Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Beautiful Day at Skamania Lodge

With drink tickets you get this stylish mug, here with the incomparable Killer Green from Double Mountain

Last Saturday Skamania Lodge hosted its third annual Cheers to Beers Fest on their front lawn. I went last year and had a blast despite the lousy weather. This year I was invited to return and fortunately the weather was amazing, but the fest was surprisingly subdued. The beer selection was great and I was delighted to see Snipes Mountain back as it is one of those favorites that is impossible to find locally.  The beer based buffet dinner was once again great and the brunch is always a treat.

But, as you can see from the photo I took right in prime time fest mode, the attendance was pretty light and was not very beer geeky.  Which is too bad.  Perhaps one problem was the fact that it was scheduled on the same day as the OBG's Fresh Hop Festival at Oaks Park. Another problem might have been the lackluster effort at publicity this year.  I did not do my part - I had intended to post a notice or two here, but life got busy and I just plain forgot.  Still, I got no PR blasts to remind me which is kind of what I was relying on as my 43 year old memory is, well, 43 years old.  When I asked beer blogger friends about it the were not even aware of the date this year, which is a shame as there a a number of unique things to recommend this fest. 

The best setting for a beer fest in the world.

First is the location which, as you can see from the picture above, is absolutely the best setting for a beer fest...ever. Second is the venue which is wonderful itself, the lodge and its restaurants may be a little pricy but there is no reason you can't come for the afternoon and enjoy the setting and the beer. Third is the beer themed dinner which last year was festive and energetic - sadly this year it was subdued and slightly, well, morose. I say this because there is nothing more depressing than a humongous buffet largely going to waste. Pound for pound there was probably more food than punters.

But the single best thing about the event is to get to sample the far-flung beers from Washington that rarely make it across the Columbia. Once again Snipes Mountain was a big favorite of mine, as was Prodigal Son from Pendleton. The beer of the fest had to be Double Mountain's Killer Green which is a phenomenal fresh hop beer made by the most meticulous brewers around.

My gripes are the same as last year: not enough info on the beers and not enough brewers around to with whom to chat.  In fact the server at Prodigal Son was serving their wheat beer which is amazing and perfect for those hot sunny Pendleton days, but she thought she was serving their pale ale.  Ooops.  (At first I thought it was the most wildly radical rethinking of a pale until I realized what must have happened)

So while I enjoyed my stay and the lodge and staff were great, I fear that this fest might already be on the way out. I hope not - it rocks - but I think if they do it again next year they have to get the PR right and schedule it around the fresh hop fests in Portland. Here's hoping that they do.

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