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Dec. 5, 2020

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Clark County Historical Museum, ilani brew up good time

Exhibit celebrates beer’s local history; casino hosts BrewFest

By , Columbian Arts & Features Reporter
12 Photos
Brewer John Bitter walks through 54-40 Brewing of Washougal in 2018.
Brewer John Bitter walks through 54-40 Brewing of Washougal in 2018. (Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Here’s a tasty pairing: the Clark County Historical Museum and the ilani casino resort. Both happen to have celebrations this weekend of that long-standing, liquid staple of local life from pioneer days all the way through today’s hipster culture: beer.

The museum launches “History A-Brewin,’ ” its newest exhibit, with a public reception at 5 p.m. Jan. 17. Through historical artifacts, interactive stations and interpretive panels, “History A-Brewin’ ” explores the backstory of local beer, its eager brewers and its sworn enemies.

The exhibit is timed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of “intoxicating liquors” nationwide.

It didn’t ban consumption, though, and authorities found enforcement beyond problematic as Prohibition gave rise to bootlegging and organized crime. (A local item highlighted in this exhibit is a moonshine still discovered hidden under a porch in Vancouver’s Rosemere neighborhood, which is now called Rose Village.) Nowadays the 18th Amendment is considered the big blunder that wound up a small historical footnote; what became the law of the land in 1920 was repealed again by 1933.

“Clark County’s story of brewing, distilling, temperance and Prohibition started long ago,” museum Executive Director Brad Richardson said.

If You Go

What: “History A-Brewin’ ” exhibit on display through 2023.

Opening reception: 5 p.m. Jan. 17.

Where: Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St., Vancouver.

Admission: $5; students and seniors, $4; children under 18, $3.

Afterparty: 7:30 p.m. at the UnderBar, 1701½ Broadway.

Contact: or 360-993-5679.

What: ilani BrewFest

Where: ilani casino resort, 1 Cowlitz Way, Ridgefield.

Contact: or 1-877-GO-ilani 

• Event: Beer and Food pairing (three-course meal with beers by Fort George of Astoria).

When: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

Where: Cowlitz Ballroom at ilani.

Tickets: $85.

• Event: Beer, Bacon and Bourbon tasting.

When: 7:30 to 10 p.m. Jan. 17.

Where: Rose & Thorn at ilani.

Tickets: $59.

• Event: Grand Tasting.

When: 4 to 9 p.m. Jan. 18. VIP admission at 3 p.m.

When: 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 19. VIP admission at noon.

Admission: $39; VIP admission, $49; combo pass for both days: $69; designated driver ticket, $20.

• Event: Brew brunch.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 19.

Where: Rose & Thorn at ilani.

Tickets: $39.

The exhibit explores local brewing and boozing in the time of the Hudson’s Bay Company and Vancouver Barracks; the temperance movement and Prohibition; the rise and fall of signature beer maker Lucky Lager; and today’s thriving beer scene.

“Local brewers, distillers and winemakers have turned to a craft and artisan style that creates beverages of unparalleled quality,” Richardson said. “However, the road for these industries has not always been paved with hop gold.”

New brewfest

Want to quaff some of that unparalleled quality? Check out ilani’s weekend BrewFest. Hundreds of beers, ciders and spirits will be available for sample, most of them craftily concocted by Clark County and Pacific Northwest regional brewers — from 54º40’ Brewery of Washougal, to Irv and Millie’s Mead of Ridgefield, to Skunk Brothers Spirits of Stevenson. Scour the list at to find your local favorite. Meanwhile, visiting celebrity chefs familiar to fans of foodie TV shows like “Chopped,” “Food Network Star” and “Top Chef” will cook up delicious bites — or whole meals.

The night of Jan. 17 features parallel events. If your appetite is light, try the “Beer, Bacon and Bourbon” tasting, hosted by Food Network chefs Tyler Anderson and Chad Rosenthal, Los Angeles chef Nyesha Arrington and “Today” show tastemaker Alejandra Ramos. But if you’re hungry for a meal, try the “Beer and Food” pairing, featuring a three-course meal from Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse with specially selected brews by Fort George Brewery of Astoria, Ore.

The rest of the weekend will feature Grand Tasting events where you can meet brewers, as well as sample and purchase a vast array of their craft creations. You can also take in cooking demonstrations and some delectable samples by “Top Chef” finalist Eric Adjepong, pitmaster Kevin Bludso, and celebrity chefs Brian Duffy, Marcus Jacobs, Nini Nguyen, Jaymee Sire and Justin Sutherland.

Jan. 18’s Grand Tasting runs from 4 to 9 p.m., while Jan. 19’s Grand Tasting is 1 to 6 p.m. General admission is $39 per person, but $10 more lets you beat the rush with VIP access one hour earlier. Either way, your ticket gets you a commemorative tasting glass and $10 worth of food tokens. Drink samples are included with your Grand Tasting ticket; food is for sale.

And, if you want to start your Jan. 19 off in just the right spirit, try the 9:30 a.m. Brew Brunch.

Beer tastes better with music, and ilani has that angle covered, too. Country singer Rodney Atkins plays a free show at 9 p.m. Jan. 17 in the Muze Lounge at ilani. Both live music and DJs are headed for the Grand Tastings on Jan. 18 and 19.