Deschutes Brewery has been dominating the world of craft beer since their opening in 1988. When the brew pub closed in order to expand into the adjoining building, people had many other excellent breweries to choose from while awaiting Deschutes' return. However, the 2 hour wait some folks experienced during last weeks soft opening shows their hearts were set on the return of the original.
The grand opening is February 1st, which is also when Deschutes launches their newest beer, the Imperial Bitter. I was lucky enough to get an early taste of the new brew and I can say without reservation that it’s fantastic. The dark, smoky flavors meld into a lovely, biting tang. There's also a new bar menu, as well as several new pizza’s. Executive Chef Matt Neltner has been experimenting with crusts and flatbread, bringing his love of Chicago pizza to the kitchen. The pizzas I tasted were phenomenal and a testament to a uniform excellence the new Deschutes is bringing to its menu.
The new expansion catapulted their seating capacity from 141 to 306, added 7,500 more square feet and 50 new employees on staff. Some might think the Deschutes brew pub will lose some of the intimate charm of the original space, but owner Gary Fish is quick to note that he hopes it still feels like Bend’s community pub. After my time there tonight, I’d have to agree with him.