This post and trip was sponsored by Visit Bend. All opinions are my own – seriously, Bend is awesome.
If you’re heading to Bend, Oregon, you’re probably heading down there to take on the outdoors or the Bend Ale Trail…or most likely both.
Located in Central Oregon, Bend is a modest-size city that is home to some of the best outdoor adventures you’ll find in the country, as well as some of the best beer.
Located in a highly volcanic region, Bend has a water supply that gets naturally filtered through layers of volcanic rock (similar to Iceland). In fact, when water quality is measured, water deemed “safe to drink” is capped at 5,000 ppm (Total Organic Carbon). In 2020, Bend’s water quality measures at 0.60 ppm of Total Organic Carbon – far below the maximum limit. This makes it a fantastic place for breweries, distilleries, and cideries to setup shop.
Ironically, the water in Bend can sometimes be too clean. Apparently, Deschutes Brewery hardens their beer to make it slightly easier to work with.
So over the past few years, the amount of breweries in Bend has exploded with the craft beer revolution. Some of the biggest names in craft beer, such as Deschutes Brewery and 10 Barrel Brewing, are from Bend, along with a litany of others.
Beer has become such a part of the city’s culture that they created the Bend Ale Trail. The Visit Bend team even created a Bend Ale Trail Passport system. A fun, interactive passport system that guides people through the region’s breweries.
The breweries are grouped into different “regions” based on their proximity. For example, downtown Bend is the “The Old Block” region in the Bend Ale Trail passport. This area holds Bend Brewing Co., Deschutes Brewery, McMenamins, Silver Moon Brewing, Spider City Brewing, and Worthy Taps & Tacos.
You can ask the host/bartender to stamp your passport when you go to these spots. Once you get all the stamps for a particular region, you get a prize, which can be redeemed at the Bend Visitor Center.
It’s a really cool interactive way to explore the area and learn a little bit more about Bend. The Bend Ale Trail Passport has information about each brewery, the surrounding region, and some tips & tricks to guide your visit.
You can pick up the physical passport at the Visitor Center for $5, or you can use the app/website. I’d highly recommend the physical passport; it’s just more fun.
Even though I’ve been to Bend and some breweries a handful of times, my recent trip was my first time systematically going through the Bend Ale Trail. After spending a week doing the hard work of exploring all the breweries in Bend, I narrowed down a list of my favorites.
Bend Ale Trail Map
One of the more famous breweries in Bend, Crux has a great indoor and outdoor space. You have great views of Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters from the outside area. So for sure, go on a sunny day, it’s one of the most beautiful locations you’ll find. If you go for sunset, they have something called the “sundown hour,” where you get $1 off beers.
Solar Sailor – Set the mainsail, trim the jib, and sail off into the unknown with us as we endeavor to craft yet another out-of-this-world IPA. For this space-hopped iteration, we circumnavigated the planet to collect a cosmic array of citrus and tropical flavors in the form of a full payload of Galaxy, Strata, and Comet hops. The resulting IPA is a juicy journey through the cosmos that’s categorically refreshing and truly a trip worth taking.
Located on the east side of town, Bevel is one of the most underrated breweries in Bend. They have ample space with a bunch of food carts outside. When I was there, it seemed like a locals-only joint. Every time someone new came in, it seemed like most of the bar knew them. Adding to the local vibe, they even have trivia on the first Tuesday of each month if you’re into that.
Black Ace – This medium-bodied Cascadian Dark Ale boasts hints of dark chocolate and roasted maltiness that finishes with a big, earthy hop profile.
Another staple in Bend, no trip is complete without a trip to 10 Barrel. Their westside location is perfect, with cozy fireplaces outside and an extensive beer hall vibe inside. Try out their flagship, the Apocalypse IPA. Also is it weird that I found their Israeli Couscous Salad amazing? The pizzas are good too.
Nature Calls – Mountain IPA? It’s the merger of two prominent IPA styles: a West Coast IPA and an East Coast Hazy IPA. Delivering a smooth profile that consists of mango, tangerine, and grapefruit, we’ve mixed the tropical fruitiness of a hazy with the piney, juicy, citrus of a traditional IPA. This Mountain IPA was brewed for hitting the outdoors because nothing beats this combo when you’re chilling around the fire.
Silver Moon has some of the best beer you’ll find on the Bend Ale Trail. The Simon Says Hazy IPA is one of the best I’ve had in quite a while, so you’ll find me sipping that on repeat. Silver Moon also has a sizable selection of food carts outside that have never disappointed me.
Simon Says – Hazy IPA 6.5%
Right down the street from the west side 10 Barrel location, Boss Rambler is a relatively new kid on the block. A minimalist, almost Scandinavian-esque design is a nice departure from the typical woodsy vibe of Bend. They have a wide variety of beer, including some real thick hazy IPAs such as the Hang Juice. For the
Hang Juice – DDH Hazy IPA // 7.2% ABV
Also right down the street from 10 Barrel and Boss Rambler (you’re probably sensing a theme), Sunriver has some great beer. I didn’t sample the food when I was there, but it smelled awesome. Also, if you leave the Bend Ale Trail without trying the Cocoa Cow, you messed up.
Cocoa Cow – Milk sugar, cocoa nibs and caramel malt build the rich, full body of this brew, with mild roasted notes coming from three varieties of chocolate malt. Have some dessert today – just make sure it’s served in a glass!
If you’re in the mood for Belgian beer and food, you gotta come to Monkless. The beer and food are fantastic, perfect for a chilly winter night.
Dubbel Or Nothing – This Dubbel is traditional, rich and malty. Finished with candy syrup which gives rise to hints of cocoa, caramel and toast with a nice, dry and balanced finish..
Located right downtown on the river, Bend Brewing is a classic. The second oldest brewery in Bend, Bend Brewing has been around since 1995. The location is fantastic on a warm summer day.
Tropic Pines IPA – 6.5 % Alcohol by Volume 65 IBUs
Suppose you’re looking for a bit of variety, or your gut is busting full from all the beer. In that case, there’s a bonus section at the back of the passport called “Drinkable Diversions.” These are a collection of wineries, distilleries, and cideries along the Bend Ale Trail that you can get stamps at as well!
I especially enjoyed my trip to Crater Lake Spirits, which gave me a tour and a tasting. Pro-tip – try the martini they serve using their Crater Lake Pepper Vodka – it’s unreal.
Another notable Drinkable Diversion is McMenamins in downtown Bend. If you’re not familiar with McMenamins, they are a Pacific Northwest “chain” of restaurants and bars. Their history is fascinating and another story altogether. The McMenamins in Bend is set in an old Catholic Schoolhouse from 1936, loaded with history.
There are a couple bars on the property and even a speakeasy. Now I’m a sucker for speakeasies, and I’ll be honest, this was up there with one of the most creative. You’ll have to find this one on your own, but I’ll give you two hints:
- Follow the blue lights
- Don’t get afraid to get dirty
There you go, that was your present for reading this far down.