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Craft Beer in the Country 

The hamlet of Tumalo offers beer surprises

The Tumalo Tavern beckons with a tasty menu of beers. Photos by Kevin Gifford.

The Tumalo Tavern beckons with a tasty menu of beers. Photos by Kevin Gifford.

The Tumalo Tavern, located off U.S. 20 approximately 15 minutes north of Bend, is the kind of place in which anyone of drinking age would like to be a fixture. Business cards for horse trainers and mobile welding services share wall space with a list of regular patrons with birthdays in March. A jukebox has Creedence Clearwater Revival on a semi-permanent loop, and elderly couples occasionally break into dancing right in front of the bar. The Oregon Lottery machines are partitioned off from the nearby pool tables with a faux-Old West storefront, complete with a sign that reads "Gamblin." It's that kind of place.

Moreover, just because this part of the land is where farm animals outnumber people doesn't mean one has to compromise on booze choices. This is Oregon, after all, and the community of Tumalo (population: 488) treats its beer as seriously as it does its horses and chickens. Tumalo Tavern, which is owned by Cascade Lakes Brewery, may not exactly have the selection of, say, Brother Jon's or the Pour House Grill, but it's quality down the line—from Cascade Lakes' own Hopsmack IPA to Manny's Pale Ale, from Georgetown Brewing in Seattle. The best of the lot on tap, however, is the Umbrella IPA from Pelican Brewing off the Oregon coast, a 7.4 percent ale that uses nothing but Ella hops from Australia. It's basically a showcase piece for this hop, which provides a refreshing, clean sort of kick that's a neat change of pace from the dank Boneyard RPMs of the world.

For those in Tumalo looking for something a little more substantial than potato chips to go with the beer, Pisano's is two doors down and offers pretty terrific wood-fired pizza. The Tumalo Country Store, which doubles as the town's only gas station, has a fully-stocked bar and growler-fill station in the rear, offering 24 taps of beer, cider, sangria, and kombucha. Perhaps because of its relative obscurity compared to Growler Guys, it's got some pretty hot stuff on tap, including Firestone Walker's Double Jack IPA and Deschutes' Abyss and Jubelale from last year. Pair a 64-oz growler with some firewood and chicken from the front of the store, and there's a great Saturday night in the great outdoors.

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