Hood River has three breweries, Full Sail, Double Mountain, and Big Horse. Big Horse you say??? Yep, atop a hill, with an army of stairs to ward off the weak, it does exist. Why hasn't this brewery received the accolades that Double Mountain and Full Sail have?? Hmmm, I think I may know why.
My parents are still here. We did the whole fruit loop thing, and arrived in Hood River too early to enjoy the genius of the brewers at Double Mountain. Full Sail was out of the question because, well, I do not like the taproom anymore. So we went to Big Horse for a pint and some grub. The adventure into the unknown started only after my parent's, in their 70's, trekked up the stairs.
First impression, the service sucked. Althought the two waitresses seemed friednly enough, this observation was only determoned by how I saw them treat the other customers. It would be awhle before we were aknowledged at the please wait to be seated room. It not only would have been nice to be talked to, but even offered a pint as we were waiting for a seat. After being sat, the service improved.
Second impression, the pricing of beer was a little too complex. Archimedes himself would scratch his head deciphering it. First off, I hate places that charge for a sample of beer. I think a microbrew, especially one with a zillion stairs, should reward patrons with a 40z sample of their choosing. Charging a dollar for a 40z sample seems trivial. Then, they have sliding scale taster tray pricing. 4 4oz samples will run you 5$ (though a pint only costs you $4), and 5 samples go up to 6, 6 for 7, etc. Then, you have to add .50 for a pint of beer that is 7% ABV- 8% ABV, and $1 to a beer that is 8% +. Christ, after going through all of this, anyone would need a drink.
First up, I had the Lonely Mt. Blacksmith Beer. At 6.5%, I slid just under the 7% penalty charge. It was described was a Swarzbier, a black lager. It came with a nice, creamy head, and very dense, dark black color. On the nose I picked up hints of anise, and malt. The taste combined malt, anise, and a smokey flavor. Not too shabby.
My dad had the Easy Blonde. At 5%, I hoped the light beer would be the closest thing to his beloved Coors I could find. It poured without a head, and was a very clear, straw colored brew. The taste was a spicy, almost citrus flavor, and evidently was good enough to warrant a second pint.
The Strange was my last pint. It's made with raw hulled hemp seeds, which, as far as I can tell, looks better on the menu than it ended up tasting in the beer. Adding hemp to a beer seems gimmicky to me. It was made using Palisade hops, and came in at 6% ABV. It tasted like a really bitter, poorly made IPA.
If you are dying to cross off every brewery in Oregon on your list, it may be worth a visit. If not, skip it, and try to get to Hood River late enough to enjoy Double Mountain. Or, you know, go to Full Sail if you haven't been. I only detest it because I saw what it used to be, and loathe the changes they have made. I swear my final words will be "free...oyster..crackers."