BEND, Ore. - Tonya Cornett knows a lot about beer. She is the Brewmaster at 10 Barrel Brewing Company and has had a huge impact on beer across the high desert. She has been vital in the growth of Bend's good-beer reputation.
"You know, beer is really just all trial and error," Cornett said. "It's constantly doing it, learning from things that don't go right."
She's been in Bend for 11 years. She first began at Bend Brewing before moving to 10 Barrel. In addition to that experience Cornett has maintained a successful working relationship with other brewers across Central Oregon.
In fact, one of the gold medals she received for her beer at The Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo. was only possible because the Crux Fermentation Project gave one of their entry spots to 10 Barrel so they could enter a beer into the judging.
That beer was "German Sparkle Party," winning the German-Style Sour Ale category. Another beer by Cornett to wind gold was an old brew she made at Bend Brewing Co. called "Lovely" in the Aged beer category.
"It's always fun to win medals, and it's always gratifying that yours was one of the best on the table." Said Cornette, "but at the end of the day, I'm just happy to go in and have the compliments from the staff and from the locals that com in and drink the beer every day."
In Cornette's mind, the High Desert is an exceptional place when it comes to beer.
"People in Bend, when they love something they really love it. And I think that's why there are so many breweries opening is because people do love beer here." Said Cornett.
She believes Central Oregon's affinity for beer means locals know the difference between a good beer and a bad beer. This, in turn, increases the expectations of the local brewers to create a quality product.
"A lot of us (brewers) have worked really hard to create brand-Bend." Said Cornett, "And what's happened with brand-Bend is that people are so excited to get a beer from bend and they know it's going to be of exceptional quality."
That relationship between brewers and locals has helps drive the area's reputation forward. And keeps people like Cornett thinking about the next big thing to come out over 10 Barrel's production line.
"I have lots of beers I'm working on right now. Whether their in my head or whether their down on paper, or whether their actually in the take." She said.