Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blacksmith has some awesome beers


So, as some of you who have been following the Bend Beer Blog are aware, I just started to do a tap list for bars in Central Oregon.

Luckily, someone at The Blacksmith came across our blog and saw our project, and e-mailed us. I'm embarrassed to admit I've never been to The Blacksmith, although I'll be going there soon, I hope. Here's why:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New at the Bend Beer Blog: What's on tap in Central Oregon bars and pubs

So, this is a work in progress, but we thought it would be a pretty neat resource for Central Oregon beer lovers. We're going to try to keep track of what's on tap at local brewpubs and bars that serve a lot of regional or local beer.

Check it out here, although it's still under construction (it's also the top link of our sidebar). But we've got a pretty good start. For now, we're trying to do the brewpubs, and we've thrown in Brother Jon's and Summit Saloon, which both have a unique and often changing tap list. Abbey Pub is on the to-do list, as is Cascade West. We're not sure how expansive the list is going to get, but that's where we're starting.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bend Brewing Company is 15 years old?

Apparently so! In one of the least publicized anniversaries I think I've ever come across, Saturday is when BBC is celebrating its 15th year of existence.

You can read more here, at the downtownbend.org Appetizers will be half price. Live music from 7 till 10. And a 'garage sale' from 5 to 10 p.m., where you can get BBC merch at a discount.

They're also unveiling a new brew that night, the Desert Rose, described as an effervescent and tart ale made with craisins and hibiscus." Sounds a little scary, but we'll try it. I tried a beer at Deschutes on X-tap that was described by a waitress like "drinking perfume," so I have to be able to get a glass of this down, right?

Thanks to hackbend.com  for spotting it. I would have been unaware otherwise.

The other gem on Galveston: Brother Jon's Public House

So, 10 Barrel Pub opened on Galveston this week to much fanfare and pretty big crowds. Just down the street, though, is a great little bar that's been around for just under a year: Brother Jon's Public House. It started off kind of unassumingly -- one day it seems like it just appeared on the block. If you think it kind of looks like a house with a sign on the front, you'd be right:


But don't let appearances fool you. It's a great little bar with very good food at affordable prices. Having gone there from just about day one, I can tell you that it wasn't exactly bustling when it first opened. But it has slowly grown into a favorite spot on the West side, so much so that it's just about full around dinner time on any night.

Why? Well, despite a recent review in The Bulletin that gave it uneven marks, it does it what it does well, with few frills. It's inexpensive (everything on the menu is $10 or under, with the odd special that ticks just above). The food is good (the owners used to work at the Downtowner -- try the club sandwich, or any sandwich, really). There's great beer (you can usually get up to eight different local and/or regional beers, including at least one Deschutes tap, plus Guiness, plus a good selection of bottled libations). You can watch sports (there's a bunch of TVs tuned to all matter of sporting events, and it's a nice alternative if you don't like Rivals or Sidelines). And it's a family-friendly neighborhood hangout (even though the inside is a little weird -- it's a lot like a house on the inside, too -- it's a comfortable place to spend an evening that has a much different, laid back vibe than a lot of other local bars.)

Ever since I left Washington, D.C., four years ago, my wife and I have been searching for a bar where we wanted to be regulars. And after years of searching, we finally found it in Brother Jon's. (It probably doesn't hurt that it's stumbling distance from our house, too.) I think that's as good of an endorsement as I can give it.

Anyway, if you haven't checked it out before -- even if it's just because there's too long of a wait at 10 Barrel -- please do so at your earliest convenience.




Thursday, February 25, 2010

More quick thoughts on 10 Barrel

After lunch I hit up 10 Barrel again for dinner. I'll echo the praise for the Belgian Blonde. Also, the Sinistor Black on the nitro was really nice.
On the food front, I had the pulled pork sandwich with fries. The sandwich was great. Good sized and soaked in a BBQ sauce made from the Sinistor, it's a keeper. The fries were of the skinny variety, which I'm not a huge fan of. But they were still pretty good.
Bottom line, I'll be back.
Beau

10 Barrel Pub Now Open: First Impressions

10 Barrel Pub officially opened its doors on Wednesday, after its soft opening on Sunday and Monday. And I have to be honest...having watched the slow progress of the pub and missed deadlines for when it was supposed to open, I wasn't terribly optimistic.

Fast forward to Wednesday, and I think all the Bend beer bloggers were pleasantly surprised with the pub at 12th and Galveston. The pub itself is very cool, has a great atmosphere. I walked in and I was impressed immediately with how squared away it was, and how simple and functional the design was. It looks like what it claims -- a Bend pub -- which is certainly a good start.

Two-thirds of the BBB just had time to drink a quick beer at lunch time, so Beau and I went after the lunch rush to check things out. We ended up getting the samplers, since neither of us have been huge 10 Barrel drinkers in the past. They currently have 12 beers on tap, and you can get 3 oz. samples of each for $12 (or six for $6). 20 Pretty good deal, especially if you are unfamiliar with the beer. Here's what you get (Beau is on the right)

So, I would say we were far from overwhelmed by the entire roster of beers, but most were drinkable. We weren't thrilled with the Red Ale, the Coffee Porter or the Bourbon Barrel RIPA. The latter two just tasted a bit too much like their names. For instance, Beau and I both like a good porter with coffee notes, but we thought the coffee flavor was a bit too much. The Pray for Snow Strong Ale, the American Wheat, and the Belgian Blonde Ale were all winners, in our books, as was the Sinistor Black Ale on nitro. 20 oz. glasses will cost you $4.

We didn't actually eat lunch, but the menu looked good on paper, with a lot of pub fare in the $10 range, and pizzas that will set you back a bit more. Beau and the third BBBer, James, went for dinner and had a nice meal.

Here's a few more pictures of inside, including the blackboard where they list the beers and the bar area.

We also learned a few other nuggets:
-- A locals night is likely on the horizon. We had been hearing Sunday as a possibility, but apparently a date isn't in place yet.
-- The pub is going to be open til 11 p.m. for now. They said they would be seeing how things go in the first few weeks before settling on hours.

Anyway, it was a good first impression. I'm excited to go back.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The love of Beer


About 11 p.m. last Saturday night, Deschutues Brewery, Portland, Ore.:

“Would you like another?” said the bartender to a soft-spoken pleasant young guy, who was seated on a tall chair, relaxed at the bar with a glint in his eye and a smile painted on his face. His even-more-soft-spoken lady friend was by his side, half seated on her own chair and half seated on his, resting against his shoulder and holding his hand. The two looked inseparably happy and were dressed up — dressed up, that is, by Oregon standards — and probably were keeping the night going by unplanned beers after a date that went better than either expected. They both were drinking the last ounces of their pints of Green Lakes Organic Ale — Deschutes’s only amber-style offering.
“I don't know yet,” said the guy, answering the bartender’s question. The guy was visibly impressed both because the bartender’s ask was perfectly timed in sync with his final gulp and because the pub staff was more welcoming to patrons at this late hour than ever.
The guy turned to his lady friend on his shoulder, practically whispering to her, and asked her, “What do you think, babe?”
She blushed and smiled and curled up, hugging against him tighter. She avoided answering his question with words, but her expressions said it all: she was thoroughly enjoying being with him tonight, and if being with him longer meant having another pint at Deschutes, then she was having another pint. He read her perfectly. And he and took it with honor, the task of getting his lady another beer.
“I’m from Minnesota,” said the guy as he turned back to the bartender. “So I’m not very used to beers like this.
“What would you recommend?” he asked.
“Well,” the bartender said, “Do you like hops?”
“Um … Sure. I think so.”
The guy picked up the beer menu and began the exciting elimination process. But before he had time to consider even three of the roughly 20 choices, the bartender had already grabbed, filled and slung in front of him a four-ounce sample of something a bit more red-colored and a bit more frothy than the Green Lakes amber he had just enjoyed.
Hop Henge I.P.A.” the bartender declared. “It might be the best beer in your life.”

The adorable couple went on to split a 10 oz. snifter of Hop Henge, and while they did, even though I would have said it wasn't possible, their night appeared to get even better. It looked like something I've heard of before. It looked like love.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

10 Barrel brewpub, nearly open?

After months of waiting for Bend's latest brewpub, 10 Barrel is getting close to opening its location on Galveston.

At least according to their latest tweet, a few days ago: "The countdown is on at the pub!!" We think that means it's opening soon, anyway. If they had an exact date, we guess they would have tweeted that, so apparently opening day is still a bit of a moving target.

We've heard that February 21st is the date they're shooting for, and looking at the progress they've made on the exterior, it at least seems possible. Here's a shot from yesterday when I walked by:


There's now windows instead of plywood, the patio area (to the left of the picture, on the corner of Galveston and 12th) is getting pretty close to done. I haven't been able to see much of the inside from the sidewalk. 18 days still seems a little ambitious, with how much work it appears still needs to be done, but it's not impossible. I would guess March is a better bet (as I've made a friendly wager that it won't open in February), and I hope they take their time and have everything squared away before they open. After all, let's look at the dates that have already come and gone:
--Their Web site still says it's opening in late October, of last year. (They should probably fix that.)
--Some buzz in the fall had the brewpub opening in December or "early winter."

Obviously neither of those happened, and we're sure it's not easy opening a start-up brewpub. But it does seem like they are actually close this time, barring setbacks.

I live just a couple of blocks away, so having another place to go without schlepping to downtown will be nice.

Galveston is definitely coming into its own, it seems. Brother Jon's opened last year and has been doing brisk business ever since thanks to a solid, inexpensive menu, a lot of good beer on tap and in bottles, and a friendly staff. Mother's already had its niche carved out and does a ton of business serving smoothies and lite fare. Ida's Cupcake Cafe opening last year and gives locals a place to get some coffee in the absence of Di Lusso's (where 10 Barrel is now). And there's already Ariana, which is just about the best place in Bend to get a meal if you are looking to spend a little bit of money. And of course there's Victorian Cafe, Parilla Grill and Taco Salsa on the 14th St. roundabout.

10 Barrel could be a great addition to an already solid and growing district

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

(Beer) Dispatches from Hawaii

OK, this post has not much to do with Bend, other than I'm from Bend and went to Hawaii. Well, it has a little to do with Bend -- read on.

Anyway, Beau already posted about my encounters with Deschutes (both grocery stores I went to had Mirror Pond available in six-pack form. The Twilight Ale I saw had expired in November (mmmmm, delicious...no, I didn't buy it). I never did see Deschutes on tap, though.

Anyway, my experiences with Hawaiaan beers, briefly:
-- I had Kona's Longboard Lager, Fire Rock Pale Ale and Big Wave Golden Ale in bottles and on tap. I know these are available pretty easily mainland side, but I had never had them. I wasn't really excited about the pale, but I enjoyed the lager and the Golden Ale. I wouldn't really trade any of them for a Deschutes. I also just picked up some Pipeline Porter by Kona at the store when I got back...excited to try that. Interestingly, the brewmaster for 10 Barrel Brewing here in Bend came from Kona. Below is a pic of some Golden Ale from Poipu, south shore of Kauai:

--While on Kauai I also had Hawai’i Nui Brewing Kaua’i Golden Ale (better known as Keoki Gold, from my research?), which, for me, was kind of like the Konas -- drinkable but not something I'd really seek out.
--By far the best part of my Hawaii trip (beer-wise) was a trip to Waimea Brewing Company in Kaua'i, billed as the westernmost brewpub in the world:


We found out later that they apparently have gone through a lot of different owners and have had some problems over the years. but I couldn't tell by the pleasant afternoon my wife and I spent sampling their beers:



(I took a sip out of the first one before I remembered to take a picture). Anyway, the beers are, from left: Lilikoi Ale, Wai'ale'ale Ale, Captain Cook's IPA, Na Pali Ale, Pakala Porter, Cane Fire Red, Westwide Wheat and Uli Uli Brown. I definitely preferred the darker beers (from this post you probably think I hate any light-colored beer, although that's definitely not the case). The Porter was a a classic version of the beer, smoky and heavy and really enjoyable. Reds aren't usually my favorite style of beer, but I really enjoyed that as well. Anyway, if you ever find yourself on the western side of Kauai, check it out.

--On non-beer-related drinking, we also checked out Kauai Coffee Company not too far down the road. This is actually what you get when you buy coffee at Trader Joe's. Anyway, that was a blast, too, you could sample any all of the coffees they currently have in production. And that was a fun way to wait out a rainstorm.

-- Also, Hawaii was awesome, and Bend is cold. I miss wearing shorts every day.