Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laurelwood & McM's-Van: two ways to cross the river

  Laurelwood, a Portland brewery that proclaims its organic/sustainability commitment in all its beers, moved across the Columbia about nine miles into Washington, in the Vancouver suburb of Battle Ground, in 2009. Their location is in one of those faux-downtown little malls, the kind where they tuck the parking spaces in here and there instead of making acres of asphalt, and make the new stores look distinctive and maybe a little "old."  Hey, it looks better than mega-malls by a long shot.  It just reminded me of James Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere, where he talks about designs that play on nostalgia for real downtowns, epitomized in Disneyland's Main Street. Here's an exterior of the Battle Ground brewpub, looking across the street at the town houses.

  Inside, they were pouring eight brews, all made across the river at the main brewery in Portland. Brew kettles were visible through a glass wall, and the staff was hoping to bring in their first batch of pale ale soon.  However, as of the end of September, all the Laurelwood-branded beer dispensed here was coming across the river from Oregon.
    Now, nine miles south, right on the river in Vancouver, sits one of the McMenamin Bros. pubs.  McM's on the Columbia.  It was built by the company in 1995, burned to the ground and was rebuilt in 2000.  Here, they make all the McMenamin brands for their own sales and some for their new East Vancouver operation.  My server said the company does not ship any Oregon-made beer into Washington because of legal limitations on their licenses in the two states. I had to wonder why Laurelwood and McMenamins took such different approaches.  Some states have a "come-to-rest" law for beer that comes across their borders, meaning the product must first be unloaded in the warehouse of a licensed distributor.  Whatever the law may say in Washington, it does not prevent a transfer of beer from one Laurelwood corporation in Oregon to another Laurelwood corporation in Washington.  McM's just chooses to jump through different hoops. It lets them decorate their Vancouver brewkettles in their usual style.
Even if the building is new, the brothers will be looking for a history hook.  In this case, it is the World War II shipyard that had been here.  They have written up the history of the site, including the shipyard, and put up a number of photos from the WWII era in the back of the pub.
  This was a supper stop.  I had a very nice smoked sturgeon with roasted veggies and a Monster Truck IPA.
(Visited Laurelwood 10/3/10, McMenamins 10/4/10)

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