My wife and I were in Bend this past weekend for some hiking and adventure. We don’t make it to Bend very often, so part of that adventure was to find a brewery to visit. In this case we were looking for one that also served food. There’s a couple great places in town like Boneyard that have a tap room but no food. Not knowing the area that well we figured we’d save for later the adventure of finding a local cart, cafe, take out place etc, to grab food at and then take it to a place like Boneyard.
We ended up not actually eating at Bend Brewing, since we had had some heavy snacks at the McMenamin’s Old St Francis school while we were there completing our McMenamins passports, but we still stopped in to try the beer. We decided to split their taster tray, so we could try everything. The BBC taster is 10 5oz pours which includes everything they have on draft at the moment. 5 of them are standards and 5 of them are rotating seasonals. The tray is a little pricy at 18$, however once you realize that 50 ounces is the equivalent of slightly more than 3 pints, it’s well worth it. The five standard brews we had were the High Desert Hefeweizen, Metolius Golden Ale, Elk Lake India Pale Ale, Outback Old Ale and Pinnacle Porter. The Hefe is an American style, so it doesn’t have the spicy, fruity notes of the German style, but still was a good wheat beer. The IPA was really incredible with a good mix of piney and citrusy hops. I like the pine but it can be overpowering, and I love the citrus hops, so this was a great balance. I can see why it’s their most popular beer. The other beers were also good, if not remarkable.
The five seasonal brews on the tray were the Outback X Strong Ale (a riff on the Outback Old Ale), Big Bad Russian Imperial Stout, Baltic Porter, Eclipse CDA, and Ludwig German Pilsner. The RIS and the Baltic are both pretty similar, strong notes of dark dried fruit and full of alcohol, clocking in at 10% and 10.5% respectively. The Outback Strong was similar to the old ale, but a brighter flavor and more upfront. The CDA was pretty good, dark roast with piney hops and the German Pilsner was nice and clean with a little bit of fruitiness, mostly apple.
The interesting thing once we got there was I was shocked I’d never heard of them. They brew some really great, award winning beer. And not just local festivals, they have a wall full of awards from the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. With so many breweries in this state, it’s impossible to keep track of them all, but I was surprised to have not at least heard of such a prestigious brewery. It’s tucked away on a corner in downtown Bend, but it’s well worth finding! The taproom over looks the Deschutes river and also Mirror Pond. (A couple of names that should be familiar to fans of one of the larger Oregon breweries, who also calls Bend home).