Hood River Wine & Brew Tour
The fourth of July really seemed to sneak up on me this year. I’m not sure if it was the three week’s worth of clouds and rain prior to the holiday that was to blame but June came and went and I found myself without much of a plan. And for anyone that knows me, you know that I LOVE to make plans. Thankfully, my friends and I made last-minute plans to escape for the day to a place that is home to a handful of breweries and wineries.
Hood River is located about an hour east of Portland near the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, making it a perfect day trip for Portlanders. Aside from the popular breweries and over ten wineries, Hood River is primarily known as a hot spot for wind and kite surfing. In fact, the bright, colorful sails on the river were one of the first things my Dad and I noticed when he was helping me move to Portland last year. As intrigued as I am to take a stab at surfing on the river, this trip was primarily for the tasting….maybe next time.
Our first stop was Full Sail Brewery where we took a guided tour through their production facility. The tour guide let us eat different types of grains to get a better understanding of the underlying flavor of their beers…it reminded me of eating grain off the ground as a kid at the farm. As the tour moved on through the brewing stages, we were very impressed with how well maintained their facility is. It is extremely clean and all of the parts are labeled with a name and an interesting stat like “Keg Line: 80 Kegs Per Hour.” So is the tour worth your time or should you head straight for the tap room? Tough decision if you’re thirsty, but in my opinion…take the tour. Our tour guide was fun, it was very informative (but I didn’t find myself getting too bored), and there’s a nice little surprise at the end!
After a nice lunch and a beer sampler at the Full Sail pub, we were ready to change it up a little and do some wine tasting. As previously noted in my blog, my friends and I stumbled upon an awesome winery at the Oregon Spring Beer and Wine Festival a few months ago called Naked Winery. It just so happens that Hood River is the home base of that winery so we walked down the street to check it out. Upon entering through the large wooden doors, we found a warm tasting room filled with local artists work and extremely friendly faces (one of the things, besides the wine, we LOVED about them at the festival). We decided to do the sampler which consisted of over ten different wines, snacking on goldfish and chocolate in-between tastes. We left there with bottles with names like Tease in hand and risqué “I Got Naked” tattoos to prove we’d been there. Do not miss this place!
Our last stop was Double Mountain Brewery. We took it easy here, sampling only one beer per person. This extremely laid back brewery seemed to be the local hangout for kite surfers and beer lovers alike. I would have loved to stay longer to explore this awesome little place but time ran short on this trip. If all goes well this fall, I’ll be heading back to Hood River on October 2 for the 7th Annual Hood River Hops Fest for some beer brewed from their freshly harvested hops. Bottoms up!