I’m finally there! All of the brewpubs I’ve ever been to are now uploaded and catalogued to 50 States of Brew. I say almost, because I’ve neglected visits within the past couple of months as well as a very select few I’ve been saving. So now it is time for the top ten list.
1044 NW Bond St
Visited on February 5, 2009
Again, my top three breweries all have perfect scores, so interchange them as you will. But since I have to put them in some kind of order, welcome to Oregon for my #2.
The Deschutes Brewery in downtown Bend has everything anybody has ever wanted in a brewpub. First of all, the brewing operation is gigantic. Deschutes is as common in the Pacific Northwest as Sam Adams is anywhere else in the country. And each and every one of their standard year-rounds beer is well worth your time and money. But they’re still smart enough to have an amazing limited release series. The ones that come to my mind are the Jubel holiday strong ale, the Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, and of course the oak aged barley wine called Mirror, Mirror, an inspired version of their Mirror Pond Pale Ale.
But what really sets Deschutes apart is the pub in Bend. They have a beautiful space in downtown Bend that has been there for more than 25 years. And despite the giant operation of the brewery, the public house portion feels like any regular townie pub. It somehow manages to capture that “Cheers” feeling while still offering a stellar menu and shipping its beer to 21 states.
Cheers to you, Deschutes.
The Deschutes Alehouse is located in the old downtown center of Bend, Oregon, otherwise known as the middle of nowhere. The restaurant is surprisingly small and unassuming for being connected to such a large regional distributor of some of the original crafted fine quality beer in America. The front section is for all eaters while the rear is saved for those of-age. Either section does not contain much in the way of seating for groups above four. A very interesting mural is pained on the ¼ wall that separates the two. There are televisions to watch games. It’s small with a local feel, which is astounding for such a large operation.
The menu is large and fairly eclectic for a brewpub. They feature the typical brewpub food of pizza and burgers, but also venture out into ribs, risotto, and gourmet mac and cheese. All the ingredients are fresh and local, however, which puts the food a step above the typical fare. My ribs were good, perfectly cooked to where they came clean off the bone but did not fall off. The sauce was light and used sparingly, which I appreciated, because it let the flavor of the meat shine through. Three of my friends got the Elk Burger which they all gave splendid reviews to, as did the friends who got the reuben and jerk chicken sandwich. But to me, the best part of the meal were the fries. Freshly and thickly cut, they were some of the best out there.
The real reason to visit Deschutes is the beer. Besides the standard flagship selection that they bottle, which are delicious, they served 10 varieties that can only be found in-house and can only be described as sublime. You can choose a sampler of six of anything off the menu, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Each was crafted to perfection with a large amount of hops and a glaring amount of malt character. It would take far too long to describe each, so I will speak to my favorites. A cream blonde was amazingly smooth with one of the best finishes I’ve yet to experience. The Hophedge IPA, strong enough to be served only in a 10-ounce snifter, gave all of the floral enjoyment of the best utilization of hops available. It beat Dogfish Head 90 minute in my mind. But my favorite was the crystal porter. Besides having a well-balanced mouth feel, sweetness and bitterness, it contained a bit of smokiness that lingered on the palette.