Article & Photographs by Alexa Meisler
Located in the high desert of central Oregon at the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Bend is famous for its many forms of outdoor recreation. Offering warm weather activities like rock climbing and hiking, kayaking and rafting on the Deschutes, fly fishing, golfing, mountain biking in lush forests, high mountain peaks and lava fields to stellar winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding at nearby Mt. Bachelor as well as cross country skiing, sledding, tubing and snowmobiling in the Deschutes National Forest. To say there are endless opportunities for outdoor fun is an understatement.
All that out-of-doors activity is fine, but what is there to do after the morning jog? Bend, just happens to be famous for a more leisurely endeavor-its significant beer culture.
Craft-breweries like Bend Brewery, the Cascade Lakes Brewing Company, McMenamins Old St. Francis School and Bend's original brew pub Deschutes Brewery that also offers tours of their brewing facility present a whole other way to spend a day in Bend.
There is no better way to begin your exploration of Bend beer than a visit to the Deschutes Brewing facility. Here you will get an overview of the beer making process and to find out how the biggest beer maker in town pumps out all that Mirror Pond. Guided brewery tours are offered Tuesday through Friday at 1:00, 2:30, 4:00 pm and Saturday merely show up between noon and 4pm. With beer in hand you'll find out everything you ever wanted to know about yeast, hops, fermentation and of course the story behind Bend's oldest brewery.
Naturally, the next stop must be the Deschutes Brewery & Public House which still brews most of the beer it pours on site with the 12-barrel system that began it all. Offering everything from soup, salad and sandwiches to thick juicy burgers and daily specials-this is a perfect spot for lunch. But back to more important subjects: beer. Try what is on the experimental tap that day-a special blend only available at the pub-or one of the classics like Black Butte or the locals favorite, Inversion IPA. Better yet, try one of their sampler trays and that offer six tastes. My favorite? The Green Lakes Organic Ale.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School is a mini compound offering a full restaurant, four bars, theater and hotel. Regardless of where you choose to partake, you'll find 11 beers on tap; six of which are McMenamins ales brewed on the premises including the popular Hammerhead and Ruby. Order some of their famous tater tots with your beer of choice in your bar of choice. Oh, the options.
Afterwards head to the Bend Brewing Company for happy hour. Boasting the only female brewmaster in Bend, Tonya Cornett is producing ten beers-all on tap and all brewed on location. Offering half-price appetizers Monday through Friday from 4pm to 6 pm, and Tuesdays from 4 pm to close it's the perfect opportunity to pair one of their signature beers such as the locals favorite Outback Old Ale or Elk Lake IPA. If the weather is cooperating, sit on the patio and enjoy your beer and a view of the Deschutes River.
Round out your Bend beer escapade at Cascade Lakes. With 12 beers on tap and 11 their own label this is a great final stop. Grab a Blonde Bombshell or Rooster Tail Ale and head upstairs to shoot a few games of pool or play a game of darts. Serving food until 10pm every night this is also a great spot to satisfy any late night cravings.
After a day like today, there is no way you will ever see Bend as just a place to enjoy the outdoors again!