Tag Archives: brewery

Honeymoon: Bend, Oregon – The Ale Trail

26 Jul

We decided to stop in Bend, Oregon for a night because we heard great things about the breweries there. Sure enough, they brag about how they have more breweries per person than most anywhere and even have an Ale Trail where you get a prize if you get your “passport” stamped by all 10 breweries.  We were going to make a go of it, but we decided that it was meant for a multiple-day stay and was probably not prudent to be attempted in our 8 hours in Bend.  But we did manage to hit quite a few.

We actually started in Sisters, OR (right outside Bend) at Three Creeks Brewery.  They had an incredible beer sampler where you could try all the craft beers on their menu.

Sampler!!! At the extra credit brewery in Sisters. #overachievers #theaxelbaums #nycnomnom #bendaletrail by @nycnomnom

We also grabbed a burger there to make sure we could keep the sampling going.  We split the Hawaiian burger which put pineapple and teriyaki sauce onto a hamburger.  And it was pretty magical.

We then went into Bend where we walked around a bit to buy some binoculars (too many cool creatures and birds out there that we wanted to see up close) and we stopped at a brand new Naked Winery tasting room. We really enjoyed their wines and their clever names were clever and funny.  From there, we walked up to find the breweries on the Ale Trail.  We wound up walking through what looked like an abandoned parking lot and storage building until we found what wound up being our favorite brewery, Crux Fermentation Project. There we tried 2 of their craft brews: Tough Love and On the Fence.

Brewery tasting. Tough Love and On The Fence at Crux Fermentation. by @nycnomnom

Tough Love was one of the best beers I’ve ever tried. Here was the description: “Banished Imperial Stout – 11.5 ABV, 70 IBU. Tough Love is bold but nuanced, an homage of sorts to the traditional Russian Imperial Stouts and the ruling style of Catherine the Great. We construct it with dark roasted malts, malted rye, and oak-smoked wheat, and then banish it for nine months in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The aging process smooths out the edges on an otherwise bold statement, and bitterness succumbs to tender strokes of vanilla beans, hints of dried cherries, and new layers revealing themselves with each sip.”


We were there on a Monday, which happens to be the only day that the kitchen isn’t open.  So instead they have food carts come to their patio where they have the coolest fire pit I’ve ever seen.

They had a Mexican cart, which meant my peppers allergy kept me away, but cool concept.

On they way out of Crux to the next brewery on the ale tour, we had trouble finding our way and wound up wandering through a neighborhood and saw a bit of the Bend underbelly.  The map wasn’t exactly clear and we wound up at Boneyard a few minutes after they closed. Darn.  And then we were a bit lost again trying to find the next place. (They should paint the sidewalks or add signage for this Ale Trail).

Extreme honeymooning. Here we see a tourist in his unnatural habitat. Notice the back pack, binoculars, map, and look of utter confusion. Let’s watch. #theaxelbaums by @nycnomnom

By this time it was a bit late and we were getting hungry again, so we went to 10 Barrel Brewing Company where we heard the food was good.  While waiting for a table, we sat by the fire outside and Mike took this picture which has a very eery scull in the flames.

Photo by skywolfx * Instagram by @skywolfx

We wound up waiting a long, long, long time for a table (and I noticed a few people that absolutely came after us were seated before us).  When we went up to ask, she was suddenly very concerned as she scanned up her list and then we were quickly informed “Oh! You’re next!” and sat immediately.  Whooops.

We ordered the lamb burger which was ground with sun dried cranberries and feta cheese and topped with chevre cheese, artichoke tapenade, arugula, roma tomato, pesto aioli, and balsamic reduction.  It took a long time to come out.

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Lots of ingredients I absolutely love.

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But when it came down to it, I didn’t really taste any of those lovely things. It tasted a bit lamby, but there were no other real distinct flavors.  A bit of a let down.

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And after a whole lot more waiting, our pizza came. We made our own by combining a garlic cream sauce white cheese base with prosciutto, mushrooms, pineapple, and artichoke hearts with provolone.

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Upskirt shot.

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The pizza was okay.  Just okay.  Again, lots of great flavors in concept but nothing too distinct about any one of them on the pizza.

So all-in-all, we were pretty disappointed by our 10 Barrel dining experience.  The beers we tried were also meh. I also didn’t feel so great in the belly region after this meal, and while I’m not sure if it was the food or not, I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t.  So needless to say, we won’t be rushing back here next time we’re in Bend (and yes… there WILL be a next time… great city).

Next time we’ll just stay a Crux a little longer and maybe try their kitchen.

Honeymoon: Portland, OR – The Nines, Food Carts, and Deschutes Brewery

15 Jul

From Seattle, we took a leisurely drive to Portland, Oregon. We had booked The Nines hotel (thank you SPG/Starwood points!) and were told it was quite the sexy hotel.  It did not disappoint, with not just a sexy (if not small) room but a lovely gift of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries from the hotel.

F-in classy The Nines Hotel. Complimentary champagne and chocolate covered strawberries from the GM. #theaxelbaums #thenines #baller by @nycnomnom

We had heard that Portland was famous for their foot trucks, which congregate in specific squares around the city.  We set off to find one but were dismayed to find that they are not a dinner thing and most were closed.  We found one Korean/Hawaiian cart open and decided to try some the special of the day (and one of my favorite dishes of all time), Bibimbop.  We were ravenous and surrounded by weird homeless people (I guess that’s what we get for trying to do this for dinner… now we know) so we devoured it and forgot to take a picture of it.  Basically, it looked like cut up vegetables and beef over rice… pretty much like every other bibimbop you’ve seen. And it was good, but nothing too out of the ordinary, and sadly, even though it was flipped around in a wok, cold.  It did not satisfy.

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So off we went to a famous brewery (that is actually out of Bend, Oregon, where we were heading in a few days), Deschutes.  We were surprised to see that this was actually a very large place and was packed.  We had to wait about 45 minutes for a table to come up.  Waiting was fine… we had so-so bibimbop to hold us over and just got a beer at the bar.  I tried the Imperial Smoked Porter and absolutely loved it.

Deschutes Brewery Imperial Smoked Porter. Awesome. #nycnomnom #theaxelbaums by @nycnomnom

Our first snack was the pretzel, which came with a mustard and cheese sauce. Now I don’t like mustard, but I LOVED this.  I don’t know what the cheese and salty pretzel did to change my mind, but this mustard was fantastic.  And the pretzel itself tasted exactly how you want a fresh baked soft pretzel to taste.

Pretzel with cheese and grain mustard to dip. Yes. Yes. Yes. #nubulous #nycnomnom #theaxelbaums by @nycnomnom

We also decided to try the macaroni and cheese, which came with cavatappi pasta tossed in a rich stout cream sauce with grilled red onion, baby spinach and sharp white cheddar cheese topped with bread crumbs. And we added bacon, as if macaroni and cheese made with beer wasn’t already indulgent enough.

Killer stout Mac and Cheese. #nycnomnom by @nycnomnom

This was insanely good. So good, in fact, that I commented on Instagram/Facebook that even though we were beyond full, we couldn’t NOT finish it and the only thing that was left was the bacon.  And when I leave bacon over anything else, you know it was DAMN GOOD.

You know the mac and cheese was something special when I’m too full to eat the bacon but the mac is all gone. #nycnomnom #theaxelbaums by @nycnomnom

Deschutes was everything you want a craft brewery restaurant to be.  Great food, great beer, and lots of space for people to socialize.  We said how much we would love a place like this in the city (it would never have the same feel though) and I realized that this place is everything Heartland Brewery tries to be and fails absolutely miserably at.  Shame.

If I lived in Portland, I would spend many evenings here.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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Portland, Maine: In’finiti Fermentation and Distillation

2 Apr

We arrived in the main center of Portland, Maine less than 20 minutes after we deplaned at the airport, which included renting a car (flying to Maine actually takes less time than my commute to Connecticut. Sad but true.)

We parked on Commercial Street in the first spot we could find, and then turned around to see distillation equipment in the window of an unmarked building. It was new, and definitely not there when we had last visited in the fall.

Curiosity got the better of us and we crossed the street and peered in the windows. Imagine our surprise when we saw people staring back.  We walked in to find a fully operational restaurant. One that didn’t seem to have a name. We saw an “8” on the floor and assumed it was called just, simply, “8.” We were not correct. We got the menu and realized that we were sitting in the brand new (less than 2 weeks after opening) In’finiti Fermentation and Distillation.

We later found out that it’s run by the same people that do Novare Res, which is probably one of the best beer bars (and beer gardens) I’ve ever been to. Just for the sheer options of awesome beers they have if nothing else.


We got a couple beers (their own brews, which we found very drinkable but no stand outs) and chatted with the bartender who said that their food was like “elevated bar food.”


I asked him what his favorite thing on the menu was, and he proceeded to list off about 15 things. I told him he was not making my choice any easier. We decided that we would come back that night for a proper meal.


By the time we came back for dinner, it was packed and there was about a 45 minute wait (it wound up being nearly an hour, which the host apologized for many times, though we were having a fine time just drinking good beer at the bar).

I wound up drinking a Marshall Wharf Dopplebock, which I loved. It was creamy and chocolatey and was easy to sip while standing up to food. Great beer. (And local!)


The aesthetic of the place was described by a Beer Advocate review as being “somewhat industrial with a touch of steampunk.” I can’t think of a better way to put it. And it is an aesthetic I really like. I was a big fan of the tables and stools being made from tree trunk slabs and the pipes holding up all the tables.

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They have a large collection of brewing and distilling equipment, all of which is visible behind big glass windows.

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And these gorgeous copper beauties up front that first caught our eye.



Even the bathroom sinks were kind of awesome.



Ok… so I was pretty enamored. But how would the food stand up?

We started with the lobster marscapone arancini (rice balls) with blood orange “paint”.


They were quite tasty but we both wished for more lobster flavor. I liked the orange flavor which was mild, but Mike didn’t think it added to the dish. So we were a bit ehh on this.  Then again, you really can’t go wrong with crispy rice.


The burger was getting a lot of buzz on various social media outlets we were looking at while awaiting our table, so Mike went for it. Luckily, they put the spicy stuff on the side so I could try the burger. It was, in fact, very good. The meat tasted like meat. A nice char, a bit of salt, and a great meaty flavor that was well complimented by the toppings. And the burger wasn’t too tightly packed. It was packed just enough to stay together. Great texture. The fries were good but not exactly the bliss others were raving about. But still good.


I went with the Turf and Turf which came with braised short ribs and crispy pork belly, seared polenta, and fried cippolini onions.

This was an ode to meat cooked without fluff. Just meat. Pure and simple. I think that short ribs should be tender enough that you don’t need a knife, however, so these were a bit lacking and could have used some more slow cook time. But the meat just tasted good. Good like meat should taste.


We really enjoyed the atmosphere of this place and the beer selection. The food was solid. Very good but I can’t say it was amazing. The burger was really good and I enjoyed everything we ate. I look forward to trying it again and trying their own beers, liquor, and bitters they are making in house. It’s a nice addition to (the already food saturated) Portland. I’m sure this will be a really great place to get a really great beer right on the main street by the water. And as the weather warms up, that deck they have will be lovely.

Total Nom Points: 7 out 10

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