Skiing the Northwest

By Gregg Smith

This is the second instalment in our series to help you make the most of your beer ski trip. Part one covered the Inter Mountain West region of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Utah; this time we'll continue our journey along the areas of Washington, Oregon, california and Nevada. Those of you who eschew Alpine skiing for Nordic should also take note that most western ski areas also have cross country facilities. If you haven't checked out your equipment by this issue it's high time you did. That said let's go.

One of the best parts of a ski trip, or any trip to Washington State is flying into Seattle. The view of Mount Rainer as you land is enough to set anyone in the mood to strap on their boards. Even better is the wide variety of beers and pubs. If you can arrange it into your schedule set aside a day to check out the town.

Begin by heading down to the water, specifically to Pike Place. There you can take a stroll through the incredible variety of the seafood and produce market, the Pike Place brewery is actually located at 143 Western Avenue. For another great stop on leaving the market take a left and walk just past the end of the market, then take a right up to the Virginia Inn, it's only a total of about four blocks and it rewards you with a range of area micro taps and eclectic conversation reminiscent of a San Francisco coffee shop. It's only one of many pubs with large selections of North West micro's. Ask fellow patrons for recommendations and directions to the next one, you can hardly go wrong.

Before you move on toward the slopes you may want to stop by the Trolley Pub at the Redhook Brewery- 3400 Phinney Avenue. If you've never tried their ESB it's a must, truly a great example. Other Redhook beers of note include a respectable Ballard's Bitter and their version of a porter named Blackhook.

Seattle may be enough of a distraction to make you forget why you went there but don't miss the slopes. Getting there is easy simply get Rainer in your sights and drive toward it. Further on is the ski area known as ASSAH which is an acronym for the areas of Alpental, Ski Acres, Snoqualmie, and Hyak They cater to a wide variety of both skiing abilities and beers. Problem is the verticals aren't very high but their only about an hour from Seattle.

Perhaps Washington's just a little too far north for you. Still want good beer? Try Oregon. When you land in Portland it's like Yogi Berra said "Deja Vu all over again" if it seems like Seattle there's good reason. Although not as close to the ocean the dominant feature is Mount Hood. But, just as in Seattle it would be well worth setting aside a day to hit up the various pubs in 'BeerCity'. It's possible to do a pub crawl of breweries though there is a bit of a walk in between; however, it might be just the thing to limber up your legs for skiing. Start at the BridgePort- 1313 NW Marshall. There are usually four beers on tap. Steer yourself toward the right hand set of taps, these are cask conditioned, hand pulled from a beer engine, with one of the creamiest heads you'll find on a pint. From BridgePort get directions up to Portland Brewery at 1339 Flanders. The tap room at this location is rather smallish creating a true pub feel, give their scottish ale a try. If you can't get into Portland try the bar, Bogart's, right next door. It has a nice selection of micro taps and bottles. On departing head over to the B.Moloch-Heathmen; home of Widmer brewing. If you haven't eaten yet this is a great place to indulge yourself. It may give the appearance of a cafeteria but the food is exceptional. Offerings include anything from wood-fired pizza to dishes of duck and salmon. After Widmer, head down to the local Full Sail brewery associated with the Pilsner room at 1339 SW Montgomery. The beers include cask conditioned ale and the bar has a simply splendid view of the river marinas.

The big ski area is Mt. Hood with 2,000 vertical feet at Timberline and respectable footage of 2,777 at Mount Hood Meadows, and 1,500 at Mt.Hood Ski Bowl; altogether these areas provide nearly 4,000 skiable acres. Best of all is the length of its season. Of all ski areas in the United States Mt. Hood shuts down for only a couple of weeks in the summer. Imagine yourself catching an early morning run in June and then heading out for a beer. Down at the base of the mountain, and right on the Columbia river is Hood River, Oregon home of the Full Sail brewery. As you drive up don't be discourage by the spartan looking building. The pub has a great view of the Columbia and during warm days you can watch hundreds of wind-surfers skitting along the surface of the water. Don't feel like making the drive all the way down? Try the Mount Hood brewery in Government Camp.

If you have some time while at Mt. Hood, or your legs are just blown out from all the runs you get in, try a little day trip. Not far away is the small town of Roslyn, Washington and if you've the strange feeling it looks too familiar you're right. This is not only home to a brewery of the same name, but it's also the shooting location for the series Northern Exposure. Next time you tune in check out the background in the show's bar "The Brick". The neon signs are all Northwest micro brews.

California and Nevada can be lumped together because the areas of note ring lake Tahoe and span the border. The advantage to all these is the close proximity to the California micro breweries and the large number of California customers which demand them. There are hundreds of places with micro brewed beer and the easiest way to find them is to ask at your hotel desk. Also ask about the Lake Tahoe Brewing Company in Tahoe City, California. Slopes to try include Heavenly on the south side of the lake and the north lake spot of Northstar, Incline, Slide, Mount Rose, and Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Olympics and the first USA gold medal in hockey. Squaw valley doesn't look big from the road but most of the area ishidden. During your ascent you'll think it goes up forever. If you're daring,or half loony, try the challenging KT-22. It even looks awesome from the deck of the lodge where you can get a variety of beer and a show of other stiffs doing a snowball express. For brewpubs your choices are the Brewery at Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe near Heavenly or on the Nevada side the Union Brewery in Virginia City. Also try to locate the Great Basin Brewing Company of Sparks, Nevada located just east of Reno. They collected a gold for their Cerveza Chilibeso and a Bronze for their Albier at the 1994 Great American Beer Festival.

Gregg Smith


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