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Oregon Trail
By Lisa Morrison

Bend Hits 10
Bend Brewing Company (one of the "other" breweries thriving in the shadow of Deschutes Brewing in this central Oregon community) quietly has been brewing up many a local's favorite beer for a decade — as of February 26. That's quite an accomplishment for this tiny nine-barrel system and for Tonya Cornett, the brewer for the past three years, who says she brewed "to capacity" at 922 barrels of beer last year.

"It's like brewing in a hallway," Tonya laughs.

Still, Tonya found enough space and time to create four new brews during the brewery's "birthday month" — releasing a new one each week in FeBREWary to keep the festivities flowing.

The first of the month saw Axe Head Red, a hoppy Northwest red ale that was a tribute to the Bend Fire Department, which celebrated 100 years of service the same month Bend Brewing was turning 10.

Next up was Outback X, "an imperial version of our Outback Ale, an old ale," Tonya says.
Hop Head, a popular seasonal, was re-released for the third week in February. "I am going to start brewing that one a bit more often," Tonya says. "It's so popular; people keep asking for it." But don't look for Hop Head to be a regular on tap. "I want it to stay special," Tonya says.

Finally, on the last Saturday of the month and Bend's official birthday, Tonya released Black Jack Porter, which had been aged in a Jack Daniel barrel for nine months.

"It was a big success," Tonya says of both the Black Jack Porter and the birthday bash. "It was standing room only all day long at the pub, with a two-hour wait when the music started. We just don't see that here. For us, that's huge."

And so is 10 years of beer and cheers. Here's to sipping into the next decade with Bend Brewing Company.

New Brewpub Takes "Roots"
Longtime Oregon brewer Craig Nicholls has a new boss: himself.

After brewing for Alameda Brewing in Portland, Big Horse Brewing in Hood River and the now-defunct Port Halling brewpub in Gresham, and then contract brewing for Cool Runnings restaurant in Portland, Nicholls has opened his own place.

Roots Brewing Company is situated between Hawthorne Boulevard and Division Street on Southeast 7th Avenue, right in the heart of Southeast Portland, one of the most craft beer–friendly areas in the state.

Nicholls and partner Jason McAdam, a former McMenamin's brewer, are going completely organic — making Roots the first certified organic brewpub in Oregon.

"Even the food is organic," Nicholls says.

In addition to being certified organic, the brews, according to Nicholls, will feature some unusual ingredients, along with some familiar favorites. Look for Nicholls to once again brew his popular heather ale, and don't be surprised if he sneaks some other tasty herbs or flowers into upcoming seasonals.

Nicholls has long been a supporter of sustainable agriculture and brewing. He was a big part of an organic brewing symposium a few years back and also launched the Organic Ale Festival while he was working at Port Halling. Nicholls says that festival will come back as soon as Roots, well, takes root.

Trying to Reason With Festival Season
This is the time of year when I really wish my friend Scott Fox would make good on his promise and invent the LiverPak — instead of just dreaming about it. In Scott's mind, the LiverPak would somehow quick-connect to your body (that's the tricky part) and be worn like a small backpack. The LiverPak would assume your liver functions while you are beer tasting, thereby sparing your own precious organ. The way I see it, the LiverPak could easily replace tie-dyed T-shirts as the most popular beer-fest gear.

Having just come off Eugene's KLCC beer festival, the Spring Beer & Wine Festival in Portland and a brand-new St. Patrick's Day beer festival in Pioneer Courthouse Square, I know the LiverPak could come in quite handy. There's an ever-so brief lull before the big summer festing season kicks in.
Always held the Saturday after Memorial Day (this year, it's June 4), the Sasquatch Brew Fest in Eugene is quickly becoming the "opening act" for the summer beer-fest season in Oregon.

Only in its third year, the fest is a fund-raiser for the Glen Hay Falconer Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up to honor Falconer, who was the head brewer at the now-defunct Wild Duck brewery before he died in an accident in 2002. The foundation plans this year to award two full-tuition scholarships to Pacific Northwest brewers to attend the World Brewing Academy Concise Course in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. Visit sasquatchbrewfest.org for more details on the fest and the foundation.

Next up is the Portland International Beer Festival, July 15–17, once again in the shady North Park Blocks in downtown Portland. Touting "the greatest beers in the world you've never heard of," the PIB features world-class brews from about 15 different countries — and even a few from right around the block. More info is available at portland-beerfest.com.

You get about a week to tune up that LiverPak before it's time for the 18th annual Oregon Brewers Festival and the growing number of events surrounding it. This year, the OBF, always the last full weekend in July, has been extended an extra day. Festivities will start at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, and end at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, giving "festers" several more hours for tasting the wares of the 72 breweries on hand for the event.

Portland's perennial publican, Don Younger, will bring back the On the Edge Tour during the OBF this year. Designed to showcase Oregon's smaller, lesser-known breweries, the tour last year was held at the Horse Brass Pub, the New Old Lompoc brewpub and its tied house, Hedge House. Younger wants to expand that this year — and with him working behind the scenes, you never know what might happen. Check this column next time for more details.

Another event that's in the works is the first-ever "Brew Am" — a beer-and-golf tourney at the McMenamin's Edgefield golf course. The Brew Am (very loosely patterned after a "Pro-Am" tournament) will partner beer fans with their favorite brewers for a round of golf, several rounds of beer and a host of fun the morning before the OBF starts (that would be Thursday, July 28, for those who are calendar-challenged). Proceeds go to the Falconer Scholarship Foundation mentioned earlier in this column. Details on this one are fermenting as I type, so write glensbrew@yahoo.com for updates and information on how to sign up.

Beer Biz Bits
BridgePort might have closed its doors for a huge remodel, but the brewery is busier than ever. Around mid-April, BridgePort will expand sales to Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The expansion puts BridgePort's award-winning ales in a total of 18 states.

One-hundred-ninety-five-million bottles of beer on the wall: It's not quite as easy to sing as the old classic tune, but it sure has a nice ring to it when you discover that it is the approximate number of bottles brewed by Oregon's 69 breweries last year. The Oregon Brewers Guild reported recently that beer production increased in the state by more than 50,000 barrels, up to 591,000 barrels (or 195 million bottles).

That's great news for beer lovers, brewers and brewery owners for sure, but it's also great news for the state's economy. Oregon's breweries offer family-wage jobs, are a lure for tourism, and support other related industries, such as agriculture, wholesalers, distributors and retailers. The OBG reported that the state’s beer industry has an economic impact of $2.24 billion annually.

So, the next time you hoist your favorite Oregon brew, remember that you also are contributing to a healthy economy. Now that's something to toast!

Portland-based beer writer Lisa Morrison contributes to the local economy one pint at a time. You can "talk beer" with her at beergoddess@comcast.net.


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