ear after year, Redmond is striking more of its own presence in Central Oregon, becoming much more than simply "not Bend." That's the case with the region's favorite drink as well, to the point that one can now do a mile-long walking tour and visit three fine beer locations in the space of an afternoon without having to go anywhere near a driver's seat.
There's no reason not to start in the middle of town, which still retains the sort of small-town feel that downtown Bend is a bit too big and bustling to retain. This, despite having Wild Ride Brew right inside of it. The brewery, which celebrated its third birthday back in May, is bustling with people each day of the week in summer, basking in the sun and checking out the four food trucks in front.
"The Hopperhead IPA and Nut Crusher [peanut butter-flavored porter] are our bestsellers," bartender Shane Sturza said. "We had to make Nut Crusher an all-year beer because the demand for it is crazy—we do two batches of it a week, even when it's hot like this." (Wild Ride's no two-trick pony, though; try the Tarty to the Party apricot sour ale for another summery must-have.)A
bout two blocks down, in a much smaller building, Kobold Brewing held the grand opening for its Vault Taproom last weekend. Founder and head brewer Steve Anderson was also his own head contractor for this taproom, renovating an old SW 6th Street storefront and the adjacent open space to create a neat little pub and outdoor beer garden, with Westside Taco providing food outside. The Vault, which is open daily, debuts with seven Kobold beers—including a special version of the Lawful Evil stout aged in Oregon Spirit Distillers bourbon barrels—and a dozen or so other beers, ciders and so on available.
"I've been putting in a lot of hours over the past few weeks getting it all ready," Anderson said, "having lunch at the Wild Ride in between. Now that we're open I'll catch up on sleep for a bit, but I have a lot of things aging in barrels right now, and it won't be too long before it'll be the perfect season for them again."
After loading up on tacos and the Screeching Blonde summer ale at the Vault, there are a few options nearby—the Dawg House II heartier pub fare, the Tumble Inn Tavern for the full dive experience. But walk a bit further out of downtown to discover Rimrock Taphouse, the largest taphouse in the city.
The DigitalPour menu at rimrocktaphouse.com shows 52 different varieties, from the old standbys including RPM and Hop Slice to a few uncommon exotics. Top among them: the Pirate Rum Barrel Coconut Stout, a beer from Santiam Brewing in Salem that does exactly what it says on the label—perfect for those summer days when a little Caribbean flair is in order.