I consider myself a very lucky gal to live in craft beer country.
With Sante Adairius Rustic Ales only 30 minutes from my house and so many craft beer bars close by, you would think I would be somewhat satisfied. But no, the life of a beer lover is never complete and we are always looking for a vacation centered around beer.
During the first weekend in May, my man and I decided to do a road trip north to Oregon. With over 136 craft breweries pouring liquid sunshine in the state, you cannot go wrong with Oregon as your beer drinking destination. We had plenty of room in our car to fit our camping gear and cooler and maybe some beer souvenirs as well.
Our first stop on our craft beer ‐ filled trip to Oregon was in the city of Winters, CA . Not too far from Lake Berryessa , located in the town that once was bustling in the 1800s due to the rail line along its borders, sits a lovely little spot called Preserve Public House. Warm brick walls encapsulate a beautifully decorated and inviting space with lots to look at and fun historical antiques. Rows of preserved jams and jellies like mom used to make turn my focus away from the 18 taps at the bar, but soon I remember why I came here in the first place. I began with Drake’s 1500 Pale Ale and then moved on to Avery Brewing Company’s delicious New World Porter. I then turned to the local Double Tap IPA , from Berryessa Brewing Company .This brew was quite refreshing and hoppy and had a nice malty finish. Finally, after scanning over their bottle list, we settled on the D’Uva Beer from Lover Beer in Italy. I was hoping for a little more tartness, but the fruit took over with too much sweetness. The friendly staff and charming ambience at Preserved made up for my last bad beer selection and I would of loved to have stayed a little longer and try the enticing food, but the road calls.
After a long night of driving and a quick overnight stay in Medford, we finally arrived in Portland, Oregon. Oregon, along with the rest of California, was experiencing a bit of a heat wave at the time and we really wanted to be outdoors. Cascade Brewing Barrel House on SE Belmont Street was the perfect spot to sit outside and enjoy some pucker inducing sour beers. 16 taps, 2 live barrel cask taps and 5 Blenders Reserve taps makes choosing your first beer quite difficult. Knowing the reputation of Cascade you know that any beer you choose is going to be delicious. I started with a live barrel selection called Marzipan that poured golden in color and had an aroma of almonds and live yeast. I could not believe it when I tasted it, just like the delectable marzipan! My beer drinking partner chose the Honey Ginger Lime beer from one of Cascade’s live casks. Tart and refreshing with enough ginger taste that you could actually believe this beer was good for you. All of the Cascade sour beers we tried were amazing and well executed. The Cascade IPA was also a fresh and hoppy delight and a good way to cut through all the sourness. We picked up a bottle of Sang Noir and Figaro and were on our way to our next destination.
We knew we came to Portland not to just drink beer, but to take some home with us. We decided we should make a stop at John’s Market on SW Multnomah Blvd to pick up some hard to find bottles. John’s is my kind of market. Not so much market, but lots and lots of beer! In fact, I would say three quarters of this market is filled with racks and aisles of local and other suds and maybe a quarter of the market is filled with that food stuff . I could not help but feel giddy scanning through all the porters, bombers and brews and finding myself having to get a shopping cart. Some of my picks were: Mogli, an American Porter from Caldera Brewing Company, Fort George Brewing’s Omegatex Triple IPA and Heater Allen’s “Hugo” intrigued me because this brewery only produces lagers. John’s Market also gives you a discount if you buy in bulk, and somehow I walked out of there with a couple of cases of brew. I think next time I would check their website with their up to date beer list and then come in with a list of my own.
Our next craft beer stop was The Commons Brewery on SE 10th street to wash down the dent I made in my wallet with some tasty cold ones. The Commons Brewery is straightforward and simple in a warehouse surrounded by barrels, fermentation tanks and sacks of malt. In the middle of it all is a small tasting bar and a few scattered tables with glass bottles of water awaiting consumption. Brian greets us with a smile and welcoming glasses on the tasting bar and we begin with their Urban Farmhouse Ale. Fresh and floral with a musty barn house taste and slightly bitter apple bite, this beer is refreshing and goes down way too easy. Little Brother was the next darker farmhouse ale that we tried that was equally delicious and made me happy. Brian our host and the other locals were very friendly and gave us their recommendations for camping and beer drinking for our next destination in Hood River Valley. Their bottles to go were so reasonable we grabbed 3 to add to our expanding bottle supply and made our way to our camp along the Columbia River for the night.
The next morning we drove about 45 minutes to gorgeous Hood River Valley. You can tell when you get there by the large Full Sail Brewery sign towering over the freeway. We were a little early to get to our first brew stop and made a 12 mile drive to Lost Lake for a hike. After a hike around the lake we made a quick stop at Double Mountain Brewery for and I.R.A beer and on our way to Logsdon Farmhouse Ales.
As you enter the Hood River Valley, all you see is green. Green hills, green trees, grass and orchards, you can only imagine why Logsdon Farmhouse Ales chose this spot to create their all organic delicious brews. The drive to the brewery is amazing with a backdrop of the snow topped majestic Mt. Hood towering over the fertile valley and blooming wildflowers. I resisted the urge to jump out of my car and reenact a scene from the Sound of Music and turned on to Booth Hill Road towards my destination. I almost passed the brewery, but I matched the farmhouse to the Logsdon bottle label and found it just fine. Scottish Highlander Cattle stared at me through gates as I marveled at the gorgeous scenery while making our way into the tasting room. A charming artist from Iceland greets us and sets up our tasting glasses in their handmade wooden holders and I feel right at home. Starting with Logsdon’s Seizon and moving our way to the World Beer Cup winning Cesaurus, my mouth is filled with brett‐ tinged flavors and my eyes widen at the breathtaking views of the landscape around us. This was probably my most favorite brewery I visited on this road trip. Not only was the beer amazing, but you could taste and see where the flavors in the beer came from. Charles Porter, the head brewer, told us about the new cool ship they were installing on the roof for spontaneous fermentation for one of their next beers. We also learned that the founder of Logsdon brewery was also the owner of Wyeast Laboratories which was a #1 supplier of brewing yeasts in the U.S. He was also one of the co‐founders and brewers at Full Sail Brewing Company in Hood River as well. Lots of experience, having a bio‐chemistry major for a head brewer and great knowledge of yeast strains definitely comes through in their flavorful brews. I did not want to leave and they would have to pry my glass of Logsdon’s Oak Aged Bretta away from me if I did not drink it first, but there was still more beer to be had. Solera Brewery in Parkdale, Oregon resides in an old movie theatre building from the 1930s, but the best part about their spot is the patio. A spectacular view of Mt Hood awaits you with sun bleached picnic tables and dogs wanting you to play fetch. Of course what only made this experience better was Solera Brewery’s beer. First beer to go in my belly was Half Naked Spring Break. This collaboration beer with Logsdon Farmhouse Ales was a very creative and tasty Tripel with deep amber coloring and rounded flavor. French Tickler was another stellar sour with hints of fruit, salt and a dry and malty finish. My partner in beer crime quickly consumed the hoppy and citric Hedonist IPA and our day felt complete. From Parkdale, Oregon we made the long drive to Bend, Oregon and checked into our hotel for the night. Hungry and thirsty we made our way to the Deschutes Brewery to help our cause. We tried their house made beer sausage and pretzels along with a salad with candied malts. I washed down my meal with a glass of Solace Rose which was a blend of 4 dissident casks and then aged with brett. We shared a 12% ABV glass of Not the Stoic which encapsulated ribbons of bourbon and malt, but did not taste too strong. We knew we had a big day ahead of us driving the Cascadian Highway and called it a night after the bustling Deschutes experience.
We woke up early that day in hopes to make it to Crater Lake to camp for the night. Little did we realize that it is still late spring in Bend, Oregon. Late spring for California is quite different than here and as we approached Mt. Bachelor we realized why. Snow… yep that fluffy cold stuff was everywhere and blocked our entrance to the Cascadian Highway. The road would not be plowed for another 3 weeks or so and now we had to change our plans.
We thought we should make best of this situation and grab a pint at Boneyard Brewing. I remembered Boneyard because I had their Hop Venom IPA during SF Beer Week a few months back and I was quite impressed. Boneyard is located in a warehouse on 37 NW Place and is a “no frills” kind of place. We were greeted and told the pricing for the tasting and Boneyard would buy us our first beer to taste. I already knew I liked their beer, but I was beginning to like this spot even more. Some of the highlights were Diablo Rojo‐ a malt driven red ale with a nice hoppy finish. RPM IPA encompasses a true NW style hop bomb with tropical notes and floral and citrus richness. I also got to try their collaboration brew with Widmer called Blacklight IPA. A hoppy black ale and one of the only Boneyard beers you will ever find in a bottle. If you are a hophead you will love Boneyard beers.
After leaving Boneyard we decided that we were a little hungry and headed over to 10 Barrel Brewing Company to see what they had to offer. 10 Barrel has a lot of beer on tap and so we had to go with the 10 tasters. Project Failed: Red Ale on Nitro was quite tasty and served the way the beer is supposed to taste. The beer is called Project Failed after the brewer’s failed attempt to bottle a nitrogen infused beer. The bartender told us of the exploding bottles and mess that occurred with this experiment, but ultimately the beer came out quite tasty. Apocalypse IPA and O.G Wheat IPA were also a couple good
standouts with a crisp and refreshing hop profile. We grabbed a couple bombers after a quick bite and decided we would head as far as we could down Hwy 97 until we could not drive anymore.
Our last night spent on the road was camping at Fowlers Campground located near Mt. Shasta along the Upper McCloud river. 2 waterfalls were within a 20 minute walk from the campsite and provided a great opportunity to stretch our legs and enjoy life outside of the car before our big ride home the next day. If you ever have a chance to have a road trip full of beer stops, Oregon is a great place to go. Beautiful scenery, nice people and of course all kinds of delicious craft brews. I hope that next time we can travel the coast and hopefully hit De Garde Brewing in Tillamook. Until then, I will have to just be satisfied with all the NW beers we have added to the beer cellar.
Maya Osborne has been an avid craft beer lover for over 15 years. She is also an aspiring beer chef and loves to create beer inspired culinary creations and crafts. Maya currently works in the Bay Area and resides in the Santa Cruz Mountains.