With breathtaking vistas and rustic lodge-style charm, Skamania Lodge near the Columbia River Gorge town of Stevenson, Wash., is one of those places where you imagine all the beautiful people of the world would gather for a bit of rest and relaxation from the grueling rigors of avoiding the paparazzi and hob-knobbing with the movers and shakers.
But even though it has a highly respected restaurant, a challenging golf course, a relaxing spa, and a huge common area with gleaming wood rockers and a giant fireplace, Skamania is very casual and relaxing — an amazingly approachable and friendly retreat for colleagues, couples and families alike. Still, it’s a place where you’d expect to see a swanky set of wine drinkers more than a bunch of beer lovers.
But thanks to a growing effort and interest within Skamania Lodge to support local products, Skamania offers a well-thought-out beer list of mostly local and regional brews along with a similar wine selection. And they backed up their support of craft beer last weekend by holding a second annual Celebration of Beer Weekend — a package deal similar to what wine lovers have been able to enjoy at fancy hotels and resorts for years.
The weekend’s celebration included special pricing on local beers at the lounge, a beery golf tournament, a buffet dinner featuring “beer-boiled or -battered” seafood along with other beer-friendly foods, and a morning “kegs and eggs” brunch buffet. Plus, the highlight of the weekend featured a four-hour beer tasting on the massive lawn overlooking the mighty Columbia River. The mini-fest featured more than 30 different beers for the first two hours with each brewery rolling out a specialty beer or a seasonal the last two hours to keep things interesting.
While Skamania Lodge is only about an hour’s drive from Portland, the breweries that were in attendance reached far beyond the Portland market, including Yakima Craft Brewing, of Yakima, Wash.; Laht Neppur Brewing of Waitsburgh, Wash., Snipes Mountain of Sunnyside, Wash., and Prodigal Son, a new brewery out of Pendleton, Ore. Yakima’s fresh hop IPA got many votes in my non-scientific poll for best beer, with Double Mountain’s Killer Green fresh-hop IPA coming in a very strong second.
The weekend events were part of a whole package deal that included one night’s stay in one of Skamania’s well-appointed and comfortable rooms, or the events were offered a la carte, allowing folks to pick and choose which ones they wanted to attend.
It’s great that a resort of Skamania’s caliber has offered this Celebration of Beer weekend in the fall as a great getaway for beer lovers for two years’ running now. The weather didn’t cooperate as nicely as it did the first year — in fact, it rained like the Dickens — but we Pacific Northwesterners (and a few hearty visitors) don’t let a little thing like a deluge get in the way of celebrating great beer.
Make a note to attend this very enjoyable Celebration of Beer Weekend at Skamania Lodge next year. I know it’s on my annual to-do list!
(First two images, courtesy Skamania Lodge)
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