Oregon offers a multitude of tempting weekend activities. When faced with a four-day weekend, I went in search of my own delectably daring plans southeast of Portland, venturing off to explore the beauty our state has to offer and dive deeper into Central Oregon’s craft beer paradise.
Harrier hawks and slivers of winter led me through the Santiam Pass to a warm reception at the Cold Springs Resort in Camp Sherman, Oregon. I set up my temporary home in a small cabin on the bank of the swift Metolius River. After a flight of beers from nearby Three Creeks Brewing whet my appetite, I meandered back to the cabin under cover of darkness and softly falling snow. Having discovered the well-stocked camp store across a small foot bridge, I settled in for the night, eager to start my adventure.
For the novice or intermediate beer aficionado, a pre-arranged brewery crawl like the Bend Ale Trail – a program in collaboration with the Bend Visitors Association and several local breweries – can be indispensable. Bend offers several options for safe travel between the breweries, and most lie within walking distance of each other. For seasoned fanatics or discerning palates, a la carte visits with in depth tastings and tours are the way to go. I opted to freestyle and set out on my own beery expedition.
Saturday, amongst six inches of fresh morning snowfall, this city girl delighted in the frozen cotton covering the vast views. Ponderosa pines, salal, and lava rock created a surreal, pink-hued landscape. After a stop in the Mackenzie Creek Mercantile to browse an ample selection of outdoor wear, I continued on to Sisters Coffee, where a scrumptious latte got me on my way. Traversing forest roads between Sisters and Camp Sherman, I scouted out Canyon Creek Meadows trail and found access to the 12-mile loop Metolius River Trail just across from Cold Springs Resort. An easy, meandering walk along the river’s edge was just the exercise I needed until I made it to Bend, where the craft beer fun kept pouring. Clear mountain views were my reward as I headed south from Sisters the following morning.
Over the next two days, I exercised considerable restraint, sampling beers in flights and rarely ordering an entire pint. A private tour of Deschutes’ production facility was the start to Sunday; an impressive and fact-filled wander through one of Bend’s iconic breweries included tasters of Jubelale and The Dissident. My guide, Kristin, provided an excellent foundation for the rest of the brewery visits.
Crux Fermentation Project was found tucked away in the corner of a light industrial area, with fermenting tanks in full view of the bar. I sampled six beers and found each to be conclusively delicious. My favorite at Crux was the Sugar Daddy, a sweet pale ale with light flavor akin to southern sweet tea.
Boneyard Brewing served up a flight of four beers for the price of a single pint – a wonderful value in a small, friendly atmosphere. The tasting room, decorated with skulls and stickers in black and white with neon accents, welcomed strangers and locals alike. They chatted with equal ease as I sipped Diablo Rojo, a red ale.
Kebaba, a tiny Mediterranean restaurant just west of Mirror Pond, provided exquisite rescue for my over-hopped taste buds. Curried tempeh, couscous salad, hot flatbread and roasted red pepper hummus restored my strength and fortified me for my last day of touring.
After hot, toothsome coffee from Lone Pine Coffee Roasters, a stop in to Visit Bend and a walk around downtown, I set off in search of GoodLife Brewing and visited The Growler Guys (a gas station where you can get growler fills of 30 different taps). I wandered into Bend Brewing Company, where I delighted in Ching Ching, a 2012 World Beer Cup American Style Sour Ale Gold Medal winner. Tart, fresh and bright, Ching Ching woke up my senses and revived my palate.
I visited 10 Barrel twice; first for a flight of beers on Sunday, and then again before my departure Monday, where I partook in a tasty tuna melt and a delicious glass of their German Sparkle Party, a Berliner Weisse served with a shot of marshmallow scented Woodruff syrup. Having explored more than 40 individual beers, I was content after the whirlwind tour of (only half?!) Bend’s brewery options. It was time to return home to Portland. A quick stop at Back Porch Coffee Company for a boost of energy and I was on my way. Thank you, Bend, for a fantastic adventure. Innovation and creativity are putting Bend on the map as a craft beer lover’s mecca. I will definitely be back!