Oregon Road Trip: Full Sail Brewery, Hood River

by Chris on July 20, 2011

A stop at Full Sail brewery in Hood River, Oregon – known as a kiteboarding and outdoor sports paradise.

Beer at Full Sail Brewery

Where: Full Sail Brewing, an employee owned micro-brewery in Hood River, a town that’s as sporty as it is scenic.

Why we went:  We first tasted Full Sail’s highly regarded Session lager when beer lovers Austin Hill and Kelly Goodman of Travellious brought some to our Memorial Day #TravBBQ. While I’m not a huge beer drinker, the Pacific Northwest’s microbrew culture is beginning to wean me off of wine.

 Kiteboarding in Hood River Oregon

Who’s there:  Located on a bend in the Columbia River Gorge that gets exceptional and steady winds, Hood River is the kite-boarding capital of the US. Before you drink, go down to Waterfront Park and watch them catch air.

Kiteboarding along the Hood River

The town also draws aficionados of other outdoor sports, including windsurfing, mountain biking, skiing and hiking. So chances are, the person next to you at Full Sail’s bar earned those calories (even if you didn’t).

Beer sampler, Full Sail Brewery

Tossing them back: As soon as we spotted the taster trays -which give you 7 4 oz tastes for only $7 – we came up with the brilliant idea of trying every beer on tap (I don’t like hoppy beers so I knew that my intake wouldn’t be over the top).

And so we did. Among the offerings: Full Sail Pale Ale, Full Sail Amber, Full Sail IPA, Session Premium Lager, Session Black Premium Dark Lager, LTD 03, Jimvar Bohemian Pilsner, Sliante Stout on Nitro, Saison A Pleine Voile, Wassail, Chops II IPA, Hop Pursuit Extra Pale, Elevation Imperial IPA, Imperial Porter and Old Boardhead Barleywine. Several of the beers were only available at the brewery.

Pita and dip, Full Sail Brewery

Munchies: Full Sail has a standard pub menu, with salads, burgers and all the other apps you love to eat when drinking beer. We ordered spinach and artichoke dip, as well some buffalo chicken wings. The food was OK, nothing special or egregious. You’re here for the beer anyway!

 Behind the bar, Full Sail Brewery

Order this: My first favorite from the tasting was the LTD 03 – no surprise, as it’s a  pilsner-style lager with a crisp finish (I prefer light wheat beers to hoppy ales). But then I tasted the Saison a pleine voile – one of the brews found only at the pub. I loved the lemony smell and dry taste. A perfect beer for summer. The Jimvar Bohemian Pilsner – a Czech-style beer – also gained high marks from Don and I.

Meh: I don’t like strong beers, so I only took a taste of the Imperial Porter and the Slainte Stout. Your mileage may vary.

All types of beer, Full Sail Brewery

The damage: A mere $45 – a bargain, considering how much we tasted.

Go back? Yes. Hood River itself is a very cute town, and we wish we would have stayed there overnight (unfortunately, we had reservations in Stevenson, Washington). I will definitely look for Full Sail beers in the store, though – especially the LTD 03, which you can buy outside the brewery. And if we’re there during the summer again, we’re definitely going to snag a seat on the patio, which overlooks the Columbia River.

Deets: Full Sail Brewery is right in downtown Hood River, which is about 90 minutes east of Portland if you take I-84. True craft beer fans may want to take the free 30-minute brewery tour, which is offered daily at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. For those who don’t want to make the trek to taste, Full Sail also has a Riverplace brewery in Portland.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea July 20, 2011 at 9:24 am

I love west coast beers and breweries – Full Sail definitely sounds worth checking out

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Sherry July 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Before I moved to the Pacific NW, I wasn’t a beer lover either, but now I’m a raving fan – particularly of the NW brews! Full Sail is good beer and makes my favorite IPA. Time for me to take a road trip to the brewery.

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Sandra Becks July 21, 2011 at 4:04 am

In Germany also we do get these kinds of beers. They really taste gr8. The taste of beer rely mostly on its brewing quality.

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Annie July 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Drinking local beers is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. I have noticed that we have some particularly good ones here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m heading down to Oregon in a couple of week so maybe I’ll check this place out!

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Kent @ No Vacation Required July 24, 2011 at 8:16 am

We’re big fans of Hood River but have never been to Full Sail Brewing. Must go!

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Lauren Braden July 24, 2011 at 8:43 am

The windsurfing / kiteboarding culture out of Hood River is very cool. I’m not a participant myself (yet) but I think it’s beautiful to watch (with brew in hand, natch.) And people come from very far away for this – my cousin who lives in Texas used to make the trip to Hood River annually for windsurfing pre-motherhood, and one of the reasons she loved it was meeting people from all over the world who had all come to this beautiful place to share an experience.

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Cailin July 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I would of happily drunk whatever beer you didn’t like that much! :) Sounds awesome, I must visit and try it all sometime too.
Candice and I did a similar thing when we were in Montreal on our cross Canada trip but we ended up with 13 different kinds! oops! haha

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