Saturday, November 24, 2012

Apres Brewski - Take 5 Bend, Oregon, USA

It's been a bit since the last post and since Winter has just ended in New Zealand you could say The Beer Less Traveled was hibernating.  The truth is closer to a cross between good old fashioned writers block, too many days travelling around this awesome country, and brewing/drinking all the craft beer I can here.  And to be sure I am very eager to start reporting on what's going on down here in NZ but first we have to get there, right?! So without further ado let's get back on the road!

Apres Brewski -Take 5: Bend, Oregon, USA
One of the best cures for a big night of drinking or road fatigue, or both in my case, is a bluebird Spring ski day in the mountains. Besides all the great craft beer in Bend they are also blessed with having Mt Bachelor only a short drive out of town.  I'll spare you all the Vermont comparisons this time. One of the guys I met at Bend Brewing Company the night before was ready to take me back country with his friends the next morning, saying the conditions were going to be epic. However, lacking a few key back country tools (namely an avalanche beacon) we decided it was better for me to just hit up the local ski area this time around.

Mt Bachelor
Tons of sun and Pow as I get ready to cruise
around the backside of Mt Bachelor
The next morning I awoke to a blinding beam of sunshine that snuck through my motel room curtain. For just a second I thought about forgetting the snooze button and just turning off the alarm. But with the hope that a great day awaited out there I pried myself out of bed, hydrated as best I could and drove 20 miles out of town to the base of Mount Bachelor.

With less than 100 cars in the parking lot and full blue sky, any fuzz from the night before had faded and I was ready to hit the mountain. Everyone I met to that point had been really friendly and it just kept going.  Each ride up the lift was filled with smiles, tips on where to ski and well wishes on my beer journey.  A few had even been to New Zealand and gave it great reviews as well. From hiking the ridge against gale force winds at the top to the lift, to dropping into untouched bowls of heavy Spring powder to a full lap around the backside of the mountain and several tree runs, I rode until my legs couldn't do it any longer and my face was cooked with sunshine. I collapsed into my car for a late lunch of granola bars, apples and more water and headed back to town with smile from ear to ear.

Boneyard Beer Company
Lucky Dog! ...not much of a guard though
This edition of Apres Brewski isn't about any one or two places to go after the mountain. Anywhere in Bend will do, and they're all close by.  I chose to hit up Boneyard Brewing first.  It was one of the newer breweries in town but almost everyone mentioned them when I polled locals on where to spend my precious brewery time. The first and last to greet me at Boneyard Beer's Brewery was Dottie, a friendly Corgie leashed to a pallet of kegs. A few more steps and you're in the small tasting room, which is covered in stickers and graffiti style art in theme with the Boneyard beers and logos. Allison and Melodee took care of me and guided me through all their beers. A steady flow of growler customers streamed in and out of the retail area while I sampled. The first taste is free and only $1 each after that.

Skunk Ape - India Red Ale, 6%, 40 IBU slightly cloudy light amber, great balance, dry finish

Backbone - Chocolate Espresso Stout, 5.5%, lots of coffee, a touch of chocolate, dry/bitter finish

RPM - IPA, 7%, 50 IBU, golden hue, nice citrusy aroma, not over the top hoppy

Hop Venom - Double IPA, 8.9%, 65 IBU - semi-hoppy, semi-dry

Armoured Fist - Cascadian Dark, 10%, 66 IBU, hides booze well, hop vs. roast balanced, top pick!

Suge Knite - 12%, 55 IBU, Imperial Stout, a little hot, great aroma, should be wicked in a few months!

Femme Fatale - 5.3%, Raisiny, tart and sour raspberry flavor, another top pick!

I also got a quick tour of the small but bustling brewery, which is in it's second year of operation. I predict they'll quickly outgrown this space if their reputation keeps on growing like it has in their first couple of years. In true build-it-yourself style the brewery was pieced together with used equipment from 13 or so breweries, and Boneyard was born. I thanked the nice folks at the brewery for their hospitality and went to get changed out of my ski gear. It was time to check out some of Bend's other beertastic venues!

Cozy, snow pant friendly tap room at Boneyard Brewing