This time of year, every weekend in Bend is filled with food, music, festivals and events of all kinds. Each has its own appeal and niche, but perhaps none is more anticipated by this craft-beer-loving community than the annual Bend Brewfest at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. I’ve peripherally worked in the craft beer industry for nearly 10 years now and, as the decade has passed, the beer festivals around the country have grown and grown. I’ve attended quite a few (rushing to get to my favorite sour beers before they are tapped out) but there are many reasons why the Bend Brewfest is top of my list.
X-Taps: One of the yearly highlights at the Bend Brewfest is its X-Tap program. Essentially a specialty beer festival within the Bend Brewfest itself, the X-Tap program is reserved for small batch and experimental beers. The X-Taps are where festivalgoers can indulge in big barrel-aged beers like Anderson Valley’s Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Aged Salted Caramel Porter or Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte XXVII, both of which will be on tap at this year’s Brewfest. The 2017 X-Tap program also includes a number of hard-to-find sour and farmhouse ales, such as pFriem’s Kumquat Farmhouse Ale, Buoy Beer’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Boneyard’s Gooze Cruze. Approximately 40 breweries and cider houses are participating in this year’s X-Tap program.
Location: The Les Schwab Amphitheater, which is inside Bend’s popular destination shopping and dining center the Old Mill District, sits right along the picturesque Deschutes River running through town. In my opinion, there’s no better place to enjoy great craft beer from some of the most innovative breweries in the country, large and small. The views of the vast Central Oregon sky, the historic old mill buildings and the river running through it all are unmatched by any other festival.
Crowd: It’s no lie, I’m not a giant fan of crowds. That’s why my husband and I sneak off work early on opening day of the Brewfest for the unofficial “locals” day before the real crowds start to pour in. This way, I not only get first grab at some of the sour beers on X-tap, but I also have a chance to check out more of the participating breweries. Plus we inevitably run into friends who had the same idea — some that we only see at Brewfest each year — and catch up on the last year’s happenings. But, with more than 200 beers, ciders and wine showcased at the festival, visitors who come any time during the three-day event will not be disappointed.
Community: The Brewfest also supports some great causes within the Central Oregon community, donating a portion of proceeds to charities including: the Deschutes River Conservancy; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon; NeighborImpact; and the Bend Fire Community Assistance Program. So you can raise a toast for a good cause.
So you’ll find me enjoying the sun on the riverfront very soon, tasting cup in hand! Bend Brewfest is being held August 10-12, 2017, from noon to 11 p.m. each day. Cheers!