New Book “Southern Oregon Beer: A Pioneering History” Fills in the Blanks

Southern Oregon Beer: A Pioneering History is a new book that may just complete Arcadia Press’ Oregon beer book history series (Portland Beer, Bend Beer.) Authored by longtime Oregon journalist Phil Busse, this chapter traces the little known stories behind Southern Oregon’s brewing history. The story begins in the mid 19th century gold boomtown of Jacksonville with two competing German pioneers coming to town and setting up competing breweries vying for the business of miners and ranchers. One brewery went as far as to put a gymnasium and roller rink on their second floor. By the 1800’s rival beer brands were entering the market and prohibition was on the way.

More from a press release:

Phil traces the history of the beer industry in Oregon through the 1920s and 30s, as resourceful Oregonians continue to cultivate a massive hops industry, and then rebound in the 1980s and 90s with craft beers once again representing the cities and small towns throughout the state.

Phil will present his book and insights into the brewing industry—with stories and characters from then and now—at two events in Central Oregon:

Sunday, July 14, 7 – 8 pm, Broken Top Bottle Shop:  In conversation with Jon Abernathy, author of Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregonand blogger at The, Phil compares and contrasts the history of beer in Central and Southern Oregon.  A fun discussion that puts together two big puzzle pieces of Oregon’s history and beer culture. 

Monday, July 15, 6 – 7 pm.  Roundabout Books:  With readings from his book and a multimedia presentation, Phil has created an insightful mini-lecture that teaches about historic national trends about the beer industry, and how various towns and regions in Oregon fit into that framework; an engaging, interactive presentation for both those who love beer and history (or just one or the other). 

Although the book primarily focuses on the breweries and characters in southern Oregon, Phil also sets the entire story within the context of America’s history: About how the immigration of one million Germans in 1850s shifted the country’s cultural axis and about how railroads in the 1880s allowed big-city breweries like Anheuser-Busch and Weinhard to gobble up the small-town breweries (although some resisted, like Oregon’s first woman brewer, a flamboyant French woman who walked around Grants Pass with parrots on her shoulders and sold buckets full of beer).  The book traces the history of beer through its more modern renaissance as trends begin to reverse in the 1980s and 1990s with small breweries re-emerging and with unlikely heroes like teetotaler President Jimmy Carter signing into law an allowance for homebrewers, a simple act that opens a floodgate of experimenters and dreamers.  

Join Phil at one or both of these two events.  They are fun and educational opportunity to learn more about Oregon’s pioneer history, its turn-of-the-century frontier towns and about the current-day characters who are once again pioneering the beer industry. 

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: