Tag Archives: pacific northwest

Bend Urban Beer Hike

With the scuttling of our New Year’s trip to Germany, Merideth and I searched for a new city to welcome in 2012. The key requirement for our new destination was lots of breweries we hadn’t visited. With almost a dozen years since our last visit, Bend, OR was a good choice. With its exploding beer scene, there were plenty of new breweries to add to The List.

Bend, OR

With most of these breweries centrally located, Bend was excellent for a walking beer tour. The forecast for rain and chilly temperatures didn’t deter Merideth and I setting out from our riverside hotel late morning on the eve of New Year’s Eve. The day’s Urban Beer Hike would be comprised of seven stops and follow a giant loop that ended downtown. As we passed through Bend’s downtown into the Old Town Historic District, we were pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the warm sun.

Boneyard Beer

Our first destination, Boneyard Beer, was located on the edge of the historic district. Boneyard was easy to pick out amongst the old bungalows, as it looked conspicuously like a former auto body shop. Arriving a few minutes shy of opening time, Merideth and I enjoyed a bit of sun therapy in the chilly air.

A unique beer tapping system

Walking into the tiny tasting room, the first thing we noticed was the unique beer dispensing system. The beer cooler, covered with beer stickers, was one of those chest-style freezers that opens from the top. Tap fittings protruded from the sides and restaurant bus trays served as drip pans.

The excellent beer selection at Boneyard

After the long drive from Eugene, beer was a very welcome sight. Their first offering was Femme Fatale, which had the  apropos nickname of “the breakfast beer.” A wild ale with raspberries, Femme Fatale had a pleasant sourness. Next up was Backbone, a Chocolate Expresso Stout. Merideth likened it to iced coffee. After a Red Ale, we finished with the star for me and candidate for beer of the trip. Hop Venom Imperial IPA, 80 IBU, 10% ABV, was a hop monster.

Our growlerette of Femme Fatale

Though we would see more of them later in the day, new to us at Boneyard were “growlerettes,” 32 ounce bottles. Both Merideth and I felt we HAD to have one. I was transfixed because the half-sized growler was, in my mind, a great beer innovation. Merideth wanted one because she thought the Boneyard skull and crossbones logo made the bottle look like some old time cure-all medicine.

If Merideth had her choice, the growlerette would have been filled with the Chocolate Expresso Stout. My choice would have been Hop Venom. Showing what 22 years of marriage has taught us, we compromised and bought the Femme Fatale.

Lunch time at Brew Werks

In our short time at Boneyard, the sun had disappeared and black clouds menaced in the vicinity. Our next destination was in the Old Mill District, whose tell-tale three smokestacks we could see off in the distance. A few minutes into the mile-long leg, a cold rain began to fall, causing Merideth and I to quicken our pace.

Old Mill Brew Werks was located in a series of office buildings set off from the main shopping area of the Old Mill District. Arriving slightly damp, we were happy not only to get out of the rain but also to get some food, as we hadn’t really eaten yet that day.

Merideth enjoying a Brew Werks Paranoia Pale Ale

Old Mill Brew Werks had ten taps but only two dispensed house-brewed beer. Merideth ordered the Paranoia Pale Ale, while I, true to form, went with the Irreverence IPA. I pity the beer that followed Hop Venom and Brew Werks IPA was that beer. A nice IPA, but it paled in comparison to my early contender for beer of trip.

With some food and more beer in our bellies, we were ready to brave the elements again. Similar to our previous leg, we could see our third destination, the Deschutes production brewery across the Deschutes River. Donning our rain coats, hats and gloves, we set out again.

The Deschutes production brewery

When we traveled to Bend in 1999, Deschutes’ downtown brewpub was one of the two breweries we visited. For the Urban Beer Hike, I was somewhat ambivalent about visiting Deschutes again. I enjoy their beer but figured there wouldn’t be anything I couldn’t get at home. Then I remembered an important Urban Beer Hike rule: always build pee stops into the hike.

Enjoying a beer at the Deschutes tasting room

Deschutes’ location on the road to the ski slopes guaranteed a large crowd. And crowded it was. The somewhat large tasting room and gift shop was packed with vacationers, some tasting beer while others milled around waiting for a tour. Large groups would disappear into the back for the tour and instantly be replaced by an equal number or more. Merideth and I grabbed a tiny corner of the bar in the corner of the room to enjoy our taster set.

I was hoping for some special one-off brews, but as expected, it was the standard Deschutes lineup (which was not a bad thing). We drank brewery-fresh versions of old standbys such a Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter. One of the treats of the stop was Red Chair IPA, a really nice IPA that we don’t often see in our neck of the woods. Plus, I got a glass of the much-sought-after The Abyss, probably my last taste of this year’s version.

The fish pointing the way to our next stop

Leaving Deschutes, the rain had slackened but we noticed that it had gotten markedly colder while we were inside. The walk to Good Life Brewing was one of the shorter segments of the day but halfway there, it began to snow. And I had my first panic attack of the Bend Urban Beer Hike.

The Good Life Christmas Tree

From the street, I couldn’t see anything that looked like a business in the industrial looking building. I really didn’t see any cars or people either. I began to curse my douchephone for leading us astray in the cold and rain. The main cause of my anxiety was that I was wearing shorts and didn’t want to get stranded out in the elements. Then I noticed an interior courtyard and Good Life was located on the backside of this, well hidden from the street.

The bar area only occupied a small portion of the large space that housed Good Life. A number of windowed garage-type doors gave the area a really open and airy feel despite the gray weather. Good Life must be a great place to hang out on a warm day when they have those doors open.

Merideth drinking the Good Life

Good Life was full of refugees from the slopes. We sat at the last two seats at the bar and ordered a taster flight of their four beers. For me, the best of the four was Descender IPA, maybe the best regular IPA of the trip.

10 Barrel Brewing

It was another short walk through a residential neighborhood to our fifth stop of the day, 10 Barrel Brewing. Unfortunately, this location was just a pub. Since no brewing was done on-site, we couldn’t count 10 Barrel on the brewery list.

The sampler at 10 Barrel Brewing

10 Barrel’s small restaurant and bar were both packed and we struggled to find space to put down our ten beer sample tray while we waited for a table. Precariously placing the tray on the top of a barrel, we tried to get through each beer without feeling too harried.

Apocalypse IPA

We met some Monterey area friends for dinner at 10 Barrel. And, as often is the case, we got very distracted by “friend time.” In short, my recommendation from 10 Barrel is Apocalypse IPA, a brew with nice citrus and pine flavors. Merideth’s favorite was, oddly, the India Session Ale, a light-bodied, hoppy brew.

It was dark when we left 10 Barrel and headed back across the Deschutes River. Our final two stops on the Urban Beer Hike were in downtown Bend, thus completing the loop that we began at 10:30am that morning.

The sample flight at Bend Brewing

First up was Bend Brewing, the other brewery we visited on our previous trip in 1999. Funny thing, when Merideth and I sat down at the bar, we kind of gave each other a perplexed look. Maybe it was the dark lighting, maybe it was all the beer we drank that day, but neither of us remembered the place. It’s on The List, though, so we must have been there.

At this point in our Urban Beer Hike, another ten beer sample tray was not necessarily a welcome sight. But that’s what we got. We each just should have ordered a pint at called it a night at Bend Brewing.

The final stop!

Our last stop, Silver Moon Brewing was a short walk up the street from Bend Brewing. Our previous four stops were all crazy busy so it was nice that Silver Moon was comparatively mellow.

Mercifully, there were only eight beers in the Silver Moon sample tray. The requisite IPA and Black IPA were nice but I’ll give a shout out to their Bridge Creek Pilsner as the perfect finishing beer for a Bend Urban Beer Hike.

The new fallen snow crinkled under our feet as we trudged back to our hotel. Despite the rain and snow, getting distracted and losing steam at the end, we covered a little over seven miles and visited seven beer stops. Our Urban Beer Hike was a great re-introduction to Bend.

View all the images from our Bend Urban Beer Hike

View a map of our seven stops

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The Number of the Beast

Have you ever started a hobby that became a beastly obsession? Of course you have. You’re a beer geek. I’m not one to talk, though, because Chris and I certainly can’t deny that our brewery list has become anything less than an obsession of beastly proportion. We had no idea back in 1992 when we started visiting breweries that today we’d be boasting about having visited more than 670. And you don’t get to brewery #674 (#675 for Chris) without first reaching the devilish number of the beast: 666.

Well, let me tell you about how Chris and I each hit brewery #666 on the first day of last weekend’s trip to Portland.

As we are wont to do, we left on Thursday at an ungodly (or beastly, if you will) hour in order to take an early flight out of San Jose. After arriving in Portland, we drove 50 minutes south to Silverton, OR, where we hit Seven Brides, our first brewery of the trip.

Seven Brides in Silverton

Seven Brides is a large family-friendly establishment offering the usual range of beer styles. The name stems from the reason the brewery was started in the first place: 3 dads and 2 uncles needed a way to pay for the future weddings of their 7 daughters who currently range in age from 4-17 years old.

The taster set at Seven Brides

One of the fun things about the brewery is that each beer is named after one of the daughters in the family. After a taster set, Chris ordered the Lauren’s Pale Ale, a solid flavorful beer. Much to our delight, the pint was $1 off in honor of it being Lauren’s birthday week. Becky’s Black Cat Porter and Frankenlou’s IPA also went well with our lunch of carnitas quesadilla and chicken tacos. And no, Frankenlou is not the name of one of the daughters. It’s a combination of the girl’s nickname (Lou) and a desire to make a monstrous IPA.

Enjoyng a beer at Seven Brides

The hospitality at Seven Brides was everything you’d expect in a small rural brewery. One of the owners, Jeff DeSantis, stopped to chat with us at the bar. And in a very motherly way, our server expressed concern when we told her about our plan to drive over the mountains to Bend the next day. The forecast was for rain at lower elevations, so you know what that means higher up. She even went so far as to offer a less treacherous route than the one we planned. “You drive safely now,” she told us when we left.

Oakshire Brewing in Eugene

An hour and a half later, we arrived at our second stop: Oakshire Brewing in Eugene. It was Chris’s 666th brewery. Getting to Oakshire (pronounced oak-shyer, not oak-sure), feels a lot like getting lost, as it’s located in between a criss-crossing of railroad tracks on the outskirts of town. It’s a beautiful sight when you do finally arrive and does not disappoint.

Oakshire only has tasting hours on Saturdays from noon-4pm, but Monday through Friday 3-6pm, they’re open for “dock sales,” where you can taste a few samples before making your purchase. During our visit, most people made quick stops to fill up their growlers, pick up kegs and purchase bottles to go.

Oakshire, Chris' 666th brewery

Our hostess was friendly and knowledgeable and best of all, she didn’t even ask about the devil horns Chris sprouted while drinking the Watershed IPA, a crisp tasting brew with 75 IBUs. From their single batch beers, we liked The Nutcracker, a spiced imperial porter, as well as the year-round offering, Overcast Espresso Stout. Both were dangerous, however, as The Nutcracker was an easy drinking 8% and the stout provided the equivalent of one jolting espresso shot per pint. There was no resisting the beer altogether, though, and we bought a few bottles to bring home.

Chris’s horns quickly disappeared as we drove the short distance to Ninkasi Brewing and mysteriously grew out of my head as we arrived.

Ninkasi, my 666th brewery

Ninkasi was the perfect brewery to be my 666th. We walked through a very goth looking wrought iron gate into the courtyard and approached the building with bright green walls. The ambiance inside the decently-sized tasting room felt dark and slightly sinister. It was already full, but not over crowded, when we arrived around 4pm, so we set ourselves up in the corner with our taster set. I now donned the devilish horns, but no one even seemed to notice. I tried to act cool, like I didn’t notice them either. Eventually we were able to make our way up to the bar to continue drinking our sampler set.

The Sterling Pils was the star

Many of the beers were familiar to us–Total Domination IPA, Tricerahops Double IPA, Oatis Oatmeal Stout. But there were also a few we had never seen, which is yet another reason to visit breweries. They often have brews only available there. For me, the overwhelming standout was their brand new release, Sterling Pils, a snappy German-style pils. Who knew they even had one! They also had these tasty mixed nuts that we ate while finishing up our taster set.

And that was that. We’d each reached the number of the beast and had a devilishly good time doing it!

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The Glam Life of Beer Travel

Ah, the glamorous life of a beer traveler. Tuesday morning I awoke at 2:40am with a scheduled departure from our house at 3:30. Calls for the make-up girl at that ridiculously early hour prompted my friend Andie to respond with, “It doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s 3:30am!” This was just the beginning of the journey, though, as our flight from San Jose to Seattle left at 6:40am. Why in the world would we plan such a sadistic schedule? Well, first of all, I don’t make the schedule. But secondly, it’s one of the sacrifices one makes for the glorious reward of beer travel.

We arrived in Seattle at 8:30am and drove directly up to Bellingham. The home to a couple of fantastic breweries, no stop in Bellingham would be complete without a visit to Boundary Bay Brewing. We’d been there before, so it wasn’t new to “The List” but that didn’t matter because we knew  the beer would be fantastic.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the first pint of the day

They weren’t quite open when we arrived, so we anxiously waited outside for the door to open. While pacing the sidewalk, I peeked through the gaps in a hops-covered chain link fence to see a gem of a beer garden hidden below. Unfortunately it was overcast and breezy out, unusually cool weather for the Pacific Northwest in July, so the beer garden was not an option.

Instead, we sat at the bar an enjoyed a quick round. I opted for the Pilsner. With its surprisingly dark golden color and assertive flavor, this brew caught me off guard. I guess that’s what I get for ordering it by saying, “I’ll justhave the Pilsner.” I had immediately scolded myself for feeling like my choice of a (usually) subtle, lighter style of beer needed qualifying. One sip of the bold brew hit home the lesson that lighter styles do not necessarily equate to pale, flavorless beverages. Chris characterized his IPA and Glacier single hop IPA choices as “wonderfully well-crafted hoppy beers.”

The highlight stop of the day

After a quick stop, we were on to the beer highlight of the day: Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen. A short drive from Boundary Bay, Chuckanut is surrounded by a motorcycle shop and boat works. We drove in between the brewery and the pub (connected by an awning up above) to the convenient off-street parking lot. Like Boundary Bay, Chuckanut had a quaint outdoor seating area. The weather remained the same, however, so we opted for the cozy cafe-style inside.

Chuckanut was a highly anticipated stop. We had tried their beers at GABF last year and thoroughly enjoyed them. More importantly to me, however, was that they specialize in German-style beers. Our sample set included a Blonde, Kolsch, British IPA, Pilsner, Alt, and Vienna Lager. In a rare agreement of what beer to have a pint of, both Chris and I chose the Kolsch. In fact, as I was to see later on the menu, Tuesday is Kolsch day where later that evening stanges of Kolsch could be had for only $1.50 each. We weren’t going to be around later that evening, but it was okay because we enjoyed our full pint of the deliciously refreshing brew.

Lunch at Chuckanut

Chuckanut has a full kitchen with menu offerings listing the use of fresh, local ingredients. My perfectly-sized individual pizza with shallot sauce, peaches, and thick-sliced bacon was quite light and paired well with my beer. Also not one to pass up bacon, Chris enjoyed a BLT with the tastiest yam tater tots I’ve ever had. (Okay, the only ones I’ve ever had, but you get the idea…)

Besides the excellent beer and food, we found the staff to be friendly. It was nice to be in like-minded company as I discovered that the bartender, Dillon was also a German beer-style fan. Toward the end of our visit, co-owner Mari Kemper took the time to chat with us. The tales of her and her husband Will’s brewing history was captivating. Not only was Will a partner in the original Thomas Kemper Brewery, this brewing couple has assisted with the establishment of craft breweries in the unlikely locations of Mexico and Turkey. Mari’s story about the many years of putting in hard work before finally opening Chuckanut made our beer travel look positively glamorous. It goes to show that it’s slow and steady hard work and not instant recognition that creates longevity in this business.

Crossing over...

We left Bellingham with a bit of giddiness; quite possibly due to the lack of sleep or perhaps because the town is a fun beer stop. Most likely, however, it was because we were headed into Canadia to visit family. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with my brother and his family, including a quick stop at Mission Springs Brewing in Mission, BC. The best part of the evening, however, was that even with telling the U.S. border agent that we’d walked into Canada, had nothing to declare, and had only been there a few hours, he let us back in. I giggled as we crossed the street to our rental car parked next to the discount gas station. Such is the glamorous life of a beer traveler…

View all the images from our first day…

New beergeek.TV Episode – Springtime in Portland

Peeps and beer on Easter weekend

“Springtime in Portland” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.

Our tenth visit to Portland was our first not attending the Oregon Brewers Festival. Admittedly it was quite strange walking through the waterfront park and not seeing the familiar large white festival tents.

With no festival to attend, we were free of concentrate on our primary mission, adding breweries to the List. We visited outlying breweries that in previous years we had missed. And we enjoyed a wonderful urban beer hike on a glorious springtime Saturday.

So enjoy our tenth visit to the Rose City…

For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.

A Portland Beer Hike

Our tenth visit to Portland was also a first for us. This trip to the Rose City was our first not during Oregon Brewers Festival. Those sunny and warm July days were our only reference point for Portland weather. But we’d heard that it can be quite rainy other times of year, especially in Spring. With an urban beer hike planned for the Saturday of Easter weekend, we traveled prepared for non-July conditions.

A beautiful morning in Portland

Thankfully, Mother Nature was smiling upon on Easter Eve. We left our downtown hotel on a gloriously sunny Saturday morning and were down to t-shirts before we reached the Burnside Bridge, our gateway to the East side of the Willamette River. The first leg of our beer hike was the longest, almost 3.5 miles. After crossing the bridge and a few slight lefts, we were strolling up East Sandy Blvd. destined for the Hollywood district.

Columbia River Brewing

The journey up East Sandy wasn’t that memorable except for passing a Voodoo Donuts shop. We wanted to try a one of their doughnuts but the long line inside discouraged us. We continued on. If I won’t stand in line for over-hyped beer, I certainly won’t stand in line for over-hyped doughnuts.

We reached Columbia River Brewing, just off East Sandy, in about an hour. Merideth immediately recognized the building as the Laurelwood we visited several years back, a fact later confirmed. There were only two other customers in the brewpub and we joined them at the bar. As further proof that it’s a small world, they were a Bay Area couple we met several years ago at a SF Beer Week event.

A well-deserved taster set at Columbia River Brewing

While we chatted with the couple and the bartender, we enjoyed our fourth straight nine beer sampler set of the trip. Merideth continued her search for the perfect Peep-beer pairing. Put to the test was Rose City Wheat, a raspberry Wheat, and Ground “N” Pound Double IPA. Of course the Peep went well with the IPA, as the super hoppy and sickly sweet balanced nicely. It didn’t go as well with the wheat, however. A prime example of fruit beer done right, the Rose City Wheat had a subtle, dry raspberry flavor; something the Peep’s sweetness completely overwhelmed.

For me, the Oatmeal Stout was really nice, but Hop Heaven, their 78 IBU, 7.5% ABV IPA was really heaven after a long walk. The real treat was getting to enjoy a pint of Hop Heaven since we were on foot.

Migration Brewing

After the hits and misses of the previous day, it was great to start our beer hike with a real winner in Columbia River Brewing. Our friend Mike joined us at Columbia River and accompanied us for the rest of the afternoon. Since we had more ground to cover, we reluctantly finished our brews and moved on.

Returning to East Sandy Blvd., we headed back the way we came, towards downtown Portland. After a little over a mile, we reached Migration Brewing.

Enjoying the sun and a Lupulin IPA at Migration

Planning an urban beer hike is more than just picking all the beer stops. The key to successful beer hike is building in pee stops at just the right intervals. We visited Migration on a beer hike during our visit to Portland last summer. We really liked the beer and atmosphere during our first visit, so we were happy to return. It’s location between point A (Columbia River Brewing) and point B (Burnside Brewing) was perfect for a quick toilet break and beer stop.

While the majority of customers were inside watching the Trail Blazers playoff game, our trio enjoyed the beautiful Portland weather outside on their patio. Merideth put the Migration Pale Ale to the Peep test, while Mike and I split a pitcher of the citrusy and delicious Lupulin IPA.

Merideth being difficult at Burnside

Business taken care of  and beer finished, we could now move on to point B, Burnside Brewing. We continued in the general direction we had been heading and after another mile we were sitting outside at Burnside Brewing pouring over the  their menu.

I have to admit, I was a bit worried at first. While Burnside looked like just another casual, former industrial space Portland brewery, seeing the word ‘confit’ on the food menu had my douche radar going off. We’re just not confit people. But once the taster set was in front of us, my fears were disappeared.

The taster set at Burnside Brewing

While only five beers, the lineup was eclectic. There was an interesting Oatmeal Pale Ale, probably the first I had ever tried. Chili beers still seem to be alive and well in Portland and Burnside’s entry was Sweet Heat, an Apricot and Scotch Bonnet Wheat. The apricot was wonderfully subtle. Unfortunately, the Scotch Bonnet wasn’t. The star for me and Merideth was ‘Le Bas et Lumiere”, their session Belgian-style table beer. A perfect brew for the weather and timely as we needed to start pacing.

Sour heaven, Cascade Barrel House

The out and back portion of our hike was done as we left Burnside and headed south. Crossing into Southeast Portland, it was only a short half mile before we were at our next stop, Cascade Barrel House, the “House of Sour.” Arriving late afternoon, the Barrel House was packed with Trail Blazer fans with their eyes glued to the television. We grabbed a few seats at one of the non-prime TV viewing tables.

Now that is a taster set

The taster set was an overwhelming 17 beers. Remarkably, that was not the most ever. In 2008, we ordered an 18 beer sampler set at Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage. When we did the 18, we had the advantage of Moose’s Tooth being the first stop of the day. Well into our beer hike, I have to confess that we weren’t in the condition to truly enjoy the bounty in front of us. But we liked the pretty colors. When we return to Portland, we’ll have to pay the Barrel House another visit and make it our first stop.

Merideth did get a new angle in her search for the Peep-beer pairing. Would the contrasting sour flavors of the Cascade beers match well with the sweetness of the candy?

Several of the beers stood out for different reasons. The Gose was very salty, much saltier than the one we had in Germany. I loved the Vine, a blend of soured Tripel, Blonde and Golden ales with white wine grapes. But the  ‘WOW’ beer for me was Barrel #2 Live Kriek. Already a huge fan of the style, I have to say now say Cascade makes on of my favorites.

Merideth enjoying a Peep and Ginger Beer

Luckily, the next leg of our hike only took us around the corner because I was almost done and dusted. We stopped at Green Dragon to try their house beers brewed next door at Buckman Village Brewery. After the diverse collection of beers at Cascade, we didn’t bat an eye at Chamomellow, their chamomile brew, or the Ginger Beer.

Our Portland beer hike finished at Green Dragon. Over the course of a half day, we walked approximately six miles and visited five beer spots.  The weather was great, the beer excellent and the company enjoyable. Had we wanted to extend our beer hike, we would have had many choices in the area surrounding Green Dragon, but we’d already had a big day and were ready to settle down to watch the Timbers FC match. Beer and Football; there ain’t no pity in the Rose City!

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