Portland doesn’t have the patent on big-fat beer celebrations. Bend can get down too, with more than 70 purveyors sharing their drinkable bounty over the course of four days, with lively DJs and food to help chase it down. The annual Bend Brewfest wraps up today from noon to 8 p.m. at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. If it was anything like yesterday, expect body paintings, multiple wedding parties, dance parties and piles and piles of gourmet fries.
Along with the addition of a Sunday schedule, this year’s festival features a “cider row” of eight regional cideries and two Oregon mead fermenters. This makes for an even broader range of tastes to explore, which also includes offerings on X-tap in the Brewtality Tent, a place for brewmasters to rotate special, low-production creations such as today’s offerings of rum barreled aged TenPine Chocolate from Three Creeks Brewing, Bourbon Abominable from Fremont Brewing and Afternoon Delight from Goodlife Brewing.
Here are some of my favorite finds from yesterday’s Bend Brewfest.
My first visit to Brewtality Tent had me searching for a camping permit. Deschutes Brewery’s Dr. Plum is a lovely, sweet, sour, fruity 5.6 percent ABV sour-aged chill. A base of Deschutes River Ale worked out with Brettanomyces Lambicus, Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Lactobacillus and tart Italian plums for 12 months. It emerged with a whole new sour look on life.
Idaho’s Slanted Rock Brewing is a new face to the Bend Brewfest, and their Worth The Squeeze Belgian Wit alone should have the brain trust begging for their return. This summer ale bursts with sweet and bitter orange peel and coriander spice, with a lovely creamy butterscotch finish.
Speaking of orange, a spectacular juicy orange aroma rises from a thick, mousse-like head of the CuDA Cascadian Dark Ale from Portland’s Natian Brewery. Dark chocolate chimes in, with sharp dark malts and hop bitterness taking over as I followed a dude lugging what could have been enough camping gear for a 10-day hike. Weird.
Feckin Brewing Co., an Irish-influenced alehouse out of Oregon City, poured a biscuity, balanced IRA with a hefty dose of hops in its back end.
Ordnance Brewing, a brewery in the tiny northeast-Oregon town of Boardman, and their RX Pale Ale with a healthy dose of rye malts played nice with Citra and Mosiac hops. Love the rye spice.
I followed the nearly naked 10 Barrel Brewing body-painted models through the festival sipping said brewery’s 9 percent ABV Uberweiss Marionberry, aged for a year in Pinot barrels from Lange Estate Winery. I’d do it again.
I returned to the Brewtality Tent for a favorite: Laurelwood Public House & Brewery’s Megafauna Imperial IPA. This chewy, herbaceous brew kept coming and coming, with a big bite of resinous pine that segued into ripe orange, grapefruit, pineapple, mango and tangerine.
For more information on the Bend Brewfest including a detailed schedule of today’s events and a full list of featured breweries, visit bendbrewfest.com.
12th Annual Bend Brewfest, Aug. 13-16, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, Les Schwab Amphitheater, 344 SW Shevlin Hixon Dr., Bend, Oregon, free admission, mugs are $15 and include 5 tasting tokens