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It Came, It Brewed, It Conquered: Three Creeks puts Sisters on the microbrewery map 

Three Creeks puts Sisters on the microbrewery map.

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The most junior member of Central Oregon's league of microbreweries, Three Creeks has quickly made Sisters an important stop on the beer-drinkers' tour. The accompanying brewpub, an oasis in the high desert emerging from the trees as you enter town from the east on Highway 20, almost instantly became a local favorite. While there are plenty of places in Sisters to find a good meal, Three Creeks is the most versatile. It's perfect for a family meal on the restaurant side of the massive barn-style building, or on the bar side, a burger and football, a few pints and a game of pool or dinner and live music on a Saturday night. My visits have run the gamut - a quick beer on the way home from Hoodoo, bar snacks and baseball in the afternoon, the full dining experience - and in all scenarios Three Creeks fared well. It's the kind of place that seems to effortlessly suit your mood, whatever it may be.

Three Creeks brews also provide a good range of flavors and attitudes. I've sampled most of the six regular selections, and they all hold their own, from the full-bodied Firestorm Red to the hop-storm of the 8 Second IBA. Being something of a dilettante when it comes to microbrews, I usually try a few but almost always end up settling on the lightest, closest-to-a-PBR option available to me. In this case, though, my favorite wasn't as wussy as it could have been. The Knotty Blonde was the obvious choice, but I much preferred the Stonefly Rye, a crisp brew made with 20 percent rye malt that is big in flavor but manages to be light at the same time. It's certainly the best choice if you plan to have more than a couple, as some of the others are like meals in themselves.

The menu includes everything from PB&J ($3.50) and chicken strips ($5) for kids to a sushi-grade ahi tuna sandwich ($13.50) and an 8 oz top sirloin steak with Three Creeks' signature "Brew"naise sauce ($16) for those with more sophisticated palates. There are also some real treats among the starters and sides. I'd order a dinner entrée just for the zesty chipotle coleslaw and the hulking coconut onion rings, two of the nine side options. The Jamaican Jerk Chicken ($13) that came with it was tasty enough, but was definitely overshadowed by its supporting players. The Butterfly Shrimp starter ($10), 10 battered and fried wild shrimp served with cocktail sauce, missed the mark a little, mostly because the thickness of the breading obscured the flavor of the wild shrimp, which are on the smaller side. I'd definitely opt to start with the Wild Hog Wings ($9) instead, my favorite menu item overall. The pair of Cajun-rubbed grilled pork shanks, shaped to resemble chicken wings, were tender and delicious and perfectly matched with the chipotle ranch dipping sauce.

For something a little different, I tried the Spicy Grilled Beef Salad ($14) on my most recent visit. The dish definitely had some high points. The mint, lime, and Serrano pepper dressing was powerful and provided equal hits of heat and acid that went very nicely with the tender grilled chunks of beef. The rest of the salad, though, was a little lackluster consisting only of romaine, thick slices of cucumber, and rather bland crispy wonton strips. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy it, just that the dish had greater potential. A better choice was the Three Alarm Burger ($10), a thick premium beef patty (all burgers are also available with buffalo, turkey or veggie patties) with pepper jack cheese and jalapenos smothered in chipotle ranch and served on a cheese-crusted bun with a pile of crispy fries. Now that's a pub meal - a plate that can only be imagined by a mind inspired by a couple of pints.

Three Creeks Brewing Company

721 Desperado Court (in the FivePine complex), Sisters, 549-1963

Daily, 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. (until 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.)


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