Beer Blog

Bend it like Oregon

Posted by Neil Bamford, June 12th, 2012 | 0 Comments

As an overnight stop a Beer Geek could ask for no better. Nine Breweries all in close proximity. The down side is that it is Monday night in shoulder season which means that the town is very quiet and everything closes early. We were able to secure a fabulous luxury suite at the Phonix Inn for only 100 bucks and it was stumbling distance to  Deschutes Brewery and McMenamins Old St Francis School. It was about 7PM so it was time to get fed and watered so we walked down the street to Deschutes.

I started things off with a cask conditioned Quickbane Nut Brown Ale. We were in the dining area so I did not see the beer being pulled but nice creamy texture and low carbonation would indicate that it was pulled via a beer engine. A nice starter beer with subtle notes of hazelnuts both in the aroma and on the pallette. Mrs Beer Geek found t his one to her satisfaction and quaffed down 2 pints of the non cask conditioned version. Mrs Beer Geek rarely drinks more than one beer in a sitting so that tells you how drinkable this beer was. It clocks in at 4.3% abv and 24IBUs which is just the perfect amount to balance out the malt and show as a bitter beer.

Next up was Bens' n Whoops Bitter. We matched this up with a spicy Jalapeno Cheese Dip which had a nice mixture of roasted Jalapeno and poblano peppers, spinach cheese and onion. It was served with house made corn chips that were lightly dusted with salt and pepper. The bitters proved a nice foil at 45 IBU's and 4.8% ABV. Very well balanced with a decent malt backbone and hints of citrus and floral aromas from late hopping additions. Horizon, Crystal and Sterling hops are the stars of this far to easy to drink session ale.

Bluke Butte Porter was the next beer to try. 30IBUs and 5.2% abv this is Deschutes flagship beer. Easy drinking with slight up front hop bitterness and a nice finish of caramel that is followed by chocolate and roast. This  went down well with a Boar Sausage that was supposed to come with sauerkraut mashed potatoes and Black Butte Porter stone ground mustard. It in fact came with a nice and spicy bed of pasta and a hot honey mustard sause. Still it matched up well and nothing says beer better than sausage. As these were small plates we decided to share a salad to finish off the mix and went for the brewers salad. This was a nice mix of fresh greens, spinach, local cheese and cherry tomatoes. Fresh homemade apple cured bacon and Rouge cheese with one of the best vinagrette dressings I have tasted in a long time. It had me wiping the bowl out after with a piece of bread to makes sure none was left behind. The vinagrette was make with Deshutes Green Lakes Organic Ale.

Full of food there was still enough room to try out a couple more beers.  Nitro Series Obsidian Stout (55IBU's 6.4% abv), Dark as the volcanic rock it is named after this stout has all the requisite chocolate, coffee grounds and roastiness you expect from an American style stout. I saved the best for last which was a seasonal called Hop in the Dark. Very much a Black IPA or as we are getting to know them as a Cascadian Dark Ale. Interestingly enough the server and the literature steers away from either term and calls it a hop experimental beer that is a cross between Inversion IPA and Red Chair. Either way this was a delicious beer. Nice hop bite and hop aroma. Firm malty backbone with lovely roasty finish. Kinda like a black IPA but also kinda like a hoppy Stout. No way you could guess that this puppy weighs in at 7.9% abv. It was a great finisher that left me wanting more.

But wait there is more. As we were leaving the server told us about the Conflux series of beers. The first one came out just 2 weeks ago and is called Conflux number 1. Deschutes Brewery and Hair of The Dog Brewing Company joined forces to weave The Dissident and The Stoic and Fred and Adam into an artistic collage of cask-aging alchemy.  The server was unclear on all the details (or perhalps the beer was clouding my brain) but I did get that the 4 beers were aged in the following casks; Rye Whiskey, Cognac, Sherry, Pinot Noir, Bourbon, new American Oak, and new Oregon Oak. Then the brewers sat down for a long session of blending until they got the mix they prefered. Appropriatly they named this beer Collage. While I have not yet tasted this one it clocks in at 11.6% abv and costs $11.60 per 12oz bottle. In case one is not enough to properly ajudicate this beer I picked up six. There is a limit of 3 bottles per person and I will bring a few back to Calgary to have with one of my beer tastings.

As mentioned this is between seasons time here in Bend so we were only able to find one other Brew Pub open by the time we left Deschutes and that was St Francis School.It is a very cool place that is an old school with a couple of bars/bistros. Your rooms are the old classrooms and the lockers still adorn the walls in the hallways. I sampled all 10 of the beers on tap. Non were spectacular but all were very well executed and tasty. In the morning (which is about noon for me) we have to hit the road and move to the coast where will spend 2 days at the Rouge B&B (bed and beer).


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