It’s a sunny day in Oregon when Portland Chef Gabriel Rucker makes his way 60 miles down the Columbia River Gorge to visit Full Sail Brewing Company in Hood River. Tall, tattooed and affable, Rucker is the owner of Portland restaurants LePigeon and Little Bird. He’s known for his experimental French cuisine (some might say he started the Portland’s obsession with sweetbreads), and Rucker has two James Beard Awards under his belt: Best Chef Northwest, 2013, and Rising Star Chef of the Year, 2011.
Always on the lookout for cooking inspiration, this day Rucker gets a crash course in beer brewing — and tasting — from Full Sail Brewmaster Jamie Emmerson. “That’s what we’re all about — tasting all the bounty that Oregon has,” Rucker says.
Founded in 1987 in the windsurfing mecca of Hood River, Full Sail Brewing was one of the first of Oregon’s 173 brewing companies (and counting). Emmerson credits the state’s residents for the vibrancy of the brew culture. “Oregonians are so different because of their willingness to try stuff,” he says.
Malt, barley, hops and fresh, clean water. The raw materials for Full Sail beer are simple, and the final product is tasty. When Rucker and Emmerson end the day with a “kick-ass beer” on Full Sail’s back deck, you can practically feel the wind on your face and taste the porter on your lips.
What are you waiting for?
Explore more: For more great Gorge brews, check out the Gorge Beer Trail. Spend the night near Full Sail Brewing Company at the historic properties like the Columbia Gorge Hotel and Hood River Hotel or down on the water at the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn. You’ll soon see why the Columbia River Gorge is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.