A few weeks ago I made a trip up to Bend, Oregon to visit some amazing breweries. And one of my favorite stops was at Bend Brewing Co. in downtown Bend.
Bend Brewing Company is the second oldest brewery in the city, opening some 27 years ago, in 1995. They have an amazing setup, complete with a massive outdoor area for food/drinks/games as well as a great indoor dining/drinking spot as well.
After having some amazing food and beer at the brewpub, I knew I had to bring some of their beers back with me. They offer individual can sales so you can create your own four- or six-pack (which more places need to do!!!) and one of the brews I decided to take home was their Oregon Summer Ale.
Oregon Summer Ale, from their Pub Series, is an English-style Golden Ale with a 5.2% ABV. It’s an all-Oregon beer; brewed with a single hop, Willamette, and just two grains - Lamonta Pale malt and Venora malt - both from Mecca Grade Estate Malt in Madras, Oregon. Simply put, it’s Oregon in a glass.
The beer poured a golden copper color with just about a finger of eggshell white head topping it off. The foam dissipates quickly down to a thin ring around the edge of the glass with a single cloud of bubbles floating in the middle.
On the nose, the brew was sweet and sticky with a nice combination of malt and hops. There were some caramel and bready notes from the grist while the hops added a bit of citrus and some resinous pine notes.
My first sip began with a nice rush of carbonation that cleared my taste buds for the beer behind it. And, quickly, I was hit with some nice lighter notes of caramel and biscuits and lemon. It was a nice, sweeter start to the brew with just a hint of tartness from the lemony hops.
But, around the midway point, the hops really popped. There was a blast of lemon peel and a touch of bitter grapefruit rind that spiked up. However, those flavors quickly receded and were washed away.
On the backend, the malt reclaimed the top spot with a huge burst of sticky-sweet caramel that carried over to the end. That caramel created a lingering stickiness that combined with the last bit of remaining hop resin to create a rather dry finish on the brew.
Outside of that, Oregon Summer Ale finished cleanly, with no lasting flavors or bitterness…just that sticky/dry feeling.
This is a solid summer beer, perfect for day drinking and hiking. It’s liquid Oregon and very tasty. Just a bit dry on the finish or it’d be getting a higher grade. As it is, it’s still really nice and well worth a trip to Bend.