March 28, 2023

Latest print article: February is Oregon Craft Beer Month

Zwickelmania 2020 at Wild Ride Brewing, with samples of ingredients and zwickel beer

My latest article for The Bulletin, published last week, highlights February as Oregon Craft Beer Month with a Central Oregon angle.

Deschutes Brewery is the largest and oldest of Bend’s breweries, having opened its doors in 1988. But it was not the first in Central Oregon; that honor belongs to the Ochoco Brewery of Prineville, founded in 1882.

Ochoco was the first of three frontier-era breweries, lasting eight years before closing in 1890. Woods Brewery, located at Tetherow Crossing on the Deschutes River west of present-day Redmond, operated from 1890 to 1898. The Prineville Brewery opened in 1893, and during its 13 years in operation supplied the region with beer, finally closing in 1906.

Bend itself, incorporated in 1905, had a number of saloons and a lusty red-light district along Bond Street, but no breweries. Due to a number of factors, Prohibition and national brewery consolidation among them, the area would not have a local brewery again for over eight decades until Deschutes poured its first beer.

New-brewery growth was gradual over the next 20 years after Deschutes opened, and Central Oregon counted eight breweries by 2010. The next five years saw a rapid expansion, with 23 operations starting up, an average of more than four per year, and 13 more since 2016. Not all have survived, however. Overall, 13 have closed since 2013.

I also mention Zwickelmania, the statewide brewery open house, as the premier event for OCBM. As it happens, this Saturday, February 25, is the statewide Zwickelmania event (last Saturday was Portland area), with at least 14 Central Oregon breweries participating. (14 listed on the site so far, though I expect others will also participate, officially or not.) Plan accordingly!