A quick, two day trip inspired by the release of a certain new beer that shall remain unnamed in this post, I managed to hit six Bend, OR breweries during that time. Arriving in to town an hour before check-in, I headed over to Bend Brewing Company brewery for lunch and a first round to begin the beer festivities. A special shout-out is in in order for the amazing Steelhead sandwich they prepared. Here's a brief rundown of the flight-
Bend Brewing High Desert Hefeweizen- This was a standard, dusty wheat ale... dry and light with all the right characteristics of the style. A tip of the hat to Bend Brewing for not assuming I want a lemon in a beer just because it is a hefeweizen.
Bend Brewing Ching Ching Sour Ale- Ching Ching Sour Ale was, hands down, the star of the show. A sour ale made with hibiscus, pomegranate, and just the right amount of carbonation and tartness, Ching Ching was both refreshing and complex, especially given the extremely light ABV. How good was it? I bought four 22oz bottles. This isn't a standard sour ale, and not something I would normally be attracted to, but Ching Ching was just that damned good.
Bend Brewing Metolius Golden Ale- Metolius Golden Ale opened with a corn-centric, damp grain start and closed on a wet cardboard yeast funk note. Nothing wrong with this ale, but certainly not my style.
Bend Brewing Doppelbock- Bend Brewing's Doppelbock was an interesting experience... much lighter than its original European brethren, but bringing enough dried fig and caramel to the forefront to mostly cover the Belgian yeast.
Bend Brewing Elk Lake IPA- Elk Lake IPA was, for lack of a more pleasant descriptor, a disappointment. The ale was watery and featured an unusually strong mineral profile against the soapy, grapefruit rind hops. The nose was actually quite pleasant, but the medicinal bitterness in the fade quickly erased that memory.
Bend Brewing Axe Head Red Ale- Sweeter and slightly less hoppy than the Elk Lake IPA, Axe Head Red Ale brought better balance to the mix but wasn't exceptional.
Bend Brewing Scarlet Imperial Red- Scarlet Imperial Red Ale was the best of the hoppy beers, slightly more sweet and much more floral than the IPA or standard red. A bit of the soapy, aspirin-like bitterness still showed up on the fade, but it was much less noticeable. The ale hid it's 8.5% abv really well.
Bend Brewing Outback Old Ale- Despite promises of raisin and dried fruits, Outback Old Ale struck me as incredibly dry and vegetal, with a medicinal bitter aftertaste.
Bend Brewing Pinnacle Porter- Light caramel started off the Pinnacle Porter, which was oddly juxtaposed to the light, roasted coffee flavor that comprised most of the tasting experience. The porter ended roasty and dry.
Bend Brewing Nitro Vanilla Porter- More watery than creamy, the Nitro Vanilla Porter did bring a light tinge of vanilla to the mix, and the coffee flavors were much more subdued than the Pinnacle Porter, but this ale seemed a little anemic.