In decent weather, Hood River, Oregon is about an hour drive East of Portland. It’s a beautiful drive even at this drizzly time of year. Along the way we enjoyed striking views of Multnomah Falls and the expansive silver waters of the Columbia River Gorge covered with low-lying fog.
Hood River is called the “Windsurfing Capital of the World” as we came to find out on our tour of Full Sail Brewing Company. Founded in 1987 in what used to be an abandoned canning factory, Full Sail began bottling by hand a year later. In 1989, they took home a gold for their Full Sail Amber at the Great American Beer Festival. Their operations have greatly expanded since and soon they will be taking over the entire building when they move their waterfront offices in.
Full Sail offers tours at 1, 2, 3, and 4pm daily. Winter months are a great time to visit because we were the only 2 on the tour and the brew pub was lively, but uncrowded. During the tour we learned about how the beers were brewed and saw the new and improved automated bottling line. In addition to their year-round Full Sail brews and Session beers, they brew a rotating series and a number of special releases. Here’s the breakdown:
- Pub Series are limited bottlings of beers previously only available in the Full Sail Pub
- Limited Lager Series(LTD) is available in 6-packs and on draft with a different rotation of beers available year round
- Brewer’s Share Series is a series of small-batch beers made by individual Full Sail brewers, with partial proceeds going to the charity of their choice.
- Brewmaster Reserve beer are creative, innovation inspired beers meant to showcase Full Sail’s passion for brewing
- Brewer’s Experimental beers are even more exclusive beers created by one of the employee-owner’s allowing them to show-off their creativity and brewing skills. Part of the proceeds go to a charity of their choice.
After the tour, we relaxed in the brew pub, sipping on beer and taking in views of the Gorge. There were two flights available in addition to full size beers on tap. The Classic Flight($7 for 7 tasters) is a good place to start if you’ve never had Full Sail beers or aren’t in the mood to try their limited brews. We went with the Reserve flight($6 for 6 tasters) plus a taster of their Bourbon Barrel Aged IPA($2). Right now, the flight is: Vendell’s Veizen Weizen Bock(Brewer’s Share Series), Nut Brown Ale, ESB on Nitro, Wassail Ale, 26 Brewmaster Reserve, and Pub Exclusive Cask Ale.
In the next post, I’ll tell you about Double Mountain Brewery and TapRoom, founded by two ex-Full Sail employees.