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Columbia River Gorge – Part 1 (Fish, Everybody’s, Full Sail, and Big Horse)

June 2, 2010

Our Memorial Weekend Good Beer Trip to the Columbia River Gorge is in the books. World renowned for its Windsurfing and Kite Surfing, Hood River and the surrounding region can more than hold its own for Good Beer. On this trip we visited five of the area’s best breweries: Everybody’s, Full Sail, Big Horse, Walking Man, and Double Mountain and made a few pit stops on the way down.

LushC and Malti on her first GBT

On day one we drove 230 miles southeast of Seattle to White Salmon, Washington. We got a later start than we wanted and decided to alter our plan from lunch at Salmon Creek Brewery in Vancouver, WA to lunch at Fish Brewing in Olympia. We’ve been to Fish before, and always love their beer, food, and environment. This stop did not disappoint. For our first beers of the extended weekend LushC went with a Leavenworth Eightmile Alt, and I went with a Starfish Imperial Red.

The Eightmile Alt was crisp, clean and very true to its style. A very refreshing beer with a nice German malt aroma and flavor, and a slight hop finish. At 4.8% ABV this is another great Washington session beers. I ended up drinking half of LushC’s beer for her.

Sometimes Imperial Reds can be too sweet for my taste, but the Starfish Imperial Red was not. It was big, but very well balanced with a rich malty flavor, and ample hops to keep it from being too sweet.

We enjoyed our beverages and meals, Salmon Salad for LushC and the delicious Seafood Stew for myself, and chatted up our excellent server Jill. When were about to leave, Jill came to us with an offer we could not refuse. Apparently the night before someone ordered a growler of the Starfish to go, but they refused to take it because the art on the growler was not perfect. (Some of the fish heads were separated from the body) Jill asked if we had a cooler, and offered us the growler for FREE. Sweet! What a great way to start the Good Beer Trip.

Soon, we were back on the road. The stretch of I-5 between Olympia and Seattle is fairly boring. I’ve done this stretch so many times that it is easy to zone out. (Good thing I wasn’t driving) After one quick rest stop we finished the I-5 portion of our drive, merged onto to I-205, crossed into Oregon, and eventually exited onto I-84 to head east towards Hood River. To get to White Salmon, you can either go the Washington side, which is a 2 lane winding highway (SR14) or go the Oregon side which is a 4 lane interstate (I-84) and cross back into Washington at Hood River. We opted for the quicker Oregon route, but returned via the Washington side.

We made a quick detour to McMenamin’s Edgefield (in Troutdale, Oregon 8 miles east of I-205) to pick up bottles of their Hogshead Whiskey and Penny’s Gin for our liquor cabinet back home. The Edgefield is a magical place. An adult Disneyland that is complete with Lodging, Spa, Restaurants, Bars, Movie Theater, Brewery, Winery, Distillery and a Par 3 Golf Course. What could be better? Unfortunately, on this trip, we would not be staying, but we will be back.

About an hour later we were crossing the Hood River toll bridge back into Washington. Just up the hill, we drove into the small, cute, town of White Salmon. We easily spotted our dinner destination, Everybody’s Brewing, but had to go check out or vacation rental first.

Woo hoo! The Blue Sky Cottage was only a couple blocks up from the brewery, in what looks to be a converted garage. Although small, about 300sq feet or so, it is nicely decorated and has all the comforts of home. There is a small kitchen, a dining table, a futon and tv/dvd player in living area, a ¾ bath, and a separate bedroom with a comfortable bed. There is free Wi-Fi (it was slow), and they accept pets! If you do bring your four legged friends, there is a decent size yard (no fence), and large town park a block away. It was a perfect resting and launch pad for our Good Beer Trip.

Everybody's Brewing

Everybody’s Brewing Co. – White Salmon, WA (#210)
After unloading the car we walked down the hill to Everybody’s Brewing. If you make it to White Salmon, you will not be able to miss this place, and you shouldn’t. It is right in the heart of town in what was originally an Odd Fellows Hall, then a sporting goods store, an most recently a liquor store. It’s latest incarnation has to be the best though. The interior has been beautifully restored exposing the large old growth timber beams that had been hidden for years behind the walls and drop ceiling. The Restaurant/Bar is a large open area with plenty of tables, a long bar made out of an impressive piece of wood, with many stools. There is a stage in the front, with couches for those nights there isn’t a band, and a Shuffle Board table to enjoy. Out back there is a large patio which we are told has a magnificent view of Mt. Hood on clear days.

We opted to sit at the bar so we could talk to the staff, and be close to the action. Soon after arriving, Shaqfeasel and his family arrived, we just happened to be going to the same place for the weekend, but we opted to remain at the bar. We ordered a sampler tray, and perused the menu for something good to eat. Everything on the menu sounded great. LushC would say that it is Northwest style pub food for a foodie. It included enticing salads, seasonal entrees like Lamb Riblets and Pork Schnitzel, Burgers, gourmet sandwiches, and some really excellent sounding Burritos. LushC decide on the Sweet Potato Burrito, which was huge, very tasty and was served with house made tortilla chips and salsa. I took the recommendation from the Washington Beer Blog and went with the XXX Burger which includes a healthy spreading of peanut butter and pickles. It sounds strange, but it was finger licking good! Kendall did not steer me wrong.

The beer sampler included all their house made beers, with the exception of the Pilsner and the Stout which they were temporarily out of. After the sampler LushC went with the ESB and Brown, and I ended up with with a Seasonal IPA and the Porter.

Beer Sampler
Law of Nature Pale Alewell balanced hoppier Northwest Pale Ale, that was light and refreshing.
Bro Brah Bitter ESB – a traditional nutty sweet bitter with a pleasant hop finish.
Daily Bread Common Ale – a little too citrusy and piney hop aroma and flavored for my taste, but LushC liked it.
Country Boy IPA – nice citrus hop aroma and finish
Seasonal IPA – A little more citrusy hop flavor compared to the Country Boy . Very quaffable though not too aromatic.
Hoedown Brown – nutty malt aroma and flavor with a smooth finish
Porter – Smooth, well balanced, dark malty goodness.

Two Beers at Everybody's

While sitting at the bar, we had a nice conversation with co-owner Christine. We learned about their history and how they were surprised of the quick success of Everybody’s. They have been open since 2008 and began brewing their own beer last July. Now, they seem to be the “place” to be in the White Salmon area.

A little later Doug, co-owner and head brewer, came over and introduced himself. We chatted about the brewery, and his past experiences. He was a very nice chap, and spent a fair amount of time with us. If you would like to meet him, he has a few upcoming beer events in the Puget Sound Region. On June 17th he will be at the Parkway Tavern in Tacoma for a battle of the Gorge which will pit Full Sail and Double Mountain vs. Walking Man and Everybody’s. Go Washington! He will be in Bellingham at the Green Frog on June 15th . In addition, he will be making deliveries on the trip, so expect to see some Everybody’s beer in pubs around the Sound.

On day two, we ventured to Hood River which was just listed number 5 on Tripadivsor’s Top 10 Charming Small Towns. We agree, it is a charming small town. There are many specialty shops, boutiques, cafe’s, restaurants, theatres, a restored historic hotel, and three breweries! With the bounty of outdoor adventure options, it is a great place to visit.

Full Sail

Full Sail Brewing Co. – Hood River, Oregon
After checking out a few shops, and stoking the meter (we were warned that the meter man is a stickler, and likes to give tickets), we headed down to Full Sail’s Tasting Room and Pub for Lunch.  Yes, Full Sail is a big brewery, 22nd largest in the country, but they do a lot of things right. Besides making very good beer they are: employee owned, one of a few manual “hand crafted” breweries of its size, dedicated to operating in the most socially and environmentally sustaining manner possible, and the ones who kept Henry Weinhard’s a Northwest  brewed beer. For these reasons I give my respect to Full Sail.

You can add the Pub to the list of things they do right. It has is very bright and clean Northwest Pub atmosphere, with a lot’s of brick, wood, and windows with a great view of the river. There is an outdoor patio for those that want to be in the fresh air. The menu is full of the typical pub fare that is both fresh and delicious.

The Full Sail Bar - by LushC 2010

On tap, they have all their Core Beers (Amber, IPA, Pale) plus a few special small batch beers. Since we came all this way, we weren’t about to try anything that we can readily get back at home. LushC went with the Spotless IPA which she says was a nice IPA. It had citrus aroma and peppery citrus hop flavor. For her second, she went with  a half-pint of the very robust, sweet and hoppy Old Boarhead Barleywine. At 9% ABV and 91 IBU this beer is not too sweet nor too hoppy.

My first sampling was the Vendell Veizen (Weisen Boch) which was released for American Craft Brewery Week and was developed by the Assistant Packaging Supervisor. It had a sweet German malt aroma and a smooth, rich wheat and malt flavor with a slight hop and sweet finish. For my dessert I had the Imperial Stout. Dark brown with a tan head it had a sweet chocolate aroma and flavor. It was Smooth, robust, stouty, goodness.

Upon finishing our meals and beer we joined Shaqfeasel, who arrived with his family shortly after we arrived, on the FREE Brewery Tour. The tour is yet another thing Full Sail does right. Randy, the tour guide, does an excellent job of telling the history of the brewery and explaining the brewing process while weaving you through the entire operation. It is an impressive brewery for sure. There are no free beer samples at the end, but you do get a FREE logo pint glass. The tour is well worth the 30-45 minutes of your time.

The view from Full Sail - by LushC 2010

Shaqfeasel, "It's all mine"

Big Horse Brewpub

Big Horse Brew Pub
Feeling good from beer we drank, we walked around downtown a while before heading to our next destination. Soon enough we made the turn up the hill and spotted the Big Horse Brew Pub perched on the side of the hill in a historic building. Several flights of stairs later, we were sitting in the bar, ordering our sampler tray, and snack.

The beer maybe the main attraction here, but the view of the river is a close second. The main seating area is full of light wood booths and tables, and large windows to take advantage of the view. Hovering above, there is a stage for live music. The bar area is rather small with only a few bar stools. Out back there is an outdoor patio that looks to be a great place to hang out and relax when the weather is nice. On the bottom floor there is a pool room with additional seating. They are kid friendly, but not sure that they are ADA approved.

The menu is fairly simple pub food. On this visit we  only ordered an appetizer, which was good. When we visited last year we had horribly slow service, maybe they thought the view would mesmerize us. Luckily, the service was much speedier this year.

As we often do, we split a sampler tray. This is a good way to taste all the beers at a brewpub before deciding on what to order. Plus, it allows the driver to get a taste of everything without drinking too much. On this day the sampler include four ounces of eight of their beers.

Beer Sampler
Easy Blonde – pleasant, easy to drink, but not to exciting
Pale Rider IPA – The Columbus hops give it a very floral hop aroma and flavor. I like it.
Brother Pucker – A nice lemony sour beer, but not too sour. It reminded me of Saxer Lemon Lager.
MacStallions Scotch – Smooth , with hint of peat smoked malts. A very nice Scotch.
Nightmare Stout (Oatmeal)- Fairly smooth, rich and malty and a coffee finish.
Double Rider IPA – Nice mix of floral and piney hop flavors. Not to sweet for a double IPA. LushC really liked it.
Smoke of Hell (German Helles Boch w smoked malts) – Light blonde color with a smoked malt aroma and flavor. It’s no Chuckanut Rauch Bier, but it was good.
2009 Phat Dog (12.5% Barleywine) – Sweet, malty, complex, amazingly smooth and drinkable. A very dangerous beer!

Round of Beers at Big Horse - by LushC 2010

We returned back to our cottage in White Salmon, and eventually headed back down to  Everybody’s Brewing. It was Friday night and they were packed. Luckily, there were two seats at the bar for us. We ordered up our dinner, Spinach Salad for LushC and the Vegetable Pot Pie for myself, and a couple of pints of one of the beers that eluded us the night before.

As Doug mentioned it would be, the Cash Stout was back on tap. It stood tall, dark, and mysterious, just like its namesake. It had a nice dark malt flavor that was smoothed out by the oats. Slightly hoppier than other stouts, but not too hoppy, it was a fine beer.

Once again, the service was excellent. Doug, Christie, and the entire staff made sure we really felt welcome. We left very happy and full, ready to relax for day three.

To be continued

Caught in the act - by LushC 2010

What's so funny LushC?

Full (Sail) of Awards

Inside the Big Horse

I just love Session Black

The guts of the Fish

FTC INFO: Unless otherwise specified, GoodBeerTrips received nothing for free.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2010 12:07 am

    Very nice write up — thanks for sharing. This trip has long been on my “to-go” list, but now I’m even more eager to make the time. I know you know that you were there at the same time as the Seattle Beer News crew — can you imagine what they would have thought if I was there too? The horror! Invasion of the Seattle Bloggers: They Came. They Drank. They Asked A Lot of Questions.


    • DraughtE permalink*
      June 8, 2010 8:36 am

      It’s a fun place, just don’t expect to be able to hike from White Salmon to Hood River, no pedestrians on the bridge. I was hoping to run into Geoff, but it didn’t happen. We d id run in to Ron “Shaqfoo” three times though.

  2. June 16, 2010 1:24 pm

    Nice blog!

    Too bad you missed the stout at Everybody’s, you need to come back for it! Next time you visit the area consider my vacation rental in Husum (10 minutes from Everybodys – I’ll buy you a pint!)

    Cheers, Matt

  3. DraughtE permalink*
    June 16, 2010 8:18 pm

    Matt, Thanks for stopping by. I hope you return.

    I did get a couple pints of the Cash Stout on my second visit. It was good!

    We’ll check out your vacation rental the next time we are in the area, and then I’ll take you up on that pint.



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