Several weeks ago my wife and I finally made the trek out to Prineville in the heart of Central Oregon (true story; Prineville was the region’s “metropolis” over a century ago) to check out Solstice Brewing, Prineville’s one-and-only brewpub. Though open for a about a year and a half now, they’ve only been brewing their own beers in-house for a few months, so with a free weekend we decided it was time to visit.
The first thing to understand about Prineville: it’s cowboy, beef, and Coors Light country. It’s the home of Les Schwab Tires (free beef with tire purchase in February), and you’ll find a laid back, ranching lifestyle, rodeo, and one of the last Arctic Circle restaurants in Oregon—all of which possesses a certain charm to many people. Of course, you’ll also now find a Facebook data center, so if any Oregon city was needing its own brewery, Prineville was it.
(Quick segue here: historically Prineville has had two breweries: the Ochoco Brewery from 1882 to 1890, and the City Brewery from 1893 to 1906. But nothing in the modern era.)
Bearing all that in mind, Solstice Brewing is exactly what you’d expect: open, lots of exposed wood, simple with no pretensions, and with incredibly friendly service. We sat at the bar, and the waitress/bartender was nice, engaging, and helpful; and when I was wandering around, snapping a few pictures, they let me wander into the brewhouse to get a more up-close look at the brewing equipment.
For lunch I had the grilled veggie wrap, and my wife had a burger, and both came with sweet potato tater tots. My wrap was good, the vegetables were crisp and lightly crunchy (which is always better than limp and soggy!) and although one may consider it blasphemy to order a vegetable dish in beef country, it was a good choice. My wife’s burger, on the other hand, was solidly in the center of beef country and she enjoyed it; I had a bite and can confirm it was tasty, the beef was lean and flavorful.
For beer they had three of their own on tap: the flagship Prinetucky Pale Ale (yes, that’s a Central Oregon inside joke), Copper Ale, and Chocolate Porter. I sampled tastes of all three, and had a pint each of the Prinetucky and Chocolate Porter.
The Prinetucky Pale Ale was the best of the three, a decent slightly maltier-than-hoppy take on a pale that made me think English-American hybrid. The Copper Ale was one I didn’t care for, frankly, it was to my taste a bit too muddled and felt like the recipe could be dialed in more (though I think I know what they were aiming for). And the Chocolate Porter was a bit thin for a porter for my preference, but had a nice lightly roasty, lightly cocoa-chocolate character to it.
In addition to their house beers, they also have a nice selection of guest brews; while we were there these included Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat, Laurelwood Workhorse IPA, Double Mountain Imperial IPA (not sure which, it didn’t say—Molten Lava maybe?), Everbody’s Brewing Hoedown Brown, and Tieton Apricot Cider. And, don’t forget they have a full bar too—my wife got a drink that tasted like watermelon Jolly Rancher candy that she really liked.
Check out those taps: the house beers’ tap handles are fashioned from old juniper (and maybe pine) tree branches. I love that rustic touch.
All in all we thought it was a successful outing, and worth the 31-or-so-mile trek from Bend. Good food, great friendly service, and handcrafted beer will definitely draw us back at some point in the near future.
Solstice Brewing Company
234 N Main Street
Prineville, OR 97754