Steens Mountain Brewing

OH, THE TRIALS and tribulations of looking for fresh beer in Portland. If you don't have a brewpub within 10 blocks of your house, you deem the neighborhood "underserved." Imagine if all of Southeast Portland didn't have a single brewpub. Now, imagine if all of Southeast Oregon boasted nary a brewery. The fact of the matter is, until Rick Roy—with assistance from his wife and some of his 10 kids—opened Steens Mountain Brewing in Burns in October 2014, the entire quadrant was dry. Now it has a lineup of 14 homegrown beers, including two pale ales, two Scottish ales, two stouts, and a hopless beer called LEO, which we'll get to later.

Yes, there's Beer Valley Brewing in Ontario (Malheur County), but it's far to the east near the Idaho border. There's also 1188 Brewing in John Day (Grant County), but it's 70 miles north of Burns (Harney County). And don't get Roy started about Grant County since their sheriff, Glenn Palmer, is the one law enforcement wackadoodle who sided with the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers, who weren't even from Oregon, let alone Harney County.

"Harney County doesn't like anyone from the outside to tell us what to do," says Roy.

He's not just the town brewer. He's a federal employee. Roy oversees 1.5 million acres for the Bureau of Land Management. In other words, just like the federal employees of the wildlife refuge (who, after nearly two months, can finally get back to work), Roy found himself on the opposite side of the line drawn by gun-toting thumbtacks. I use that word because of something Roy said.

"I don't know if we'll ever get back [to normal]," Roy said. "Some [local] people drank the Kool-Aid. Not exactly the sharpest tacks in the drawer. Ninety-five percent of the community wanted nothing to do with this shit. None of the ranchers signed on to tear up their grazing permits."