Beer Weekend in Bend, OR

Posted on August 30, 2011 by

First off all, the 1 gallon batch from my previous brewing session is currently dry hopping. It will sit there for a few more days, then I’ll bottle. Stay tuned for that!

This past weekend my wife and I went down to Bend, OR for a Ben Harper concert. It was a great excuse to get out of town and hit up the home of Deschutes beer. While in Bend we hit up the Deschutes Brewery, Deschutes Brewpub, Bend Brewing and Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, OR on the way back up to home in Portland, OR.

Deschutes Brewery and Pub

If you ever get a chance to go to Bend, OR, I highly recommend hitting up the Deschutes Brewery for a tour. It is a very nice facility that they are adding on. The tour guide mentioned that Deschutes is currently the 11th highest selling beer in America right now. That is amazing in my opinion. Anyway, the tour is about 35 to 45 minutes long depending how many questions you ask. I seemed to be the only question asker, so it took about 40 minutes. It is a pretty standard tour, I was told to stop answering questions and let others answer, but no one wanted to answer so…

The one piece of info that I found out that I didn’t know is that Deschutes uses a proprietary English Ale yeast in ALL of their beers. That is good info for me to know if I do any cloning. Probably shouldn’t use my American Ale yeast that I love so much :P

After the tour you are giving 4 free samples of whatever they have on tap in their tasting room. I tried their two newest, the Stoic and the Conflux #2, which is collaboration beer between Deschutes and Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, MI. Maybe I’ll do a review of the Conflux #2 for you, I picked up a bottle I liked it so much. It reminds me of a great balance of a Pilsner, Pale Ale and a Wheat Beer. Very fresh, crisp, clean and tasty.

We finished our tasting and headed over to the Deschutes Brewpub in downtown Bend to see where it all started. To be honest, I didn’t find the brewpub to be anything special. They are doing some remodeling so who knows what it will become, but it wasn’t anything great. The food was ok and the experimental beers on tap didn’t wow me. The wife got an IPA that she didn’t really like and I got a Pilsner that tasty a bit to much like lager yeast for my liking. I commend them for continuing to experiment.

Bend Brewing

The next day, after a couple hours canoeing on the Deschutes River, we hit up Bend Brewing for lunch. I like the look/feel of the inside of this pub. It is a little rustic, which ties in nice with Bend’s culture of being a very outdoorsy place. We had some pasta for lunch that wasn’t anything special. It filled me up, but that was about it. I ended up having their award winning Black Diamond Dark Lager, which they served with a lime slice in it. At first the lime threw me off. I’m not a fan of fruit in my beer unless its an adjunct used during brewing or fermentation, but after dropping it in the brew it gave it a little more freshness and ended up causing me to drink the beer in less than 5 minutes. I really enjoyed it. I was expecting something like a Full Sail Session, a little more malty and thick, but it ended up being a lot like little maltier, thicker, roasted Corona. That may sound bad, but the lime gives it that taste for me and the fact that it is session-able really makes this a good comparison. I also had their seasonal wheat on tap, which wasn’t all that special. Very light, middle of the road wheat in my opinion. Session-able and fresh, but not anything that kept me wanting more.

Ninkasi Brewing

Finally, we were on our way home and after an adventure through the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests we made it to Eugene, OR and Ninkasi. We only stopped for one, we had to get home. I really just wanted to check the place out. First off, their tap room and patio is amazing. They really know how to throw a party. Very industrial and modern looking with lots of concrete and stone work. Their brand is EVERYWHERE! Which can be a turn off sometimes, but since they seem to have a trendy brand it works really well. I tried their Quantum Pale Ale which tasted was a little lack luster. The wife had their Total Domination IPA and she wasn’t a fan. To malty for her hops addicted blood. My experience could have had a lot to do with the fact that I was tired and ready for the weekend to be over. My taste buds could have been destroyed by the time I tried Ninkasi, but who knows. I will be giving them some more tastes, that’s for sure.

I am finding more and more that there are only a select couple handfuls of beer that I consistently want to drink. I find that those same characteristics are what I’m always looking for in every beer I try. It becomes very hard to try beer objectively and not subjectively. A lot of beers that I just don’t like, win awards.

Do any of you have this same experience? Anyone tried Ninkasi? What are your thoughts on it?

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  • Chadmadsen

    I agree, Mike.  I get stuck on beers that I like.  My buddies think I’m crazy because I just don’t care for Bourbon Stouts.  Maybe I just need to learn the taste, but i’ll take an IPA or IBA any chance I can get it!

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