I was out in Oregon again this past August. This state is usually the first stop on my twice-a-year vacation trips. It's where several of my relatives and friends reside and, not incidentally, home to some of the finest breweries on the planet.
My son and I spent a day in Hood River, about an hour east of Portland. Good Mexican food for lunch and, of course, beer for dessert, and then a hike to the top of Multnomah Falls.
We stopped at the Full Sail Brewing Company, which I had somehow managed to miss on two previous trips. Hard to miss that place, though, as it's probably the largest business (and building) in town. However, I have to admit, I've never been a big fan of this brewery, with the exception of their seasonal and (especially) limited brews, such as the wonderful annual release, Black Gold Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged).
The Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub is where you can sample most of the beers they produce. You go through the front door, down a hall, through another door, down another hall, and you’re there. The large restaurant/bar area has seating for perhaps 80 people at tables, for another10-12 at the bar, and maybe 30 people on the outdoor patio. It seemed to be more of a restaurant spot for families and young (and older) couples than a mecca for beer geeks.
The bar features12 Full Sail beers on tap. They offer sampler sets of six 5-oz pours (and a cute little souvenir glass to take away) for $10. Pints go for $4.50; half pints for $3.25. The service was pretty good and quick, even though it was quite crowded on a hot Sunday afternoon.
Full Sail's regular line of beers are all good, crisp, and clean -- but none are really exceptional. The sampler lineup included their IPA, Amber Ale, Session Black Lager, Limited Edition Lager (a Czech Pilsner), English Pale Ale, and Session Premium Lager.
The best among these was the Amber, which is probably their flagship beer. It had a smooth floral and fruity aroma of ripe plums and figs. The flavor featured thin herbal notes that jumped out right away, and then moved to good fruit, minerals, light roast malt, with a slightly sharp fruit finish. Very tasty stuff. It doesn’t try to go too far (who does, really, with the amber style?) This is one of their best beers, outside of the Reserve series.
You can also try some of their Brewmaster Reserve beers and limited pub series brews, and they offer very good prices on take-out six-pack of their session brews.
506 Columbia Street
Hood River, Oregon, USA 97031
12:00 to 8:00 PM Daily (9:00PM May - Sept)