It used to be our little secret: That along with the countless recreational opportunities in Sunriver, Bend (Central Oregon), there was a burgeoning craft beer scene. That trying to decide which brewpub to hit after a day skiing at Mt. Bachelor was a two chairlift ride discussion. There were options. And lots of good beer.
Then word got out. Publication after publication when writing about the amazing skiing started including lines about Deschutes Brewery or Bend Brewing Co. Then beer publications sent dutiful writers here to see what all the fuss was about. Then travel magazines and newspapers dedicated entire stories to Oregon’s true “Beervana.” (Sorry Portland.)
It’s not a secret any more.
But that’s ok. Because the increasing popularity of craft beer meant more and more breweries and brewpubs in our little slice of Heaven.
Today, there’s nearly 30 breweries making beer here – from Prineville to Sisters, Redmond to Sunriver. They’re all different, but in some ways connected. A brewer who learned the craft at one place is now the head brewer at another. A line cook at one pub is now, after years of developing his own palate, the head chef across town.
SUNRIVER BREWING CO.
Initially started just south of Bend in the resort community from which it took the name, Sunriver Brewery‘s flagship pub is worth the drive from Bend and worth going to every day if you’re staying in Sunriver. The Fuzztail Hefe is a nice introduction to Central Oregon craft beer while the Vicious Mosquito IPA packs a little more of a punch. Parents, bring the kids because the brewery has a large and fun play area with a huge chalkboard and lots of toys. Don’t want to make the drive to Sunriver? A new Sunriver Brewery Galveston Pub opened in Bend in Spring 2016.
10 BARREL BREWING CO.
With its huge outdoor patio and fire pit on Galveston Avenue, 10 Barrel is a perfect spot to grab a beer al fresco. Its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years with solid brews like Sinister Black and OG Wheat IPA and the simple-yet-perfectly-named canned creation “Pub Beer.” Maybe the only thing better than the beer is the food. The pizzas are Top 5 in Central Oregon hands down.
This is the brewery that started it all for Central Oregon in 1988. Today, you can find Deschutes beers in more than 25 states and across the world. The pub downtown is one of the most popular spots in town every night of the year. Like the brewery, the pub itself has nearly doubled in size in recent years meaning there’s usually a shorter wait for a table. But don’t let the wait deter you. Just head into the bar, choose one of the dozen or so beers currently on tap (Local tip: Bachelor Bitter on Cask is a must-have if you can only have one beer.) Mirror Pond is one of the flagship brews and I’ve heard some locals use Black Butte Porter to brush their teeth – it’s that good. The food blurs the line between pub grub and fine dining. The beef used in their burgers comes from cows fed spent grain from the brewing process, making them some of the tastiest burgers anywhere.
One of the newest breweries to the game, Worthy has quickly garned a name for itself as one of the most popular. It’s expansive east Bend location off Highway 20 (Greenwood Ave.) sets it apart from the others, as do the variety of beers. The Easy Day Kolsch might be the official beer of floating the Deschutes River in the summer. Food wise, you’ll find mac and cheese at just about every pub in town – but few can match Worthy’s gouda and Sriracha creation.
CASCADE LAKES BREWERY
Born in Redmond, Cascade Lakes is one of Central Oregon’s Old Guard of breweries. The popular bend Lodge is on the road from Mt. Bachelor and a locals go-to apres ski spot before heading into downtown. Perennial brews there include the easy drinking Blonde Bombshell and the nutty 20″ Brown. On the menu, how about some wild boar and kobe beef meatloaf or their classic Cascade Turkey Melt?
Everyone here has a favorite, but we tend to visit them all. If you have a chance, you should too – grab a Bend Ale Trail passport and set out on your journey. But if you have to choose, here’s a pretty good start of where to go and what to have. But please – just please – do NOT walk into these places and order a Bud Light. The locals will mock you and most of them don’t even carry it. Cheers!
Blog Courtesy of Central Oregon Visitors Association (COVA)