Open up any beer trading forum on the Internet and one sees the same names pretty often. Hill Farmstead Brewery, Side Project, Jester King, our own Ale Apothecary—all producers that specialize in off-beat flavors, intense experimentation, and a sense of "rarity" that makes beer travelers the world over beat a path to their doorstep.
But why go through all the trouble when we can just take a stroll over to Bond Street and see what Deschutes has on tap? The pilot brewery to the left of the bar—the space once housed the entire brewing system—focuses exclusively on producing neat, new things for pub-goers, mostly stuff one can't find anywhere else. The current offerings, too, run the gamut. On one end is the Passion Fruit IPA, Deschutes' shot at making a juicy, fresh squeezed-style pale with tons of tropical citrus thrown in for good measure. On the other is the Wheat Wine, a 9.8 percent straw-colored sweet beer that's best suited for those freezing nights that linger around Central Oregon in February.
The news doesn't end there. Following soon after 10 Barrel, Deschutes has just launched Wayfarer, a cider created in tandem with E-Z Orchards in Salem. The twist here: It's a sour cider, something almost never seen in the local scene, and the product of the same kind of spontaneous fermentation that brings us things like the Apothecary's wild ales. It's exclusive to the Bend pub, and even for those who are not cider people normally, it's worth a shot—the sour flavor gives it a tartness that goes beyond the intense sweetness a lot of Pacific Northwest ciders sport.
The Pub Reserve Series, meanwhile, is still running strong. Last week saw the release of two beers: Murder in the Rye, a strong stout aged in Oregon Spirit Distillers whiskey barrels, and Rum Wowzenbock, a German-style strong ale back from a stint in some Spanish rum casks. Both are $22 a pop in bomber-sized bottles, but both prove that around Central Oregon, there's no need to trade for the big names to try some of the most cutting-edge beer out there.