By Branden Andersen
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When it comes to summer in Bend, beer and outdoors are near-synonymous; practically every outdoor activity is accompanied with a can, bottle or growler of Bend’s award-winning beers.
Once winter comes around, though, it becomes a little more difficult. The opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors is severely minimized as roads turn to ice, snow piles on trails and frigid temperatures make going outside a 20 minute jacket-and-pants-layering ordeal.
But, many Bendites experience cabin fever halfway through December. Sitting around for one weekend is relaxing and all, but there has got to be more to winter than hiding out on your couch, waiting to see the sun.
The obvious choice is to head up to Mount Bachelor ski resort and play on the slopes. But without all of the gear necessary to ride the lift, it becomes an expensive afternoon. Instead, stop at one of the local ski shops and rent yourself a pair of snowshoes, throw a sixer of your favorite beer in your backpack and stop at any of the Sno-Parks to go for a wander in the woods.
Wanderlust Tours, a Bend company that leads outdoor tours around Central Oregon, aims to make that experience easier for tourists and locals alike. Their “Shoes, Views and Brews” tour makes experiencing Central Oregon winter easy with a guided tour through the snow-covered firs at the tree line of the Cascade Lakes.
Don’t think this is a walk in the park. Snowshoeing, while easier than walking around without any special gear, is still quite the workout. The shoes don’t float on top of the snow, like I imagined going into it. Rather, your feet still sink in a couple of inches (a couple instances I was up to mid-shin) and your legs are suddenly a little heavier.
During our tour at Kapka Butte, guides Courtney and Nick stopped every 10 minutes or so, pulling the group together for a well-deserved break. While snowshoers caught their breath and took photos of the stunning landscape, Courtney and Nick explained what the beauty was surrounding the hikers. Courtney pulled needles off of a nearby tree while Nick explained those needles, which smelled deliciously of bright citrus similar to hops, are a great source of vitamin C and can be used to make tea. After more walking, the group stopped in a circle, where Nick proceeded to pull an edible moss off of the tree limbs and ate it for its fiber. Shortly after this, one of the hikers yelled, “I thought we were supposed to get beer on this thing!”
Nick and Courtney pulled out a cooler filled with Cascade Lakes’ finest beers, starting with Blonde Bombshell and working through 20” Brown, Paddleboard Porter and Hopsmack IPA. With each beer, the two explained the ingredients and flavors of the brew, and why there are so many great breweries in Central Oregon.
I had never been snowshoeing before this experience and found it one of the most rewarding hikes I’d been on. While not overly strenuous, stepping through pristine snow knowing that no one else is seeing what you’re seeing or going where you’re going was rewarding. With a couple cans of craft in my bag – no cooler required, just use nature’s cooler around you – I’ll be heading back out and enjoying the silence and serenity of the Central Oregon winter soon.
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As we ring in the new year, many of us will make a list of resolutions which inevitably include something related to health and fitness. Why not accomplish several things at once by participating in some fun activities with the added bonus of beer as your reward?
Note that there were too many events to list here in print, so be sure to check with travel bureaus, breweries, gear shops, fitness and sports clubs, and tour operators for even more outings involving beer.
Event: Fit Right First Thursday Urban Adventure Run
Details: Similar to a scavenger hunt. At 6 p.m., a checkpoint map will be revealed in person and on the Fit Right Facebook page. You'll have one hour to go to as many stops as you can to receive a raffle ticket. At 7 p.m., there is a raffle drawing where you can relax with one complimentary beer and listen to music from the disc jockey. All abilities and paces are welcome.
Dates: March 5, April 2, May 7, June 4, July 2, Aug. 6, Sept. 3
Event: Fit Right Pub Runs
Details: A social running event that happens monthly or sometimes twice a month at a designated brewery. The pub run is three miles in length and will start and finish at the brewery. Occasionally, footwear brands will sponsor the run and bring footwear demos for runners to test. After the run, happy hour beer prices are offered to the participants, who have a chance to socialize over a few drinks. The breweries rotate around Portland and Vancouver, Wash. All abilities and paces are welcome.
Dates: This run typically happens on the third Tuesday of the month.
Event: Thirsty Thursday Run
Location: Portland Running Company, 800 SE Grand Ave., Portland
Details: Join owner Dave Harkin and a fun group of runners at 6 p.m. for a 4- to 6-mile waterfront or neighborhood run, followed by beers at a nearby watering hole. PRC will buy the first round for everyone who shows up, provided you're age 21 or older.
Dates: Every Thursday night
Event: Shamrock Run
Details: Run really fast and win your weight in beer! The men and women winners of the 5K, 8K, 15K and half marathon (including the wheelchair divisions) will be mailed gift certificates from the Shamrock Run during the week of March 16 with instructions for how to redeem their weight in Widmer Brothers beer.
Date: March 15
Event: Bite of Bend Beer Run
Location: Downtown Bend
Details: The Beer Run happens each June in conjunction with the Bite of Bend. It’s a 5K walk/run that includes stops at several local breweries.
Date: Late June
Event: Bend Beer Chase
Details: The Beer Chase is a one-day six-person running relay approximately 70 miles long, consisting of 12 legs of varying distance (4 to 8 miles per leg). The course starts in Bend at Worthy Brewing, travels to Redmond, then goes to Sisters and back to finish in Bend at Crux Fermentation Project. Each time you hand off at a brewery, you will have the option to enjoy a 3- to 4-ounce sample of beer.
Date: June 6
Event: Pints to Pasta
Details: Pints to Pasta is an award-winning Portland 10K run. Participants follow a downhill course through the city to Widmer Brothers Brewing, then across the Willamette River, finishing at the Old Spaghetti Factory where runners get to enjoy free post-race pasta meals along with their finisher’s beer.
Date: Sept. 13
Event: Santa Speedo Run
Details: The Santa Speedo Run is an annual fundraiser for The Ethiopia Project. Included in your entry fee are four drink tickets for Deschutes beer and light appetizers. This event is for men and women over the age of 21. Speedos and costumes are not required but Santa hats and bells are encouraged.
Date: December TBD
Event: Worst Day of the Year Ride
Details: The Worst Day of the Year Ride is Portland’s annual you-can’t-stop-us celebration of year-round riding. The event draws around 4,000 riders who show up in sometimes outrageous costumes (there are prizes!) or not, enjoy belly-nourishing warm treats along the way, and ride 15 (or 46) miles with wide smiles no matter what the weather. Laugh at the elements and enjoy the finish line party at Lucky Lab Brew Pub.
Date: Feb. 8
Event: Blitz 2 The Barrel
Details: Blitz 2 The Barrel is all about having a good time. From start to finish, there is something to satisfy every bike fan. Racing, jumping, downhill riding, street riding, arm wrestling — and let's not forget beer! Traditionally hosted at 10 Barrel Brewing, this event truly embraces its Central Oregon roots.
Date: June 16
Event: Baker City Cycling Classic
Location: Baker City
Details: This is the first bike race in the world to offer equal prize money for women and equal distances for all riders. It's one of the most difficult stage races in the country and is open to amateurs and professionals. It also finishes at the highest elevation in the Northwest at 7,238 feet above sea level. Barley Brown’s Beer is a longtime sponsor of the Cycling Classic and is a commanding presence at the finish line where all participants enjoy beer and winners get pint glasses containing their cash prize.
Dates: June 26-28
Event: Petal Pedal
Details: Petal Pedal is a gourmet distance bike ride like no other. You’ll journey along scenic, quiet roads along mostly flat routes (with a hilly option to visit Silver Falls) as you drift away to another world. The ride starts and finishes at The Oregon Garden, Oregon’s premier botanical garden with more than 80 acres of specialty areas. Your ride pass includes breakfast, lunch, gourmet dinner, free Hopworks beer and access to the garden.
Date: June 27
Event: Anthony Lakes Mountain Bike Festival
Location: North Powder
Details: The second annual Anthony Lakes Mountain Bike festival features guided rides for all abilities, a kids bike park, barbecue and beer from Barley Brown’s, bike demos, swag giveaway, and lots of good ol’ Anthony Lakes fun.
Date: Aug. 1
Event: Tour de Lab
Details: This annual festival is a triple threat that celebrates a few of Portland’s favorite things: beer, bikes and dogs. After a spirited costume contest, participants choose from two bike rides: the Puppy, a 19-mile flat ride or the Big Dog, a more challenging, 40-mile ride that offers a spectacular tour of the city. Riders stop for rest and “people treats” at up to four Lucky Lab Brew Pubs, earning dog costume gear (tail, ears and nose) along the way.
Date: September (TBD)
Event: Deschutes Brew Bus
Details: Throughout the winter season, Mt. Bachelor partners with Deschutes Brewery to offer the “Deschutes Brew Bus” between Portland and Mt. Bachelor. For $109, riders get bus transportation from the Deschutes Brewery pub in Portland to Mt. Bachelor, a lift ticket for the day, a lunch voucher, a light dinner at the Deschutes Brewery pub in Bend and transportation back to Portland — all in the same day. Of course, riders can enjoy some Deschutes Brewery beer as well!
Dates: Jan. 19 and 31, Feb. 16, March 7 and 28, April 25
Event: Laurelwood Town Challenge
Location: Mt. Hood Meadows
Details: The Town Challenge, sponsored by Laurelwood Brewing Co., is a recreational race series designed for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. The goal of the series is to provide both business and non-business teams the opportunity to enjoy Mt. Hood Meadows in a team-oriented, family friendly, recreational racing environment. Participants may race as an individual or as a team.
Dates: Feb. 27, March 6, March 13
Event: Anthony Lakes Nordic Crawl
Location: North Powder
Details: This new event invites you to Nordic ski from brewery to brewery for tastings. Enjoy up to 10 different beers and up to 10 different wines, all local of course! Family friendly, non-alcoholic beverages provided. Enjoy at your leisure or register for the competitive event.
Date: March 22
Event: Full Sail Banked Slalom
Location: Mt. Hood Meadows
Details: Sponsored by Full Sail Brewing, this event challenges skiers and snowboarders to complete a series of banked turns. The faster a rider goes, the bigger the course becomes due to the nature of the course’s high walls. Everyone gets two runs and the combined time will be used to determine the finish order. The event is open to men and women, juniors as well as adults, open and masters divisions. There is a cash prize purse to be split among the open and masters division winners (based on full fields) and gift cards for the junior divisions.
Date: April 4
Event: Sno-Kona Pond Skim
Location: Mt. Hood Meadows
Details: The ninth annual Sno-Kona Pond Skim at Mt. Hood Meadows, presented by Kona Brewing (brewed in Portland), challenges snowboarders and skiers to skim across 100 feet of frigid water. All competitors must be 21 or older. Participants get one attempt to cross the pond successfully. There will be prizes for the top competitors as well as best costume, best splash and more!
Date: April 25
Event: Shoes, Brews & Views
Details: Wanderlust Tours offers snowshoeing tours in the winter with a beer component.
Dates: Daily, check website for availability
Event: Brews & Views
Details: Wanderlust Tours offers canoeing tours in the summer with a beer component.
Dates: Daily June-October, check website for availability
Event: Raft n’ Brew
Details: In the summertime, Sun Country Tours does whitewater rafting trips in conjunction with local breweries.
Dates: Various, check website for schedule
Event: Beers Made By Walking
Location: Various cities in Oregon and other states
Details: Beers Made By Walking is a program that invites brewers to make beer inspired by nature hikes and urban walks. Each walk is different and each beer is a portrait of that landscape. The program happens in multiple cities each year.
Dates: See website for schedule
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