It used to be our little secret: That along with the countless recreational opportunities in Bend and 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. It’s a beautiful (and tasty) thing.
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!
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 newer breweries to the game, Worthy has quickly garnered 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. Oh, as does the Hopservatory – a full-size telescope on site! 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?
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. New in 2017: 10 Barrel opened a new East Side location off of Empire Avenue. Same great beer and food in a cool new building.
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 or Sunriver Resort. 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 Sunriver location 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.
Bend Brewing Co.
Known as “The BBC” by the locals since it opened 20 years ago, Bend Brewing Co. is the Central Oregon version of your local watering hole. Small and narrow, the pub is located in downtown Bend and has great views of Mirror Pond from the newly expanded patio and backyard. Ask for a High Desert Hefe or a Big Eddy Bitter and you can’t go wrong. Food wise, the fish and chips are among the best in the region and the wings might actually be tops in Central Oregon.
Three Creeks Brewing Co.
Three Creeks is in Sisters on the campus of the FivePine Lodge. Home to local favorites Stonefly Rye and Knotty Blonde, Three Creeks might have the best menu of the bunch with dishes like the Knotty Schnitzel and the Chicken Bacon Tater pita taco thing that I can attest Will. Fill. You. Up.
Crux Fermentation Project
Situated smack dab in the middle of Bend, Crux is the go-to spot for sunset brews thanks, in part, to its Sundowner Hour special: Discounted beer and food a half hour before and after the sun goes down over the Cascades – for which you will have the best view around. Co-founded by one of the brewers who helped launch Deschutes, Crux’s favorites include On the Fence Northwest Pale Ale and Outcast IPA. Food wise, the pub gets super creative with a panini machine, soups and salads. On Mondays the kitchen is closed, but you can grab some amazing tacos from the taco cart outside. When it’s nice, play some cornhole or other lawn games on the giant field next to the pub.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
You’ll find McMenamins all over the Pacific Northwest. The family restores old hotels/schools/insane asylums and turns them into new pubs/theaters/hotels. Bend’s St. Francis School was just that – a Catholic school in the heart of downtown. Today it’s a campus of three pubs, a movie theater, Turkish soaking pool, rental homes and classrooms-turned-hotel rooms. Beer wise, Hammerhead Stout and the fruity Ruby are the go-tos for locals and visitors alike. And you can’t go wrong asking for a “Rubinator” – a Terminator Stout/Ruby mix like a black and tan. As for the menu, some have said McMenamin’s Captain Neon burger and famous Cajun tots would be part of their last meal.
Silver Moon Brewing
A recent Silver Moon radio commercial ends with the tag line “Same Great Beers, Same $#%-tty Location.” They’re right about both. But the beers at Silver Moon are worth google mapping the pub, especially the Voodoo Dog ISR and Snake Bite Porter. It’s also one of the prime spots for live music in Bend. On the menu, spice things up with the jalapeno slaw on the slow roasted pulled pork or make a meal out of the Crater Nachos with ground beef.
Immersion is Bend’s first and only “brew-it-yourself” pub and craft brewery. You can go there and create your own brew – wait three weeks and come back for five gallons of your personal creation (or they can ship it to you in Oregon.) Or, you can just pop in for some of their fantastic beers and grub. Featured dishes include Poke Marinated Ahi, Short Rib with edamame avocado succotash, and an antibiotic-free Duroc pork Porterhouse with spent beer grain spätzle and brussels sprouts, the restaurant is as central to the brewery experience as the beer.