Editor’s note: The Oregon Health Authority strongly recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings in public indoor spaces. It’s also wildfire season — plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.
Lewis and Clark explored it by 19th-century canoe, and Sam Hill created the Historic Columbia River Highway for curious 20th-century day-trippers. These days, the Columbia River Gorge is increasingly becoming a destination for hoppy adventure. With a growing collection of breweries on the Oregon side, the Gorge offers plenty of tastes for brew fans. (Designated drivers and responsible consumption are the keys to safe fun!)
Aaron Hanson, owner of Bunsenbrewer in Sandy, describes his taproom and pub as “half science lab, half living room,” explaining that the decor and glassware carry a laboratory theme. Bunsenbrewer opened in December of 2013 and is the town’s longest-running local brewery. Boring Brewing Co. is a bit of a misnomer — the nanobrewery is neither short on excitement nor located in the town of Boring. The small-batch craft brewery in Sandy prides itself on always experimenting with recipes, which results in unique tap-list offerings such as a rosemary-oatmeal stout and a honey-ginger rye.
Just 17 miles west of Portland, Troutdale is the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge and the western threshold of the Gorge beer trail. Stop in at McMenamins Edgefield Brewery, the company’s largest brewery, which opened in 1991 in the cannery building of the former county poor farm. Stay overnight in one of Edgefield’s 100 European-style guest rooms and enjoy the entire 74-acre campus, complete with restaurants, a movie theater, a par-3 golf course and an outdoor concert venue.
Thunder Island Brewing in Cascade Locks opened in 2013 on the banks of the Columbia River as the project of beer-loving outdoor enthusiasts. Now at their expanded location on the city’s main street, there’s plenty of room for indoor dining as well as patio space with cool views of the Columbia River and the Bridge of the Gods. It’s especially easy to visit this brewery since it is one of the Cascade Locks stops on the Columbia Gorge Express. Running seven days a week — with a trolley operating on the weekends — the route travels between Portland and Hood River with other stops at Multnomah Falls and Troutdale.
With ambitious dreams of changing the way Cascade Locks drinks beer, Gorges Beer Co. may do just that. The new brewpub, which opened during the summer of 2021, is also designed as a hotel, event space, dog park and place to drink beer with 360-degree views. The brewery’s journey to the Gorge started in Southeast Portland, where it first set up a tasting room in 2020.
Parkdale’s Solera Brewery has what is arguably the best view of Mt. Hood. The in-your-face mountain vista from the backyard picnic tables is more than enough reason to park yourself in the sunshine in this little town south of Hood River. Come winter, get your sips in the cozy tasting room, where you’ll get first dibs on the latest small-batch beer before they’re even bottled.
Take a look at Freebridge Brewing, housed in the historic U.S. Mint building in The Dalles’ downtown area. You’ll stick around for a while thanks to the full lineup of original, bold brews. Even better, you’ll be steps away from one of the latest additions to the Oregon Mural Trail. Sedition Brewing Company makes seasonal ales, porters and stouts that are available in growlers to go or on tap. Their brewpub, located in a century-old structure in the heart of The Dalles, has been serving up these sudsy creations since 2016.
Sip a beer in a taproom that feels like a living room away from home at Working Hands Fermentation, which crafts unique and complex beers and ciders. Stop in to try the Big Egos India pale ale, Origin Story pilsner and Hello Friday kolsch.
Down on the Hood River waterfront, pFriem Family Brewers brought Belgian-style ales to the fore when it opened its doors in 2012. Just a stone’s throw from a family-friendly park as well as great windsurfing and kiteboarding spots, pFriem is the place to take in the Hood River scene. Down the road from pFriem is Ferment Brewing Company, which uses foraged ingredients to craft beers that tap into the wild terrain of the Columbia River Gorge. Blending farmhouse techniques with cutting-edge science, Ferment’s expansive outdoor seating area is a great spot to grab a pint after a day skiing, biking or hiking on the mountain.
Feel special with a sip of one of Big Horse Brew Pub‘s small-batch brews. (They brew just eight kegs per batch in the building’s cellar!) Big Horse is Hood River’s oldest and smallest brewpub, family owned and operated since 1988. Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom is always hopping in Hood River (and it’s not just the beer!). Belly up to the bar, grab a table inside the lively restaurant or get a chair in the sunshine on the sidewalk. Just around the corner is the Gorge grand brewdaddy, Full Sail Brewing, which opened shop in 1987. Celebrating more than 30 years in business, Full Sail keeps it real with its experimental beer program.
For extra credit, head to the big mountain to unwind at Mt. Hood Brewing Company, the “microbrewery with altitude.” The menu is sourced locally and the beer is brewed with glacial water from Mt. Hood.