Beer Lovers Flock to Bend, Oregon’s ALE TRAIL

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patrons fill up the boneyrad brewing tasting room

BY KRISTEN POPE

SITUATED IN CENTRAL OREGON’S HIGH DESERT, Bend is typically known as an outdoor lover’s paradise with abundant skiing, hiking, biking, rafting and other outdoor opportunities. But beer aficionados know that’s only part of what the town has to offer. Bend boasts an incredible collection of craft breweries, as well as wineries, cideries, distilleries and even kombucha breweries. To celebrate all this brew-centric town has to offer, hit the Bend Ale Trail.

The Bend Ale Trail is a way to visit many of the town’s breweries and earn prizes along the way. Pick up a “Bend Ale Trail Passport” and meander through town, stopping at breweries and collecting passport stamps to earn prizes. Gather 10 stamps to receive a commemorative Bend Ale Trail Silipint, or collect 15 to also receive a bottle opener.

What does Bend offer brewery-wise? Just about anything a beer lover could dream up. The town has over 15 breweries to choose from.

Crux Fermentation Project is one of Bend’s most innovative breweries. Sample Life or Mars (a “Biere de Mars” style), Bert Scottish Ale, Nordic Saison, barrel-aged sours and many other offerings among the over 20 brews on tap.

Sign up for a tour of Worthy Brewing’s new Hopservatory and peek into the cosmos while learning about astronomy between sampling pints of its flagships, including Lights Out Stout, Worthy IPA and Easy Day Kolsch.

Good Life was the first Bend brewery to can their beer, and one of their brews, Sweet As Pacific Ale, earned the title “best beach beer” in 2013, in addition to other accolades. The brewery’s other flagship is Descender IPA, and they have a rotating selection on tap, including session ales, limited release selections and single batch seasonals.

Rapidly growing 10 Barrel Brewing, which got its start in Bend in 2006, now has two Bend locations—one on the west side of town and a new East Bend pub by its main brewing facility—in addition to pubs throughout the West. Sample Apocalypse IPA, Cucumber Crush, Sinistor Black Ale and other staples and rotating selections.

Or stop by newcomer Immersion Brewing, which offers brew-it-yourself opportunities in addition to year-round taps offering Little Fawn Saison, Epic Bender Imperial IPA, Twisted Sisters American Pale Ale and others.

To officially participate in the Bend Ale Trail festivities, pick up a map and “passport” at local breweries, the Bend Visitor Center, a number of spots around town or print one at home. Or just download the free app for iPhone or Android to collect virtual stamps. All participants must be at least 21 and have their own “passport” to be eligible for prizes.

You don’t have to imbibe at each location in order to collect a stamp. No purchase is required, just a visit. There’s also no deadline to complete the passport, so feel free to take your time. Brewery hours vary, so keep that in mind when route planning. Try and check out a brewery tour or two along the way, as many locations offer them.

To get around safely, a number of companies, such as Bend Brew Bus and Bend Tour Company, offer transportation and tours, including a “cycle pub” option. Or just call a cab for a safe ride.

Any time of year is a good time to sample the trail, but November is Bend Ale Trail Month and those who complete the trail then receive trophies, along with other prizes.

In addition to the year-round Bend Ale Trail, the town boasts a number of beer festivals including The Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer, Cider & Whiskey Festival on September 1-2 (thelittlewoody.com) and Bend Oktoberfest on September 15-16 (bendoktoberfest.com). Other local beer celebrations include Zwickelmania (February), Central Oregon Beer Week (May), The Fermentation Celebration (June), and Bend BrewFest (August).

For more information, go to visitbend.com/things-to-do/Bend-Ale-Trail.