Saturday, April 18, 2015

Day Trippin': Into the Gorge

We continued our day trippin' explorations last weekend setting our sights on a few Gorge breweries. Buzzing east on I-84, taking the Cascade Locks exit we wound our way through town and to the end of the road where Thunder Island Brewing sits. Walking up we took in a good sized patio with nice view of the water...or it would have been nice if it had been sunny and warm instead of cool and wet. Inside we found a small but cozy place filled with more people than I had expected (and the cutest little fermenters ever) so we quickly claimed two seats at the bar and keyed in on the beer menu.

Don't you just want to hug the little buggers?
Sticking with our new places M.O. we ordered up a sampler tray to get the best feel for their beers as possible. Of the nine we tried Under the Radar, a 4.5% session pale ale, and Beliz Chocolate Stout hit the highest notes for me. Pale ales and session beers often don't do it for me but this was a highly flavorful beer. As for the Beliz, it was like drinking a 70% cacao bar - roasty without being overly dry and just a hint of sweetness. I haven't seen a lot of Thunder Island in the Portland market to date but you can bet I'll be keeping my eyes out for them from now on.

Finished and ready to hit the road we headed out into the wet, having concluded that any thoughts we might have had about a little hiking we'd save for another day. Passing up the parking area at the Dry Creek Falls trail head, we crossed the Bridge of the Gods (which is guarded by trolls) into Washington. In minutes we were in Stevenson, home of Walking Man Brewing. As we descended the stairs to the pub I again cursed the weather as they, too, have a great patio set up that I suspect sees plenty of use and live music in the summer.

Equally as full as Thunder Island, we wasting no time grabbing seats at the bar, followed by an inspection of the beer menu. The difference here was that we'd had quite a few of Walking Man's beers in the past, but there were still enough on the menu we hadn't had to have to require the making of the "what to have first" choice. Both the Pale Strider, a single hop (Topaz) pale ale, and Iron Man IIPA clicked for me. In addition we ordered a basket of garlic herb fries served with tartar sauce, which seemed an odd condiment choice but was surprisingly good. If you're a garlic lover like I am these are a must order!

As we finished up our beers we revisited the idea of cruising up the road a bit more to Backwoods Brewing in Carson but ultimately we decided it was probably better to start making our way back. No need to rush as if we're on vacation trying to fit everything in. We'd simply figure out a way to work that stop into a future day trip, which things continue will be a regular weekend or every other week(end) occurrence.

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