Monday, November 11, 2013

Downtown Vancouver (ours, the smaller one): Loowit, Mt. Tabor, & more

   So I drove down I-5 to Vancouver, Wash. a couple weeks ago, partly to scratch a history buff's itch and go through old Fort Vancouver, set up by a Hudsons Bay Co. predecessor in 1819, and partly to check out another burst of new brewing activity.  The National Park Service and some volunteers have done a nice job reconstructing the old fort. "Officers' Row" is a street of handsome gilded age homes just to the north, 1890s for the most part, reflecting the Army's continuing presence there until just a few years ago.
    Now to the beer.  First stop was the Salmon Creek Brewery and Old Ivy Taproom in the downtown area.  Not presently brewing, but with plans to do so again.  The previous owners have kept a bottle shop next door, and the Taproom did feature a nice choice of local brews from the Vancouver area and, of course, the mighty beeropolis known as Portland, just across the river.
   The new breweries open around four in the afternoon Thursdays through Saturdays.  First stop downtown was Loowit Brewing.  The logo suggests, and the name connotes, in one of the local Indian languages, Mt. St. Helens, the nearby and recently active volcano.  Posters on the walls promote hikes and other events on the slopes of the mountain.  Of the dozen or more brews listed on the website, they were pouring six  a couple of weeks ago. IPA, pale, stout, summer ale, red, and a  fresh hop pale called Judge Wopna. (A TV character a la Judge Judy, I was told.)
  The system looks to be in the 5- or 6-barrel range.  Loowit had just celebrated a first anniversary earlier in October.  They do bottle a bit of their IPA, Shadow Ninja. and have kegs here and there around town. I had a pint of Judge Wopna, a nicely hopped pale, and enjoyed the atmosphere.  Even got a pic of one of the brewers doing what they say 90% of brewing consists of, cleaning.
   The next stop, a couple of blocks north, was Now, Mt. Tabor is not another Washington volcano.  It is a sort of volcanic knob in a city park in Portland.  Distinctive lantern-type lights illuminate the park and inspire the brewery's logo.
I tallied seven styles at Mt. Tabor's taps:  Two porters, a CDA, an IPA, a stout, a red, and a pale.  The CDA was called Hudson's Bay, and it offered a nice maltiness up front for the bitterness later (68 IBUs, 6.4% abv).  They had been in this location just two years, since October 2011.  Whether the operation originated in Portland or just began here, I was unable to learn.
The Bridge Lifter IPA did spark an interesting chat with a bartender. I-5 crosses the Columbia on a bridge that everyone agrees should be replaced. for it is a vertical lift bridge that is raised to allow tall ships and boats to go upriver. Nothing is more aggravating, the server said, than to be one of 4,000 drivers sitting on the bridge while some yacht with an 80-foot mast sails below.  But what should replace it is not something everyone agrees on.  Oregon wants a bridge with light rail in the middle, which means the arc can't be too steep and the height over the water would be less.  Washington wants to keep boat access for some firms upsteam, and so the states have disagreed thus far.
     At some point, the downtown area will have another brewpub.  The Salmon Creek Brewery is listed in the Northwest Brewing News as active, but it is currently just a pub, the Old Ivy Taproom, with a number of taps of other brewers and some brewing equipment in the back currently being refurbished.
(Visited 10//25/13)

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