9 things you need to know about the Bend Ale Trail
November is Bend Ale Trail Month, and 2016 marks the third time we’ve enjoyed this month-long celebration of Bend’s craft beer scene.
While you get a killer souvenir Silipint anytime you turn in a completed Bend Ale Trail passport, doing it in November earns you extra bragging rights, along with the oft-coveted Bend Ale Trail trophy to put on your mantle.
You’ll also have a shot at additional prizes throughout the month, which you can earn by posting about your Bend Ale Trail adventures on social media (keep reading to learn more about that!)
While we’re on the topic of the Bend Ale Trail, here are nine things you should know about trekking the nation’s top trail of beer.
You don’t have to drink a drop
Don’t get me wrong—if you want to spend your Bend Ale Trail adventure sipping your way through creamy porters and hoppy IPAs, rock on with your bad self.
But you’re not required to drink a single drop of beer. You do have to show up in person at each brewery to get your passport stamped, of course. But eating, drinking, or buying anything at all is optional. This is good news for teetotalers and designated drivers.
And while kids under 21 aren’t allowed to participate in the Bend Ale Trail program, they’ll find plenty of non-alcoholic selections along the trail. My personal fave: The root beer and ginger beer brewed up fresh at Deschutes Brewery.
Pace yourself, buddy
If you do plan to swill beer during your Bend Ale Trail journey, it’s important to be smart about consumption. A few quick:
- Eat a hearty meal before you set out, and plan to eat at a couple breweries along the way.
- Take frequent water breaks. Tote your own Hydro Flask, or ask your server to set you up with a big glass of ice water.
- Opt for smaller schooners instead of full pints of beer, or stick with samples.
- Share a taster tray with a pack of friends so everyone can try a wide variety of beer without overindulging.
- Don’t try to hit all the breweries in one weekend. Take it nice and slow!
- Make a plan before you set out, including how many breweries you plan to hit and how you’ll get safely back to your Bend hotel or vacation rental.
And speaking of being responsible…
Don’t even think of drinking and driving. Seriously.
There are gazillion ways to travel between breweries without risking a DUI or someone’s life. Here are just a few of them:
- Walk. Especially if the weather’s nice. It’s a great way to see Bend.
- Arrange a shuttle or a Segway outing with The Bend Tour Company.
- Book a half-day tour with The Bend Brew Bus.
- Hit the trail on a horse-drawn carriage with Cowboy Carriage Company.
- Pedal a bicycle made for 14 with The Cycle Pub of Bend.
- Cruise on an electric bicycle with Let It Ride Electric Bikes’ Brewdie Tour.
- Head out with in a 1980s-style trolley with The Bend Trolley.
- Try a personalized, four-person, six-hour tour with Bend Adventure Tours.
- Travel the trail in style with a limo from JD’s Car Service.
- Call a cab.
While Lyft and Uber aren’t currently in Bend, city officials are currently exploring the possibility. Bottom line: There’s no excuse for driving while impaired. Ending up dead or in jail will put a serious damper on your Bend vacation.
There’s no expiration date
While you do need to turn in your completed passport in November if you want the trophy for Bend Ale Trail Month, there’s no urgency to hit all the breweries in one trip to Bend. Your Bend Ale Trail passport never expires, so you can gather stamps over multiple visits to Bend. Heck, we’ve had folks show up in the Bend Visitor Center to claim passports they’ve been working on for years. Take your time and savor every last drop!
Wanna win stuff?
I already mentioned the trophies, which are clearly the top prize during Bend Ale Trail Month.
But beyond the trophies, the breweries are extra generous with prizes this time of year. Hats, shirts, stickers, gift cards, Hydro Flasks, Silipints, and so much more can be yours with just a few taps of your phone screen.
Just snap a pic of your beerventure and share it on Instagram using the hashtag #bendaletrailmonth. We’ll randomly select winners to receive schwag throughout the month. Easy peasy!
Don’t break the bank for a place to snooze
Unless money’s no object, you don’t have oodles of cash to spend on your Bend Ale Trail journey.
Save your funds for important things like beer and food by checking out our deals page for discounts on Bend lodging. Plenty of Bend hotels offer special pricing and packages during Bend Ale Trail Month.
The beer’s great, sure! But have you tried the food?
I love beer, don’t get me wrong. But the thing I love best about doing the Bend Ale Trail is the chance to sample tasty chow at so many different breweries.
Since it behooves you to have some food in your belly while you’re trekking the trail, here’s a handy guide to my favorite dish at every brewery on the Bend Ale Trail:
- The Grilled Cheesy at Crux Fermentation Project (seriously the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ll ever eat in your life)
- The steelhead tacos at Worthy Brewing.
- The bacon-wrapped pineapple/jalapeño poppers at Sunriver Brewing.
- The steak and spinach salad at Bend Brewing Company.
- The sesame-seared ahi at McMenamins (though if you’re just feeling snacky, nothing beats their Cajun tots!)
- The Hippy Pie pizza at 10 Barrel Brewing.
- The Crater Nachos at Silver Moon Brewing.
- The roasted beet salad at Craft Kitchen and Brewery.
- The elk burger at Cascade Lakes Brewing.
- The jalapeño wrappers at Riverbend Brewing (unless you’re craving something sweet, in which case—duh!—go for the deep fried Twinkies!)
- Though Wild Ride Brewing doesn’t technically have a kitchen of its own, the food carts out front have plenty to pick from. I like the pulled pork sandwich from Wubba’s BBQ.
- The Meatball Sando at GoodLife Brewing.
- The spicy cheese and crawfish dip at Three Creeks Brewing.
- The buffalo-style chicken wings at Deschutes Brewery.
The only brewery on the list that doesn’t currently have food is Boneyard Brewing, so I can’t weigh in on the best dish there (though I can tell you their RPM IPA will vastly improve your life). But since they currently have a new brew pub under construction, you can expect to see food very soon. Keep an eye on their website for updates on the completion date.
Jog it off
Planning to visit Bend for Bend Ale Trail month, but worried about all those extra beer calories? Never fear! Sign up for the Bend Ale Run on November 12 and fit in a little cardio with your fellow beer-lovers.
There’s a half-marathon and a 10k, plus an option to pedal the course for cyclists. You can even opt to walk it with a generous 5-hour time slot for completion.
To learn more and to register, go here.
There’s an app for that
Not in the mood to pack the Bend Ale Trail atlas with you everywhere you go? No problem!
Save trees and keep everything tucked neatly in your pocket when you check in at all your stops using the handy Bend Ale Trail app.
It’s free to download for iPhone and Android devices, and you can gather virtual stamps right there in the app (not to mention plotting your route, reading up on each brewery, and finding a place to stay). Download the app here.