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Ale Trail

Yup, you read that right – not the Oregon Trail as you might be thinking – nope – the Bend experience isn’t complete without heading out on the Ale Trail

For a thousand good reasons Bend, Oregon is widely known as the premier outdoor playground of the United States. But a lesser known element of the Bend Experience is the city’s extraordinary abundance of craft beer – incredibly delicious craft beer! In our little mountain town of 82,000 people, Bend has 14 world-class craft breweries (and counting) within a short distance of one another. Bend has more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon and is often referred to as Beer Town USA because it’s you versus beer in Bend, Oregon!

As if the local Chamber didn’t have enough going for it – they created The Bend Ale Trail – guess they hoped to give visitors and locals alike a way to navigate their way around the unique craft brewery culture of Central Oregon. Sounded good to me…

And, you can’t make this stuff up – they even have a smart phone app – so, downloaded the app to guide me on my journey – man versus beer – bring it on…

And, yes, you read that right – 14 breweries and counting – 4 more are in the works…amazing actually when you consider that in 2004 it was reported that there were 3…

Bend is a beer town. There are three microbrewery-brewpubs, with a fourth set to open next month. (Oct 2004)

Not only did the town explode but so did the brew scene…lots to cover in only a few days..

I decided to start with the grand-daddy of them all – Deschutes Brewery – they’ve been in the business of making handcrafted, traditional style beers since 1988. And, although they stumbled initially, the rest as they say is history…they won two medals at the prestigious Brewery International Awards in 2001–gold for its Mirror Pond Pale Ale and silver for its Black Butte Porter – and are today one of the largest craft brew houses in the country

And, for this lucky nomad – today being October 1 – after the tour of the brewery, I was able to taste the seasonal Jubelale – yup – got to partake in a very special Deschutes tradition – the release of its iconic seasonal beer Jubelale.

This year in fact was the 25th anniversary of the beer – and a good excuse for a party – seems every Oct. 1, Deschutes Brewery throws a label release party at the brewpub on Bond Street in the Downtown District where folks can meet the new artist of this years label, get an autographed poster of said label, and of course, drink the seasonal beer. My RV friends Robin and Ross dropped by as well to enjoy the festivities.

Over the next couple of days I made it my mission to stop in each afternoon at a couple of the other breweries…a nice balance to my Bend exploration…time to explore…time to taste…

10 Barrel had a great outdoor bar – nice way to sample their brews and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather

Had a nice lunch at Cascades along with some fine beer – but- never did find out why they had Coors alongside the good stuff…

Crux was the newest guy on the block – and also had some nice outdoor seating – enjoyed a beautiful sunset while sampling their offerings…

Some had nice tasting trays…

others, like Boneyard, were more barebones…

no tasting trays…only one glass

but had damn good beer…

and amazing labels and names too

bought a couple of jugs of their brews –

including Hop Venom 🙂

I was starting to think the “Arrogant Bastard” was right…

”fizzy yellow beer is for wussies…”

was going to have to rethink my beer choices

Learned a lot too about the crafting of good beer – did you know there are over 100 varieties of hops –

There are presently over one hundred varieties of hops cultivated around the world. Some of the best known are Brewer’s Gold, Bullion, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Cluster, Comet, Eroica, Fuggles, Galena, Goldings, Hallertau, Nugget, Northern Brewer, Perle, Saaz, Syrian Goldings, Tettnang, and Willamettes. Apart from contributing bitterness, hops impart aroma and flavor, and inhibit the growth of bacteria in wort and beer. Hops are added at the beginning (bittering hops), middle (flavoring hops), and end (aroma hops) of the boiling stage, or even later in the brewing process (dry hops).

And, along with the malts and other ingredients, are brewed to a mind boggling number of different kinds of beers

I know – more of the geeky stuff – but interesting – and tasty 🙂

“For a quart of ale is a dish for a king”

– Bill Shakespeare – The Winter’s Tale

Never did get to all 14 – another excuse to return to Bend one day 🙂 but did acquire a few bottles of my favorites to enjoy as I head down the road…

Take care…see you down the road…

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow, you did quite a bit of research on your review of the “Ale Trail.” I just visited Deschutes, but there’s always next summer! 😉

    October 8, 2012
    • Stephen #

      if you ever get back to Bend take a couple of the tours – the tours are very interesting – and, then the tasting rooms are great of course 🙂 stocked up on a number of the brews – particularly the limited, seasonal releases – really fun few days!

      October 9, 2012

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