Monday, May 4th, 2015

Beer and loafing in Westport Washington

Ron Swarner

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My family and I spent the weekend at DeRosa Manor in Westport, Washington. I spent very little time on the beach.

Two reasons.

First, an invasion is afoot in Westport, Washington. Yes, there are millions of dead glassy purple, jellyfish-like sea creatures that look like sailboats stretching as far as the eye can see. Known as “by-the-wind sailors,” Velella velella typically live in the open ocean, but when warm water and storms draw them near shore, the wind blows them onto beaches, where they die in stinking piles — emphasis on stinking. Beach strolls ended up as eye rolls, so I limited

Velella velella wash up on shore
Velella velella invade Westport, Washington. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

The second invasion is occupied beer bar stools. Two breweries are attracting crowds, with a third — Blackbeard’s Brewing Company — under construction.

Tourism is a major economic driver for Westport, and there are many popular attractions that lure tourists and their dollars to the fishing town.

But is beer really one of them?

You bet, and it’s a family affair. Westport Brewing Co. and Bog Water Brewing Co. — on opposite ends of Westport — follow the philosophy inspired by western Europe, where the brewery is a convivial gathering place for all, with communal seating, thus promoting conversation among families, friends and newly met craft beer fans. Yes, kids are welcome at both breweries.

Bog Water Brewing Co. / photo credit: Pappi Swarner
Bog Water Brewing Co. / photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Seating at the two breweries encourages loafing. Westport Brewing and Bog Water Brewing Co. have outdoor patios with good sun exposure. Sipping craft beer with seagulls yacking in the background steal any thoughts of a stinking stroll on the beach.
Bog water has recently converted its three-barrel into a 10-barrel system. Its blonde ale and rye pale ale are easy drinking. A 7.2 ABV IPA is a month away.

Take time off from beachcombing for a beer at Westport Brewing Co. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner
Take time off from beachcombing for a beer at Westport Brewing Co. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Westport Brewing operates a three-barrel system, which it digs as brewer Chris Goehrung enjoys churning out different beers as fast as folks will empty the kegs. Raised in Phoenix, Goehrung met his wife, Amber, in San Francisco where he learned to love craft beer. One thing led to another, and Goehrung became the brewery’s fourth brewmaster, launching his career with his favorite Riptide Red IRA, a spicy malt and citrus treat brewed with Melanoidin and Victory malts and Cascade, Chinook, Columbus and Citra hops. Goehrung’s light Cohasset Cream Ale and Shoalwater Stout are crowd favorites. The locals, which make up 50 percent of the business in the winter and 20 percent in the summer, enjoy the stout as the popular Westport coffee roaster Tinderbox add its Matchbox Blend coffee to the rich, full-bodied stout.

Beer enthusiasts have another reason to head to Westport.

BOG WATER BREWING CO., 2858 S. Forrest St., Westport, 360.268.7082,
WESTPORT BREWING CO., 118 W. Pacific Ave., Westport, 307.421.4411