Bend may slow down a considerable amount once fall kicks into gear, but that doesn't mean the scene for one of the city's most well-loved exports is growing desolate. The Bend Ale Festival, happening this Saturday at Northwest Crossing, will offer 40 beers from 20 brewers that encompass quite nearly everyone active in Central Oregon. Three Creeks is one exception, but that's OK, because they're taking over the taps Nov. 18 at Broken Top Bottle Shop and no doubt bringing some fine goodies from their new facility in Sisters.
For the wandering beer palate, however, the week's main event is at the White Water Taphouse Thursday, Nov. 10, where their weekly meet-the-brewer/bingo evening is hosted by folks from Yachats Brewing—a small place from a smaller town that's making a disproportionately big name for itself around Oregon.
Yachats (YAH-hahts) is a tiny town along the central Oregon coast, not far from Cape Perpetua and the Siuslaw National Forest. That makes it popular among hikers and outdoors-oriented folk in the summer, but winter is also a fun time to climb up a bit and attempt to spot gray whales migrating north and south along the Pacific coast. Meanwhile the town itself (pop. 696) is quaint as all get-out.
US-101 goes right through downtown. Right in the middle visitors will find the Yachats Farmstore, the building the brewery calls home. It's been open since 2012 in a space once occupied by a bank, but the brewery only began in the summer of 2015. The beer side is headed up by Charlie Van Meter, who used to work for Logsdon Farmhouse Ales and helped the Hood River mainstay win silver at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival for Peche 'n Brett.
The shop itself offers a bit of everything; locally-grown produce and meats, an extensive fermentation program putting out killer sauerkraut and kimchi, and a seven-barrel brew system. Thirty taps are available for visitors stopping in for lunch or a quick drink, including kombucha, mead, cider, wine, and (as of this writing) 16 Yachats beers.
As one might expect with Van Meter's background at Logsdon, the focus with Yachats is on fresh, local ingredients and unusual experimentation. All the basic beer varieties are there, of course, including the Perpetua Xtra pale ale and Thor's Well IPA, but look off to the side to find taps like Velella, a saison flavored with black currants and aged in oak barrels. There are also no fewer than five fresh-hop beers on now, including an imperial IPA, a sour beer with Amarillo hops, and another made with Centennial hops and Brettanomyces yeast. Pair it with their steak and pepper fondue sandwich and there are few better ways to begin some coastal exploration.