Saturday, September 28, 2013

Following the Bend Ale Trail

Craft beer, it's all the rage these days and Bend, OR happens to be a hub for craft brewers. There's so many breweries here that they've come up with the Bend Ale Trail. All you have to do is visit a dozen breweries, get a stamp from each, and collect your prize at the Bend Visitor Center. Luckily we had a month in Bend so we didn't have to hit twelve breweries in one day!  ;-)

We started off at the newest brewery in town, Worthy Brewing Co. Opened in February of 2013, Worthy boasts a huge new facility, a small hops and herb garden, and sells delicious brews and food. We enjoyed the Worthy IPA and a wonderful beet salad.

Those are hops plants on the right.

Next stop, our RV buddies Jen and Deas, the Nealys on Wheels, happened to be in Bend for a few days of our stay so we met up at Crux Fermentation Project one evening. We enjoyed the Off Leash Session Ale. Good beer, decent food.

Meet up with the Nealy's on Crux Fermentation Project's dog-friendly patio.

Next we visited one of our favorite chain organizations: McMenamins. McMenamins is not your typical chain...the company buys historical buildings and restores and renews them into unique bars, restaurants, hotels, theaters. Plus they hire local artists to create some amazing art that depicts the buildings history. They also have live music at many locations on a regular basis.

The Bend location is McMenamins Old St Francis School, a former catholic school. We went for music and beer one evening, enjoying the Ruby, a light, slightly raspberry flavored ale. This location has music two or three days a week so we went several times during our month long stay in Bend.

Intimate music venue at Old St Francis School.

For our fourth brewery we stopped at 10 Barrel Brewing Co for lunch. This may very well be our favorite. We shared the 10 beer sampler and had a pizza and salad. We liked every single beer and the food was very good too. Hans especially enjoyed the OG Wheat IPA and I loved the Apricot Crush.

10 Barrel's 10-beer sampler. 

#5! Old Mill Brew Werks. Deas and Jennifer joined us at this stop for their last evening in Bend. We really like sharing the samplers to get a taste of several beers.

#6: Boneyard Beer calls itself the anti establishment brewery. It's housed in a former auto repair shop, brews with other brewers used equipment and only sells tasters and growler refills. It's truly a funky place in a funky part of downtown Bend and I forgot to take a picture...the beer was very good though! In fact, we were able to enjoy their brews at other eating establishments in town during our stay...good beer!

Brewery #7 followed a day full of lava and forests and water falls along highway 242, SW of Sisters. Three Creeks Brewing Co lies at the East end of Sisters and has a cozy mountain cabin vibe going on, making it a fine place to end a day of exploring. We shared a sampler and cheered the Chargers on to their first win of the season.

Our 8th brewery was our respite from a day filled with insurance calls, truck damage estimation, rental car shuffle...and it just so happened that Monday was $3 pint day and $5 for two fish tacos! Silver Moon Brewing really hit the spot and its Hopknob IPA is a winner.

Mural at Silver Moon Brewing.

#9, Goodlife Brewing, ended up being great place for a fulltimers meet up. Tim and Amanda were in town and we planned on knocking a brewery off our list together and it just so happened that Brian and Maria of The Roaming Pint arrived in Bend too. TRP knows their craft brewing - all over the US. It was fun to share good beer and sandwiches with fellow roadies.

Our #10 stop was the largest brewer in Bend: Deschutes Brewery. Well known for their top sellers, Mirror Pond and Black Butte Porter, they have both a pub and the huge brewery in town...we opted to take the brewery tour. It's a thorough tour of the premises with a knowledgeable guide and includes tasting time both before and after the tour. Sounds like the food at the pub would be good too, they use some of the spent grains and hops in their breads and other tasty sounding items.

Giant brewing tanks at Deschutes Brewery.

Adding hops to a batch of Inversion IPA.

#11 on our tasting route was Bend Brewing Co. I failed to take pictures here and, in fact, was a bit underwhelmed by the place. Though the beer was fine and other folks food looked good, the atmosphere didn't make me want to spend much time there. Had it been a nice day so we could have sat on their patio I might have felt differently.

Last stop, Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. We shared a beer sampler there, and fish and chips. All were drinkable and edible but no real stand outs.

Happy to finish the Bend Ale Trail!

Lastly, we stopped at the Bend Visitor Center to collect our goodies...including the extra credit for going to Three Creeks Brewery in Sisters: two sili-half pints and two stickers. The sili-half pints are made out of silicon, perfect for RV travel, though it remains to be seen how they feel when drinking out of them! I thought the stickers were pretty lame as "extra credit" prizes!

All in all this was a fun exercise, it got us out trying new beers (which we enjoy doing anyhow) and visiting places we might not have visited otherwise. Plus it provided a fun way to meet up with other full time if we need an excuse! Though you don't have to purchase anything to participate, it can get expensive drinking and eating at twelve locations.

Our favorite was definitely 10 Barrel Brewing. Good venue in a neat neighborhood, excellent beer and food. Every beer in the 10-beer sampler was very good! We also thoroughly enjoyed Silver Moon's beer and their Monday night bargain; Bone Yard was super funky but their beer was delicious and widely available around town; Crux was also a favorite, with tasty beer and decent food.


  1. well now look what you have done... added another place to my list to stay a while and sample all those wonderful crafted goodies...

  2. Thanks for your thorough write-up on the the Bend area breweries. Now we know which to skip! How cool that you met the Roaming Pint people. I used their blog to find breweries when we were in CO, and had forgotten about it.

  3. Sounds like you two had a wonderful time completing your mission. Next up, the Whiskey Tour in Kentucky! They have the same idea but your prize is a t-shirt.

    Good to see you connected with Tim and Amanda again:)

    I love the last picture of the two of you. This lifestyle definitely is agreeing with you:)

  4. Ten Barrel is our favorite especially for food and I like the Sinister Ale. If you like McMenamin's Ruby, you might like it mixed with their Terminator beer for a Rubinator!

    We never made it to all twelve on the trail. I like the sili-pints but agree that they might be weird to drink out of.

  5. Thanks for posting this - if we make it to Bend, we'll now know what to do.

  6. Looks like a lot of good beer. Job well done!

  7. Whoo, this is our kind of stop! lots of craft beers. Too bad we skipped Bend when we were in the area last year. Who knows we might do a second go round in Oregon. Thank you for sharing, Ill make a note of this particular stop.

  8. This is our kind of stop! Not sure if I can make it to 12 stops but might just follow your footsteps, do it in several days.
    Too bad we skipped Bend the last time we were on Oregon. Hmm maybe we need to do a second go round there.