On September 2, 2020, Alaska Airlines sent out an email with the title, “ENDS TONIGHT: Work From Anywhere Sale!” Starting at $39 one way, if I was going to make a decision on going somewhere amid COVID, I had 48 hours to decide. But where to go?
I texted the boyfriend, Kyle, and after some debate, we settled on Bend, Oregon.
While our flights ended up not costing $39 one way ($88 each in the end), two tickets and three weeks later, my boyfriend and I sat on a small Horizon Airlines plane and landed at the Redmond Municipal Airport on a Thursday evening. Our weekend adventure in beer tasting had just begin. Both of us had been to Bend before, but I had only been there really for CrossFit competitions back in the day and I also have some cousins that live there so we figured make it a brewery and family trip.
According to Visit Bend, the city is currently home to 22 breweries. We clearly weren’t going to be able to visit them all in the short amount of time we had (and unfortunately we did not download the Bend Ale Trail for this visit) but we tried our best and below I will let you know where we went and what our thoughts were.
I will say now, one place we both really wanted to visit was Monkless Belgian Ales but time ran out and we were both so bummed. Every single person we spoke to said we should visit Monkless – especially because one of my favorite beers in the world is Trappist Westvleteren. If you know, you know. I digress, and will stop before this sounds like a recipe blog when all you want is the damn recipe and not my life commentary.
The below are in order by when we visited, not by favorites, with some food and our hotel thrown in for good measure.
Also, fair warning – as of this writing due to COVID restrictions, everything closes at 10 p.m. – so beware!
SpringHill Suites by Marriott
The SpringHill Suites are located in Bend’s Old Mill District, adjacent to the Les Schwab Amphitheater and across the street from some, you guessed it, breweries. Our room overlooked Crosscut Warming Hut No. 5 Tap House, Immersion Brewing, The Brown Owl (which I will mention later as we ate lunch there), and AVID Cider Co. You can also walk to Bond Street from the hotel in a reasonable amount of time as well – so the location is super convenient. The hotel was very nice, and I’m not sure how new it is, but it definitely has the feel of being a newly constructed building. The room was a nice size, the bed and bathroom were spacious and that shower felt really nice every morning! The gym area was fantastic with three treadmills and other cardio machines, a pull-up bar and resistance training, a wide range of dumbbell weights, medicine balls and yoga balls. We worked out two mornings we were there for two hours each time and felt really great (and less guilty about our food and beverage consumption later). I also have to add here that all the staff we encountered were incredibly friendly. I would definitely stay here again!
White Water Taphouse
Right after we landed and grabbed a rental car, we tried to get a table at Deschutes Brewery and Public House. There was a 45 minute wait so we walked across Bond Street to White Water Taphouse to grab a beer and chill. With a nice seating area and 30 different beers to choose from, I went a little different from my usual porter/stout route and ordered the pFriem Oatmeal Cookie Ale.
I definitely would get that again and almost did but our table was ready so it was time for dinner! I highly recommend grabbing a beer or two at White Water Taphouse when you get the chance.
Deschutes Brewery and Public House
The Bend Public House is open for dine in, curbside pick up and delivery. Our hungry selves ordered the GTP Fries, which are house cut fries tossed with fresh garlic, truffle oil, Parmesan and herbs. I almost always go for my favorite Deschutes brew, the Black Butte Porter, but they had Nitro Obsidian Stout so I had to order that.
As I was starving, I ordered their Vegan Pizza with grilled artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, basil pesto and vegan mozzarella…..but then I asked the waiter if he could add Italian sausage to it. It was worth it. #YOLO After that it was getting late so we checked into our hotel and slept good the first night.
After a good night of sleep, a two hour workout and a shower, Kyle and I were ready to start the day, except it was almost lunch time! I had contacted Worthy Brewing’s General Manager, Jeff Hoverson, prior to our visit to see if we could get a tour and learn a little more about the brewery. Because of that, we were already going to be there for our brewery tour, so we decided to arrive early for our tour to eat lunch. I am very glad we did because it was damn good!
I ordered the Pork Tacos, made with Chipotle Slaw, Pork, Raspberry BBQ, Pickled Onion, Cilantro, and served with a side of Corn Salsa. Kyle ordered the Steelhead Tacos, made with Cabbage, Steelhead, Lime Crema, Pickled Onion, Cilantro, and served with a side of Corn Salsa. My friends – these tacos were insanely good!!!! For my first beer choice, I tried the Lights Out Stout. Kyle tried their multiple award winning Strata IPA. Even I kinda liked the Strata, and I’m not an IPA person! Other beers we tried in a flight included Tenmile Lager, Liberty Lager, The Tin Pig, The Intern (more on that below), Saturn Gold and Hopzen Imperial IPA. All were perfectly refreshing and delicious.
After we finished eating, we met with Jeff and had a tour of the brewery. I asked Jeff why Bend has so many breweries, and he said it’s all about the water. The water is so clean in Bend and gets filtered through all of those lava rocks – the perfect recipe for great beer.
We learned a lot about Worthy on our tour! For one, it’s one of the biggest breweries I have ever been to and they practice as much sustainability as they can with all of their processes (including the use of solar panels)! I wish we could have been there a few days prior to see their Costco canning run going, I can only imagine what an operation that would have been to witness.
They also have a really cool intern program where students join them for the summer and do lab work, packaging and everything in between. This year’s intern from OSU, Jordan, created a Grapefruit Ale. I wish I could have done something like that in college!
Worthy also has a gigantic outdoor seating area and are one of the only areas that plays live music in a social distancing friendly way. There is a great space for having a wedding reception or a private party, and the kicker that sold me – the Hopservatory! A deep space telescope at a brewery. As the biggest NASA nerd, I was SOLD! Kyle and I also noticed little coins embedded in the wood of each table, and Jeff told us they were a tribute to the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest,” as the wood was reclaimed from the Oregon State Hospital!
I highly recommend visiting Worthy Brewing, the staff are incredibly kind, the food is delicious, the beer is out of this world and they have a TELESCOPE!
Crux Fermentation Project
Next on the list of our brewery tour was Crux Fermentation Project! We met up with Branding/Marketing Manager, Jason Randles, to learn a little more about Crux. Crux has a nice outdoor area (dog-friendly!), which definitely helps during social distancing restrictions. Crux is housed in a former AAMCO Transmission shop and uses non-traditional brewing methods such as decoction mashing, open fermentation and barrel aging. Jason also talked about their experimentation with wild yeast strains and hops.
They started expanding the brewery in 2015 including the outdoor container bar – which is a bar housed in an old shipping container (it’s super cool looking too!). The light fixtures inside are the original copper stacks that were too tall for the space, so they were repurposed into light fixtures. Even the ceiling was purposely constructed with random wood “texture” to help dampen sound so visitors can actually hear each other while sipping brews. The brew tanks even came from Japan (still have Japanese writing on them) and were made for the Nagano Olympic Games! The whole vibe of Crux is just really unique and chill and I am told you have to stay for the sunsets on a beautiful evening.
Onto the beers! I tried the Shakeside Hybrid Milk Stout, brewed with lactose sugar and malted rye. So good. So good. During our tour, one of the brew masters let us try one of the beers straight from the tank, Way Two Fresh (fresh hop imperial IPA), and it was AWESOME (just went on tap according to Jason – drink some!).
Definitely visit Crux when you are in Bend!!!
After Crux, it was time to go to my cousin’s house for dinner for an epic family reunion followed by another good night of sleep, two hours of working out, a shower and a new day!
The Brown Owl
A new day and after our workout and getting ready, it was once again lunch time. This time we ventured across the street from our hotel to check out The Brown Owl. Another place with some great outdoor seating and a rustic feel on the inside. I am going to throw in here, while I don’t know what type of music they play every day, on this day, they were playing 90’s Hip Hop. As a teen in the 90’s, I pretty much knew every single song and was singing a long between beer sips and food bites. I was craving a burger and ordered one while Kyle ordered their Cubano. I’m not kidding, those fries and that burger – so freaking good! Thank the good Lord I worked out because I cleaned my plate completely.
Crater Lakes Spirits
Oh the place I had been waiting for. WHISKEY!! GIN!! VODKA!! And it did not disappoint at all. We went back to Bond Street to visit their downtown tasting room and met with the Tasting Room Manager, Anthony Hansen. Again – everyone in Bend that we met was so nice! Anthony was a gem to hang out with and I apparently need him and his husband to make me some drinks! What a fun job he must have.
The tasting room was bright and airy, and packed with visitors (all spaced six feet apart of course). Kyle and I had the chance to sample 14 different types of spirits and oh my goodness…..I am drooling remembering them all. Anthony also told us some fun stories about some of the spirits. For one their Reserve Vodka was distilled 100 times – on accident! Someone left that machine on over a Thanksgiving holiday and lo and behold, out came a smooth and clean AF vodka.
Some of my favorites include (also throwing in some of Kyle’s very descriptive commentary):
Crater Lake Reserve Gin – Distilled 50 times, pine flavor lingered
Crater Lake Reserve Rye Whiskey – Has that after bite and the after/after taste lingers for a long time
Crater Lake Pepper Vodka – Perfect for a Bloody Mary, hits the top of your mouth with a sweet flavor at first and leaves you with a strong, sweet pepper after taste
Crater Lake Hatch Green Chile Vodka – Kyle calls it firewater. It had a slight, sweet smell, and the flavor keeps hitting you well after its gone
Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso – Kyle says to keep this one away from the kids! Smells like hazelnut ice cream and would be great blended with coffee or hot chocolate
Crate Lake Black Butte Whiskey – My favorite (and I purchased a bottle of it). This is a collaboration with Deschutes Black Butte Porter. It tastes like a proper whiskey with that distinctive bite. As Kyle eloquently stated, you had the toasted oak with hints of the porter and it finishes with balls
You must visit Crater Lake Spirits!
The last stop on our beer journey before meeting up with my family again to celebrate my cousin’s birthday was the Boneyard Pub! Another large brewery, with a lot of outdoor seating and almost a maze of exploration on the inside. I had been texting with owner, Tony Lawrence, who had us meet with the pub manager, Jon. We sat in the swanky lounge area and enjoyed a little bit of quiet time as we were the only ones sitting in that area, despite the pub being quite packed.
As it turns out, Jon and I grew up in the same California town and even went to the same elementary school, so we ended up chatting more about that than beer, which I will spare you all from. I’ll just say, this world is tiny.
The first beer I ordered was the Suge Knite, a decadent imperial stout with flavors of oak, whiskey, molasses and dark fruits. Afterwards, Jon gave us each a flight of beers with basically everything but Suge Knite. Sometimes I have to wonder that maybe I do like IPA’s just not as much as the darker beers, because I really enjoyed all of them. To soak up some of the alcohol we had been drinking, we also ordered a pretzel and it was the perfect accompaniment to our beer flight.
Definitely go to Boneyard on your next trip to Bend!
I clearly have so much more to explore in Bend and I can’t wait to visit again. What are some of your favorite breweries in Bend?