Wow, what a great night we had reviewing Bend Brewing Co! They went above and beyond, we felt, in making us feel welcome. Former head brewer Tonya Cornett (now with 10 Barrel) was there and she gave us a tour of the brewery that lasted a good half hour! She was warm and friendly and stood there answering tons of questions about Bend Brewing's 7 BBL. brewhouse, herself, her time as the head brewer at Bend Brewing and now 10 Barrel, some of the things going on in the brewery business in Bend in general, and lots more. She was very modest about her medal wins at the G.A.B.F., the largest brewfest in the country. She didn't bring them up, we did. I'm not sure how many she's won, but it's several. The 3 or 4 homebrewers in our group (myself included) had several questions and comments and she patiently listened to us all and was very engaging. I wish I'd have had a mini-recorder (note to self: buy mini-recorder for interviews). She probably would have told us even more, but we excused ourselves to go back to our table, so as not to wear out our welcome. Plus, we were thirsty! Thanks again, Tonya, you totally made the evening for us, and we really appreciated it!
The wait staff was very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about the beers and were quick to take our orders and keep the table cleared. Joe called ahead and they had a nice large table reserved for us, and even when we got a little loud in our visiting with one another, they never shushed us. My wife claims they should have at least shushed me, but I think she exaggerates my loudness. I didn't notice anyone covering their ears or being rushed away by ambulance to have emergency ear surgery, so...
Several appetizers were ordered for the table: Calamari, Jalapeño Artichoke Dip, Blazin' Buffalo Wings & Fried Zucchini Slices. All were received well, and even though Tammy wouldn't eat any calamari, there were plenty of us un-afraid of the tentacled delights! The sweet/sour dipping sauce was spot on, and their claim to "Best in Bend" is hard to ignore. I didn't get much of the jalapeño artichoke dip, but what I got was good, and everyone who dug into it declared it awesome! The fried zucchini was delightful, nice and crisp and came with two dipping sauce choices, marinara and ranch. The Blazin' buffalo wings were spicy and meaty, but not overly hot. The consensus for the table was "Who needs a burnt tongue? These taste great!"
During the appetizers our waitress, Nikkol was bringing us rounds of pints and taster trays, so we had plenty of brews to wash everything down with. I'll get to the brews in a bit. Not everyone ate, but when our food was ordered, we received it without too much of a wait, and everything was just as advertised in the menu. Not a discouraging word was heard from anyone who chowed down. Tammy and I shared a Brewery Burger which comes with your choice of soup, salad or fries. We had the salad, which was a very nice house green salad and ordered the burger with grilled onions, pepper jack cheese and a side of guacamole. It was served on a kaiser roll and even split between the two of us, was plenty enough to fill us up. It was very good, 3-1/2 stars (out of 5, mind you. 3-1/2 may sound low, but it's not, really. It's like 7 out of 10, so...pretty good, actually).
Casey B. had the Thai Curry Sauté and seemed pretty happy with it. It sure looked good to me, but he didn't offer and I didn't sneak a bite when he wasn't looking. We had forms for rating the beer, food and overall experience and looking Casey's rating form over I've come to the conclusion he was all about the beer tonight, as he didn't say anything about the food. Maybe he forgot, but he seemed pretty quiet over there while he was eating though, so I'm assuming he was enjoying it pretty well. I don't recall there being much left anyway. 4 stars.
Josh P. had the Brooks Street Burrito and said that he loved the black beans and rice and the medley of veggies which complemented the tri-tip, which was cooked to perfection. He felt the flour tortilla was a bit soggy but that this was to be expected due to the sauce. Overall great taste is what he wrote on his review sheet, so 4-1/2 stars. He also wrote that the calamari was "perfect, oh yeah!" He's holding Flat Stanley, a school project for his nephew. Stanley appeared in a few pictures taken tonight, and he's been spotted at a few other pubs around town the last week or so. I hope he behaved himself tonight, it's for school, Stanley! Represent!
Now for the beer:
There were a couple trays ordered, so we got a good, well-rounded tasting of 10 of the beers served here. Everyone has different tastes of course, so the star ratings herein are subjective and reflect the average of the group. Besides the taster trays, there were several pints ordered as well, so I'll cover them too. I just hope my notes are in order. I really gotta get a secretary. And you know, looking at this picture of a taster tray, I shoulda took a shot from the top looking straight down, so you could see the labels. Duh. (note to self:...yeah, yeah, I got it)
Starting with the beers that scored lowest and running up to the highest rated (1-5 stars):
Leaving the two heaviest-hitters,
and the winner of the evening,
All in all, it was a really nice night. We had good food, good beer, a really good waitress and the private brewery tour from Ms. Cornett, which was a total surprise! Can't wait to come back and re-review, but as always there are a lot of pubs to keep up with here in Brew City, USA a.k.a. Bend, Oregon. So we'll get back here eventually, but as I always like to say "So many beers, so little time".
You know, looking at this and previous reviews, I think I'm gonna try to find out how to put stars in here, rather than "saying" how many stars it is. I think that'll look better. Look for changes coming soon!