That MUST be a record!
As with other crazy ideas like this one there is a story behind it all.
So, we knew we wanted to visit Bend - a desert climate rather than a coastal one and craft beer - lots of craft beer. Bend is known for it - in fact it has one of the highest number of breweries per capita - roughly one brewery for 4,600 people.
With that in mind we did our research.
Hey! Bend has an Ale Trail - and there is a prize!
Funny how that word causes somewhat normally thinking people do non thinking things.
Yup - looking back now - we made a major miscalculation - but that is for later.
Onwards to Bend.
Since Oregon's State Parks are really quite reasonable and we have pretty much had it up to here with four months of stealth camping and boondocking we thought we would treat ourselves to Tumalo State Park. With it being close to town we could go back and forth to Bend - following the Ale Trail at a leisurely pace.
Good idea - right?!
It was good until we arrived at the Park on a Friday afternoon. Booked. A busy weekend for a small park with only one camping ring open. The best we could do would be to have a site for two days before we would have to move to another or move out completely. Plus the sites are striking distance from each other.
The driver was not impressed.
We headed into Bend and to make a long story short we stealth camped for three nights in the downtown.
Our timeline for the Ale Trail just got much shorter.
Here's how it all went. If you are not into craft beer or any beer at all, I would imagine that this post would be of little interest to you - on the other hand - it surely would cement in your mind how crazy the Wood Clan really is - much fun at our expense!
Our first stop - and first brewery. We had learned from The Bend Ale Trail that a special prize could be won for visiting Three Creeks Brewing Co. in Sisters. Since we were going right by…….
It was early days still so we were full of enthusiasm and vigour at the beginning of the trail! Here a picture from the taproom. Sadly, the pub rules are very wanky in Oregon and Cassia could not go in. So - we had to sit in the quieter restaurant - just not the same having to sit there rather than the taproom.
Rant: At all the other taprooms and breweries we had visited throughout the USA Cassia was allowed to sit with us. Strange but true - this is not the case in Oregon. There are strict rules that change from place to place about minors. Not good.
As per usual we sampled a flight - made us mostly of their stouts and porters.
Our first look at the Bend Ale Trail Map. As you'll see at the end - there is a section for each of the breweries to stamp your map/passport.
From Sisters we headed to Tumalo State Park and then into downtown Bend. After a quick visit to the Visitor Centre we continued the trail. There are five breweries within walking distance - we ended up visiting five on Friday night.
We headed first to Silver Moon Brewing.
Very friendly staff and a nice line up. Since the night was still young we went for another flight. We sampled the Snakebite Porter, Dark Side Stout, Bourbon Aged Stout, Hounds Tooth Amber and the Voodoo Dog. All good - I have to say that the Bourbon Aged Stout was one of the best and noteworthy craft beers we have tried this winter. Amazing.
Silver moon also wins for best flight holder plus they give you the strip with the names of the samples. At many breweries they deliver your samples and read out to you by memory what they are - not the best system. This rack is the cat's meow.
From there we walked further into the downtown to Bond Street to visit Deschutes Brewery. (Bond and Wall Streets are THE streets in downtown Bend.)
It was packed. Turns out that we arrived into Bend on first Friday - the night that stores stay open creating a very festive evening. That coupled with the clear, beautiful day meant that the streets were jammed. And here we thought that Bend was just a socially happening place!
From there we headed down the street to McMenamins Old St. Francis - also very busy.
A nice flight map. This time just four samples which we enjoyed outside on their patio by the fire.
We then enjoyed a stroll back through the downtown to Bend Brewing Company - our last stop - thankfully! We had put them last on the list because we knew that they had food - we decided to splurge on dinner - and live music.
A nice way to end the evening.
Phew! Five breweries down - not so bad - we were pretty optimistic about the whole thing albeit a bit worn out.
With all the Friday night cheer we didn't get the best sleep in the world parked on a fairly busy downtown street. The things we do for craft beer - and a prize!
Since we were on a mission and in the groove we decided to knock off the rest of the breweries the next day - Saturday. It all seemed like fun in the morning…..
The problem was that although the first four were walking distance we now needed to drive to the remaining seven (!!!) breweries. Interestingly - not as much fun as we thought.
First up for the day was Worthy Brewing Company - we arrived around lunch. A little early for us…
Worthy has a very nice taproom/restaurant. A very good layout because kids can be here without being separated. Too bad I didn't take a picture but we were very well taken care of by Kenzie, Worthy's very worthy Hostess. Thanks again Kenzie - sorry - I should have checked the spelling of your name!
No flight for us - we just tried a porter and a stout.
Then on to Boneyard Beer. Now, there was no way that the Wood Clan was going to miss this place.
Now, this is our kind of place. Not just all the skulls which Cassia dressed for with her skull t shirt from Santa Fe - but the rugged more fringe type of place that it is. We don't need fancy - we like a taproom with an informal feel - very, very very good service, and great beer.
The Boneyard was a busy place this Saturday afternoon. While we were there the Cycle Pub arrived - we went out to take a look - a pretty neat idea.
Thankfully, Crux Fermentation Project is walkable from the Boneyard. It was threatening to rain but we went on.
By the time we got to Crux the day was starting to catch up on us. Fun?! Hmmmm - not sure if we were having fun now. All this for a cup!? Are we crazy?! But we can't stop now - right?!
Only four to go!
We arrived at the Old Mill Brew Werks around 4 ish. It has a very comfortable atmosphere - I could have hung out there the rest of the day. Although we didn't eat there - the Brew Werks looked like it had stellar food.
Here is BrewMaster Michael - a very personable guy - a very good front man for the Brewery - he instantly made us feel welcome.
Very nice beer - one of my favourites for the day.
Third to last was Cascade Lakes Brewing Company - also very busy now close to dinner time on a Saturday.
In the end we stayed long enough for a couple of samples.
A bit tricky to find but find it we did - the Good Life Brewing Company. Good Life came highly recommended from a lady I had met back in Eugene - it was one of her favourites.
Hey! Is that me! Why yes it is! Derek is pretty tricky sometimes.
Although we weren't there long - Good Life was one of my favourite breweries from the day. We both enjoyed our two samples and it had a very nice atmosphere. This is the type of taproom we like the best. An open space that feels like a watering hole and less like a restaurant. Other breweries similar to this are Island Brewing and Southern Appalachian Brewery.
And FINALLY - 6:00 pm Saturday evening - our last brewery visit - 10 Barrel Brewing Co.
It was getting dark, raining and packed - we didn't stay long.
We were DONE.
Since the visitor centre was closed until Monday we had Sunday to wait for our prize.
Here we are handing in our fully stamped passport. You just have to laugh at Boneyard's stamp - right?!
The Wood Clan with our silipints …..
In the end - with what we spent at the 12 breweries - the three silipints were a deal at $35 each!
Silly Pints for sure!
So, that's our Bend Ale Trail experience.
Fun?! Well, sort of. I would highly recommend it - Bend's Breweries are putting our some mighty fine craft beer, food and customer service.
But don't do it in 2 days.
On the plus side - we were able to visit many breweries in a short amount of time and really see which ones worked best for us.
It was all research….partially.
Although we don't like to pick favourites …. Boneyard Beer was our favourite. Like I said - we go for the simple - rough around the edges - taprooms - the anti establishments. We don't need fancy, we just need good craft beer. We like to be up close and personal with the brewers. Something gets lost with the larger - restaurant style - breweries with lots of staff, seemingly much more occupied with serving food then talking beer. They just aren't for us.
Next up, I show you pictures from our more restful Sunday in downtown Bend.
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