While the global pandemic still hangs over our collective heads, with the numbers vaccinated in the first several months, there is at least some emergence from the darkness.
However, in many localities case numbers are not getting better with the vaccines; they’re going up. With cases rising for seven straight weeks, the World Health Organization said Covid-19 is still spreading exponentially around the world.
One reason may be that, although the experts reminded all of us that the vaccines would not mean life would get back to normal right away, many people are still behaving as if they didn’t hear or believe a word of that warning. We still need to be mindful of social distancing and wear masks.
There are still lockdowns and restrictions in many locations – varied and nuanced from country-to-country, state-to-state in the US and even county-to-county based on examples in Oregon.
But at least headlines and broadcast media narratives are not ubiquitous reports of doom and gloom in which we have been immersed for the last year. And by using common sense and moderation, we can go forth – carefully……
Thebeerchaser Story – From the Beginning
I started this blog in 2011 when I retired from the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm where I worked for twenty-five years – the last twelve as the COO. The story of this blog – Thebeerchaser.com was related – quite well recently – by Cassie Ruud, the talented Editor of Bridgeliner – an online newsletter in Portland, Oregon. delivered to your in-box from Tuesdays through Fridays.
See the article at this link: https://bridgeliner.com/%f0%9f%8d%bb-portlander-don-williams-takes-us-beer-chasing/
There was also a lesson for me. I initially disagreed with an issue in the newsletter and was ready to rant and send a sarcastic response, but instead sent a diplomatic missive to Cassie. To my surprise, she responded with a very cogent response which made me realize that I was incorrect, and also see that she has a great online source of information.
We also found that we had something in common – a fondness for the Old Oregon Saloon in Lincoln City. Cassie had been a reporter earlier in her career in this city on the Oregon Coast and had seen my review of the Old O posted in 2014.
Take a look at Bridgeliner. Even if you are not a Portlander, it has some good features and articles and provides another great opportunity to support local journalism.
Beerchasing Resumes – One Year Later
My wife and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary with our first real venture away from the Portland area in almost a year with a day road-trip up the Columbia River Gorge and returned by the Mt. Hood Loop Road (Highway 35). Not one of the long journeys we love through Montana and the West, New England or the Southwest, but a full day in our own beautiful state.
Heading east just out of Portland we marveled at the continuing distinctive panorama. On our left – the varied barge traffic along the River with Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and even Mt. Rainer in the distant background.
On the right – jagged cliffs, many with majestic cascading waterfalls and views of the mile-long freight trains starting or finishing their cross-country journeys.
We stopped for beers and lunch (see below) and walked the path along the Columbia through the picturesque village of Hood River. On the return route we took in the orchards outside of the City, were captivated by the rugged Northeast side of 11,250 foot Mt. Hood *** and appreciated the lush old-growth timber that surrounds the highway.
We’d made this trip before, but never after a year like 2020. We were seeing the wonder anew!
It gave new meaning to the assertion of my favorite philosopher/writer/theologian – G. K. Chesterton:
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land: it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” (public domain)
Excuse the Digression…
You might wonder about the asterisks above – it was after the initial comments about marveling at the NE side of Oregon’s Mount Hood on the trip back home. Well, that’s because I have a fondness for the Cooper Spur Trail which starts at timberline and proceeds along the impressive Eliot Glacier.
The trail ascends – about 2,500 feet in elevation gain from the trailhead up the northeast route to the 8,500-foot level.
In the summer of 1990, when my oldest daughter was just seven, I wanted to expose her to the joys of backpacking. So her Uncle Dick (a frequent hiking companion of mine) and I decided to take her on about a three-mile jaunt and camp for the night. I had done the entire 36-mile Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood twice and thought a short section of the Trail would be perfect.
I looked in a NW backpacking book and remarkably failed to notice the elevation gain on the Cooper Spur hike. We navigated the eleven-mile gravel road in and started the hike on a beautiful day.
We soon rose above timberline and I realized from viewing the switchbacks ahead that it was going to be a challenge – not a level jaunt through the forest – I would also have to carry Lisa’s backpack if she was going to make it.
But after several very strenuous hours, we reached the top of the trail as you can see from the picture of our green back-pack tent.
We camped right below Tie-in Rock – that’s where climbers rope up for the final ascent to the summit on this more rigorous route than the south-side – the most climbed. The sunset was spectacular and the sunrise the next morning was glorious and capped an adventure young Lisa would never forget – nor would her dad and uncle.
That said, when her mom asked her how she enjoyed hiking through the forest, Lisa responded, “Oh Mom, we were way above the trees almost the entire time.” And when Janet saw the pictures, she admonished me, “If you ever take my baby on a hike like that again, &%$#!”
Lisa persevered that day in spite of her fatigue. Today, she lives in Seattle with her husband, Jamie and two wonderful daughters. She earned her Master’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Washington and is an oncology nurse. And I’m thrilled that she and her family love to hike.
Beerchasing Resumes – In part!
At our stop in Hood River, while we didn’t go inside either Ferment Brewing or Pfriem Family Brewers, we had a great experience, especially at Ferment – founded in 2018. It receives high praise in social media for its nice grounds and beautiful tasting room with large dark wooden tables on the second floor.
Ferment Brewing Company
The expansive views of both the Columbia River and the brewery hardware on the ground floor through floor-to-ceiling windows make it an outstanding environment. It’s a twenty-barrel craft brewery that self-distributes bottles and cans throughout NW Oregon and recently into Washington.
We’ll look forward to taking in the tasting room when conditions are more “normal” – probably in the fall when on a brisk and windy Gorge afternoon, we can order one of their kombucha cocktails or their mint hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps topped with whipped cream.
An 8/29/2019 Oregonian article referenced plans for a “Portland public house and tasting room to open in 2019 on close-in East Burnside,” but that has not happened at this point.
It has a large deck on the second floor with plenty of large tables which enable social distancing without any problem. The large open area with a nice lawn in back of the brewery with some picnic tables provides additional space in addition to area for dogs (and kids) to roam, play frisbee, etc.
Ferment specializes in farmhouse and “traditional English style” ales. You know you are going to get a quality beer. The Brewery won a Bronze Medal at the 2020 Oregon Beer Awards for its Bier de Garde and more impressively, a Gold Medal at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival for their Pale Ale in the English-style category.
The accolades for the Pale Ale continued in 2020 with a Silver Medal at the US Beer Open Championships (also one for the Pils Czech-Style Lager). I had a Kolsch which was a very refreshing brew. And we both had one of their cheeseburgers with fries – reasonably priced and delicious.
Dan Peterson, the head brewer who has degrees in microbiology and genetics at the University of Vermont was also head brewer at Pfriem down the street. The owner’s interest in kombucha motivated him to explore and they offer three versions for those who prefer it to a pint of their good beer.
Pfriem Family Brewing
We visited Pfriem in 2016 and had lunch and beers on their great patio which has attractive and effective fire pits. The views and the ambiance at Ferment are more noteworthy although Pfriem has a very nice taproom where you are surrounded by their impressive brewing equipment.
The menu at Pfriem is more expansive including roasted pork, quinoa and a couple of good salads besides the traditional pub faire avialable at Ferment.
Pfriem has been making its award-winning beer since 2012 when it was created by three friends who became business partners with the motto “Proudly Crafted – Humbly Offered.”
Their awards and featured articles are too numerous to mention from both regional and national publications (Draft Magazine, Forbes and Men’s Journal, etc.) including Brewery-of-the-Year, Best of Craft Beer and Best Brew Pub Experience. And it’s a good place to work as evidenced by inclusion in the Portland Business Journal’s Most Admired Companies.
Both of these enterprises are sterling examples of Oregon’s independent craft breweries and make significant contributions to the region’s economy and the culture of their own community. You can’t go wrong to take in some of Oregon’s finest scenery along with Oregon’s finest beers.
Cheers and Stay Safe!