Pacific Northwest Beer Chick

Breweries, Beers & Good Times

Beercation 2012 (Part3) October 18, 2012

Having never been to Bend, OR I was very surprised out how big it is. I guess what I was expecting was a tiny little town nestled on the edge of the Deschutes River. What I experienced was a large, pretty city with a huge appreciation for beer. There are ten breweries in Bend, OR each with their own style and character. There is even a “Bend Ale Trail” map that you can download onto your phone with directions to each brewery.  Most are within walking distance of each other but I highly suggest spreading your visit out over a few days. I hit as many of the breweries as I could in the two days. Although I could not visit all of them I did make a bit of a dent in the map and will tell you about my favorites.

I took up residence at the Old St. Francis School; another of McMenamin’s historic and lovingly restored hotels. Every McMenamin’s location pours their staple beers such as Ruby Ale, Hammerhead Ale and Terminator Stout. But each location also carries a beer or two that is unique only to that one. And boy was I glad to be at the Old St. Francis School during this particular week. Black Scratch Special Porter was a ridiculously awesome beer! Brewed with Mexican vanilla bean and cinnamon this porter delights as soon as you raise the glass to your nose. The aroma is a smack of cinnamon. Full-bodied and ink black color. Sweet vanilla hits the palate and the finish is dry cinnamon. This beer was like drinking a cinnamon roll! Another treat on tap, but opposite side of the flavor spectrum, was the Shade Day American Wheat. Light golden color with a soft honey aroma. Hints of caramel and wheat hit the palate. The finish is sweet with honey. This was a perfect beer for the hot day.

Making our way down the block we hit the most famous brewery from Bend: Deschutes Brewery. I started with something light. Spencer’s Gold was exactly what I was looking for. This filtered beer has a light hop aroma with a hop, citrus bite in the body. It finishes clean and floral. The Summer XPA was up next. Caramel and grapefruit are very present in the body. Bitter top notes with a hoppy finish. Very nice and not too hoppy.

About a block away is a little brewery overlooking the Deschutes River. Bend Brewing Company is very low-key and quaint. Blink and you may miss it as you pass by. But the beer is definitely worth the stop. Ludwig Pilsner is light gold in color. Flowers and caramel with a buttery body and a light hop finish. Elk Lake IPA was quite a surprise. Normally I don’t drink a lot of IPA’s but this one I could have had over and over. Pretty hop flower aroma and flavor. Well-balanced and malty, this IPA was very soft and easy to drink. Eclipse Black IPA was another great surprise. Dark brown color with toasty flavor and body. The hops are present just enough to remind one that this is still an IPA. Nice beer. And of course for the “hop heads” out there there’s the Hop Head IPA. At 100 IBU’s this is the strongest of the batch and not for hop wimps (like me). Very hoppy aroma and flavor. Strong hop finish but, like the two other IPA’s, it was very easy to drink.

My favorite brewery in Bend was also the smallest: Boneyard Brewing. A little more difficult to find (located in a residential neighborhood) but well worth the search. Just look for the vintage hearse sitting in the parking lot! But be prepared for an incredibly small, very punk rock/skater inspired tasting room (guys after my own heart). The brewers had the gals in mind when they created Girl Beer. This delicious wheat ale is re-fermented with a blend of dark, sweet, and tart Oregon cherries. Fresh cherry aroma. The first sip may make you pucker a bit, but it is quite a spectacular beer. Gentlemen, don’t let the name fool you! Most of the guys in the tasting room were asking for seconds and thirds of this little darling! Diablo Rojo is a lovely, malty red ale. Tasting a bit like dry, autumn leaves this beer is perfect for the season. for those of you who like a little “kick” in your beer, try the Diablo Rojo En Fuego! These crazy kids infused the Diablo Rojo with habanero and chipotle chilies! Talk about a crazy-good beer! But be sure you have your fire extinguisher on hand.

Bend, OR is a great place for beer enthusiasts to spend a long weekend. Again, most breweries are in walking distance of each other but a couple of them lie in the outskirts of town so I would recommend a cab. After spending two lovely days in this historic city, hubby and I packed up for our final destination on our beercation: Eugene, OR…




PNW Beercation 2012 (part 1) September 21, 2012

Since I began my beer journey 18 years ago, I have made it a mission to visit every brewery I can. A few weeks ago I embarked on another “beercation” in the gorgeous state of Oregon. Now I have visited Portland many times and enjoyed the breweries and brew pubs in that beautiful and amazing city. But this time I decided to travel to some of the other lesser known cities and see what Oregon had in store for this beer chick.

First leg of my trip started off 20 minutes outside of Portland in the sleepy town of Troutdale. What’s in Troutdale you ask? Well, many a beer drinker knows of just one place…the Edgefield  Resort. Owned by McMenamins this gorgeous resort is surrounded by vineyards, gardens, mature trees, and lovely old buildings dating back to 1911. Set on 74 acres, the resort served as the Multnomah County Poor farm from 1911 until 1982 and housed farmers that needed a little support in times of need. The grounds are beautiful, quiet, and relaxing. There are a few McMenamins restaurants to choose from, a pool hall, 3-par golf course, and heated soaking pool. Oh, and there just happens to be a nice sized outdoor pavilion that hosts live acts by some little entertainers you may have heard of such as Willie Nelson, John Fogerty, Foster the People, Florence + the Machine, Gotye, Bonnie Raitt, Train…you get the idea.

The rooms are spacious and decorated not only with antiques, but the walls tell stories of the resorts former residents and the history of the grounds. As for the beer, it was great as always. Try a Ruby Ale if you are looking for a crisp, subtle raspberry ale. For those hop heads out there I would recommend the Copper Moon Pale Ale. Nice and bitey, with a sweet caramel note. Do you like art? Edgefield has plenty of it! In fact, the walls are covered with local artist pieces paying homage to the history of the resort and the state of Oregon. What a great way to spend a weekend!

The next couple of days were spent on the Columbia River in the historic town of Hood River. A charming, Victorian town, Hood River has a lot to offer for the weary traveler/beer enthusiast. But before settling into my hotel, I took a quick trip across the bridge into White Salmon, WA and stopped at a little brewery called Everybody’s Brewing.  With an amazing view of Mt. Hood, I sat on Everybody’s patio and enjoyed their taster tray. For the sake of time I will narrow it down to a couple of my fave’s. Goodwill IPA was my favorite from Everybody’s. Very well-balanced, hoppy and malty with a caramel character and a hoppy, floral finish. For a lighter choice I enjoyed the seasonal Summer Lovin’. This light, crisp ale is sweet and very easy to drink. Hints of orange and honey are present in the aroma and flavor and the finish is pleasantly soft.

Back across the bridge into Hood River. There are four breweries in Hood River: Big Horse Brew Pub, Full Sail Brewing Company, Double Mountain Brewery, and pFriem Family brewers. Unfortunately, pFriem was closed during our stay in Hood River but we had a great time visiting the other three.

Big Horse Brew Pub is truly a gem! Housed in a large Victorian home that was built into the side of a hill and overlooking the town and the Columbia River, Big Horse has been brewing tasty beer for over twenty years. The food is wonderful and fresh. The atmosphere is very laid back and simple. The view of the town and river cannot be beat. And the beer? Fantastic. I started with the Easy Blonde. Light, sweet, and easy to drink, this beer had a honey and cereal aroma. Biscuity mouth feel and a nice vanilla finish. Wind Ripper was Big Horse’s summer ale. Medium body character and very effervescent. Crisp and refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. For the hop heads there is the Pale Rider IPA. Apricot color, citrus and flower aroma. Medium body with hard grapefruit finish. My favorite beer from Big Horse was A Night in Munich; Munich Helles style lager. Crisp and sweet, this lager tasted of Golden Grahams cereal. Malty and well-balanced this beer was an absolute delight. Don’t bother looking for Big Horse in any store. The beer never leaves the brewery so if you want to give this yummy stuff a try you will have to make the pilgrimage to Hood River.

Day one in Hood River came to a beautiful end. Full Sail Brewing and Double Mountain on day two…



Information for Big Horse Brew Pub can  be found on Facebook.


My Beer Vacation – Part 2 April 9, 2012

Filed under: beer,breweries,McMenamins Brewery,Micro brew,Pacific Northwest Beer,WA — pnwbeerchick @ 8:33 pm

The next leg of my beer vacation took me to the sleepy little town of Centralia, WA. What’s in Centralia you ask? McMenamins Olympic Club, that’s what! What is the Olympic Club? A gym? Ok, enough of the questions. The Olympic Club is a historic hotel located in old downtown Centralia. Built in 1908 and renovated in 1913, the Olympic Club has spent the last century reinventing its self and, as with most old hotels, has a colorful history. Spending most of its life as the Oxford Hotel, it was known as a gentlemen’s club, a pool hall and, of course, there are even tales of a brothel. Today it serves as a 27 room hotel with a full service restaurant, two bars, pool hall, and movie theater.

McMenamins Brewery bought the club in 1997 and lovingly restored it to the impressive retreat it is today. Now I could go on all day about McMenamins Brewery and their commitment to salvaging PNW history one building at a time but I will save that for a later article…back to The Olympic Club. Now if you have never been to a McMenamins establishment you are in for a treat. Except for the name change the Olympic Club has remained virtually unchanged over the last 100 years, right down to the Tiffany-style stained glass light fixtures and Belgian crystal to the ceramic tile floors and antique cash register. In fact, if you take a stroll through the building you will see many photos of The Olympic Club and the city of Centralia over the last century. The adjoining restaurant is kid friendly and more of the original establishment lurks in every corner. In the connecting pool hall you can choose your “stick” and play a few games on the original century old pool tables.

Down the hall you will find McMenamins movie theater. You can cuddle up on any of the love seats or choose a comfy chair and enjoy one of the latest releases. Food and drink are very welcome in the theater and they will even bring it to you when you order from the bar. Kid friendly matinees show during the day and the latest blockbusters begin showing in the early evening. Live bands also grace the theatre so check the club’s schedule for performances.

Up the creaky old stairs the hotel’s spirits greet guests in photo and art. McMenamins artists preserve the history of the club by whimsically illustrating stories on the walls. Each guest room is named for and tells a story of a different character in the clubs history. Guest room prices depend on bed preference: queen beds or bunk beds. Trust me… it’s great fun reliving childhood by sleeping in a bunk bed! One thing I must warn you about, if you are not a fan of European style restrooms (shared restrooms) then this hotel may not be for you. Only one of the guest rooms, the King Suite, has a private bathroom so you may want to check far in advance for availability. But in all honesty my husband and I have stayed at the Olympic club MANY times and have never had a problem with unavailability of the shared bathrooms.

Now you are probably thinking “Liz, this is all great, but where does the beer come in?” Glad you asked. McMenamins has been brewing beer since 1985 and is exclusive only to McMenamins pubs, hotels and restaurants. You can drink beer anywhere in Olympic Club including the hotel and theatre. What’s on tap? One of my favorites is also one of McMenamins most popular beers: Ruby. Not too sweet Ruby is brewed with 42lbs of Oregon grown raspberry puree. This Raspberry ale is crisp, light bodied, and fruity and a great beer for warmer weather but also enjoyable no matter what time of year you visit. Hammerhead is McMenamins top-selling beer and it’s not hard to see why. This lovely pale ale is brewed with Cascade hops and crystal malt creating an incredibly hoppy aroma and flavor but finishing very smooth.  For those of you looking for something a bit darker I would recommend the Terminator Stout. The black beauty is full-bodied and toasty with flavors of coffee and dark chocolate. I enjoy this one on the Olympic Club back patio next to the fire pit. The Olympic Club has seasonal beers on tap so always ask the bartender what’s new. McMenamins also owns a winery and a distillery creating some pretty potent spirits.

Tickets to the movie theater and access to the pool tables are free to hotel guests. I love the Olympic Club. One could spend the day browsing through the nearby antique stores or playing pool in the pool hall. It’s a great way to spend an evening or even a long weekend.




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