8. The next stop on the ale trail was several miles across town, on the northeast side of the city. Armed with advice from the server at Boneyard for the most bike-friendly streets to take, I pedaled off and eventually came to the Worthy Brewing Co.. This is a very modern plant, just opened last February with a 30-barrel system, canning line, all the latest equipment.
9. No bike-friendly streets for the next leg, but at least Bend had painted a good bike lane on the busy road (US 20) that headed back toward the downtown section. Happily, the next stop, Silver Moon Brewing, was on my side of the highway. Coming by car from downtown, access to this spot may be tricky. Silver Moon has been around since 2000, one of the veterans of this expanding brewing scene. They don't have the glass walls that let one gaze at the brewing equipment, but they have murals on the back walls depicting just that view.
The clock nears 3 p.m. and the trail has two breweries to go.
10. Downtown begins a couple of blocks from Silver Moon, and the road, Greenwood Ave, approaches another bridge over the Deschutes River. Just before the bridge, a left turn leads to Bend Brewing Co., , another relative old-timer in town (founded 1995). The location is said to overlook a wide spot in the river called Mirror Pond, but the banks are overgrown with brushy stuff and you can't see the water. No matter, the pub is very pleasant and cozy and the outdoor eating areas are popular on a sunny afternoon. I stay in, where I can chat with Jen, the bartender, after she draws a Ludwig Pilsner. Learning that I'm from Bellingham and a Chuckanut fan, she tells me that Bend Brewing's booth at the Great American Beer Festival last year was right between Chuckanut's and Boundary Bay's. Knowing how many times Chuckanut had won medals for their pilsner, Wendy, the owner of Bend Brewing, was thrilled to have scored the gold for her pilsner last year.
BBC has an impressive display of medals from various prestigious tasting festivals like the GABF.
Chat is good, pilsner goes down easy, but 4 o'clock nears and one brewery remains to be seen and a stamp collected so I can turn in the passport before the visitor center closes at 5. Fortunately, that brewery has a downtown pub just a block away, so I can leave the bike where it is and walk to the last stop. One many folks have heard of.
11. 1988. Guy named Gary Fish opens the first brewpub in Bend, names it after the river flowing through. It grows, and grows, and today Deschutes Brewing is the fifth largest craft brewer in the USA, as the Brewers Association defines craft brewing (sorry, Blue Moon, Shock Top, you guys don't qualify). This has to be run from a humongous (well, by craft standards) brewery in the southwest part of town, They are said to have a terrific tour. But the pub downtown is where it all started so long ago.
But they make stuff they don't bottle. Draft only. I had yet to try a sour ale, and I saw some good options here, I have two female relatives who are quite enamored of the Duchesse de Bourgogne, one of the great Belgian exemplars of that style. So when I saw Gold Kriek Sour on the tap list, I chose that for my last pint on the trail. So complex, so many fruity hints, a lot like tasting a wine. This cherry-sweetened golden ale checked in at 4.5% abv, bitterness negligible. A wild yeast. Totally delicious.
I got back on the back (didn't hop on, had enough hopping this day) and turned in my passport at the visitor center by 4:30, My reward was a flexible plastic 10-oz tumbler, a "sillipint." Forget about rating the SRMs through that thing,. Still time to turn in the bike before 5. I figured my elapsed time on the Bend Trail was about eight hours, two the previous evening and six today. It could have been done more efficiently. Maybe driving the car out to Worthy the first evening. Still not sure how to work the tour of the big Deschutes plant into a one-day tour: they only go on the hour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
There are eleven breweries on the tour, but that does not exhaust the category. Three more are listed in the Northwest Brewing News' latest edition, which runs the tally to 14. I heard counts of 17 and 18 from various folks. Where's the synergy? Bellingham has about the same population, the same foodiness and abundant outdoor recreation choices, and three breweries in town (two more in the county). Of course, our brewers can only market in one direction, south, West the ocean, east the mountains and passes closed in winter, north the Canadian border (why didn't NAFTA carve out a nice deal for beer?). Bend brewers can market in all four directions. But so can Yakima brewers, another city of like size, where they grow a bit of hops, and Yakima just got a second brewery. Maybe they're fixated on wine (a rather minor factor in Bend) but that hasn't slowed the recent burst of brewing in Woodinville, wine city USA. Another mystery of the universe to ponder.
(all visits done 7/11.13)