Beautiful Bend Part II – Drinking Escapades
The first “incident” happened after our hike at Smith Rock State Park. We were happily driving back to the rig, enjoying the fresh air and relaxing feel of a good workout when the car wheel turned on its own. No warning at all…just a random jerk to the right as we passed the Bendistillery. Huh? Finding ourselves suddenly stuck with the loooming prospect of a 8-part tasting with dog in tow we wondered how we were going to survive. Would pooch be allowed to partake of our debauchery? Would we even like the stuff? Could we make it out without buying ourselves silly? The answers were a surprising yes, hell yes and definitely no.
Bend is in a word (or two) a drinkers paradise. If you ever dreamt of having a bit of outdoor fun followed by a brew or glass, even if you wanted to do it every day then this is the place for you. I’ve never been to a town this size (i.e. small(ish)) that has this many options and most of them are crafted locally by absolute artists (you really can’t call them anything else). During our week in Bend our car took on a mind of its’ own and we visited as many of these fabulous spots as we could legally manage. Here’s a quick low-down for those who might find themselves in the same tricky situation:
1/ Craft Brewery Beervana
If there’s one thing Bend is really known for it’s craft beer. Bend boasts more Breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon which has earned it the loving nickname of “Beervana”. There are 18 breweries in the Bend city area all of which could be visited by a long bike ride. For those of you who want the challenge the Bend Ale Trail is a passport program that covers 14 breweries -> collect all the stamps and you get a prize. There’s even an App for that (no kidding).
There was no way we were going to hit all these spots without incapacitating ourselves so we chose 2 of the better-rated breweries -> 10 Barrel and Crux Fermentation Project, both dog friendly in their outdoor areas. 10 Barrel had a nice atmosphere, but Crux beat the pants off anything we’ve ever tried (beer-wise) in quality. We met some local beer aficionados who informed us the brew-master at Crux was previously the brewer at Deschutes (the largest in the area), but branched out to create his own masterpieces (by the way they BOTH confirmed Crux is the best in the area). Not only is the beer amazingly creative with full dark options (the Nitro Stout is superbly rich), scintillating IPA’s (the Half Hitch was amazing) and unique barrel-aged creations (the Banished was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted), but they have a great outdoor seating area attached to a large grassy dog-run. Plus the sunset there is superb. Another highly recommended option (which we did not get around to trying) was the tour at Deschutes Brewery.
All the breweries offer a “beer sampler” as well as food, so even if you don’t partake of the alcoholic stuff you can enjoy a meal with doggie in a nice atmosphere just about everywhere.
2/ Micro Distillery Distinction
A lesser-known attraction in Bend are the micro distilleries. In fact we had no idea they even existed until our car made that unexpected right on our first day in town. Turns out we stumbled across what is arguably the best distillery in the area Bendistillery. I’ve never been much of a hard liquor “sampler”, but the stuff here was some of the highest quality I’ve tasted -> smooth, clean vodka (Crater Lake is top shelf stuff), clean, aromatic gins (the Estate Gin was wonderful) and sumptuous luxury (the Hazelnut Espresso Vodka is to die for!). You can enjoy a tasting or a mixed drink (they have an extensive menu of super-creative cocktails) on the back porch with doggie in tow. Highly recommended! We never got around to trying other distilleries, but they’re on our list for when we return to the area.
3/ Luscious Wine Nakedness
What better way to boost romance and release happy endorphins than getting naked with a bottle of wine? That’s exactly the goal of this unique winery. Although the naked part is optional (sort of), the message is clear -> We aim to tease and you’re really gonna like it. Naked Winery was actually created by friends of ours many years ago. Jody & David Barringer quit their nice “safe” semiconductor jobs and went off on what everyone thought was a completely foolish lark to create provocative wines. More than 14 years later they have a booming business with superbly drinkable wines catering to just about every taste out there.
We “snuck” in for a pre-tasting last weekend and enjoyed it so much we ended up 12 bottles poorer on the way out (the Foreplay Chardonnay, Naked Merlot & Cougar Semi-Sparkling were our favorites). There were many more we liked but didn’t buy including a whole fleet of sweet options and their uniquely creative eco-friendly BPA-free plastic-bottled Outdoor Vino range (ingenious stuff & great for camping -> hint, hint). Later that week we met-up with our old friends and tasted even more delicious goodness followed by an excellent dinner at nearby 900 Wall.
Honestly even if we didn’t know the founders, we’d recommend this place. The tasting room is located in the great downtown Old Mill District and boasts the perfect stop for a glass on the outdoor porch (doggie-friendly) before a dinner downtown. Check ’em out and let them know WheelingIt sent you!
That brings us, sadly, to the end of our Bend adventures. This town is one of the few we’ve visited in our 5 years of RVing where we could eventually see ourselves settling down, even if it’s just part-time. If we missed something good, lemme know ‘coz we’ll definitely be doing a Terminator move on this one and coming back. See ya later, beautiful Bend!
Coming Up Next -> We hide out the Memorial Day vacation madness in a new spot with over 300 nearby wineries. It’s a tough job, but someone has gotta do it….
Bend Drinking Escapade Links:
- Bend Ale Trail -> Click for info HERE or download the free App HERE.
- Bend Distilleries -> Click for info HERE.
- Bend Wineries -> Click for info HERE.
Other Bend Links:
- Visit Bend -> Comprehensive guide to the entire area. Click HERE.
- Bend Visitors Center -> Great place to stock-up on stuff to do. Click HERE.