Taking beer on a raft trip isn’t a requirement. Legend has it that some have taken its close cousin, root beer, while others have hoisted near-beer and even diet soda onto the back of a river craft. But beer and the outdoors have long gone hand in hand— from sipping beverages at campgrounds and summits to brews inspired by the wild places outdoor enthusiasts love.
Just look at Deschutes Beer company, which has a love of a great river brewed into the name of the company, its beers, and the whole enterprise. Just like the upper Deschutes rafting runs that so many river rats love, Deschutes Beers can be equal parts pleasant and refreshing, thrilling, heart-rending, and transcendent.
What cans, in six-packs or cases, should you take on your next raft trip? We present to you: Fresh Haze, Mirror Pond, Pacific Wonderland, Fresh Squeezed, and Da Shootz as a perfect pairing for your next adventure, whether it’s in the rapids of Bend, Oregon or your own backyard.
Named for the cinder cone overlooking Deschutes National Forest, this porter is one of the most popular beers in Deschutes’ roster. The Metolius River flows from Black Butte, the mountain that is, creating a year-round rafting destination close to Sisters, Oregon. Raft these Class II and II rapids, and you’ll have a chance to see rare wildlife like bald eagles and osprey. If you pack enough cans of porter, you can even turn your trip into an overnight by camping at Monty Campground.
Sip this brew of Pale, Carapils, Chocolate, Crystal, and Wheat malts and Cascade, Bravo, and Tettnang hops to discover a layered flavor palette that mirrors the complex volcanic landscape that inspired it. You can even take a virtual hike up Black Butte on the Deschutes beer website to learn more about why this particular landmass is so important and inspiring to the brewers who put Central Oregon on the country’s beer map.
For a raft trip, how can you go wrong with this aptly named Deschutes beer? This Pilsner has German hops from Hallertau Herkules to Mandarina Bavaria, but don’t let the technical details weigh you down. The taste is crisp and clean, the alcohol content is equally light at 5.5%, and its cred amongst lagers is well established. For a lager that balances maltiness with the lighter herbal and floral touches, and just a whisper of citrus, take a few cases of this Pilsner into the forest.
Best of all, Deschutes beer gives back to the river that literally makes its beers possible. Since 2012, the brewery has pledged to put one billion gallons of water back into the river annually through the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) water leasing program. That’s great news considering that the Deschutes is currently overallocated, stressing local ecosystems and river-dependent outdoor pursuits.
As the name implies, this brew brings layers of citrus flavor. Specifically, a blend of grapefruit infused into Citra and Mosaic hops provides a light and delicious refresher. Fresh Squeezed is a substantial beer, with 6.4% alcohol content and 60 IBU. This IPA uses three malts – Pale, Crystal, and Munich – and packs a slightly tropical punch with a one-two knockout in juiciness. Recently made available in cans, it would be an ideal passenger in your insulated cooler on your next outdoor adventure.
This one’s a local boy, brewed from 100% Cascade hops. Named for Mirror Pond, created by a hydroelectric dam on the Deschutes River, has a distinctive flavor that is certified “born in Oregon” and is a wonderful companion on the rivers of the Beaver State. Similar to the Black Butte Porter, you can even take a virtual tour of Mirror Pond with the Deschutes beer crew to find out more about their ties to this iconic body of water.
Like it’s namesake, which has been part of the Bend landscape and outdoor recreation scene since 1910, Mirror Pond Pale Ale is a crowd-pleaser. Using Pale, Crystal, Carapils and Munich malts with Cascade hops, this pale ale is sure to appeal to light beer lovers without sacrificing flavor. Thanks to its middling alcohol content, only 5%, and low calorie count, it’s easy to sip a few while on the water.
Da Shootz is also a tongue-in-cheek check on the countless pronunciations of the Deschutes name brewers have heard over the years. This classic everyman’s beer is a crafty, reliable sidekick. An all-around offering made for slow-guzzling goodness, this Deschutes beer offering is classified as both Pilsner and Parapils— a bohemian pilsner, if you will.
We would classify Da Shootz as the workingman’s rejoinder to an overly rich, pushy stout: with a hint of citrus and lightly toasted hops (Tettnang, Lemondrop, Azacca – since you asked), Da Shootz doesn’t overwhelm in its pale gold color or light, bubbly flavor. Low in ABV at 4.0 % and in IBUs at just 15, this is a refreshing finish to, say, paddling the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River corridor.
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