Nick Griffin has lived full-time in Bend for only about four months, but the taproom he's just opened up downtown seems destined to have a major impact on the beer scene here.
White Water Taphouse, which officially opened last weekend while Deschutes Brewery held its 27th anniversary party across the street, is the result of over a year of effort from Griffin, a former Portland resident. "I've been going to Bend for years, enjoying the rafting and the rest of the outdoor scene, and that's where the name White Water came from," he said. "I think there's a lot of potential for a place like this that puts its primary focus right on the beer experience."
Located on 1043 NW Bond in the old Supervillain Sandwiches' location (Griffin took over the lease after Supervillain's owner decided to move back to the East Coast), White Water keeps things low-key and elegant inside. Thirty taps line the wall on the far end, including two nitro slots and four wines, and everything's described in detail on a two-screen DigitalPour menu system to one side. The tap list concentrates on the ales of the Western US, from local standbys like Boneyard and Sweet As to rarer offerings from places like North Rim and Utah's Epic Brewing. "I'm liking the Grapefruit Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point right now," Griffin noted. "Old Rasputin [a heavy nitro stout] is a favorite of mine too, and it's air-conditioned in here so I can still enjoy all that heavy malt taste even in this weather."
So it's another bar in Bend, you might ask—why's that worth particular attention? It comes down to White Water's laser-like focus on craft. There's food here, but it's all small, inexpensive plates like artichoke dip and hummus, meant to complement the beer instead of taking center stage. No, instead of being a restaurant, it's a taproom—much like, say, Bailey's in Portland or The Beer Stein in Eugene—where beer nerds can meet, chat about beer-nerdy stuff, and sample the whole length and breadth of our bountiful beer selection in one bar. A taproom that'll fit right in here, in other words.