Honestly, I have no idea how we ended up here...working through the "sampler" at Crux

Honestly, I have no idea how we ended up here…working through the “sampler” at Crux

The first “incident” happened after our hike at Smith Rock State Park. We were happily driving back to the rig, enjoying the fresh air and relaxing feel of a good workout when the car wheel turned on its own. No warning at all…just a random jerk to the right as we passed the Bendistillery. Huh? Finding ourselves suddenly stuck with the loooming prospect of a 8-part tasting with dog in tow we wondered how we were going to survive. Would pooch be allowed to partake of our debauchery? Would we even like the stuff? Could we make it out without buying ourselves silly? The answers were a surprising yes, hell yes and definitely no.

Now, isn't that a pretty sight?

Now, isn’t that a pretty sight?

Bend is in a word (or two) a drinkers paradise. If you ever dreamt of having a bit of outdoor fun followed by a brew or glass, even if you wanted to do it every day then this is the place for you. I’ve never been to a town this size (i.e. small(ish)) that has this many options and most of them are crafted locally by absolute artists (you really can’t call them anything else). During our week in Bend our car took on a mind of its’ own and we visited as many of these fabulous spots as we could legally manage. Here’s a quick low-down for those who might find themselves in the same tricky situation:

1/ Craft Brewery Beervana

Hmmm...where to start, where to start. The "sampler" at 10 Barrel

Hmmm…where to start, where to start. The “sampler” at 10 Barrel

The excellent outdoor (pet-friendly) area at Crux

The excellent outdoor (pet-friendly) area at Crux (Polly is hidden under the bench)

If there’s one thing Bend is really known for it’s craft beer. Bend boasts more Breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon which has earned it the loving nickname of “Beervana”. There are 18 breweries in the Bend city area all of which could be visited by a long bike ride. For those of you who want the challenge the Bend Ale Trail is a passport program that covers 14 breweries -> collect all the stamps and you get a prize. There’s even an App for that (no kidding).

There was no way we were going to hit all these spots without incapacitating ourselves so we chose 2 of the better-rated breweries -> 10 Barrel and Crux Fermentation Project, both dog friendly in their outdoor areas. 10 Barrel had a nice atmosphere, but Crux beat the pants off anything we’ve ever tried (beer-wise) in quality. We met some local beer aficionados who informed us the brew-master at Crux was previously the brewer at Deschutes (the largest in the area), but branched out to create his own masterpieces (by the way they BOTH confirmed Crux is the best in the area). Not only is the beer amazingly creative with full dark options (the Nitro Stout is superbly rich), scintillating IPA’s (the Half Hitch was amazing) and unique barrel-aged creations (the Banished was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted), but they have a great outdoor seating area attached to a large grassy dog-run. Plus the sunset there is superb. Another highly recommended option (which we did not get around to trying) was the tour at Deschutes Brewery.

All the breweries offer a “beer sampler” as well as food, so even if you don’t partake of the alcoholic stuff you can enjoy a meal with doggie in a nice atmosphere just about everywhere.

2/ Micro Distillery Distinction

The excellent sampler at Bend Distillery

The excellent sampler at Bendistillery

A lesser-known attraction in Bend are the micro distilleries. In fact we had no idea they even existed until our car made that unexpected right on our first day in town. Turns out we stumbled across what is arguably the best distillery in the area Bendistillery. I’ve never been much of a hard liquor “sampler”, but the stuff here was some of the highest quality I’ve tasted -> smooth, clean vodka (Crater Lake is top shelf stuff), clean, aromatic gins (the Estate Gin was wonderful) and sumptuous luxury (the Hazelnut Espresso Vodka is to die for!). You can enjoy a tasting or a mixed drink (they have an extensive menu of super-creative cocktails) on the back porch with doggie in tow. Highly recommended! We never got around to trying other distilleries, but they’re on our list for when we return to the area.

3/ Luscious Wine Nakedness

Paul gets "naked" with three hot blonds...

Paul gets “naked” with three hot blonds…

What better way to boost romance and release happy endorphins than getting naked with a bottle of wine? That’s exactly the goal of this unique winery. Although the naked part is optional (sort of), the message is clear -> We aim to tease and you’re really gonna like it. Naked Winery was actually created by friends of ours many years ago. Jody & David Barringer quit their nice “safe” semiconductor jobs and went off on what everyone thought was a completely foolish lark to create provocative wines. More than 14 years later they have a booming business with superbly drinkable wines catering to just about every taste out there.

Dinner with our buddies Dave & Jody Barringer

Dinner with our buddies & wine teasers Dave & Jody Barringer at 900 Wall

We “snuck” in for a pre-tasting last weekend and enjoyed it so much we ended up 12 bottles poorer on the way out (the Foreplay Chardonnay, Naked Merlot & Cougar Semi-Sparkling were our favorites). There were many more we liked but didn’t buy including a whole fleet of sweet options and their uniquely creative eco-friendly BPA-free plastic-bottled Outdoor Vino range (ingenious stuff & great for camping -> hint, hint). Later that week we met-up with our old friends and tasted even more delicious goodness followed by an excellent dinner at nearby 900 Wall.

Honestly even if we didn’t know the founders, we’d recommend this place. The tasting room is located in the great downtown Old Mill District and boasts the perfect stop for a glass on the outdoor porch (doggie-friendly) before a dinner downtown. Check ‘em out and let them know WheelingIt sent you!

That brings us, sadly, to the end of our Bend adventures. This town is one of the few we’ve visited in our 5 years of RVing where we could eventually see ourselves settling down, even if it’s just part-time. If we missed something good, lemme know ‘coz we’ll definitely be doing a Terminator move on this one and coming back. See ya later, beautiful Bend!

Coming Up Next -> We hide out the Memorial Day vacation madness in a new spot with over 300 nearby wineries. It’s a tough job, but someone has gotta do it….

Bend Drinking Escapade Links:

  • Bend Ale Trail -> Click for info HERE or download the free App HERE.
  • Bend Distilleries -> Click for info HERE.
  • Bend Wineries -> Click for info HERE.

Other Bend Links:

  • Visit Bend -> Comprehensive guide to the entire area. Click HERE.
  • Bend Visitors Center -> Great place to stock-up on stuff to do. Click HERE.
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42 Responses to Beautiful Bend Part II – Drinking Escapades

  1. Yes indeed, Bend is at the top of our short list of places to settle down. I just wish the winters were a little bit warmer! Of course, that’s what the RV is for…!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Exactly our thoughts too. Winter might be a bit trying for us, but that’s probably when we’d chose to snowbird down south w/ the rig and boondock in the desert. Could be the perfect combination. Now, if only real estate prices would come down a tad in Bend…..

      Nina

  2. Bring your bikes and come to Grand Rapids (MI), Beer City USA for two years running. For the past several years, we have had a ride called Beermuda Triangle. 100 miles, beginning/ending at a brewpub, with two additional brewpub stops in between. All good…..

    • libertatemamo says:

      Wow!! That is some serious beer biking!! I am definitely adding that one to the “list”.

      Nina

  3. Ralph says:

    Nina,
    Sure…blame your drinking…on your car. Next…you’re gonna say the “Beast” just happened to end up in McMinnville(the center of Oregon wine country).
    The only remedy for your lust for the grape…is to visit and sample as much vino as possible.
    In your next post….you’re gonna blame poor Polly… for your over consumption of Oregon wine.
    Hope you enjoy your time in McMinnville…it’s a neat area!!!

  4. Mark Gehring says:

    Minor correction – that’s ” Bendistillery ” , it’s only one word. Been drinking their stuff for awhile here in Portland. ( As an aside, you should try Aria gin from Portland.) It’s all good.

    • libertatemamo says:

      And indeed you are CORRECT!!! Thanks for catching that error. I’ve corrected it in the post.

      Nina

  5. We went to Mcminville last year for the Airplane Museum… Steve’s must stop kind of place. Seeing that you are having too much fun there is a good excuse to go back, this time for the beer and wine no less.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The Spruce Goose has been on my wishlist to see for many years now, so I’m super-excited to be here. The wineries are a nice “extra” :)

      Nina

  6. Rand says:

    Covered the scene in Bend!! Too much fun having a car that knows its way around like an old horse.
    Water lovers should jump on the white water rafting trips. Deschutes was going off last summer. Tubing is another option.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’ve trained the car well :) Yup, we totally missed ALL the watersports in Bend. Lots of those options around. Our hosts are avid paddlers too and had more than enough tips, but we just didn’t make it. Hopefully next time.

      Nina

  7. Sue says:

    Bend is such a wonderful place, I really loved your take on it.

    So…..did you find enough wheat-free beers or did you both throw caution to the wind and then blame the “side effects” on Polly? (tee hee)

    Can’t wait to hear about the wineries.

    Sue

    • libertatemamo says:

      We threw caution to the wind and blamed the same :) Surprisingly we did OK. We’ve been gluten-free for a long time now which has actually helped our gluten-tolerance overall. We find we can drink a few brews with no problem. If it we do it more than a few days in row though we do get “effects”. So, we just have to moderate.

      Nina

  8. Crux was definitely our favorite too! I’m not really a big beer drinker, so if I liked it, it must be good. Surprisingly we didn’t do much wine tasting while we were there – something to do next time!

    • libertatemamo says:

      We ended up going TWICE to Crux…and we’re not big beer drinkers either. It was quite the place.

      Nina

      • Ha – we went twice also! Once with my brother and his wife and once with Hans & Lisa. Deas and I even bought Crux T-shirts! That was also the day we found out my brother’s wife was pregnant and we bought them a baby onesie from Crux!

        • libertatemamo says:

          Too funny. We tried to buy a T-shirt but they were sold out in the size we needed. I saw those onesies and thought they were super-cute. Like minds, eh?

          Nina

  9. Stephen Agnor says:

    Nina, If you enjoy Pinot Noir, McMinnville is well known. I would suggest the Amity Hills AVA, specifically, Witness Tree, Bethel Heights, and Cristom. Recommended to me by a family member who is the sommelier at Nick’s in downtown McMinnville. Not disappointed. If you try Nick’s, tell Michael I said hello.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Excellent, excellent! Always good to have a tip to point us in the right direction. Thank you!

      Nina

  10. Bob says:

    That Paul is one lucky Dude.

  11. Armando T Novell says:

    Nina
    paul looks too happy with 3 Blondes

    LOL .

    DAD

  12. Sherry says:

    This is definitely David’s kind of post. He’s a serious craft beer lover so Bend just moved way up on our radar. I’ll do the paddling, he can do the drinking.

  13. john H says:

    now you have my attention…

  14. Dolores Tanner says:

    :) SO glad you had a good time in ‘my’ part of the country. where are your wonderful pictures of Smith Rocks??? And the mountains? did you get waylaid? hee-hee…. McMinnville a fav also, McMennimins is a great place o eat there, up on the roof!!!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’ll, I did write Part I (= lots of rock & mountain pics) just a few days ago. Yes, we’ve looked at McMennimins…on our list for the next few days.

      Nina

  15. Rowanova says:

    What a fun post. Thanks, and the pics do speak volumes. Lol
    Paul’s smile does say a lot.
    Keep having fun.

  16. Lauren Brown says:

    Nina, This makes me remember sharing a brew – or was it two? – at the Katmandu Guest House before our trek to Ganesh Himal in Nepal in 2007.

    Cheers,

    Lauren

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh wow…yes, that’s taking me back to some fond memories Lauren! I remember a fair few brews on the trek afterwards too :)

      Nina

  17. Jim is excited to hear about the Nitro Stout at Crux. We will definitely be heading there as soon as we get to Bend next week! Well, that is after I make him go on a hike:)
    Gayle

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hike first, brew after…those priorities are good :) I seem to remember that Crux had several stout options. I liked the Nitro best, but they are all good. A little tip -> if you sit at the bar the bar tender will give you a “taste” of just about anything they have on tap. We bought the sampler, but ended up with 2 more free tastings just for the asking.

      Nina

  18. LuAnn says:

    Another great reason to visit Bend! You two are becoming quite the craft beer connoisseurs. There is a place in Sedona where they serve up a sampler called the “Seven Dwarfs”. They were so good that I had to have my way not once but twice with all of them. ;)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Sounds like something we would like! If we ever get back to Sedona I’m picking your brain before we go!

      Nina

  19. Dan & Jen says:

    Just added to our list of RVing destinations. Great post!

  20. There are great breweries in Eugene as well. Drop by and visit us outside of Sisters, Oregon this summer as we camp host at Smiling River Campground at Camp Sherman on the Metolius River. One of the many beautiful places in Central Oregon. Have a great summer!

    • libertatemamo says:

      We have definitely got to visit more breweries in Eugene. We’ve been there several times but have totally missed the brew-scene each time. Our bad!

      Enjoy your hosting on the Metolius. We drove by that way on our drive to McMinnville and it looked like a gorgeous area!

      Nina

  21. Alison Erickson says:

    Oh no – we also would like to settle in Bend eventually, and I guess everyone else is coming to the same conclusion! Note that Bend winters are wonderful if you are a skier – we have been going there for over 30 years to ski (from Seattle). Only now that we are full-time RVers have we spent time in Bend other than in winter! The other thing we appreciate about Bend is the music scene – lots of free music at brew pubs, wineries, restaurants, etc. See the online calendar at bendsource.com – amazing amount going on in a town that size.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Looks like the “secret” is out. We looked into a few real estate listings while we were there (we always think it’s fun to look around at real estate the places we go), but it’s actually pretty pricey around the Bend area. Size of the town has exploded over the past 10 years which has pushed up property prices. Great place with so much going on, so I’m not too surprised.

      Nina

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