Where to Find the Best Breweries, Hot Spots and Sights in Bendiainoldman
Brews Less Traveled is a membership club that delivers hand-selected beers from some of the best breweries in lesser-known beer cities across the country. This month we are showcasing breweries in Bend, OR.
Where to Find the Best Breweries, Hot Spots and Sights in Bend
The gem of the criminally unheralded Central Oregon landscape, Bend is a city surrounded by some of America’s most splendorous wilderness scapes. The city is a veritable portal to dense forests, stretching vistas and rushing waterways, offering endless respite for adventurers emboldened by a blanket of dark skies. As we well know by now, most American cities with an affinity for their surrounding nature likewise hold a special passion for good beer. The city of Bend is no different, and Bend breweries are as exceptional as they are plentiful.
Bend and its surrounding areas house dozens of well established breweries, as well as some enterprising, young beer makers. Home to approximately 100,000 residents, Bend consistently ranks in the top 10 cities in the U.S. in the highest number of breweries per capita. With so many breweries in the area, craft beer enthusiasts would be happy to learn that Bend’s beer scene offers diversity in style, brewing techniques, ambiance and vibes.
There are breweries solely focused on honoring the tradition of European ales, and other breweries that showcase fresh-locally grown hops. Bend has some of the largest and most recognized breweries in the U.S., and yet still features a scene that emboldens the establishment of new breweries. Hell, there’s even a Bend brewery with a massive telescope.
Visitors to Bend have an unending well of breweries to sample, not to mention pristine rivers, forest trails and mountain peaks to discover. Outdoor leisure is rewarded in Bend, so take advantage of your curiosity and explore Bend and the surrounding wilderness. To help you make sorts of the best breweries in Bend, as well as great restaurants and things to do, we’ve built a helpful guide for adventurous craft beer tourists.
BEST BREWERIES IN BEND
There are dozens of Bend breweries to check out.
Where the Hop Heads Go
Boneyard Beer features one of the most interesting brewhouses in all of Bend. The decade-old brewery opened as a Frankenstein’s Monster-like collection of old brewing equipment collected from 13 different breweries across the country. Over time, Boneyard Beer upgraded most of its equipment, though the brewery still uses its original 20-barrel brew system to make special batches and seasonal releases.
The brewery has built up a massive beer list over its life, but Boneyard Beer clearly loves its IPAs. Boneyard Beer keeps a handful of IPAs or pale ales on as its core beer at any time, including the sought-after Hop Venom Double IPA. This IPA is a hop lover’s wallop, with 4.5 lbs/bbl of West Coast hops used in the brew. Beer drinkers who love classic IPAs that are bitter, resinous and memorable will love the selection available at Boneyard Brew.
Where to Drink Experimental Beers
The taproom at Crux Fermentation Project is a great place for craft beer enthusiasts to stretch their legs. The kid-friendly, dog-friendly brewery is a gathering spot for adventurous drinkers to enjoy conversation, live music and unbelievable views of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.
As nice as the atmosphere is, everything plays second fiddle to Crux Fermentation Project’s stable of beers. The brewery isn’t shy about taking chances and creates bold and innovative batches of beer. Look for beers that are new renditions of classic recipes, like the brewery’s Gimme Mo IPA, Krystal Juice IPA and Crux Pilz. Expect beers with bold (but clean) flavors, with Crux Fermentation Project putting its own signature stamp on any beer style.
Where to Bag a Belgian Ale
Bend, Oregon, is a land of IPAs hopped with freshly-harvested hop cones, so it might come as a surprise that one brewer has elected to focus exclusively on the art of Belgian beers.
But that is exactly what Monkless Belgian Ales in Bend has done, and to great success. Founder and Brewmaster Todd Clement turned his brewery into a veritable shrine of all things Belgian beer, and Clement’s passion and focus resulted in a roster of genuinely incredible Belgian brews—made in Oregon.
Curb your skepticism, these beers are the real deal. Monkless Belgian Ales produces what you’d expect from a Belgian brewery—Tripels, Quads, Dubbels and Wits—but also strives for innovative quaffs. Try the brewery’s single malt, single-hop Belgian Single, or the Capitulation Dry Hopped Belgian Tripel, which blends Clement’s affinity for Belgian beers with hop flavors and brewing techniques local to Oregon.
AN AFTERNOON IN BEND
The Deschutes River carves its way through the entire length of Bend, serving as the lifeblood of Central Oregon’s natural wonderscape. Townees and tourists alike love to get out on the Deschutes River in a canoe or kayak, but the river is also famously known as a premier tubing destination.
That’s right—when the temperatures warm up, you can drop in a tube and float through Bend. I don’t know many ways to spend an afternoon better than that.
There are a few things to keep in mind before floating. Approximately 267,000 people floated the Deschutes River through Bend in 2021, so you’ll have to plan ahead and reserve tubes if you are renting from tube providers like Tumalo Creek. If you have your own gear (including a PFD and dry bag) and want to drop in yourself, the stretch of river from Riverbend Park to Drake Park has long been a popular tube ride. The Ride the River shuttle gives rides to tubers between Drake Park and Riverbend Park so you don’t have to walk miles back to your original drop in point, tube in-hand.
Before and after you float the river, however, there are plenty of things to do near drop-in and take-out spots in Bend. The Deschutes River flows north before connecting with the Columbia River, so Riverbend Park in the city’s southern end is a great spot to get onto the river.
Fortunately for craft beer-loving tubers, there are two fantastic breweries near Riverbend Park. Just north of the park, Deschutes Brewery has a tasting room open to the public. Deschutes Brewery has long been one of the nation’s most recognizable independent craft beer brands, and in 2021 was the 11th-largest craft brewery by production in the entire U.S. If you’re hunting down an iconic IPA from the West Coast, there are few places worth your time more than Deschutes Brewery.
West of Bend Whitewater Park—another viable spot to put in tubes on the Deschutes River—you can find a cluster of restaurants, cafes and bars. Spots like Pacific Pizza & Brew and Bangers & Brews provide opportunities to grab a quick bite to eat, but if you’re looking to sit down and enjoy a crisp pint before hopping on the river, GoodLife Brewing Company is your place to stop.
GoodLife Brewing Company loves its IPAs; what brewery in the Northwest doesn’t? The brewery loves to pack in fresh, locally-grown hops, showcasing the flavors of Oregon throughout all of its beers. If you’re visiting Bend in the fall, try GoodLife Brewing Company’s 150 Hippies Fresh Hop Ale for a beer made with true, off-the-vine hops.
Up north, on the eastern shore of the Deschutes River, Drake Park is within walking distance to downtown Bend and its glut of restaurants and watering holes.
There is no shortage of places to sit down for a filling meal after a long day on the river. Eateries like Bend Burger Company and McMenamins Old St. Francis School both serve up pub fare, while Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails offers a more refined dining experience. A couple of blocks away, Spork in downtown Bend is a fantastic option for parties with vegetarian eaters.
Because you’re in Bend, you can’t throw a rock around the downtown area without it landing in a pint glass. If you didn’t catch the Deschutes Brewery tasting room near Riverside Park, stop in at the Deschutes Brewery Publick House downtown. Two more breweries are found within walking distance—Bend Brewing Company (which has served craft beers since 1995) and The Cellar, which is the Bend location of Porter Brewing Co.
Between the three breweries, which are mere blocks apart, you can drink your afternoon away with cask-conditioned English ales, sticky IPAs, seasonal releases and much more—a craft beer drinker’s delight.
Swing by these sites to document your trip to Bend.
Yeah, you read that right. Bend, Oregon, is home to the last remaining Blockbuster video rental store in the entire world. This still-operating relic is a trip through the past and sells all the Blockbuster merch you never knew you needed until right now.
Conveniently found just east of Bend, the Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint provides an incredible vista of the high desert of Central Oregon. The Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte and Mt. Hood are all visible from Pilot Butte, and the trek is perfect for unforgettable sunsets.
On your drive back into Bend from Pilot Butte, swing by Bridge 99 Brewery on the north end of town. Bridge 99 pours up malt-forward beers like their Tiramisu Porter or Bog Trotter Irish Ale, which serve as a nice change of pace from all of the IPAs you’ll be drinking around town.
WORTH THE DRIVE – DESCHUTES NATIONAL FOREST
Bend is nestled in the high desert of Central Oregon, surrounded by seemingly endless mountain ranges and refreshed with the fresh, flowing Deschutes River. It is unsurprising, then, that the city is encompassed in natural beauty that is wholly accessible to anyone with the will to explore it. The Deschutes National Forest, in particular, contains many natural wonders that are a quick drive from Bend city limits
The Deschutes National Forest is a quick drive from Bend city limits, and contains many natural wonders that make the trip well worth your time in the car. This forest is a tapestry of western pines and rushing streams, all under the conservatorship of the Cascade Mountains.
About 25 minutes west of Bend, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the natural splendor of Tumalo Falls, a 97-foot waterfall that cascades down Tumalo Creek. Tumalo Falls is just one of several waterfalls in the Deschutes National Forest, such as the Bridge Creek Falls. For a longer and more fulfilling visit, check out the hiking and biking trails surrounding Tumalo Falls.
Heading south within the Deschutes National Forest, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is another accessible day trip destination for craft beer tourists staying in Bend. This massive nature reserve contains several popular sites that have been carved out of violent volcanic activity. The Lava River Cave, for example, is the largest lava tube in Oregon, or a massive underground tunnel formed by flowing lava.
Interact with the map below to navigate to every stop mentioned in this article, and have fun exploring Bend!