The approach to Lewiston Idaho is quite impressive via Idaho Highway 95. As you crest over the hill you are greeted by an extensive overlook of the town. The highway zigzags down the mountainside while taking you to the valley floor. You start to think to yourself maybe you should visit more often. And then it hits you… the smell. It is unforgettable. If you have been to Lewiston you know what I am talking about. If not, consider bracing yourself as the local paper mill fills the valley with an unpleasant odor, that only logically can be dealt with by bracing yourself
After getting over the smell (not really but lets just say I did) I arrived at MJ Barleyhoppers for an early lunch and some beer. The brewery is located in the Red Lion Hotel, off to the side of the hotel. It’s an odd location but it does not detract from the beer or the food and most likely would be handy if you are staying at the Red Lion Hotel. It is your typical pub/bar with indoor and outdoor seating (although I recommend the indoor seating due to the odor outside).
In addition to their own brewed beers there is a full line-up of other local beers, including my personal favorite the Irish Death from Iron Horse Brewing in Ellensburg Washington. There is also a full liquor bar if you are not in the mood for beer. I don’t know how that would be possible – but just in case.
I ordered up a pint of Rattlesnake Red. I am a fan of red beer so I could not resist. It is a Scottish style beer with a mild hoppiness. It was a decent red but could have used a little more hop kick to it. I like my beers hoppy!
I also placed an order for lunch, a Cougar Burger. I know it’s Idaho but don’t worry it’s not a burger made of cougars but a beef patty with a slice of Cougar Gold cheese atop it. Cougar Gold is cheese made by Washington State University. Their mascot is a cougar, hence the name. The cheese is unique as it comes in a 30 oz can instead of plastic or wax packaging like your typical cheeses. Also a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of the cheese supports students studying in the food sciences. If you ever see a can of Cougar Gold I recommend picking one up – it’s pretty tasty cheese!
My burger arrived, impressively stacked up in front of me with a onion ring to top it off. I was ready for another beer and selected the summer seasonal, Summertime Citrus (try saying that 3 times fast) The description of the beer reminded me of the sasion I was brewing at home as it included similar flavors of orange and coriander. It gave me a preview of what I could expect in a few weeks! It was a fresh tasting beer that would mix well with a hot summer day.
If you are in the Lewiston Idaho area and would like to try out the MJ Barleyhoppers Brewery they are located in the Red Lion Hotel at 621 21st St. They are open Monday – Friday 4pm – 11pm and Saturday – Sunday from 10am to 11pm. Be sure to check out their happy hour specials which do run on the weekends as well.