I love beer. After now having visited over 365 different breweries, it’s fair to say I have sampled a lot of beer (follow me on Untappd). From post-race pints and run club meeting locations, to beer miles and relays, running and the kegged nectar seem to go hand-in-hand in Oregon. Our Kegs and Legs feature is where beer drinking runners like me can go to find some new favorite beverages.
Sunriver is great isn’t it? I think it’s a combination of the quietness, isolation, the views and even the smell just ooze fun and relaxation. We try to get over there once every few years (primarily to run the Sunriver Half) and take in all that it has to offer. Despite its small size, there is plenty to do – hit the trails by foot or bike, play golf, swim / tan at the waterparks, and take in some local faire. For me, a necessary stop during our trip is always stopping in at Sunriver Brewing Company in the main shopping area. I have always appreciated their beers and their new-ish expansion into Bend showcases that I’m not the only one that feels that way.
I’ll start with the Vicious Mosquito IPA, because IPA’s are always first in my heart – especially so when they are done right and aren’t just bitter for the sake of being bitter. This West Coast IPA is named after the buggy pests that canvass the Cascade Mountains in search of their next bite. It rings in at 70 IBU’s, so there is clearly some solid hoppage to the beer, but it balances out quite nicely and is very drinkable with only a mild pine tinge and more citrus than expected. It was in the Willamette Week’s top 6 best beers of 2015 for ALL of Oregon, and it is easy to see why.
I remember when I was in college and thought that I was really classy because I could stomach Miller High Life (I am really disappointed in the former me). The first time I stumbled into something that didn’t taste like crap was Widmer’s Hef. That is obviously a classic for this style, but I remember being blown away that beer could actually taste good. My palate has changed over time (thank God), and I have found myself straying away from most Hef’s – but the Fuzztail Hefeweizen is one of the ones that I still keep around in this styling.
I find it to be so easy drinking, yet still interesting with a little more citrusy finish than others (thanks to lemon and grapefruit). It’s super refreshing throughout the year and a great “gateway” beer for the uninitiated people in your life.
Fuzztail actually won a GOLD MEDAL at the 2017 Great American Beer Fest (a HUGE deal) and took home another golds in 2016 at the World Beer Cup. I don’t disagree with those sentiments – this is a great beer.
The really underrated gem of their line-up is the Rippin Northwest Ale – a hybrid-cross-breeding of a hoppy IPA and drinkability of a Pale Ale. At first pour there is a citrusy, almost tropical, nose with enough pine notes to keep things balanced. It smells more bitter than it actually tastes, and as a result it seems to neither have a home in America as an IPA, nor as a pale ale – it’s just this middle ground.
And that’s a good thing.
This has ended up being one of my favorite beers out there over the past few years. When I describe it to my friends, my go-to simple description is “clean” – it’s just refreshing and easy to polish off (stay safe friends). And the judging panels would agree, as it won gold, silver, and bronze medals in 2016 at a variety of different festivals and award shows. It’s just that good.
Many thanks to Sunriver Brewing for sending us these samples from their everyday beer line-up!
- Vicious Mosquito IPA
- ABV: 7%
- IBU: 70
- Fuzztail Hefeweizen
- ABV: 5%
- IBU: 20
- Rippin Northwest Ale
- ABV: 6%
- IBU: 50
- Sunriver – Bldg 4, 57100 Beaver Drive, Sunriver, OR 97707
- Bend – 1005 NW Galveston Ave Bend, OR 97701