I’ve always been a fan of the classic beer-scape; a venture away from the typical craft beer scene to try something new. While home in Portland for the holidays, my boyfriend and I planned a day trip to Hood River. A little over an hour east of Portland, Hood River is nestled in the Columbia River Gorge and hosts five breweries in its quaint downtown, all within blocks of each each other. Our goal: drink our way through all five breweries in one day.
It should be said, while we were able to make our adventure to Hood River a day trip, ideally it would be great to stay the night. The town is absolutely beautiful and there’s plenty else to explore. The drive alone is something that shouldn’t be rushed. There are other breweries along the gorge, in fact they have their very own passport which you can get at any of the breweries!
Cape Horn Lookout off Scenic Route 14
However, since we were on a budget and time restriction, one day was all we had to work with. And let me tell you, it was still awesome. At each brewery, we split a tasting flight to get a good sense of the beers offered. Below is my own personal report of all five breweries ranked from least favorite to the very best.
#5 Big Horse Brew Pub
To be fair, this brewery isn’t bad by any means. Sitting on the hill looking out over the river town, it was the most affordable place of the day with a tasting flight of seven beers for a mere seven dollars. In addition, the beertenders were the friendliest of the day. Big Horse is a family owned brewery that has been in operation for over 20 years and you can definitely feel it walking into the building. Where they fell short, however, was the beer itself. Again, their beer was good, it just didn’t hold a candle to the rest of the beer we drank that day.
Ah, the crowned jewel of Hood River. First, we need to acknowledged the fact that Full Sail took up an entire city block. Given how incredibly small the town is, a full block is pretty significant. My feelings for Full Sail were kind of all over the place. I’ll list the cons first. They have set tasting flights so you can’t pick and choose your beer. If you want a taster of a beer that isn’t on either of the two pre-set tasting flights, you have to pay an additional three dollars. And as for their beer, it was all right. Nothing blew me away. In fact, my favorite beer sampled was their Imperial Coffee Stout which was one of the tasters that didn’t come with their flight. However, I will say that Full Sail is an awesome place to visit if you’re a beer lover. They offer free tours every hour and I have to admit, it’s pretty damn impressive. Mountains of beer, massive fermenting barrels, and two-story canning system. Not to mention, the tour provided a history lesson that gave me a whole new respect for Full Sail. For such a large craft brewery distributing to over 30 states, they’re sustainable, local when they can be, and work with a smaller, passionate staff. Plus, they give you a free pint glass on the tour so… yeah. They won some extra points.
As the name suggests, Logsdon’s brewery is actually on a farm a ways away, however their tasting room is smack downtown. While Logsdon had the worst service of the day, their ales were so damn tasty. All their ales are farmhouse style, so their menu consists of a lot saisons, bretts, etc. and they all had an interesting funk to them. My favorite was their oak barrel-aged peach brett ale. Although like I said, while their beer was fantastic, the service wasn’t. It took about 20 minutes to get our beer when there was only three other people in the taproom, and the beertender committed one of the greatest beer sins: she didn’t settle out the foam. When you’re paying 12 bucks for a tasting flight and already are getting small portions, it’s frustrating when a beertender doesn’t know how to pour a glass so that the taster isn’t half head. But still, their beer outweighed the experience.
I honestly keep going back and forth switching pFriem for the number one spot. In fact, I’m sure part of my judgement of pFriem was influenced by the fact that it was our last brewery of the day and we were full and exhausted, so take the #2 slot with a grain of salt. However, I wouldn’t want to end our Hood River trip with any other brewery. I couldn’t help but make comparisons to pFriem with Bellingham’s own Wander Brewing the whole time. From the open-brewery concept, to the warehouse location, to the awesome and unique flavors and styles of beer presented, they were good comparisons. If I lived in the area, pFriem would probably be my go-to spot. What’s also cool about pFriem you ask? Well Josh Pfriem actually used to work at Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham back in the day before he started pFriem in Hood River! Maybe that’s why their brew hall felt so much like home. We decompressed after a long day, sitting on what felt like the comfiest couch in the world at the time, drinking and playing chess. pFrief was cool, laid back, and most importantly filled with delicious beer.
Hand down best beer of the day. While we kept comparing pFriem to Wander, we couldn’t help but compare Double Mountain to North Fork Brewery and Beer Shrine. The brewery was filled with beer memorabilia (although not as much as North Fork), they had kick ass pizza, and their sours unexpectedly were some of the best I’ve had. I am going to have dreams about Devil’s Kriek, their aged red sour ale with cherries. So. Damn. Good.
Five breweries, one liver, Hood River 2K15. Now it’s your turn. Go on your beer adventure.