Yesterday my wife clued me in to a local beer event that I had almost missed: the Pine Tavern, Bend, Oregon’s oldest restaurant (originally founded in 1936), was hosting an event with local breweries called “Bites & Brews“: a beer and food pairing event that brought in eight breweries and paired their beers with “food created by our Executive Chef especially for each beer, bringing out the natural flavors of each distinctly different Beer”.
I was able to attend, getting a ticket at the door (rather than reserved ahead of time), and I’m glad I did: it ended up being a terrific event for only $25, which was a great deal for what amounted to an all-you-can-eat-and-drink showcase of Central Oregon’s beer scene.
The breweries that were in attendance were:
- Deschutes Brewery
- Bend Brewing
- Silver Moon Brewing
- 10 Barrel Brewing
- Cascade Lakes Brewing
- GoodLife Brewing
- Phat Matt’s Brewing
- Seven Brides Brewing
Astute readers will note that one wasn’t actually local: Seven Brides Brewing is based in Silverton, Oregon (outside of Salem on the other side of the mountains); however, their rep in Bend, Aiden, is one of the brothers of the owners (they have a partnership of “three dads and two uncles” as the primaries) so it worked out well with the event.
Overall I think it was a good, successful beer event: the Pine Tavern is one of my favorite Bend restaurants, and they put together a delicious “bites” menu and did a great job organizing the (mostly) local brewers together to pour some terrific beers. I didn’t take advantage of the food as much as I could have, but what I did try—blue cheese-infused sliders, coconut breaded prawns, goat cheese and olive bruschetta, Dungeoness crab beignets—was delicious and I wish I’d helped myself to more.
But no matter— I was able to sample some beers I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of trying, and had the chance to talk to a number of brewery reps, and that alone was worth the price of admission. I started out my night with some Ching Ching from Bend Brewing (a fantastic beer, a sour Berliner Weisse-style infused with pomegranate and hibiscus) and a plate of food, and then moved into serious beer tasting and discussion.
- 10 Barrel: Founders Chris and Jeremy Cox and Garret Wales were present, and I chatted with them for awhile, along with sampling their Oregon Brown (a really nice, crisp and hoppy brown ale, malty with toffee character) and Pray For Snow (their winter ale, which is a strong ale with a lot of bourbon character this year). Among discussing their various “brewer acquisitions” (Tonya Cornett of Bend Brewing and Shawn Kelso of Barley Brown’s) we talked about their 50bbl brewhouse expansion which is coming right along; the actual 50 barrel brewing system should be in by Tuesday the 17th and Chris invited me to come tour the new brewery anytime after that.
- Seven Brides: I had not tried but perhaps two Seven Brides brews before this night so I made it a point to sample the three that were available and introduce myself to Aiden Kelley, their Bend rep. On tap were Frankenlou’s IPA (ironically I have a bottle of this in the fridge that I have yet to open), Becky’s Black Cat Porter, and a Kölsch. The IPA was decent but not as hoppy as the IBUs on the label (105!) would suggest, the Kölsch I really enjoyed (a little rough around the edges which I kind of like in this style and a touch yeasty) and the Porter was great, with vanilla and licorice notes. I definitely need to make an effort to get over the mountains to Silverton to visit the brewery and try a lot more of their beers.
- Silver Moon: It had been ages since I’ve had the chance to chat with owner Tyler Reichert, whom I knew from Bend’s old homebrew club before he started the brewery, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit and drink some Silver Moon beer, which for my money is some of the best beer being brewed in Bend right now. Among other things we chatted about the “IPA showdown” I participated in awhile back, the local brewery explosion, and beers I’d love to see on tap again at Silver Moon (particular the session Scottish Ale they had on tap way back in 2008—at 3.6% abv I really liked that beer). Also, Silver Moon currently has on tap “Trainwreck”, a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine that was brewed in 2010 and is 11.4% abv—which if you read this blog, you know a barleywine like this is catnip to me. I’m going to make an effort to get some of this beer this weekend.
- Phat Matt’s: Other than their Golden Ale which I tried very early on, I hadn’t had the chance to really sample Phat Matt’s other beers—an IPA and a Red Ale, both of which were pouring. I was able to meet Paul Mercer, one of the partners, and chat with him a bit about the brewery and beers and what’s coming up. The big news: Phat Matt’s bottled beers are now being brewed entirely in Redmond. Previously, only the kegged beers were coming out of Redmond: the bottled beers were being contract brewed from (I believe) a U-brew facility in Belmont, California. However, Paul assures me that the very day of the Pine Tavern event was the first day that the beers were bottled in Redmond, so they were as fresh as they could possibly be. And they are decent beers: the IPA is an English-style IPA, more of a subdued, earthy and spicy hoppiness than the usual American citrus sucker punch; the Red Ale was my favorite of the two, having a nice, slight roastiness and malt backbone with a solid but complementary hopping. And, coming up, Phat Matt’s is developing a Pale Ale and a Pilsner for summer seasonal release.
I wish that I’d had more time to chat with the other brewery reps that were there, but sometimes that’s how it goes. As it was, I considered it a productive evening and well worth the $25 entry fee. I hope the Pine Tavern (or other restaurants in town) do this type of event again, I would easily attend future “Bites & Brews” pairings.