Portlanders have adopted the braggadocious nickname “Beervana” to describe their fair city, supposedly on account of its plethora of craft breweries. While it’s certainly true that Portland has more than its fair share of homegrown beer luminaries, Oregon’s largest city actually isn’t the state’s craft beer capital. At least, not when you take into account brewery accessibility for average residents and visitors.
That distinction goes to Bend, Oregon. Yeah, it goes to MY city. So when I ask my visiting out-of-town friends what they’d like to do when they’re here, they almost always say, “Well Amin Khoury, my good friend, how about heading to town for some IPAs?” (Okay, I’m paraphrasing just a bit there.)
But what I’m not making up is this: According to the Bend Visitor Center, the centrally located sports mecca has one functioning brewery for every 4,500 men, women and children who call it home. That’s the densest craft brewery concentration of any city in Oregon, and behind just a handful of mostly Western cities for densest U.S. beer market overall.
Thirsty Bend visitors have no shortage of high-quality craft beer options. But these five breweries are particularly worth one’s while. Next time you’re in beautiful Bend, Oregon, check out these sudsy institutions.
1. Cascade Lakes Brewing Company
Cascade Lakes Brewing Company got its start in a dingy industrial building at the nearby Redmond airport back in 1994. With a bustling taproom near the heart of Bend, it’s now one of Central Oregon’s most popular breweries. Pitcher deals make Cascade Lakes one of Bend’s group-friendliest breweries, and an expansive games area practically begs you to take the kids — who eat free on Sundays, FYI.
2. Bend Brewing Company
Bend Brewing Company is an award-winning (10-plus since 2010, including several coveted Great American Beer Festival takes) brewery that just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Come for a pint of High Desert Hefeweizen or Pinnacle Porter, stay for the tasty apps, and be sure to pull up a chair on what’s arguably Bend’s best patio — weather permitting, of course!
3. Silver Moon Brewing
Silver Moon Brewing is the brewery for live music in Bend. Stop by during the week for a peek at hot local acts, or peek ahead at the event schedule to see when national acts plan on stopping through. IPAs, IPLs and Imperial Reds rule the roost here, but there are plenty of cold-season dark beers in the extended rotation too.
4. Boneyard Brewery
Boneyard Beer sounds edgy, and it is. According to the owners, the inspiration for the place’s unusual name comes from the source of its equipment — the “boneyard,” i.e. the vast and ever-expanding universe of secondhand brewing equipment thrown off by defunct and expanding breweries. In an eco-friendly town, nothing sells like repurposed, reclaimed production wares.
And the beer? It’s amazing. Boneyard specializes in high-gravity brews like Notorious, a well-balanced creation that tips the scales at 11.5% ABV, but cautious types can fall back on Bone Light (4% ABV) and Bone-a-Fide (5.5% ABV). The tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
5. Deschutes Brewery
Save the best for last? That’s debatable. Definitely the biggest, though.
Deschutes Brewery is a national powerhouse. According to the Brewers’ Association, it’s the seventh-largest U.S. craft brewery by production volume. Its regular-run beers are available on liquor shelves and in bars coast-to-coast. And it’s basically a household name among in-the-know drinkers.
In Bend, though, Deschutes is just another member of the craft beer gang. Check out the brewery’s Bend Public House, where the first-ever Deschutes beers came gushing out of the tap back in the late 1980s, and the Bend Tasting Room, where new brews make their debuts. The Tasting Room opens at 8 a.m. (!) on weekdays.
What’s your favorite Bend brewery?
Image attribution – Lucas Jans, cropped and sized, Creative Commons license