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Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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Brewing Up Support for Oregon Wilderness

PHOTO: A group including Gena Goodman-Campbell of ONDA (right) and Veronica Baker of Deschutes Brewery (second from right) hiked into Scout Camp in the Whychus-Deschutes Proposed Wilderness in June as part of a Beers Made By Walking tour. Photo credit: Eric Steen.
PHOTO: A group including Gena Goodman-Campbell of ONDA (right) and Veronica Baker of Deschutes Brewery (second from right) hiked into Scout Camp in the Whychus-Deschutes Proposed Wilderness in June as part of a Beers Made By Walking tour. Photo credit: Eric Steen.
October 14, 2014

BEND, Ore. - Some Central Oregon hikes are having a longer-term effect on the people who made them this summer. On Wednesday in Bend, outdoor fans will meet to open a few beers crafted using ingredients discovered right along the trail in Oregon's high desert.

Three local breweries signed up to take the challenge, joining a group of about 70 now participating in Beers Made By Walking in three western states.

Eric Steen, founder and director of Beers Made By Walking, says brewers who go on outings into Oregon's high desert are always surprised at the variety of possibilities for new recipes.

"We'll go on a hike and identify 20 to 30 different plants that are edible," says Steen. "Some of them may not be of interest, they perhaps don't have a lot of flavor, or the flavor doesn't sound too great with beer. But it's always interesting to see how many there are."

While not all the plants they find are edible, Steen says the groups take great care to identify all the plants they come across, edible or not - which can make for a slower hike than normal.

Steen adds the proceeds from the tapping events go to local conservation groups - in this case, the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), which led the hikes.

Gena Goodman-Campbell, Central Oregon wilderness coordinator with ONDA, says the point of the hikes isn't really to forage for edible plants, but to appreciate the great diversity of desert life and use the landscape as inspiration.

"Inspiration is truly a renewable resource," she says. "You can go back to these places and see something different every time, so the inspiration the brewers drew from the areas is more at the core of the beers - and I'm really excited to taste them."

Goodman-Campbell adds the hikes also introduce a new group of people to areas ONDA is working to protect.

Steen recommends brewers purchase their ingredients commercially whenever possible instead of foraging for them. He adds the goal isn't to find the next big sales hit for a brewery, but to have fun, try something new, and explore Oregon's incredible outdoors.

"These are experimental beers, you know, and sometimes the ingredients are untested," Steen says. "But I think people will be surprised at how well some of them work as beers."

Ingredients in the beers inspired by the ONDA hikes include chokecherries, juniper tips and berries, wild sage, pine, meadowsweet and Indian rice grass.

The tapping event is Wed., Oct. 15, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 N.W. Pence Lane, Bend.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR