06 April 2010

Bend beer

We visited our pals in Bend, Oregon this weekend and drank some primo brews. The Deschutes Brewpub is right downtown and always jammed, but we managed to slake our thirst with hand-pumped ales (Bachelor Bitter and Mirror Pond) before heading to dinner at the excellent but unpretentious High Tides Seafood Grill. There's nothing quite like the smooth creaminess of beers "from the cask." The Brits call it "real ale" and I can't argue with them. Later in the weekend we got a tour of the actual Deschutes Brewery (located in a huge building in the Old Mill district) which was very impressive. No beer was being made, but we got an up-close-and-personal look at the brew vessels: massive, gleaming, custom-made million-dollar stainless-steel tuns and kettles that had me swooning with brewer envy. The tour was free and low-key (only 6 people), but thorough, and the beer samplers were free, too. Who can argue with that? The Green Lakes organic has a clean, light maltiness, suitable for serious quaffing, while the Hophenge is its opposite, a massive humulone-soaked high-alcohol snifter-only brew. Both were excellent. After that we enjoyed a fine meal and some more outstanding Bend beer at 10 Barrel Brewing Company. The S1NISTOR black ale (on nitro) was dreamy, rich and satisfying, taking full advantage of the "de-husked" dark malts. The Apocalypse IPA was smooth and well-balanced, with just the right hoppiness. When we hesitated over our beer choices the waitress brought us samplers so we could make up our minds! That's how it ought to be--you don't want a full pint of a beer you won't enjoy. In fact, the only one I didn't like was their Dubbel, but I'm not particularly fond of Belgian-style ales anyway, so that's not a knock. All in all, a damn fine Easter weekend. Thanks, H & D, for the superb hospitality and the willingness to keep me thoroughly lubricated with the good stuff.

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