Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Peaks and Pints: Barrel Mountain Trail Builder and Summit Springs

Ron Swarner

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Peaks and Pints: Barrel Mountain Trail Builder and Summit Springs

Barrel Mountain Brewing Trail Builder was nominated as a 16th seed in the Southern Washington Region of the Peaks & Pints Tournament of Beer: NW Double IPAs, which will begin April 2, 2021. The tournament bracket will be released soon. Since we’re not touring breweries to preview the Tournament this year, we enjoyed the Peaks and Pints: Barrel Mountain Trail Builder and Summit Springs pairing.

Hops: Barrel Mountain Trail Builder

When you think of mountain cabins, many things come to mind: wood, saws, wood, ski hardware, wood, canoe oars and wood. In Battle Ground, Washington, there’s a mountain cabin motif brewery with all that goodness, plus a chair made of ropes, metal siding and a bit of Kentucky shabby chic. Not only did Barrel Mountain owner Troy Steigman bring the outdoors indoors to a former Laundromat, but he also added a scratch kitchen, well-equipped brewery and hired brewer Ryan Pearson, formerly of Green Flash and La Quinta in Southern California. The beers reflect the expertise Pearson brings to the table, with a variety of well-made styles, including Trail Builder double IPA. Dip your nose into mildly caramel malt, citrus and dank hops, orange citrus with slight lemon. Flavor follows with pale malt with slight caramel, citrus and dank hops, plus orange, grapefruit and lemon juice and rind. The Trail Builder finishes with lightly resinous citrus rind bitterness and lingering citrus and herbal flavors.

Let’s Break It Down: 9% ABV • 100 IBU • Barrel Mountain donates a portion of profits from its Trail Builder Imperial IPA trail to associations, clubs and volunteers that maintain and improve Washington state’s trail systems.

Hike: Summit Springs Trail

Also known as Snass Creek Trail, Summit Springs Trail travels through the post-Yacolt Burn forest with snags from 1902 burn still stand eerily in a maturing forest of Douglas-fir and hemlock at lower levels with noble and silver fir at higher elevations. After a quick hail storm, we just happen to find the unmarked trailhead, hiked through a salmonberry thicket, crossed Snass Creek and started climbing until we hit the Summit Springs Loop. We skipped the loop and hiked along a grassy road track through bracken and bear-grass on the crest of ridge until we reached a quarry. We could see across the McKinley Creek valley to McKinley Ridge. The summit was another 1.5 miles on Forest Service Road 4104.

Let’s Break It Down: 5.8-mile in and out with short loop, high point 3,070 feet, elevation gain 1,750 feet, rated moderate, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Haps: Post-hike Celebration

Back at the trailhead, we cracked open the Trail Builder double IPA and laughed that the Summit Spring Trail needed a better trail builder. From the parking pullout at the bend on Forest Road 41, we had to walk 150 yards back down the road to find the unsigned trailhead, which is one mile shy from the Sunset Campground bridge. We discussed all the banked turns and jumps on the trail, which is a sign that the trail is a favorite with mountain bikers. We agreed we needed to have a post-hike celebration at Barrel Mountain Brewing in Battle Ground as the food is amazing, as is the beers.

Highway: Getting There

From I-5 south take Highway 502 to Battle Ground. Turn left onto Highway 503 and head north to Lucia Falls Road. At Moulton Falls turn south on Sunset Falls Road. Drive 7.3 miles to Sunset Campground. Turn into the campground and cross the East Fork Lewis River. The trail is 0.9 miles by odometer from the bridge. The trail sign is no longer present.

Tournament of Beer: NW Double IPAs

OK, Covid, we’ll just take the Peaks & Pints Tournament of Beer into the woods. …

The public nominated 64 Northwest double IPAs for the Tournament of Beer: NW Double IPAs in February. Beginning April 2, through online voting on this website, Washington and Oregon double IPA drinkers will pick daily winners until the best double IPA in the Northwest is crowned April 24.

Our pre-Tournament hype will be different this year. No brewery research tour. No candid photos of bartenders pouring double IPAs for review. No hotel parties.

Instead, Peaks & Pints will preview the Tournament of Beer: NW Double IPAs by taking the 64 nominated double IPAs on hikes relatively close to where they were brewed. After all, a post-hike double IPA can quench your thirst and begin to rehydrate you, lubricate your senses and, like the act of hiking, help maintain sanity, balance and perspective. Oh, believe us when we say the hike is still paramount to the experience. If it wasn’t, we’d skip the hike and just head to the taproom. Rather, Peaks & Pints is a big believer in hanging at the trailhead with our fellow hikers, divvying up a beer and discussing the hike, or whatever subjects, as we store away our gear.