The hamlet of Mitchell has always had a questionable reputation. In the late 1800s, its downtown was known as a rugged place fraught with brawls—the last gunfight took place in the 1900s, well after most frontier communities began to settle down. A century later, that same segment of road was home to a bear named Henry that was kept in a 600-square-foot pen. And as recently as 2015, a visitor from Portland gave Mitchell a one-star review on TripAdvisor, writing "even the people in Fossil and Condon said there's something a little off about the town."
Tiger Town Brewing (108 W Main St., Mitchell, 541-462-3663, tigertownbrewing.com) has embraced all of that unruly history, taking the nickname the city earned during its Wild West days and placing it front and center. Although the logo features two men with their dukes up, ready for a bare-knuckle fight, the beers do not assault your senses. The Black Canyon Ale is as smooth and refreshing as a cold brew, without the heft of a stout, but retains all its roastiness. And the Red Ryerson is a downright tame IPA, making way for the earthiness and spice of its signature grain to ripple across the palate. These days, you’re more likely to share the small taproom with Lycra-clad bicyclists refueling with the brewery’s succulent chicken wings rather than anyone looking to start trouble. Tight quarters lead to spontaneous conversation with the customers around you, which is how I learned that Mitchell is the first stop for many weary riders in the Trans Am Bike Race.