Friday, June 8, 2012

Bend Ales & Trails

This past weekend we decided, pretty much at the last minute, to take a trip to Bend, OR. The impetus for this spur-of-the-moment decision was that Greg got a job! I think he is planning to reveal all the details in his upcoming blog post, so I will just say that it is similar to what he was doing for Dell before we left on our round-the-world trip. And, since his official start date is June 14th, we wanted to take the opportunity to go on a mini-vacation before the reality/constraints of an 8-5 job comes crashing down around us (just kidding)!
hopefully his new job won't put Greg in the back of this vehicle
We quickly narrowed our choices down to Bend or Eugene, OR. We had also considered somewhere along the Oregon coast, Seattle or Vancouver, BC, but we have already been to all of those places and wanted to do something different. We could have even flown to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, etc. but the overall cost was more than we wanted to spend. With the help of a fellow beer-lover, we picked Bend because it offered the most breweries and natural attractions and is only a three-hour drive south from Portland.
enjoying the fresh air at East Lake
In order to give ourselves a substantial beer budget, we kept our other costs low by using my Hertz Gold Rewards Points to rent a compact, fuel-efficient Toyota Corolla for one week (free) and we stayed in a budget hotel (Econo Lodge - $47.95 per night). We also opted to only do free or almost free activities (hiking in particular) although we seriously considered paying $15 per person to go to the High Desert Museum.
first stop on the Bend Ale Trail - Cascade Lakes Lodge
We arrived in Bend around 3pm on Thursday and, after checking in to the hotel, immediately set off for our first stop on the Bend Ale Trail. The Ale Trail currently features nine Bend breweries, all of which are located within a few square miles, and a tenth brewery in Sisters, OR about 22 miles northwest. Besides offering a fun opportunity to drink a wide variety of locally-made beers, the reward for completing your passport is a silipint with the Ale Trail logo and a bonus patch if you make the trip to Sisters.
my beer sampler at 10 Barrel Brewing
We managed to hit three breweries (Cascade Lakes Lodge, Goodlife, 10 Barrel) on Thursday so, with the weather looking fantastic again on Friday, we drove to Newberry National Volcanic Monument, 13 miles south of Bend. We started our visit on top of Lava Butte with 360 degree views from the Rim Trail, then spent some time at the Lava Lands Visitor Center. We would have done more hiking, but the lower trails were closed for maintenance.
the view from Lava Butte
We continued on within the park to Lava River Cave, the longest lava tube in Oregon. We had come prepared with our headlamps and warm coats but ultimately didn't make it very far into the cave because Greg's headlamp batteries were low and his light was too weak to see in the completely dark cave.
the temperature in Lava River Cave averages 40F
We then drove another 12.5 miles south to the Paulina Lake access road. Unfortunately the Paulina Peak Viewpoint was still closed due to snow but we were able to climb up the trail and play in the snow at the Big Obsidian Flow and we stopped at East Lake and Paulina Lake for a look around.
snow at the Big Obsidian Flow
We returned to Bend in time for happy hour at Bend Brewing, then ended our evening at Silver Moon, thus getting two more stamps on our Ale Trail passports.
samplers of every beer currently on tap at Bend Brewing
On Saturday we wanted to do some more hiking so we drove west to Tumalo Falls. June 2nd is National Trails Day so we didn't have to pay the usual $5 recreation fee. We hiked for about an hour then headed northwest to Three Creeks Brewery in Sisters, OR.
Tumalo Falls
After lunch, our next stop was Oregon Spirit Distillers where we were given a very detailed and interesting personalized tour by one of the distillers, met the owner, Brad Irwin, and had a great time tasting their fantastic products (Oregon Spirit Vodka, Slivovitch, C.W. Irwin Straight Bourbon, Merrylegs Gin, Black Mariah) with Brad's wife, Kathy. We particularly like their bourbon and purchased a bottle to bring back to Portland. I also have Black Mariah (tastes like marionberry jam) on my short list to add to our home bar.
distilling rye for a new whiskey at Oregon Spirit Distillers
We still wanted to get a few more stamps on our passports so we continued on to Boneyard Brewing (where I also bought beer soap!) followed by Old Mill Brew Werks and ended the night with dinner at Big Island Kona Mix Plate (didn't drink beer here, just ate yummy Hawaiian food!).
a pint of stout on the patio at Old Mill Brew Werks
We only needed two more stamps to complete our passports so on Sunday we started the day at a leisurely pace with more hiking, this time on the Deschutes River Trail. After a refreshing walk, we stayed on our feet for the thorough & informative Deschutes Brewery Tour (plus free samples!) then made an unplanned stop at the original location of the brewery, now called the Public House as we had been told that they brew specialty beers that you can only get there.
fermentation tanks & yeast growers at Deschutes Brewery
Our final destination on the Ale Trail was McMenamins Old St. Francis School where we celebrated the successful completion of our passports but, of course, it was not our last stop for the day. We had planned to visit Platypus Pub & Beer Shop but discovered the pub is closed on Sundays. So we continued on to another beer-centric pub, the newly-opened Broken Top Bottle Shop, where I drank a beer from the local 1-barrel basement nanobrewery Below Grade. We also bought four bottles of beer to bring back to Portland. Our final stop of the day was at Greg's Grill, which only made the cut because of its name!
liquid souvenirs
We were in no rush to get home on Monday so we took our time checking out of the hotel, then stopped at the Bend Visitor Center on our way out of town to redeem our Ale Trail passports for our free gifts. One of the things I enjoyed most about our trip was chatting with fellow beer lovers (usually the employees at the pubs we went to) about beer, brewing techniques, the Pacific Northwest, etc. While we were at the visitor center, I mentioned something to the lady helping us about one of the new breweries that is due to open at the end of this month, Crux Fermentation. You know you're in a small town when she says "That's my husband's brewery!"
we did it!
Although it rained for most of the drive back, we decided to make a slight detour to Hood River for lunch at yet another brewery, Double Mountain. Since the rain had tapered off, we then crossed the river and drove up to White Salmon, WA for one last pint at Everybody's Brewing. On a tip from one of the locals, we stayed on the Washington side of the river and took Hwy 14 east towards Vancouver then crossed back over on I-205 to get home.
hops growing at Double Mountain
The trip was everything we had hoped it would be -- plenty of time outdoors and lots of great beer! Five days/four nights allowed us to go at a leisurely pace. However there are many more activities that we didn't do like Mt Bachelor (ski resort, currently closed for the season), the aforementioned High Desert Museum, lots of bike trails, more great hikes (Smith Rock State Park was highly recommended), water sports (kayaking & rafting), etc.
hiking on the Deschutes River Trail
One final note - Greg & I consumed a total of 23 pints (16-20oz each), 42 samplers (3-4oz each) and 8 tasters (~2oz each) during our mini-vacation. That is at minimum 2 gallons of beer per person at an average 6.0% ABV!
this is what Greg looks like when he drinks too much beer ;)
Here is the list of all the beers we tried. The first item listed is what I drank (& precedes Greg's). A semicolon indicates multiple drinks at one location.

5/31 @ Cascade Lakes Lodge - *20" Brown (nitro) & IRA; 30" Double Brown & Silverback Imperial Stout
@ Goodlife - 29'er India Brown Ale & Comatose Imperial IPA
@ 10 Barrel - 10 beer sampler (Mike Saw Sasquatch Session Ale, Oatmeal Stout, New Apocalypse IPA, S1nist0r Black Ale, Amber Waves of Grain Wheat Ale, Supa' Fly Rye, The Imperious Imperial IPA, Oregon Brown, Imperial Pray for Snow, Cynical Cascadian Dark Ale) & S1nist0r Black Ale

6/1 @ Bend Brewing - 10 beer sampler (High Desert Hefeweizen, Pilsner, Metolius Golden Ale, Wicked Medicine seasonal, Elk Lake IPA, Doppelbock, Outback Old Ale, Scottish Heart, Pinnacle Porter, Espresso Stout - nitro) & Doppelbock
@ Silver Moon - tasted Purgatory's Shadow Belgian Strong Ale, Hop Fury IPA, Bridge Creek Pilsner; Bone Crusher Imperial Red Ale x2

6/2 @ Three Creeks - FivePine Chocolate Porter & 6 beer sampler (Knotty Blonde, Stonefly Rye, Hoodoo Voodoo IPA, FivePine Chocolate Porter, Crosswalk Imperial Porter, Dry Irish Stout - nitro)
@ Boneyard - Diable Rojo American Amber/Red Ale, RPM IPA, Hop Venom Double IPA
@ Old Mill Brew Werks -  Schizophrenic Stout x2

6/3 @ Deschutes Brewery tour - sampled Twilight Summer Ale, Hop in the Dark CDA, Black Butte Porter, Obsidian Stout, Green Lakes Organic Amber, Chainbreaker White IPA
@ Deschutes Public house - shared 6 beer sampler - Down & Dirty IPA, Phil's Trail Ale, *Flag Line Golden Ale, Quickbane Nut Brown, Ben's n Whoops Bitter, Streamflow Pale Ale; plus sampled Twilight Ale & Bachelor Bitter (cask)
@ McMenamin's Old St Francis School - El Diablo Coffee Porter & Workingman's Red
@ Broken Top Bottle Shop - Below Grade RBX (an 8.3% red ale + brown + double IPA) & Hale's Troll Porter (nitro)
@ Greg's Grill - Boneyard Diablo Rojo & Mac n Jack's Amber

6/4 @ Double Mountain - tasted Ferocious Five bourbon barrel brown ale, Peche Mode Peach Sour Ale, Clusterf#ck IPA; Black Irish & IRA

6/4 @ Everybody's Brewing - Cash Oatmeal Stout & Pucker Huddle Porter; tasted Hoedown Brown Ale & Little Sister India Session Ale

Here is the link to all of my Bend photos: