Friday, June 28th, 2019

Cooler Bagger: Ape Cave vs Block 15

Ron Swarner

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Cooler-Bagger-Ape-Cave-vs-Block-15Cooler Bagger: Ape Cave vs Block 15

Looking for something to do this weekend? Descend into the lower section of Ape Cave, a 2.5-mile cool (literally, it averages a temperature of 42 degrees year round) lava tube near Cougar, in Cowlitz County. Afterward, camp at nearby Beaver Bay Campground and tell Ape Cave stories while drinking Block 15 Brewing canned craft beer.

The reputed home of Bigfoot, the Ape Cave was discovered in the mid-20th century by a local logger. The name is actually an homage to the Boy Scout group who helped map the site — the Mount St. Helens Apes — so don’t get your hopes up for a Sasquatch sighting.

You’ll enjoy turning into modern-day spelunkers as you descend the metal stairs at the entrance to the cave. Warning — it gets cold fast, so make sure to bring jackets, comfy hiking shoes and — very, very important – a light. Lots of flashlights — one per person is best. Trust Peaks and Pints — you don’t know the meaning of pitch black until you are in a cave deep underground with no source of light.

The lower cave is low-grade and perfect for families. It’s rocky at places, but basically an easy go. Unless you like scrambling over and squeezing through rocks, stay away from the upper cave.

The main entrance is about an hour from the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center. There’s no cost to hike the cave, but there’s a $5 parking fee. No food, beverages or pets are allowed in the cave. For more information, visit www.mountsthelens.com/ape-caves.html.

Block 15 Brewing

Block 15 Brewing sits heart of downtown Corvallis, only a few blocks from Oregon State University. The brewery’s name hails from Corvallis’ previous incarnation as Marysville and the old plat map location from the old town. In late 2011, homebrewers Nick and Kristen Arzner opened the brewery and restaurant serving beers true-to-style with ingredients imported from different parts of the world, along with all the Willamette Valley produced grains, hops, fruits, herbs and yeast.

As for what Block 15 beers to bring, stop by Peaks and Pints and grab the tasty treats listed below. …

EMERGING SUNSHINE: This crisp golden IPA bursts with citrus, mango, and floral notes from Northwest grown Strata, Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial hops. Its 2-row malt base is gently rounded out with additions of flaked barley and honey malt, while fermentation with American ale yeast lends Emerging Sunshine a clean, refreshing finish. 6.75%

FRESH FLOW IPA: Fresh Flow is a tropically hoppy IPA featuring a fruit-forward blend of American and New Zealand hop varietals. 2-row and superior Pilsen malt form its crisp grist base, while oat malt, flaked barley, and fermentation with English ale yeast softly rounds out the body. Fresh Flow finishes relatively dry, with a gentle bitterness and lingering fruity hop notes. 6.5%

GLORIA! This crisp, unfiltered pilsner is brewed with floor-malted pilsner malts, as well as Magnum, Hallertau, Oregon-grown Mt. Hood and Czech Saaz hops imparting citrus, grass and floral spice, while Czech Pilsner yeast finishing clean and refreshing. 5%

RED, WHITE & BOOM! IPA: American grown malted barley blends with crisp American Ale yeast to pave the way for an explosion of pine, mango, and zesty orange peel notes bursting from a bountiful addition of Northwest-grown hops. 7%

STICKY HANDS: This double IPA is a “Hop Experience Ale” featuring ample additions of sticky, resinous, lupulin packed hop buds grown in the Pacific Northwest. Sticky Hands begins with an aromatic blast of tropical fruits, citrus and dank herb; transitions into luscious hop flavor; and ends with a balanced bitter finish, gently propped up by pale malted barley and fermented with Block 15’s privately banked Brewers yeast. 8.1%