By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The totality of August’s full solar eclipse is just going to miss the craft beer mecca of Bend.
But if you want to watch the rare event take place for yourself and then enjoy a tasty Oregon brew, it’s just a short jaunt to the north to Madras, Redmond or Sisters, which all lie in the totality’s path Monday, Aug. 21.
The biggest planned event in Central Oregon is the Oregon Solarfest in Madras. The small High Desert town is almost directly in the center of the eclipse’s route, giving viewers the longest possible glimpse.
The meat of the event is camping, live music and a surrounding festival with activities galore. Four Bend breweries are sponsors: Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, Silver Moon Brewing and Worthy Brewing Company. A beer garden is planned, but the lineup of brews you can try is not yet available. However, Wild Ride is working with Cascade Lakes and Silver Moon on a collaboration for the festival, appropriately named “Wild Cascade Moon.” For more info and tickets: oregonsolarfest.com.
Since the full eclipse will fall somewhere between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in Central Oregon, most breweries and pubs won’t yet be open. But you can watch the sky show and talk it over during lunch with a beer right after — provided you can get anywhere in traffic.
There are no breweries in Madras regularly open to the public; for that, you’d have to travel south to Redmond. That’s the home of Wild Ride Brewing, Smith Rock Brewing Company and Cascade Lakes Brewing Company (served at 7th Street Brew House.)
The weekend before the eclipse is the first-ever Redmond Brewfest. The event at American Legion Park touts 300 different beers from more than 75 breweries. It takes place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 18-19. Live music, including Larry and His Flask, is featured.
If you want a prime view of the eclipse, Madras is the spot to be. The sky will go dark there for about two minutes. In Redmond, the event will last less than 40 seconds.
Be warned if you head to the area though: A lot of other people have the same plan. According to The Bulletin, the number of people in the region is expected to be double the norm. Law enforcement is preparing to deal with the surge, but area roads — particularly Highway 97 — may have a difficult time accommodating all the traffic.
If you’re just into the beer and not as much the eclipse, the safer bet is the annual Bend Brewfest, which takes place a week and a half earlier, Thursday Aug. 10 through Saturday, Aug. 12. Organizers moved it up a week from its usual dates because of the eclipse.
Want to get a view of the eclipse while also enjoying a craft beer in another part of Oregon? You’re in luck.
· BREWVANA is hosting tour that begins at the Oregon State Fairgrounds for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Solar Eclipse Viewing Party. Then it’s off to Vagabond Brewing for lunch followed by a tour of Crosby Hop Farm.
· Albany, Salem and Corvallis in Willamette Valley are in the path of the eclipse and have several breweries.
· The chance of clouds is higher on the Oregon Coast, but there are breweries in the path of the totality in Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Newport and Pacific City.
· Baker City and Ontario also boast breweries that will be the last in Oregon to experience the eclipse before the event continues east into Idaho.
· Be sure to call ahead to make sure the brewery you want to visit is open.
By Dustin Gouker
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Andrew Bloo was not a farmer before founding Cascade Hop Farm, despite the fact that his roots were in agriculture.
“I was the first person that didn’t farm in my entire family,” Bloo said on a recent warm August morning in the shadow of his second-year farm near Bend, just outside of the small town of Tumalo.
After a career spent mostly in business — in marketing and as CEO of a software company — Bloo turned to hop farming as a way to spend more time with his family while starting a new endeavor.
Despite a lack of experience — outside of voluminous research on hop farming conducted by Bloo and help from his family of farmers — the first year resulted in a successful fresh-hop crop in 2015. Redmond’s Wild Ride Brewing used Cascade Hop Farm’s product for its Three Sisters Wet Hopped Red Ale.
“It’s exciting from the standpoint that someone showed the faith to buy it from us, a first-year farm, a local provider, instead of going to Yakima or over to the [Willamette] Valley,” Bloo said.
The Three Sisters beer quickly sold out last year, and Wild Ride came back to Bloo’s farm for enough hops to make a double batch this year.
The farm is also contracted with Central Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Brewing Company and Juniper Brewing Company this year. Bendistillery — literally right next door to the property — is also experimenting with a hop-infused product, Bloo said.
After that first year, Cascade Hop Farm has already increased its hop acreage from one to three acres in 2016. Another acre is planned for the coming years. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing in year two for Cascade: A late, hard frost in the middle of June killed most of the plants. But good weather and a solid root system allowed Bloo to start over nearly from scratch right as summer was starting. The farm, which is growing Centennial, Cascade and Nugget hops — is planning on harvesting early in September.
Cascade Hop Farm has helped to prove the so-called “craft hops” movement is on in earnest in Central Oregon, with a handful of small farms providing hops for area breweries.
For Central Oregon brewers, the advantage of getting their fresh hops locally is that the time from pick to boil is cut down dramatically. Getting hops from the big growers west of the Cascades or in Washington could take hours. Hops at Cascade Hop Farm or another local grower could go from bine to brewing in half an hour.
“You have such a limited window,” Bloo said on the harvest period for fresh hops. “A., you have to schedule a brewing opportunity, and B., your crop has to be ready. You can’t really sell hops until it’s time, and there’s this kind of tension of when brewers need it and when you can actually harvest a quality crop.”
Cascade has a lot of other things going for it besides having a quality product and attracting brewers who want to support a local business. Most of the property on which the farm is set is a wildlife preserve. The grounds surrounding the farm have been left in a natural state, and hop trimmings and spent bines are placed around the preserve so that animals can use it for habitat.
It’s also a truly family endeavor.
Bloo’s wife and children were out surveying the land in the morning as Bloo talked about the farm. Bloo’s mother lives in a house and acreage right next door to the farm and checks on the plants daily. Bloo’s father also visits regularly and plies his agricultural expertise to help the farm get off the ground.
“Our goal is really to do this as a family and spend our time out here,” Bloo said.
By Branden Andersen
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When it comes to summer in Bend, beer and outdoors are near-synonymous; practically every outdoor activity is accompanied with a can, bottle or growler of Bend’s award-winning beers.
Once winter comes around, though, it becomes a little more difficult. The opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors is severely minimized as roads turn to ice, snow piles on trails and frigid temperatures make going outside a 20 minute jacket-and-pants-layering ordeal.
But, many Bendites experience cabin fever halfway through December. Sitting around for one weekend is relaxing and all, but there has got to be more to winter than hiding out on your couch, waiting to see the sun.
The obvious choice is to head up to Mount Bachelor ski resort and play on the slopes. But without all of the gear necessary to ride the lift, it becomes an expensive afternoon. Instead, stop at one of the local ski shops and rent yourself a pair of snowshoes, throw a sixer of your favorite beer in your backpack and stop at any of the Sno-Parks to go for a wander in the woods.
Wanderlust Tours, a Bend company that leads outdoor tours around Central Oregon, aims to make that experience easier for tourists and locals alike. Their “Shoes, Views and Brews” tour makes experiencing Central Oregon winter easy with a guided tour through the snow-covered firs at the tree line of the Cascade Lakes.
Don’t think this is a walk in the park. Snowshoeing, while easier than walking around without any special gear, is still quite the workout. The shoes don’t float on top of the snow, like I imagined going into it. Rather, your feet still sink in a couple of inches (a couple instances I was up to mid-shin) and your legs are suddenly a little heavier.
During our tour at Kapka Butte, guides Courtney and Nick stopped every 10 minutes or so, pulling the group together for a well-deserved break. While snowshoers caught their breath and took photos of the stunning landscape, Courtney and Nick explained what the beauty was surrounding the hikers. Courtney pulled needles off of a nearby tree while Nick explained those needles, which smelled deliciously of bright citrus similar to hops, are a great source of vitamin C and can be used to make tea. After more walking, the group stopped in a circle, where Nick proceeded to pull an edible moss off of the tree limbs and ate it for its fiber. Shortly after this, one of the hikers yelled, “I thought we were supposed to get beer on this thing!”
Nick and Courtney pulled out a cooler filled with Cascade Lakes’ finest beers, starting with Blonde Bombshell and working through 20” Brown, Paddleboard Porter and Hopsmack IPA. With each beer, the two explained the ingredients and flavors of the brew, and why there are so many great breweries in Central Oregon.
I had never been snowshoeing before this experience and found it one of the most rewarding hikes I’d been on. While not overly strenuous, stepping through pristine snow knowing that no one else is seeing what you’re seeing or going where you’re going was rewarding. With a couple cans of craft in my bag – no cooler required, just use nature’s cooler around you – I’ll be heading back out and enjoying the silence and serenity of the Central Oregon winter soon.
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