The Good Life

13 May

So, Brian and I ended up in Bend on Thursday at the state planning conference for work. Given the recent move for Tanya from Bend Brewing Company to 10 Barrel and the press in the NY Times for Good Life, the newest brewery in Bend, we thought we should double up on our time while on the east side of the Cascades and do some serious beer tasting. So, here I find myself, on the west side of town, with a pint of IPA and my best friend, on a beautiful evening. Not a bad life, eh?

I’m drinking the Descender IPA. This beer has big time hops. Primarily citrus hops, but an orange or Meyer lemon type of citrus. A sweeter-sour hop as opposed to the more typical, bitter grapefruit citrus hop flavor. The malt balanced this beer perfectly. It didn’t have a strong presence or flavor of its own, just providing the right backbone to show off the deliciousness of the hops. The bitterness of the hops lingered for quite a while on the tongue.

For comparison, I also enjoyed a snifter of the Comatose imperial IPA. This beer had a very floral, citrus hop nose with just a hint of alcohol. My BFF said she could taste the hops just from smelling it! The caramel malt in this beer stood up eye-to-eye with all the hops. There was a citrus hop initially, but the hops that lingered and dominated were more floral and grassy. And the alcohol was completely gone. It really wasn’t noticeable, which at 9.5% ABV could sneak up on anyone pretty quickly. This is the kind of beer that leads to waking up naked with a tattoo on your face, and what stays in Bend doesn’t stay in Bend, so be careful with this one.

Across the table Brian was sipping on a 29er, an India Brown Ale. It was a deep amber/burnt sugar color with a thick tan head. The nose had a slight toasty aroma that was slightly spicy. Initial bitterness was replaced by the slightly toasted malts, then finished crisp and bitter. Body was slightly thin, but this contributes to a smooth drinkability. Overall, this was really good. Better than the Dogfish Head IBA…of course that is a bottled beer that travels a long distance. Point is, this is a multiple pint beer for sure. The hop profile is just right and balances really well with the malts in this beer.

Overall, I was very happy with the beer at the Good Life. It’s a nice addition to the brewing scene in Bend. And it couldn’t be beat at $2.50 a pint for drink local night (onThursdays).They offered four house taps and another six or eight guest taps. I hope their selection of house brews grows by the next time I find myself in Bend. I’m guessing it will. Given the size of their facility they’ll be able to grow in place and produce a ton of beers for quite some time.

The atmosphere was just alright, maybe even lacking. But this is my biggest gripe with brewpubs in this state. The overflow seating in the brewery space, with the square picnic tables, was appropriately informal, unfinished and industrial. But the regular bar / restaurant space had horrible acoustics! I could barely hear my friends sitting across the table from me. It would be more than okay to lower the ceilings and make this space more cozy, inspiring patrons to sit, chat, and drink for awhile. The industrial vibe is appropriate for some places, especially when mixed with enough brick or wood, but it’s now being overused and not in balance. This isn’t unique to Good Life, and obviously not impacting their popularity. It was very crowded during our visit. And it was quite the crowd.

We had a men’s softball team called the Exaggerations, not sure exactly what they exaggerate about, or what they want me to think they are exaggerating about. Then a couple girls walked in straight from Jersey Shore – and y’all know exactly what they were exaggerating. Then there were the beach bums, even though Bend doesn’t have any beaches. I’ve been told they were actually rock climbers, which should have made them mountain men, but they weren’t. Mountain men would have been a very welcome breath of fresh air. Oh, and the hipster clone army. Seriously, they are all identical over there. It was quite startling. They should take some lessons from Portland hipsters and shake it up a bit. And then there was the table of girls whose makeup and i.d.’s exaggerated their age. That or I am getting seriously old.

Like I said, quite the crowd. It’s good to know people (of all kinds) are coming for the beer, as they should. If you’re in Bend be sure to stop by for a taste of the Good Life.


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