I have driven through Hood River more times than I can count but I had never stopped until this day. Part of the joys of traveling solo is that you can stop when and where ever you want. So I made a stop to visit Full Sail Brewing in Hood River on my recent solo trip to Oregon.
Full Sail has been around since 1987. The brewery overlooks the Columbia River, which is usually dotted with windsurfer sails taking advantage of the wind that likes to whip down the gorge. To say the area is picturesque is a bit of an understatement… it’s Oregon, so it’s green and lush along with lovely mountains and a river running along the valley floor. Bob Ross couldn’t paint you anything better. Although I’m not sure about the happiness of the trees!
Time did not allow for a tour of the brewery, which I was disappointed about, but I could at least take in a few beers at “the source”. I opted for an outside seat at the pub and ordered the ESB (extra strong bitter). The beer had a nice rich amber color along with a favorable bitterness, at a 35 IBU it was not overly bitter – just the right amount. It reminded me that I should drink ESBs more often. I snapped a photo of the beer, checked it in on Untappd and then texted my friends a photo of the view. When I travel alone I like to check in, you know to let them know I haven’t fallen into a vat of beer never to be seen again.
I looked over the pub-style menu and ordered the Chicken Fajita Sandwich with a side of potato salad. Although the menu recommended I try this sandwich with a Full Sail Session, I had it with my ESB and it was quite delightful. The sandwich had a spicy kick to it that really hit the spot. I am betting the IPA would have been a good match as well as IPAs pair well with spicy food.
In 2016 I returned to Full Sail Brewing again. And again I did not show up at the right time for a brewery tour, so maybe the next time. I ordered up a tasting flight this go around. If you order a tasting flight there is an added bonus. They send you home with a tasting glass with their logo on it! Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.
The tasting flight is a nice sized flight of 6. I started off first with the Cascade Pilsner, a 6% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and a 60 International Bittering Unit (IBU). This beer has since been discontinued by the brewery. However, as of March 2017 I see it still being checked in on Untappd. Sometimes when you have a favorite beer you hoard them and check them in on Untappd to hopefully convince the brewery to make the beer again. I’m not saying that I am doing this now with my favorite, and now discontinued beer, the Wookey Jack from Firestone Walker. OK, I am saying I am doing this. The Cascade Pilsner is a nice citrus beer with a piney back that if fresh and clean tasting.
My next taste was the Classic IPA with a 6% ABV and 60 IBU. This beer is heavy on the citrus but also has some maltiness to it. It was an OK combination but for an IPA I prefer a more powerful citrus flavor.
Up next was the Hop Pursuit IPA. A 6.5% ABV and a 65 IBU comes in with a full on hop blast from the Cascade, Mosaic, Equinox, and Simcoe hops. This was my favorite beer out of the bunch that day. It is dry-hopped, which is not surprising that I loved this beer because I love a beer that is dry-hopped. Flavors of pine, pineapple, and mango run through this beer.
The next beer was Session Premium Lager with a 5.1% ABV and an 18 IBU. Probably the most recognizable beer of their bunch. This beer pays homage to the beers made around the Prohibition days. This beer is clean, crisp and light. Session beers are meant to be light as they were to be consumed on a workers lunch break, or their lunch “session”. This one is has a slightly high ABV for a session. Most sessions are around 3 to 4% so you could return back to work without being drunk after your session was over.
The Session Wheat was next with a 5.4% ABV and a 24 IBU. This beer stays true to its hefeweizen ways of wheaty and citrusy with a nice haze like you would expect from a hefeweizen.
My last taste was the Amber Ale with a 6% ABV and a 31 IBU. For an amber, this is a pretty good one. The sweetness pairs up with the maltiness of this beer well and uses the Cascade and Mt Hood hops to bring it all together.
The Full Sail Brewery is located at 506 Columbia Street in Hood River. Free brewery tours are offered daily at 1, 2, 3 and 4 pm. Kids 12 and older are welcome on the tour along with a guardian/parent. Why not start the beer appreciation at a young age, right?!?! Paid parking can be found across the street.