This week’s review takes us all the way across the Cascade Mountains to Bend, Oregon. Home to about a million breweries, I had my work cut out for me while there. Rolling up my sleeves and practicing my beer drinking skills, I started my adventure at Immersion Brewing, one of the newest on the scene. Located in the Old Mill District, I was excited to visit as I was hungry and thirsty after a long day on the road. Grab a beer and immerse yourself in my review of the first of many Bend breweries!
- Beer – The tap list is not huge and they trend toward IPAs, however they do have a few other styles on tap, even a sour and CDA. The beers were solid but not spectacular, although I did enjoy their Belgian IPA best as it showed daring to combine those somewhat disparate styles. What I do like is that they have both year-round beers and a rotating tap list that allows them to experiment and create new flavors or play with different styles. Variety is the spice of life (and beer) and they really attempt to live this motto. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – I’m amazed more racoons and crows don’t take up residence here with how shiny everything is when you walk in. From gleaming brew kettles and tanks in the back to chrome and copper accents everywhere, the place looks bright and new. Plus, the artwork on the walls are spectacular (see the frog picture below as an example). The indoor and outdoor seating area are decently sized and blend together when the large rolling doors are open, giving the whole place a light, airy feel. If you don’t want to sit at a table or risk a sun burn outside, the large bar has plenty of room for you to sit at, just keep your sunglasses on to mute some of the reflection off the kettles (I’m mostly kidding here). They have a full food menu with some pretty tasty options, though you pay a little bit of a premium on the eats and the beer based on being in a trendy area of town. With decent hours during the week (open until 9 pm) and longer on the Friday and Saturday, plan to spend a few hours here enjoying the weather, food, and good company. Score: 4/5
- Ambiance – This is the first brewery to get a perfect score in this section. Along with the usual staples of televisions, board games, and live music every Friday during the summer, Immersion has created a “brew it yourself” program. You can come to the brewery with friends and brew your own batch of beer! With over 30 recipes to choose from, you can learn the craft from a brew master and leave with a few cases of your own creation. I’m in love with this unique idea and this is the first brewery I have come across that offers this. Kudos to Immersion for expanding the craft brew experience. Score: 5/5
- Location – As mentioned above, Immersion Brewing set up shop in a pretty trendy area of town called the Old Mill District. With the Deschutes River a few blocks away, downtown Bend a short walk up the road, and all the amenities of the Old Mill on hand, they picked a pretty sweet spot to open a brewery. Not only do they have several restaurants and a cider brewery within a stone’s throw, the foot traffic of people going between downtown and the Old Mill area brings in a lot of customers. I was in Bend for about two weeks and they were always hopping when I would go by. There is ample parking around the brewery and plenty of things to do should you venture out from Immersion. Or you could take a stroll along the river if you need a bit of time to sober up (never drink and drive folks, it’s not worth it). Score: 4/5
- Customer Service – I was greeted warmly at the door and taken to my seat quickly at the bar. The bar keep was friendly and took my order quickly, with my food and drinks served without much wait. Solid and efficient, I do not have any complaints with my customer service here, though I wonder how it would hold up during busier times as there was only on bartender the whole time I was there. Score: 3/5
Total Score: 19.5/25
Final Thoughts: Even without the brew it yourself concept, Immersion would still get rated highly. With so many brewing options to choose from in Bend, it can be hard to pick a place to spend your evening. Immersion makes a good case for being one of the top spots to check out in a crowded craft beer scene and I highly recommend stopping in if you are in town. Even the frog gives them a thumbs up.