It’s not just New Belgium’s Fat Tire. There’s Ska’s Wheel Sucker, Hopwork’s Bike IPA, Chama River’s Broken Spoke, and, of course, Boulder’s Singletrack. People passionate about biking and those who are fanatical about craft beer share a huge overlap. Naturally, the mountainous areas of this country that have become renowned for their biking are breeding grounds for beer cultures to support the riders and the brewers who, not surprisingly, are often included in that first group.
We’d love to see more breweries catering to cyclists across the country but for now, the Mountain West seems to predominate in beer/biking Meccas. Many such towns have recently been covered in this column: Durango and Telluride, CO; Jackson, WY; Park City, UT; Lake Tahoe, CA. But the road doesn’t end there. So strap on your brain bucket and bunny hop over to these spots where the trails are single-tracks and the ales are twice as nice.
Not just Portland, but all of Oregon is considered Beervana. The things Oregonians do, they do well, and flooding a city with amazing breweries is no exception. Portland may get the credit for having the most breweries, but Bend has more per capita than any city, boasting nine, among some 80,000 residents. But that will reach an even dozen in the coming months.
Nestled between the Cascade Mountains and eastern Oregon’s high desert, outdoorsy types flock to Bend for rock climbing, river rafting, hiking, skiing and fishing. And, thanks to the trademarked Bend Ale Trail, brewery hopping has become its own sport. Jon Abernathy, who has been blogging at TheBrewSite.com since 2004, serves as our guide.
Abernathy deftly begins with Deschutes (www.DeschutesBrewery.com, 1044 NW Bond St.), Deschutes County’s biggest, oldest and best-known brewery, deserving of its reputation. The recently-expanded pub is in the brewery’s original home, with the production facility (901 SW Simpson Ave.) now based across the Deschutes River , with free daily tours including a tasting room. The food menu is semi-standard pub grub (vegetarians need not be scared, there’s a Black Butte porter-grilled portabello “burger”) and the liquid menu climbs over the top with 22 taps including several exclusives brewed on site. At last glance, there was a white IPA called Chainbreaker. Of course, odds are good that on tap you’ll find their Black Butte XXIII imperial porter (with chilies, cocoa nibs and orange peel) celebrating 23 years in brewing, or a vintage of their infamous The Abyss.