Like you might expect at the epicenter of Beervana, another killer weekend is in the books. Kicking things off right, we started off with a bang on Friday by heading up to the Columbia Gorge for a beautiful hike up Herman Creek Trail. About 40 miles east of Portland, Herman Creek offers the largest remaining stretch of old growth Douglas Fir forest in the Gorge. Through eight miles of trail, the ascent through the multi-layerd canopy of mighty trees is a pristine sample of Oregon’s vast natural beauty. At a peak of 1700 feet, the far stretching views of the Columbia River and Gifford Pinchot forest in Washington state to the north are simply breathtaking. Deep in, we witnessed a variety of native species including a ruffled grouse, two snakes, a cyanide millipede, a woodpecker, and several other birds. To keep things craft beer related, we enjoyed a few grubbin’ brews at the top (make sure if you do a hike such as this to pack out everything you pack in).
Upon returning to the base camp, we noticed the clock read 4:00 PM. This was a clear sign that a Friday visit to Walking Man Brewpub was in order. Across the mighty Bridge of the Gods, which makes for unfathomable aerial views of one of the greatest spots on earth, we were quickly in Washington and just a few miles from the quaint town of Stevenson, home to one of the world’s best beer destinations.
With relatively limited hours, Walking Man makes for a special place for craft beer lovers like us. Upon arriving, we ordered what proved to be one of the best sampler tray we’ve ever experienced from one brewery. Ten spectacular offerings including a 2009 and 2010 Old Stumblefoot Barleywine, Shin Splint Imperial Red Ale, Parade Belgian Pale Ale, and the highly sought after Jay Walker Russian Imperial Stout. The Jay Walker recently took home a bronze medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago and it’s easy to taste why. Big, deep chocolate and dark malty notes pull you into a sea of robust flavor. at 12.7% ABV, this was the highest gravity beer in the sampler. In fact, all but one of these ten beers were 6% ABV or higher.
At Walking Man, we were excited to visit with brewers Jacob Leonard and Dan Munch. These guys are the creme de la creme of Pacific Northwest brewing. They recently brewed a special Iron Man IPA in memory of artisan ironsmith Jim Caldwell. Caldwell, a dear friend to the pub and the Stevenson community went missing in late February after a canoe trip. To honor Caldwell, Walking Man produced its first Imperial IPA since the mighty Homo Erectus. In addition to copious amounts of Northwest hops, the brewers at Walking Man personalized this distinct brew by adding honey and agave nectar. “Jim was really special to us” said Leonard “He is greatly missed. But he wasn’t the kind of person who would want people feeling sorry for him. So we celebrated his life with a beer just for him.” According to Leonard, Caldwell was a lover of hoppy brews. In addition, he also liked eating a spoonful of honey and was a fan of good tequila. Therefor, the resulting beer is quite fitting. And, out of this world delicious. “(Iron Man) has been our best seller” admits Leonard. If you want some, you’re going to have to visit Stevenson. If you haven’t been, or even if you have, get out to Walking Man and raise a pint to Jim Caldwell. His memory lives on in the beautiful heavy iron chairs emblematic of the pub and through the people there who love him.
Read our past post about Walking Man.