Sometimes it’s hard to think of Tacoma as an urban environment. Deer graze on North End flowerbeds at night. Rabbits hop across the pavement. Point Defiance Park is a large urban park in the United States. It’s nice existing so close to Mama Nature, but living in this city — surrounded by concrete, neon, strip malls and construction — you still want a little more Great Outdoors. If you’re looking for a little dirt, bug and tree action, but still want to dine and shop well, the Columbia River Gorge/Hood River is three hours away. Beginning approximately 15,000 years ago, ice dams on massive Lake Missoula in Montana began to break, sending torrents of deep water rushing through Idaho, Washington and Oregon. The process continued for thousands of years with up to 40 major floods eventually forming what is now the Columbia River Gorge. It’s a gorgeous area filled with waterfalls, hiking trails, outdoor recreation galore and craft breweries and ciders in a 40-mile stretch west to east — from Multnomah Falls to The Dalles. Kicking off Tacoma Beer Week today Peaks and Pints hosts six Columbia Rive Gorge area craft breweries and one cidery at 6 p.m., but we’re offering a taster flight all day. Drop by for our Craft Beer Crosscut 8.6.17: A Flight of Columbia River Gorge as sip on Double Mountain Dry Cider, pFriem Mango Berliner Weisse, Backwoods Pilsner, Everybody’s Cryo-Chronic IPA and Walking Man Jaywalker Russian Imperial Stout.
OK, Double Mountain Dry Cider isn’t beer. It’s a delicious mix of dessert, table, and cider apples for a balanced, dry, tart, and aromatic cider. Double Mountain Brewery has long toyed with releasing its own hard cider, occasionally featuring housemade cider on at the taproom made from owner Matt Swihart’s own apples. The Oregon Hood River Gorge-based brewery finally releases its own Dry Cider blending freshly harvested heirloom apples from Double Mountain Orchards and Hood River Newtowns, Braeburns and Hanners for old world complexity.
3.5% ABV, 6 IBU
pFriem’s Kettle-Soured Mango Berliner Weisse is, at its core, a Berliner weisse fermented with mango creating a sweet-sour-fruity swallow that perfectly counters our summer heat wave. But let’s back up: What’s a Berliner weisse, you ask? Once called the “Champagne of the north” by Napoleon’s troops, the Berliner’s a tart wheat-pilsner-malt ale soured by Lactobacillus bacteria. Traditionally, this small beer is offered mit schuss — that is, served with cloyingly sweet raspberry or woodruff syrup to counter its lactic, yogurty bite. Roughly 200 years after The Little Corporal said “oui” to syruped Berliners, pFriem brewers said “no,” and fermented the sour beer with actual mango instead. The tart, fruity and quaffable ale is born.
5.1% ABV, 10 IBU
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is one of the oldest National Forests in the United States. Included as part of the Mount Rainier Forest Reserve in 1897, this area was set aside as the Columbia National Forest in 1908. It was renamed the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1949. Backwoods Brewing Co. co-owner Kevin Waters has a fondness for the forest as well as pilsners after a visit to Prague, the capital of the Czech republic and home to many a pilsner. Waters brewed his GP Pilsner the Czech way with Czech Saaz hops for a spicy floral aroma with grassy notes and a clean, crisp finish. It’s the perfect beer after a day hiking in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
11.8% ABV, 42 IBU
Walking Man Brewing has re-released The Jaywalker — the first time since 2013. This beer won a World Beer Cup Bronze in 2010 — the last time the Stevenson, Washington brewery competed in the competition — and rates an outstanding 93 on Beer Advocate and an amazing 100 on Ratebeer. Big, rich, chocolate flavors dominate while a bit of coffee and alcohol heat lightens up the finish.
6.9% ABV, 80 IBU
In 2008, Christine and Doug Ellenberger opened Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon, Washington after years of planning the craft brewery when they weren’t working their shifts at Full Sail Brewing Company directly across the Columbia River. Doug’s 20-plus years brewing and Christine’s years in the restaurant industry melded into a popular brewpub with a killer view of Mt. Hood. In the 15-barrel brewhouse Doug and crew churn out delicious craft beer including Cryo-Chronic IPA. Brewed with Cryo hops, Cryo-Chronic is an experimental IPA using cryogenic technology, which means very low temperatures. Through a cryogenic separation process, pure lupulin powder is extracted from any hop, leaving behind a “hop powder” that contains the desired flavor. Enjoy the huge dank and earthy aroma and juicy flavor, with a bit of sweetness, from the pounds of Mosaic powder.