The lukewarm reputation of American beer during the 20th century was due in large part to Prohibition. From 1920 to 1933 Americans could not enjoy their beverage of choice. In desperation, bootleggers watered down their black market beer to increase profits, altering the palette of Americans for decades to come. At least 800 breweries were shut down in the United States during Prohibition, and independent breweries continued to close for the next fifty years. In 1983 there were only 51 independent companies representing 80 breweries in this country. Beer drinkers in America were suffering.
While many Americans accepted mass-produced light lagers, a quiet revolution stirred throughout the Bay Area in the 1970s. Variety in beer was impossible to find, and communities of homebrewers congregated around their dissatisfaction. Led by Anchor Brewing Company and Albion Brewing, these homebrewers studied the methods of the European breweries they admired and experimented to find new bold flavors. Although they struggled in a market overrun by major corporations, they managed to find strong support in pockets throughout the country.
In Oregon, however, there was a law on the books restricting breweries from selling alcohol on their premises. In 1983 Portland attorney Brian McMenamin fought that law. It was overturned and in 1985 the first post-Prohibition brewpub in Oregon was established. Three years later, Gary Fish opened a small brewpub in downtown Bend. He chose to craft Black Butte Porter at a time when others were sure a dark beer would never catch on. During the first year, the brewpub sold 310 barrels of beer. With the support of the community in Bend, we opened our brewery on the banks of the Deschutes River.
Over the past three decades craft breweries in Bend, Portland and across the nation have thrived as communities have embraced the innovative spirit of their local brewers. There are now 1,938 craft breweries in the United States offering hundreds and hundreds of styles and varieties. Deschutes Brewery is proud to have been part of this movement for the past 24 years!
Raise your glass this week to honor American Craft Beer Week and the revival of craft beer in America! Celebrate with us at our 2nd annual SAUSAGEFEST at both the Bend and Portland Public Houses from Wednesday, May 16th – Sunday, May, 20th. Enjoy a sampler of six housemade sausages, paired with our damn tasty pub brews: