A multitude of beer festivals throughout the Northwest are held at very nice parks, landmarks, and other venues that are perfectly pleasant. But, the Celebration of Beer at Skamania Lodge this past weekend might win the award for the most beautiful setting for a beer festival anywhere. Located in Stevenson, WA, Skamania Lodge is situated in a picture-perfect setting in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The lodge sits on top of a 175-acre wooded estate that offers fantastic views, a relaxing setting, and all the amenities of a modern hotel and more.
The annual Celebration of Beer event features a small selection of local breweries pouring beers, including new seasonal releases. This year’s event had twelve breweries total, including four breweries that I had not previously tried before: Solera Brewery (Parkdale, OR), Acadian Farms (Carson, WA), Backwoods Brewing (Carson, WA) and Pfriem Family Brewers (Hood River, OR). Each brewery brought two or three beers, so there was plenty to choose from throughout the afternoon.
The festival itself was held out on the lawn in back of the lodge with a beautiful view of the surrounding area. This was not a large event, and maybe only a couple hundred people overall filtered in and out throughout the day. This was a very intimate fest, with many of the brewers on hand either pouring beer or just talking to people. The fact that the weather was just perfect for a beer fest definitely added to everyone’s enjoyment and the overall success of the fest.
A few random thoughts:
- I was very excited to see that Pfriem Family Brewers would be at the festival. Formerly the head brewer at Chuckanut in Bellingham, Josh Pfriem and his wife Annie sound like they are already finding success in Hood River with their new brewery. The brewery’s focus is on Belgian-inspired ales, and their Wit, Belgian Strong Blonde, and Belgian IPA were all impressive. They are already eyeing expansion plans and it sounds like we’ll be seeing their beer up here in Seattle in the not too distant future. This makes me happy. Cheers to Josh and Annie, plus their business partners and families, for making their dream a reality.
- My favorite beer of the day was hands down the New Sheriff from Snipes Mountain. This is a fresh hop version of brewer Chad Roberts’ Little Chief Session IPA. It’s just 4.1% ABV and featured plenty of green hop flavor, and I couldn’t help but have a couple full glasses of this one. This will also be pouring at the Fresh Hop Throwdown this upcoming Saturday at The Noble Fir.
- I also really enjoyed the Nightmare Stout from Big Horse Brewing, the IPA from Solera, and the winter ale from Laht Neppur.
- The weekend included an Oktoberfest dinner buffet and a morning after kegs & eggs brunch buffet. The dinner was good for a buffet, but I especially enjoyed the breakfast that featured a bloody mary bar, crab legs, shrimp, prime rib, and tons more.
- The main room of the lodge is a beautiful area with a huge fireplace being the focal point. Tall glass windows let you sit in one of the many chairs and gaze out at the scenery. It was a perfet spot for my morning coffee.
- There is also a well-regarded golf course on site, and several hiking trails. We did a nice 2 mile hike on Sunday morning that let us explore the beautiful grounds a bit.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for this weekend, but I was pretty impressed by just about everything. A trip to Skamania Lodge, either for next year’s beer event or some other time, is well worth your time and $ if you are looking to get away. While our trip this past weekend was covered by the lodge, don’t think that I’ve concocted this glowing review out of nothing. My wife and I really, really enjoyed the lodge and have already discussed making a return trip sooner rather than later.