(BEND, Ore.) When Visit Bend launched the Bend Ale Trail in 2010 with six breweries, it seemed unlikely Bend’s craft beverage scene would explode to include dozens more breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries spanning enough square miles to fill a 64-page passport.
But that’s precisely what’s happened in the years since the Bend Ale Trail became one of the nation’s first beer trails, playing a key role in pulling Bend from the Great Recession eleven years ago.
“Bend’s craft beverage world has completely reinvented itself in the last decade, so we realized it was time for us to reinvent the Bend Ale Trail,” explained Visit Bend CEO Kevney Dugan. “We’ve had so many brewery owners tell us they couldn’t exist without the Bend Ale Trail driving locals and visitors to their door, and we’re excited to create that opportunity for a fresh wave of craft beverage makers.”
The brand-new Bend Ale Trail is divided into seven geographic territories, with each zone boasting its own beverage stops, artwork, accompanying activities, and unique vibe. Participants who visit all breweries within a territory get the prize for that territory—a custom 4oz taster glass representing that zone. Those who complete all seven territories earn a handmade taster tray to display the collection. Participants can also visit non-beer beverage stops like cideries, distilleries, and wine tasting rooms to collect Drinkable Diversions stamps for an additional prize.
“We’ve created a whole new passport that looks and feels like a real travel passport,” Dugan added. “It has spaces to collect stamps like our old brochure-style passport, but this one includes maps, location descriptions, custom artwork for each territory, and curated activities to enjoy in each geographic area.”
These curated activities—known as Perfect Pairings—are all part of the big-picture plan to encourage participants to spread out and explore some of the less-trafficked geographic zones. The new Bend Ale Trail territories include outlying areas like Prineville, Redmond, Sunriver, and Sisters. The goal is to support smaller craft beverage makers while helping to ease crowds at some of the busiest stops.
Bevel Brewing is one of the smaller breweries recently added to the program. Owner Valarie Doss said it’s been a goal since day one to become a part of the Bend Ale Trail, and they’ve seen an uptick in business since they were added in 2020. “Because our brewery is off the beaten path, we knew that being on the Bend Ale Trail would drive new customers,” she explained. “It’s been a great experience to introduce new business to our beer, explain our story, and continue to share our passion. We are so fortunate to have Visit Bend on our side in support of small craft breweries. We couldn’t be more grateful to them for helping us market ourselves to so many more customers.”
The new passport can be purchased in the Bend Visitor Center for $5 and can be kept as a souvenir after completion. For those who prefer a paper-free experience, the all-new web app is free at bendaletrail.app and allows digital check-ins at all stops.
The custom artwork is one element that makes the paper passport unique. Seven local artists were tapped to create a custom piece representing one of the seven territories. The art is displayed at the beverage stops in those territories, in the passport itself, and on stickers and postcards available at the Bend Visitor Center.
Artist Jake Kenobi moved to Bend from Salt Lake City three years ago and was thrilled by the invitation to get involved in Bend’s art and beer communities by creating a custom piece for his own neighborhood, The Western Front territory. For Kenobi, it was important to capture the laid-back vibe of this part of town. “The main idea behind it was that Galveston Avenue is kind of our land-locked version of a beach boardwalk,” he explained. “Everything is so walkable, and going patio-hopping at places like 10 Barrel West, Boss Rambler, and Sunriver Brewing is the perfect way to unwind after a day spent on the river, up at the Cascade Lakes, or just being active in the surrounding nature.”
To learn more about the new Bend Ale Trail program, visit www.bendaletrail.com. The website includes details on territories, prizes, Perfect Pairings, Drinkable Diversions, the designated driver program, and more.
As the first and largest brewery in Bend, Deschutes Brewery has been part of the Bend Ale Trail since the program began. According to CEO Michael LaLonde, it’s a benefit to the whole craft beer community to help breweries of all sizes thrive and grow. “The Bend Ale Trail really gives people a taste of what the craft beer community is all about,” he said. “Sampling great beer, meeting new people, having fun, and supporting each other.”
About Visit Bend:
Visit Bend is a non-membership, non-profit economic development organization dedicated to promoting tourism responsibly on behalf of the City of Bend. We’re a leading provider of information on Bend, Oregon hotels, restaurants, activities, and Oregon vacation planning. To learn more or to order a complimentary Official Visitor Guide to Bend, contact Visit Bend at 1-800-949-6086 or visit visitbend.com