It's heady times for beer around here, with Central Oregon Beer Week breathing down our necks, the new edition of the Bend Ale Trail Atlas due up shortly, and summer—as everyone knows, the most important outdoor-beverage season—seemingly around the corner. It's a good time to take stock and visit some of the smaller Bend beer joints, places normally too out-of-the-way to stay on your radar. And along those lines, have you been to Bridge 99 yet?
If your geographical knowledge of greater Bend is lacking, the address "63063 Layton Avenue" might evoke images of llama farms or tracts of land in Deschutes River Woods. But Bridge 99, which opened up their public tasting room back in January, is actually just off the Bend Parkway in northeast Bend, five or so minutes from downtown and conveniently located next to Wubba's and their KC-style smoked barbecue. (They'll deliver over to the brewery, of course.)
Drive on over, and you're greeted by a smart-looking garage facility complete with a popcorn machine and a bar with a gleaming, custom, polished-redwood top. There's always eight or so beers on tap, and the selections available last weekend offered a nice mix of summer drinkability and great taste. Lake Creek India Session Lager is Bridge 99's newest and a great example of the lager, featuring a nice, citrusy hop flavor up front backed up by a refreshing crispness on the back end. Other selections like the Pioneer Porter and Rock Crawl Red offer some more malty varieties, but there's nothing here that's massively alcoholic or overwhelming flavorwise—they're good outdoor beers, in other words.
2015 should be a good year for Bridge 99, originally founded in 2013 by contractors Rod Kremer and Trevor Hawman. The brewery recently redesigned their original badge-type logo to avoid confusion with the Old 99 Brewing Co. in Roseburg. A 10-barrel brewing system is also in the planning stages, which will no doubt help them push distribution beyond the 20 or so accounts they currently have in Bend and Corvallis. With the COBW marathon just around the corner, why not stop by Bridge 99 for a quick warmup and a reminder of Bend's small-time brew roots?