News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Festival celebrated beer and winter

Beer-and-winter-weather-lovers gathered at the Suttle Lake Lodge last weekend for days filled with beer tasting, campfires, plenty of snow, and a little Central Oregon sunshine.

The Suttle Lake Lodge hosted its fourth annual Winter Beer Fest at the Lodge and throughout the lodge property. Twenty different Oregon breweries brought their best beers for patrons to try, highlighting their winter beers as well as any new beer they were excited about featuring. The fest was three days of “Bavarian-inspired outdoor fun with 25+ craft breweries, food and snacks, live music, and all the cozy winter lodge vibes,” as described on their website.

Donald Kenney is one of the owners of management company The Mighty Union — a group from The Ace Hotel based in Portland that owns Suttle Lodge, having purchased the property in 2015. He spoke with The Nugget about the event.

“The whole idea for the event came from experiencing in Europe during the winter months where you ski and duck in for a beer and pretzel, and we thought it would be a good fit for the Lodge to do an event like this and highlight the Lodge being open year-round,” said Kenney.

The event also supports good causes. In 2020, the event was held virtually and raised funds for the Independent Restaurant Alliance, a group of individuals vying for food service workers to get health insurance and benefits after losing their jobs due to the pandemic shutdown. For the last two years, the event has benefitted CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

As their website notes, “The National CASA/GAL Association for Children supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect. We believe that every child should be given the opportunity to thrive in a safe and loving home.”

One of Kenney’s friends in Portland works with CASA, and he wanted to partner with them and have a portion of the proceeds of the Beer Fest benefit CASA in Central Oregon.

Each of the breweries had their “tasting rooms” in the cabins located on the Lodge property, just up from the beach at Suttle Lake. The snow-covered, frozen lake served as a grand backdrop, providing all the après ski winter vibes at Suttle Lodge. The last day of the event, Sunday, was a blizzardy day, but crowds were still out in force gathered around the fire with their Suttle Lodge MiiR camp mugs, which came with a ticket to try the beer. Many patrons on Sunday came from Sisters and Bend, as well as tourists in the area staying at the Lodge from Portland and throughout the Willamette Valley.

There was a VIP bar upstairs in the Lodge, where specialty cocktails were available for tasting.

“We really want to showcase the Lodge as a winter setting and we felt as if an outdoor winter beer fest could really only take place in Central Oregon,” said Kenney.

Suttle Lodge curates the breweries in attendance with breweries from Central Oregon as well as an extensive list from the Valley that Kenney’s management company works with.

“We look at what people respond to, and we have dialogue with the breweries ahead of time and explain what we are trying to achieve with the experience and see what they can come up with in the timeframe. There is a spectrum of unique winter beers, including porters and other nice mixes,” said Kenney.

The Suttle Lodge is open year-round for stays in the Lodge, cabin rentals, and a full restaurant and bar.

“We want people to get to know that they can rent year-round, and the winter is a great season because you are eight minutes from Hoodoo,” said Kenney.

The event was made possible by volunteers, who served the beer tasters to patrons. Two volunteers from Seattle had never heard of the event before seeing a poster and deciding to volunteer for the event and stay at the lodge.


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