Hike-n-Urban Beer Hike in Salt Lake City

Over the years, we have waxed poetic about our love of combining hiking and beer.  Whether a trek in the Alps followed by beers at a hut or an urban beer hike in a big city, we enjoy the slow-paced journey provided by feet powered transportation.  We finally wedded the two on a quick trip to Salt Lake City, Utah. Introducing the Hike-n-Urban Beer Hike.

We probably could have done something similar on a previous trip but the thought never occurred to me. The light bulb moment came  when creating  a map for the trip, I placed a trail head pin near the cluster of downtown breweries targeted for our walking tour. Why not combine the two?

Salt Lake City is known for being a hikers paradise with many trails accessible from the downtown area. The trail head I had pinned was for the Living Room,  an out and back hike whose reward was a panoramic view of the Salt Lake Valley.

Starting out for the Living Room
Starting out for the Living Room

With five breweries to visit post hike, our goal was to be at our first brewery for a early afternoon lunch.  We set out mid morning under a bright blue sky and fall temperatures forecast to be in the mid 60s.

The trail head is located near the Natural History Museum of Utah. Beyond that, the trail wasn’t well marked, our only guide being the intuition to follow all the other people up a trail. We did ask some fellow hikers, at first finding newbies like ourselves with the same question. Finally, we got confirmation from a group of women coming down the trail that we were in fact on the correct path.

Rated a ‘moderate’ trail,  Merideth and I quickly decided that this must have a different meaning in Utah. The 1,100 foot climb followed a rocky, steep, rain gullied track. Frequent stops to catch our breath were rewarded with ever higher sweeping views of the Salt Lake Valley. Luckily, it was only after a little over a mile of climbing until we reached our goal.


The Living Room is so named for the chairs people created from the numerous rock slabs that litter the hillside. Maybe a dozen in number – I didn’t actually count – Merideth grabbed one of the few remaining and sat down. We relaxed with our fellow hikers and dogs as we took in the panoramic view of the valley. With the Great Salt Lake in the distance, we overlooked the seeming quiet calm that was Salt Lake City on a Saturday morning.

Merideth relaxing in the Living Room
Merideth relaxing in the Living Room

While the ascent was tiring, the descent provided its own challenges with every step an opportunity for a twisted ankle or a knee scraping fall. Much quicker than the climb, we were soon back where we started with all joints still intact, which was important as Merideth and I still had 3 miles to go before our first beer stop.

As  I promised Merideth, it was all downhill as we crossed the quiet campus of the University of Utah. I lingered for a few moments at the Fort Douglas Military Museum peering through fence at the military equipment on display. Continuing on, we passed through the fall leave covered neighborhoods between campus and downtown.

Approaching six miles into our hike/walk, we finally reached, much to our legs’ delight,  level ground. And more important, we arrived at our first brewery, Desert Edge Brewery & Grill. Located in the upscale Trolley Square shopping complex, I successfully navigated Merideth through a mini craft fair to find the brewery opposite  of where we entered the building.

Well deserved
Well deserved

We grabbed a table with nice a nice cushiony bench and soon had menus in hand. Worried that any hesitation on our part would have the waitress tell us she would come back, we quickly perused the beer list and ordered a much needed beverage.

Soon we had beers in hand, a Happy Valley Hefeweizen for Merideth and Pub Pils for myself. That first gulp of a nice, clean, crisp Pils really hit the parched spot. With a little less urgency, we both  ordered pork tacos for lunch.

Before our legs got too jelly-like, we finished our second beers and lunch and pressed on. Good news was all of the hard work was done for the day. The distances between the subsequent breweries would range from a little over a mile to a few hundred feet.

House-brewed Saison
House-brewed Saison

Passing the City Center then turning down Broadway, we soon saw the big brick facade of  Squatters Pub Brewery.  Entering the double doors, we found a bustling pub. Merideth sidled into the one available seat at the end of the bar. I took a standing position next to her.

Our visit  had to include Salt Lake City’s first brewpub (second in Utah). However, I thought this was more  a sentimental stop as I wasn’t sure they still brewed at the brewpub. It was my soon-to-be-found-incorrect understanding that all the beer was brewed at their separate Utah Brewers Cooperative production facility. If true, we would not be able to count Squatters on the List.

First sips into our beers, Polygamy Porter on Nitro for myself and French Saison for Merideth, we asked our friendly bartender whether they still brewed at the this location. She enthusiastically replied “Yes” and helpfully added that the Saison Merideth was drinking was brewed in-house. Taking a gulp from Merideth’s beer, we both officially added Squatters to the List.

Our next stop, Red Rock Brewery, was around the corner from Squatters. Gassed after the .1 mile hike, we joined the Saturday afternoon college football crowd at the bar.

All smiles at Red Rock
All smiles at Red Rock

Going into this trip, I had little exposure to Utah beer except for the California-distributed Uinta. Just short of a half dozen breweries into our trip (we had visited three the prior evening), I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and breadth of styles offered in the beehive state capital. Most enjoyable to me was the large number of quality lager beers we found.

This experience continued at Red Rock. Merideth and I both ordered and appreciated the draft German Pilsner, a bright and crisp lager. Even as a hophead and IPA guy, I get more excited about finding a well-crafted lager than I do with my go-to style.

Approaching dusk, we embarked on our last real leg of the day. Skirting the city center, it was just under a mile and a half to our next to last brewery stop and probably most anticipated, Epic.

Like many first time beer travelers to Utah, we probably held a few misconceptions about state’s beer laws. The only oddity, if I can call it that,  we encountered in our brewery visits up to this point was draft beer had to be under 4% ABV (over 4% had to be served from a bottle). Given the number of breweries on our target list, we appreciated this particular aspect of Utah liquor law.

We intend to eat
We intend to eat. We intend to sit. We want to drink beer

However, this would change at Epic Brewing.  We would first experience the Utah of myth and legend. To drink at Epic, the customer needs to order food. And not just say “Yeah, I’ll get some food.” To  order beer, the customer needs to have ordered food first. And be sitting.

No big deal. We accomplished the more difficult part, sitting,  which was somewhat an achievement in the tiny tasting room. But, at first, Merideth was adamant that she wasn’t hungry.  Really? Took a bit of convincing but I finally got her to order a meat and cheese plate. I ordered the grilled cheese accompanied by a bag of Cheetos, Food ordered, we could now drink beer.

Epic was the big anticipation stop of the day as I had a number of people tell me they thought it was the best brewery in the city. At first, Merideth and I ordered a glass, Fest Devious Märzen for her, Hopulent IPA for myself. But noticing the sample prices, most under 50 cents, we quickly switched to ordering the tastes to enable to try more beers.

Please order some food...
Please order some food…

True to form, I sampled pretty much everything that said IPA. However. we sampled a wide range of beers, tasting Saisons and fruited Belgian-style ales. I did enjoy their IPAs, especially the Hopulent, but my star was the Elder Bret Saison, a collaboration with Colorado’s Crooked Stave.  Merideth’s star was the aforementioned Märzen.

Epic was living up to the pre-visit hype and there was plenty more beers on the list to try.  But we still had one more brewery to visit so we called it quits. Taking our check from our bartender,  we quickly perused the bottle shop for our favorites.  Grabbing a couple of bottles for home, we checked out with the cashier.

Be sure to ask the bartender what beers they like. Tips can be their bottles as well as cash.

Leaving Epic after nightfall, Proper Brewing, our last stop, was just on the block over. Proper was hard to miss as the name was painted in building-sized letters on the front.

A Proper Idaho beer
A Proper Idaho beer

Our original plan was to eat at Proper, ordering from their sister burger place located next door. But the unexpected meal at Epic changed our plans. With only beer to consider, I quickly ordered Hopspital IPA so I could drink a beer while further perusing the beer menu.

The beer I found on the menu,  a “beer-of-the-trip” candidate, was their Idaho Pale Ale. Made with ingredients sourced from their neighbor to the north, I did entertain the idea that the beer had potatoes. It didn’t. What it did have was the suddenly popular Idaho 7 hop that seems to be making the rounds of all the hoppy beer brewers. The Pale Ale had the big tropical notes that is characteristic of the hop. Unfortunately, Proper did not bottle Idaho Pale Ale so I wasn’t able to bring any home.

Despite being our last stop, my internal beer hike clock told me we couldn’t spend all night at Proper. It did sound like a grand idea but we had a flight home  in the morning. Finishing my second pint of Idaho Pale Ale, Merideth and I called it a day.

We entertained the idea of walking the two and half miles back to our hotel but decided that would be overkill. Instead we took advantage of a free trip from one of those ride share services.

Celebrating the completion of a fun day in Salt Lake City
Celebrating the completion of a fun day in Salt Lake City

A hike with breathtaking views, five breweries, nine total miles. A great way to introduce ourselves to the Salt Lake City hiking and brewery scenes. That is a Hike-n-Urban Beer Hike.

View all the Salt Lake City images…

Halifax Urban Beer Hike

Not all Urban Beer Hikes are created equal. Some include numerous breweries, making great contributions to The List. Others offer length, contributing much to our health. Our recent Halifax Urban Beer Hike added a little bit of everything, including six breweries to The List, a pinch of exercise, and a great way to see the city.

Need beer…

We started our UBH with a warm up from our hotel to Propeller Brewing. Well, it wasn’t so much a “warm up” as it was a very hot and humid 15-minute walk. I was so looking forward to an air-conditioned tasting room and a pint, but alas, that was not to be. Sweating away, we tried Propeller’s standard line up of beers (Pale Ale, Bitter, Porter, Honey Wheat, Pilsner, IPA) plus a special seasonal Double IPA. All of the beers were cleanly brewed and tasted great. In a rare moment of beer agreement, Chris and I both especially liked the Bitter. Having the classic malt backbone of the style and a bit of hop kick, the beer was refreshing. As the brewery likes to say, “Our most popular brew is not really a bitter beer, it’s a better Bitter!”

Propeller is a tasting room and bottle shop, no full pints for sale. So, if you aren’t lucky enough to attend one of their special catered events in the banquet room, plan on tasting and picking up your favorite bottles to go. Which is exactly what we did.

Beating the heat with a Double IPA

A short distance away (if you don’t get lost) on the touristy Waterfront Boardwalk, we found Hart & Thistle Gastropub & Brewery. We sat outside on the patio shaded by a brightly colored Budweiser Lime-a-Rita umbrella. The weather had yet to break, so while we were happy to be in the shade, we continued to sweat bullets. Once again, I was looking forward to a refreshing brew to cool off with. Unfortunately, my choices were Columbus Double IPA (9.1%) and Ironhead Smoked Porter (7.2%). They don’t offer tastes, so we both went for the DIPA. Yes, even I did.

I admit that between the touristy location and the forest of lime green Bud umbrellas on the patio, I wasn’t holding out much hope. We were pleasantly surprised, however, and the DIPA was very nice. More specifically, it was nice for Chris. I enjoyed one bitter sip, enough to appreciate it as a well-brewed beer. Chris was very happy, indeed, but a 9.1% beer was not exactly what he planned on for only the second stop on our UBH.

The service was friendly and attentive, the view was nice and the beer done well. We also enjoyed our lobster salad and 3-dip plate.

Much better…

Hart & Thistle’s limited beer choice left me a bit deflated. So, with the recommendation from a friend, we hit Cow’s Ice Cream. So cool and creamy, it really hit the spot! I was now ready for our next brewery–-Alexander Keith’s, North America’s oldest brewery and now part of the Anheuser–Busch InBev dynasty.

You may be asking why we bothered visiting a macro-brewery. Well, there are several reasons. 1) We’re completists and it would be hard to know the brewery was there and not visit. 2) This was the original brewery and therefore historic. (We’ve also been to Coors in Golden, CO). And 3) Several people told us we HAD to do the brewery tour; that we’d love it!

The eyes say it all…

Chris blames me for making him go on the tour, but the fact is, we were both a little curious. Here’s why: the tour is conducted by actors in period costumes and takes place in the year 1863. Luckily they stuck to the script and didn’t really expect too much audience participation as we learned the brewing process, played period pub games, listened to singing and watched dancing. I’m thinking of two particular friends who would totally love working this gig! (Let me know if you think I’m talking about you. I would love to see if you can guess…)

The tour lasted about 45 minutes and also included two small beers. I enjoyed (as much as one can) the Dark and Chris the Cascade Ale. Not sure it was worth the $19.95 each we paid for it, but as Chris says, at least we supported a few local actors.

Walking further down Lower Water Street, we struggled to wrap our heads around what we had just witnessed. A beer was definitely in order. Fortunately, we were heading in the direction of Garrison Brewing.

The longest leg of our UBH, our journey to Garrison Brewing gave us an opportunity to walk along the water and enjoy the view. The brewery was located at the end port where a cruise ship was docked.

A happy UBH-er

We relaxed at an outside table while drinking our taster set and watching people return to the boat. We tried 7 beers at Garrison, including all of their year-round brews (Wheat, Amber, Pale Ale, Irish Red, Nut Brown, American Red, and Imperial IPA).

All of the beers were well-brewed, but of course, Chris liked the citrusy Imperial IPA (7% ABV, 81 ABV) best.  I actually don’t remember which beer I liked best, but we did buy a few bottles of the Irish Red and the Hop Yard Pale Ale, so I imagine it was one of those.

Walking all the way back to where we started earlier in the day, our next stop was Rock Bottom Brewing, right around the corner from our hotel. And no. Not that Rock Bottom.

The Rookie…

The cellar-level pub was a little dark and we weren’t sure what to expect from Rock Bottom’s beer. We sat at a cool booth-style table at the end of the bar. The first thing I liked was the logo, a mermaid with a pint. So much so that I think it may be my next tattoo. Then they had a Happy Hour boneless chicken wing special ($4 for 10 Thai chili wings). So far so good. Next came our 6-beer sample set…all I can say is that the beer was great!

We tried the Wheat, Stout, IPA, and Brown, plus two seasonals: The Rookie and Broken Down SOB (Special Old Bitter). The Rookie was a hoppy American-style mild. Chris went wild for this Citra/Simcoe hop bomb, especially since it came in at a sessionable 3.3% ABV! I enjoyed the malty, biscuity SOB with our boneless wings.

After 2 baskets of wings and a few beers, it was time for us to move on. We had one last stop to complete our halifax UBH.

A final sample flight at Rogue’s Roost

For our final stop of the day, we went a few blocks further from our hotel to Rogue’s Roost. A bit drained from the heat and humidity of the day, we decided to have a quick taster set and call it a night. It included their five regulars: Red, Brown, Raspberry Wheat, Cream Ale, and IPA. The nautical themed atmosphere was pleasant and the other customers mellow, making it the perfect ending to a long day.

In spite of the humidity, our Halifax Urban Beer Hike was exactly what a UBH should be. We experienced the breadth of Halifax breweries, saw different parts of the beautiful city, exercised a bit, and added breweries to The List. All in all, another great beer travel adventure.

View all the Halifax images…

Wandering Around Victoria

With its concentration of breweries and easy walk-ability, Victoria screamed out for an Urban Beer Hike. I even had one envisioned in my head, a circular route that hit all the new breweries plus some old favorites in the British Columbia capital. But, prior to our trip, I was too immersed in working on promoting Merideth’s book to get one properly organized and planned. Our one full day in Victoria morphed into more of an Urban Beer Wander.

Blue skies over Victoria…

In contrast to the previous day, the weather on Saturday in Victoria was a bit more encouraging for a walk. Clouds were breaking up mid morning as Merideth and I left Spinnakers, our brewery-hotel, for the short walk to the Inner Harbor. By the time we reached the center of town, both Merideth and I had our fleeces off.

After doing a Clark Griswold on the downtown tourist sights, Merideth and I headed up Government Street to the industrial part of town. The blocks around Government and Bay Streets have become Victoria’s ‘brewery gulch’, the location for most of the new breweries in town.

Been there, done that

Our first beer stop was Vancouver Island Brewing. To illustrate my distracted state prior to our trip, I had the island’s oldest craft brewery on our target list despite having already visited the brewery on our last visit to Victoria in 2001. Even though we’d already been there, nothing looked familiar to me or Merideth. I certainly hope a remodel was the explanation.

In the end, a few beer samples can’t hurt, even if the brewery was already on The List. Hermann’s Dark and the seasonal Hefeweizen Beachcomber Summer Ale were pleasant starts to the beer portion of the day.

The one brewpub in the industrial part of town

We continued walking up Government and hung a left on Bay to reach our second destination, Moon Under Water, a brewery that did count on The List. The name comes from a George Orwell essay of the same title where he describes Moon Under Water, his fictitious ideal pub.

The sample flight at Moon Under Water

Not quite sure of how many more stops there would be on the day, Merideth and I only split the six beer sampler. In a rare moment, we agreed on the our favorites of the lot, Moonlight Blonde, Lunar Pale Ale and the seasonal Stout. The overall star for me was the 4.2% ABV Blonde ale. Made with a bit of wheat and hopped with Saaz, the brew had a really nice bite to accompany its light body.

Certainly is…

From Moon Under Water, it was only a short walk around the corner to Hoyne Brewing on Bridge St. To illustrate that this neighborhood is brewery gulch, Driftwood Brewing was located next door. But unfortunately, it is not currently open to the public.

Located in a blue-roofed industrial building on the corner, Hoyne has been only open since December. For being such a newcomer, they have already developed quite a following as evidenced by the steady stream of customers coming it to fill growlers.

Sampling at Hoyne Brewing

We sampled five beers, all quite nice especially given the youth of the brewery. Starting on the lighter end with Summer Haze Honey Hefe and Hoyner Pilsner, we moved on to Merideth’s favorite, Dark Matter. Technically classified a Brown Ale, Dark Matter had a wonderful nutty and roast character. Moving on to my end of the spectrum, we finished with Down Easy Pale Ale and Devil’s Dream IPA. Both were excellent, though I preferred the Pale Ale.

Phillips Brewing

Returning back the way we came, Merideth and I headed back down Government Street to our third and last new brewery of the day, Phillips Brewing. Just like Hoyne, but even more so, Phillips enjoyed a very steady stream of growler-fill customers. We grabbed a corner of the tasting bar, trying to stay out of the way, while we worked our way through the Phillips lineup.

Merideth enjoying herself at Phillips Brewing

We sampled numerous brews beginning with the light-bodied Phoenix Gold. An early highlight was Service 1904 Scotch Ale, a 5% ABV stone-fired beer with a flavorful caramel malt profile. Hop Circle IPA not only was a great hop-pun, but a well-crafted hopbomb. Longboat Chocolate Porter was a favorite of both Merideth and I. It’s deep chocolate flavor cried out for a big bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Sample flight at Canoe Club

Once back in the center part of Victoria, we headed to Canoe Brewpub. Though we had been there before, Merideth and I had visions of playing scrabble in the sunshine overlooking the water on the brewpub’s patio. Grabbing the only available outside table, Merideth and I dove into the six beer sample tray.

Then the weather turned for the worse. The wind picked up, dark clouds rolled in and the sunshine was gone. The wind was so strong it even picked up an open umbrella from the table next to us and hurled it over the glass wall onto a walkway. By the time we decided to pack it in, the rain had started to fall.

Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA at Garrick’s Head Pub

Trying to wait out the rain, Merideth and I next went to Garrick’s Head Pub in Bastion Square. A Victoria fixture since 1867, Garrick’s Head came recommended by several people for being a good place to find local craft beer. I took the opportunity to try Driftwood Brewing Fat Tug IPA. At 7% ABV and 80 IBU, it was very West Coast style and one of my favorite beers I drank in Victoria. It definitely made we wish they had a tasting room to try the rest of their offerings.

A bit breezy…

As Merideth and I enjoyed our beers at Garrick’s Head, we examined every entering customer to see how wet their jackets were. With a 20-minute walk back to Spinnakers still ahead, we were hoping to minimize how wet we got. Finishing our pints, we decided the rain had sufficiently let up. It was a pleasant, if breezy, walk back to Spinnakers.

Our reward for a good day of beer travel

After two visits to the British Columbia capital, Spinnakers, for us, remains the cream of the crop of the Victoria beer scene.The beer was world-class and the farm to table food quite delicious.

Though I was wanting the long-gone cask Cascadia Ale that I had enjoyed the previous day, Spinnakers India Session Ale was the perfect choice after a day of drinking beer. We finished our Urban Beer Wander with a nice dinner, our evening culminating with a Chocolate Truffle and Beer Pairing. It’s one of the perks of staying in their hotel.

Our day in Victoria wasn’t that organized, but despite that, we discovered again that it’s a great beer town. Next visit, I will be better prepared with a properly planned Urban Beer Hike.

View all of the Victoria images…

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

View Bend Urban Beer Hike in a larger map

East Bay Urban Beer Hike

When we were up in Seattle in July, our friends Chris and Dave told of us of their November plans to visit the Bay Area. These plans included an East Bay Urban Beer Hike. As proud former East Bay-ers, the opportunity to spend a beer day in our old stomping grounds was a chance we couldn’t turn down.

Berkeley's beer landmark...

The planned hike consisted of six stops and covered seven miles, from downtown Berkeley to downtown Oakland. The stops included one brewery and five beer bars, with two of the stops being new to us.

On a chilly, yet sunny Sunday morning, we got a jump on the hike by walking the little over a mile from our Oakland waterfront hotel to the Lake Merritt BART station. Our destination was downtown Berkeley and one of the landmarks of the East Bay beer scene: Triple Rock Brewery.

Single Hop Experience Pacific

Our group gathered at “America’s Oldest Original Brewpub” and prepared for the day’s hike by getting some food in our bellies.

There was collective disappointment that IPAX Ale, Triple Rock’s West Coast IPA, wasn’t on that day. But this disappointment was quickly tempered by the Single Hop Experience Pacific Gem. A 5.2% ABV Pale Ale, S.H.E. was a citrusy, easy-drinking beer to start the Urban Beer Hike.

Crossing the Berkeley campus

The longest leg of the day’s hike, approximately two and a half miles, took us from downtown Berkeley to the Rockridge neighbor just across the border in Oakland. Being familiar with this ground, Merideth and I took the group on the scenic route across the Berkeley campus. We regaled our fellow urban beer hikers with stories about our wonderful university and our own college years. From the Berkeley campus, we hiked straight down College Ave, reaching Barclay’s Pub in approximately an hour.

Enjoying a Moonlight Bony Fingers at Barclay's

Barclay’s was packed with regulars watching the hometown Raiders play the hated Broncos. As always, it was great chatting with old friends.

After ordering a round of beers, our group crowded around the side bar. One of the joys of Barclay’s is that they consistently have Moonlight’s brews on tap. My first beer was the wonderful dark lager, Death and Taxes followed up with the equally wonderful Bony Fingers Black Lager. Our Seattle pair got to enjoy the CME IPA from Oakland’s newest brewery, Oakland Brewing Company.

Auto racing, not bowling

It was a short walk from Barclay’s down to Telegraph Avenue and our next stop, Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub. I assume most people make the same mistake our group did and think the name refers to bowling. Walking into Lanesplitter and seeing the Racing 5 decoration, we quickly realized that our association was mistaken. The theme was auto racing, not bowling.

An unexpected surprise!

Slices of pizza were ordered, as well as a pitcher of Sierra Nevada Celebration. Confusion ensued as the beer delivered was a golden/amber color as opposed to the deep amber color of Sierra’s holiday staple.Tasting the beer, it clearly wasn’t Celebration. Dave took the reigns and went to talk our waitress. After a minute or so, he came back with the keg cap. Much to Merideth’s and my surprise, the beer was our Sierra Nevada California Common!

Six months on, our Beer Camp beer was still drinkable but it did lack the brightness it had when it was fresh. Even so, it was special to have what was most likely some of the last draft pints (we still have some bottles).

The Trappist in downtown Oakland

Once on Telegraph Avenue, it was a straight shot to downtown Oakland. The perfect stop half way on this jaunt was Commonwealth Cafe and Public House. Unfortunately, we arrived an hour after their mid-afternoon Sunday closing time. Disappointed, we proceeded on for the 20 blocks left to our next destination.

Just around dusk, we reached the main artery of downtown Oakland: Broadway. It was only a few more blocks before our group was walking through the front door of The Trappist.

Oakland's own Urban People's Common Lager

Although The Trappist is a Belgian-themed establishment, it was a hometown brew that we came to drink. Our group ordered a round of Linden Street Brewery’s flagship beer Urban People’s Common Lager, a delicious California Common. Unfortunately, the beer didn’t pair so well with the 4505 Meats’ chicharrones.

I followed up my Linden Street brew with another lager from Moonlight, the light-bodied Lunatic Lager.

Beer Rev has a few hoppy beers on...

From The Trappist, it was only a short five block walk down Broadway to our final stop of the Urban Beer Hike: Beer Revolution. I have to admit, for Merideth and I it was our third stop at Beer Rev during our two day trip to the Bay Area.

The previous day was “Hopslosion” at Beer Revolution, where over 40 hoppy brews were on tap. Sunday, the hoppy choices were down to a paltry 30-something beers.

The happy hikers at the finish line

At the finish line, our group drank probably the consensus beer of the day, Drake’s Alpha Sessions. Light-bodied and hopped like their Double IPAs with Citra, Simcoe and German Magnum, Alpha Sessions is a delicious 3.8% ABV session beer. The perfect beer to end a long day of hiking and drinking.

Missing one stop was a disappointment, but our Urban Beer Hike reminded us what a worthy beer destination the East Bay is. Next time, a Berkeley or Oakland only hike is a definite possibility.

View all the images from our East Bay Urban Beer Hike

Map of the six locations

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