Avid beer lover and blog author of Hack Bend and The Brew Site, Jon Abernathy has been instrumental in the creation of a new celebration of all things beer: Central Oregon Beer Week.
Taking place during the last week in May, Beer Week will tap into the thriving craft brewing scene in one of the largest per-capita brewery communities in the country. With 13 active breweries ranging from Prineville, Sunriver, Redmond and Bend, events will highlight the collaborative nature of the business as well as introduce beer lovers to the brew masters.
“This beer week has been something in the back of my mind for a while,” said Abernathy. “Many cities around the country are doing one: Portland, Medford, Eugene and Corvallis all started their beer weeks last year. It’s a growing trend to celebrate the beer culture of a certain region; it’s natural for Central Oregon of all places.”
With the help of the newly formed Central Oregon Brewers Guild, the first annual Beer Week’s list of events is growing, and will primarily focus on smaller more intimate happenings with the hope of creating larger events next year.
Through his beer blog, Abernathy has created some close relationships with the local breweries and has been struck by the friendly atmosphere among the local brewing culture. Beer Week will highlight what he sees as the unique atmosphere among craft brew makers who work together, share ideas and even brew together. The result? An even better array of options for those of us who enjoy a frosty pint after a day on the greens, the trails or the mountain.
“I love that Bend is such a hotbed for breweries right now,” commented Abernathy, “even if it does puzzle me a little bit.” When will Central Oregon reach its saturation point for good beer? With the area now attracting beer tourism, the answer is not an easy one. New brewing ventures continue to open and thrive and with beer’s integration with other activities like the Cycle Pub, Wanderlust Brews & Views tours and the Bend Ale Trail, the thirst for brew-related businesses, events and partnerships keep rising.
Central Oregon Brewers Guild
The Central Oregon Brewers Guild (COBG) will host a kick-off event during Central Oregon Beer Week to introduce themselves to the region. Through a brewer’s roundtable, representatives from the member breweries will take part in a question and answer session followed by beer tastings.
Garrett Wales, president of the new Guild and partner at 10 Barrel, explained the formation of the group came about as the brewing community saw a need for local representation above what was possible from the Oregon Brewers Guild. “The majority of the efforts and resources and events take place in the valley, to no fault of their own, but we felt we didn’t have the collaborative base to promote us and support the industry locally.”
The new Guild is a nonprofit professional advocacy group, and a separate entity from the state organization. All breweries will maintain membership with the Oregon Guild, Wales explained, “we just thought it was an appropriate time to focus on the local industry.
To become a member, brewers need to own and operate a brewery, own their equipment and have a Federal Brewer’s Notice. The Guild is 12 breweries strong and hopes grow the flagship beer culture by promoting and highlighting Central Oregon breweries.
A recent New York Times article about the local beer culture highlighted what most locals already know: the craft beer industry has become a unique attraction in the country.
“We have become a shining light in a down economy, and are honored to be looked at in this light. We do it because we love it and have a passion for it,” Wales commented. “The collaborative environment that we have in Central Oregon is one of a kind. We know that the strength of all the breweries improves the strength of individual breweries, if we can work together, it helps in the long run. There is plenty of room for everyone at this point, we are primarily competing with outside breweries not in the area.”