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Beer Along the Columbia

Washington State Route 14 delivers craft and beauty

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People from across the continent visit Bend to take in both the inspiring beauty and the inspiring-in-other-ways craft beer at the same time. Those who live here all year, though, might have a jaded sense of that—like the proverbial New Yorker who's never been to the Statue of Liberty. To bring back that sense of novelty, why not do a quick road trip of your own?

A perfect start: State Route 14 in Washington, a mostly two-lane road that neatly follows the Columbia River for 180 miles from I-82 in Umatilla to I-5 in Vancouver. From Bend, it's a relatively quick jaunt from State Route 35 to Hood River—and assuming you avoid the siren song of pFriem beer and Double Mountain pizza, you can cross the bridge and head to Everybody's Brewing, a beer hall that serves as the de facto social club at White Salmon, Wash., every lunch hour. Beers such as the Local Logger Lager and Country Boy IPA have been mainstays in Oregon for awhile now, but less appreciated is the experimental streak the brewers there have exhibited lately. Visit the taproom to pick up a bottle of their barrel-aged sour cherry saison, for example, to be rewarded with Pinot Noir-aged fruity yumminess, or turn to the Hoppy AF for a rather in-your-face lesson on the region's hops.

Going west, along a road that snakes through the hills and lakes that hug the Columbia, you'll find Backwoods Brewing and Walking Man Brewing, located in the small communities of Carson and Stevenson, respectively. Backwoods deserves a visit for its location (the name really ain't lyin') and its ales, from the flagship Logyard IPA to the fall-seasonal Winchester Brown. Walking Man's been around since 2000, meanwhile, and its combination of hoppy and fruit-infused beers turn heads across the region. The cherry stout is a must-try.

Further along SR 14, drivers will find that it quickly expands into urban reality with Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver—an area that's worth its own column alone. Vancouver itself now has nine breweries and its own Ale Trail-style stamp rally. But just to cap off this particular road trip, you can definitely do worse than visit Loowit, a Timbers-oriented, super dog-friendly downtown joint with a red ale and a rye porter to die for.

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