Guest post by The Brew Site’s Jon Abernathy

A unique feature of the annual Bend Brewfest is the XTap , a special reserved beer station located in the Brewtality Tent that is used exclusively for limited, specialty, reserved, out-of-season or other unusual beers that you usually can’t find anywhere else. As a bonus, the brewers will also be on hand with many of the beers to chat and answer questions (though don’t expect them to give up many secrets with a super-special offering!).

The Brewfest website has a good list of what should be pouring on the XTap and when, though this comes with a caveat:

It is not uncommon for brewers to bring something other than what they signed up to bring in order to provide you with the most fabulous offerings. Please check the chalkboard at the Brewtality Tent when you arrive at the Bend Brewfest to get the most up to date schedule for our XTap offerings.

Good advice! Here are some recommendations for what you might want to check out in particular for the XTap, keeping in mind you should definitely double-check the days and times on these when you get to the Fest:

One of the first things that stands out on the XTap is the offerings during the very first shift, Thursday at 1pm: Ground Breaker Brewing and Stung Fermented—both of which are a boon to gluten free beer lovers.

Yes, gluten free which is not something you hear frequently when talking about beer. Thatís because beer is primarily made with barley, which like wheat is rich with gluten and consequently is something those who suffer from gluten intolerant conditions like Celiac disease are unable to consume. However there is a segment of the industry that specializes in gluten free offerings, whether by design (like Ground Breaker) or ingredients (like meads and ciders).

Ground Breaker is dedicated to brewing completely gluten free beers, which they do by avoiding barley, wheat, and rye entirely. Their ingredients instead are based upon chestnuts, lentils, certified gluten free oats, and sorghum, and they produce a range of beers sure to appeal to regular and gluten free beer drinkers alike—Pale Ale, Dark Ale, a fruit beer, and an IPA as well as a variety of seasonals. Ground Breaker is already bringing their IPA and fruited Olallie Ale to the Brewfest (two of their most popular beers) which are great options for gluten intolerant drinkers, and there’s no doubt the XTap will be pouring something special.

Mead is often referred to as the world’s oldest fermented beverage—quite simply, it is a honey wine, concocted at its essence from honey, water, and yeast—and entirely gluten free as well. Portland’s Stung Fermented is one of the newest meaderies to enter the market and produces a sessionable sparkling mead that is dry and lively. In addition to this Worker’s Standard mead, they will be pouring a special dry-hopped variety aged on Mosaic hops, which should be a great crossover beverage for hesitant beer drinkers who have never tried mead.

As for other recommendations:

Thursday, 8/13:

Gigantic Brewing Pipewrench Gin Barrel IPA: Portland’s Gigantic ages their flagship IPA in Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels for three months, resulting in an amazingly harmonious blend of botanical notes that play well off the hoppy notes.

Slanted Rock Brewing 2013 Brew Masters Reserve Darker After Midnight Imperial Stout: This is the first time I’ve seen this Idaho brewery available in Central Oregon, and their description of this beer is enticing: We took our 2013 batch of Imperial Stout and aged it to perfection in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels for a year. This brew is rich in roasted malt flavor with notes of bourbon, and is a heavy full bodied beer.

Friday, 8/14:

Hopworks Urban Brewery Kentucky Christmas: One of Oregon’s best winter seasonals comes from Portland’s Hopworks (HUB for short) in their Abominable Winter Ale, a full-bodied malty Winter IPA. For Kentucky Christmas they age Abominable in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels, resulting in a terrifically boozy, rich, and bourbon-y beer.

Tranquilo! Dama Enojada MSA: What you may not know is that the Tranquilo! beers are contract-brewed by Bend’s own Silver Moon Brewing, and they are delicious! The Dama Enojada MSA is their Amber version has mango and chili peppers added, resulting in what should be a uniquely sweet and spicy amber ale.

Saturday 8/15:

McMenamins Caped Crusader Robust Porter (Whiskey Barrel Aged): Darker beers like porters and stouts marry well with barrel aging, so this Robust Porter from the Old St. Francis School that’s been aged in a McMenamins Hogshead Whiskey barrel for over four months should be a winning pour!

Santiam Brewing Cherry City Saison: Saisons and farmhouse-style beers hail originally from Belgium and France and are great summertime drinkers. Salem’s Santiam Brewing has taken the style a step further by infusing Willamette Valley cherries into the beer, definitely a fun variation to be on the lookout for.

Sunday 8/16:

Three Creeks Brewing Rum Barrel Aged TenPine Chocolate Porter: What happens when you take Three Creek’s delicious double chocolate porter and age it in rum barrels for six months? Magic, of course!

GoodLife Brewing Afternoon Delight: On the other side of the spectrum is GoodLife’s entry into the session beer arena (beers under 4.5% alcohol by volume), a light and flavorful, easy-drinking beer perfect for a hot summer day.

Of course not every beer pouring on the XTap will be everyone’s cup of tea (or beer, as the case may be!), fortunately there is plenty of other beer pouring all weekend so that there should be something to suit everybody’s tastes!

Enjoy the Fest!