manuscript, so that’s a good thing!
Q: How did you research the book?
Jon: It was really kind of split into two different modes, history that predated the craft beer movement and then the history and stories that started in the ’80s with Oregon’s breweries, and especially Deschutes Brewery here in Bend. For the early stuff, I spent a lot of time going through newspaper archives online and at the Deschutes Historical Society, and a lot of reading of the available books there are for Central Oregon’s history. So, maybe you could call it more “academic” type research.
For the more modern beer and brewery history, there was more reliance on interviews where I could get them– oral history– and of course I still researched newspaper articles of the era and read some of the contemporary histories that are out there. As we got closer to the online era, I was able to rely on my own blog, as well as consulting a number of other blogs and online interviews and articles.
Q: What is an interesting story or tidbit of history that you uncovered?
Jon: One of my favorites is the story that introduces the chapter on Prohibition: the (attempted) bombing of state Prohibition officers one night in the mid-1920s. Actually there’s more to the region’s overall history of Prohibition than I suspected (a LOT of moonshiners out in those hills), but learning about the dynamiting that blew up an apartment building and damaged the surrounding neighborhood near downtown was pretty surprising. The two Prohibition officers had been involved in the shooting death of a suspected moonshiner, and after receiving death threats on their lives, someone tried to blow them up but apparently botched the job–the officer and his wife who lived in the apartment building escaped unscathed (and there were only minor injuries in the surrounding neighborhood).
Another tidbit I found was that there was a commercial hop farm over in Prineville in the 1940s. They were in operation for a few years at least. They would send freshly-harvested hops over to Independence to be kilned, though they were planning to set up their own kiln. I was unaware that there was any commercial-scale hops production in Central Oregon prior to the past few years, so that was an interesting find.
Q: Any plans for another book?
Jon: At some point yes, but I don’t know when or what the book will be yet (though I have some ideas). The next couple of months I’m focusing on Bend Beer, which was just released.
*Book Launch Event*
Deschutes Historical Society and Deschutes Brewery on November 7th at 6:30 pm (held at DHS, 129 NW Idaho Avenue, Bend)

Author Events
1.) The Growler Guys on October 24th from 4-6 pm
2.) Platypus Pub on October 30th at 6 pm (1203 NE 3rd St, Bend, OR)
4.) Silver Moon Brewing on November 6th from 5-8 pm (24 NW Greenwood Ave, Bend, OR)
5.) Rat Hole Brew Pub on November 29th at 7 pm (84 SW Upper Terrace Dr #108, Bend, OR)
6.) Powell’s City of Books on December 5th at 7:30 pm (West Burnside Street, Portland, OR)
7.) Broken Top Bottle Shop on December 11th at 7 pm (1740 NW Pence Ln #1, Bend, OR)
Bend Beer is available online at,, Barnes & Noble, and more (including Portland’s Powell’s City of Books) and will be available in and around Central Oregon and beyond.
Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: