Presidents Day Weekend Road Trip Part One: Walking Man Brewing

February 17th, 2010 · 7 Comments · Beer Travels, Washington Breweries

Like I said in this post from Friday, 3 day weekends are the perfect opportunity to head out of town and visit some beery destinations. This past weekend for Presidents Day, Jeanne and I took a trip down to Bend, OR for most of the weekend, but we started off with an overnight stop in Stevenson to hit up Walking Man Brewing and finished with a mind-blowing visit to Raccoon Lodge/Cascade Brewing in Portland to meet with brewer Ron Gansberg on our way back up to Seattle. We totaled almost 900 miles for the trip, and we sampled more than a few good beers along the way. I’ll get to the rest of the trip in due time, but let’s start off with the visit to Walking Man.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying any beer from Walking Man Brewing, I would understand. They are a small brewpub located in Stevenson, WA, just outside of Hood River, OR, and their beer can be tough to come by here in Seattle. We do see their beers at select bars, but only sporadically. If you have tried their beers, then you understand how excited I was to be making my first visit to the brewery. Many would argue that they make the best beer around in Washington state. Their hoppy beers are my favorites, including the Homo Erectus Imperial IPA, Knuckle Dragger Pale Ale, and their “regular” Walking Man IPA. Their Jaywalker Russian Imperial Stout is an eye-opener if you ever get to try it, and the the bourbon barrel-aged version of that beer served at last year’s WABL anniversary party was beyond memorable; it was one of the best beers I have ever had. The wide array of other styles I’ve tried from them over the years has shown that they can do more than just throw a bunch of hops at a beer, and I’m not sure I have ever had a truly bad beer from them.

We had intentions of meeting up with brewer Jacob Leonard on Friday evening, as well as Kachusha Munkanta of 21st Amendment Brewing, and Evan Taylor of Montana Brewing Company, who were both in town to brew the 2010 Sasquatch Legacy Project, which supports the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation Brewing Scholarship, on Saturday. But, leaving Seattle at 3:30pm on a Friday means that it took us about five hours to get down to Stevenson; about 90 minutes longer than we had hoped. By the time we finally arrived it was already getting late and we unfortunately missed meeting those guys. But, we did luck out in that the pub stayed open an hour past their stated closing time of 9pm, so Jeanne and I were able to enjoy a sampler tray, plus another round of beers and some pizza.

Walking Man seems to be the blueprint for a small town brewpub. Stevenson doesn’t look like it is a hotbed of nightlife or places to grab a good beer, so if you live in town this place is probably a godsend. It’s a relaxed pub with room for maybe 50 people or so, plus a sizable patio with tables for use during nicer weather. The official hours are listed as 4pm to 9pm, but the bartender informed us they’d stay open till a reasonable hour “as long as someone was around to drink beer”. We started off with a sampler tray of all ten of their beers currently pouring (see photo). From a light 4.8% ABV Wheat Ale to the heavy, but impressive, 9% ABV Big Black Homo (Imperial Black Homo Erectus IPA), they had something on tap for everyone. While it is well past “fresh hop season”, their Hop-A-Long Fresh Hop IPA was one of our favorites. The earthy and grassy fresh hop flavor came through nicely, and it was rounded out with plenty of malt at 6.9% ABV. The Parade Belgian-style Pale Ale was our other favorite of the bunch. At 6% ABV it was a lighter take than the majority of the NW attempts on a Belgian-style pale ale that I’ve tried. The combination of citrus hops and spicy yeast was well done, and we couldn’t help but grab a growler of this one to bring home with us. We had heard the pizza was good, and it didn’t disappoint. I was sad to see that the Jaywalker Imperial Stout wasn’t on tap, but the lineup they did have was pretty fantastic and it is hard to complain.

Walking Man is easily a worthy focus of a beer trip by itself. We stayed in a cheap motel just down the road about half a mile, but most visitors might work this into a trip to the other breweries around Hood River and stay over that way (just 20 miles away). This was a pretty short visit for us, and I’ll look forward to another visit soon, hopefully. In the meantime, I really hope we start seeing their beer more regularly in Seattle one of these days. Walking Man is one of those breweries that makes Washington a fantastic place to be a beer drinker.

Click on one of the above photos to check out the rest of the photos from Walking Man.

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