For three straight hours, rain pounded on the car as I drove up the Santiam Pass towards Bend, Oregon. At my last count, 14 independent breweries call this Central Oregon city home. For a city of 91,122 to have that many breweries when Los Angeles counts 69+ for 10,241,335 is amazing. That doesn’t even count the distillers and cider makers in town.
Deschutes Brewery is the king of the brewery mountain even with the sale of 10 Barrel to SABInBev. They are the ones that took the local scenery from Black Butte and Mirror Pond and made them recognizable more as beers than local geography. But there are other players in town to check out.
McMenamins operates numerous hotels, restaurants and breweries throughout the NW and their Old St. Francis School Hotel is the perfect jumping off point for exploring Bend’s beers. Located in the downtown district, you are within an easy walk of two breweries, not including theirs. Deschutes and Bend Brewing have outposts nearby as will Worthy Brewing next year.
Arm yourself with a copy or app of the Bend Ale Trail and try to decide which breweries you want to visit. I chose Crux Fermentation Project which is housed in an old Aamco Transmission shop near the railroad south of downtown. There you can taste NW IPA, some serious sours, and barrel-aged beers and situate yourself to see the sunset. Sunriver Brewing Company won two Great American Beer Festival medals this year as well as Small Brewpub/Brewery of the Year! Killer Mosquito IPA is a good start when visiting their satellite pub on Galveston Street. GoodLife Brewing is right next door to the Ale Apothecary and since the latter was closed when I was around, I had to “settle” for GoodLife’s really good Sweet As Pacific Ale, their take on the Pale Ale. Bend Brewing has a wonderful little park where you can take their beers and food and just gaze into the Mirror Pond. I still probably have two visits to go before I could satisfactorily visit all of the breweries in the area.
When I took my exit marked for Downtown Bend, the rain tapered off and I saw a rainbow arching across the sky. It would not be too far off to think that a brewery was on both ends of the rainbow.
Your BEER OF THE WEEK does not give one Floc. Angel City Brewery‘s second can release is the hazy IPA, Zero Flocs Given. It has been on tap at their Arts District brewery in the past, but this is the first time in canned 16-ounce to-go form. The beer debuted last Friday so you should be seeing 4-packs of the IPA with “a slightly stinging bitterness balanced by juicy malt sweetness.”
This week’s HOMEWORK is to raise a glass to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not to place any jinx on the remaining games of the World Series but if Mayor Garcetti was to place a wager with his Houston counterpart, he might want to send a pick-six sampler of #Independent beers beside Kogi BBQ instead of the Belgian-owned Golden Road. I am sure that our L.A. County Brewers Guild could come up with some beers to send, win or lose. Craft beer fans can add their two cents to the Twitter debate, right HERE.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.