Saturday, October 16, 2021
Oct. 16, 2021

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Beer al fresco: Time right for drinking beer in Clark County in the open air

The Columbian

Summer vacations have been scrapped, concerts and festivals canceled, but one Pacific Northwest summer ritual remains: sipping a cold beer outside with friends. This is the perfect time to explore the outdoor patios serving locally brewed beer throughout Clark County.

Downtown Vancouver

In downtown Vancouver, Heathen Brewing’s Feral Public House, Loowit Brewing Company’s Pub and Trap Door Brewing’s Taproom are the most popular and well known outdoor drinking spots — and for good reason.

Feral Public House (1109 Washington St., 360-836-5255) has the largest outdoor area, a sprawling space where you can order from a massive tap list that has everything from their Transcend IPA and Promiscuous Blonde Ale to mouth puckering Mojito Sour Ale with mint and lime. Heathen also offers a full menu of beer-friendly fare including the massive platter of Colossal Nachos with ground beef, pulled pork or chicken tinga and the Wicked Tacos with filling choices like barbecue brisket or blackened grilled haddock.

Loowit (507 Columbia St., 360-566-2323) has a smaller outdoor area sandwiched between its taproom and its neighbor The Smokin’ Oak. Loowit’s legendary Northwest IPA, Shadow Shinobi and a hop-fest called the Hazy Hippopotamus can be found on the long tap list. Loowit’s shortened pandemic food menu includes a variety of burgers like the classic Loowit Burger with Loowit sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, cheddar cheese and bacon, as well as the less traditional Peanut Butter & Bacon Burger.

Trap Door Brewing (2315 Main St., 360-314-6966) looks a bit different these days. A giant hand sanitizer machine sits at the entrance to the indoor taproom, a tape on the floor marks how to enter and exit. Despite the change in appearances, Trap Door has 17 rotating taps with brews like their famous hazy IPAs, such as Glowed Up, Citra Glowed Up and Tang, as well as a Mango Lassi Sour Gose and Grassroot Farmhouse Ale. Thankfully, their outdoor space hasn’t changed. Despite social distancing, it still feels like your coolest friend’s house party. Food can be ordered from the surrounding food trucks, Taco City and E-San Thai, as well as from Vancouver Pizza Company a few doors down.

Tap Union Freehouse (1300 Washington St., 360-726-6921) is a small space packed with beer. Bottles and cans fill the bar downstairs along with 20 rotating taps of everything from New Whirled Order West Coast-style IPA from new brewer Ridgefield Craft Brewing Company, to cult favorite Dwinell Country Ales’ creamy, hop-forward farmhouse ale, Field Guide. The menu at Tap Union is not the typical pub fare. For starters, there’s Thai style caramel popcorn. The menu of hot pressed sandwiches varies from grilled cheese elevated to adult fare with house made garlic Dijon and sauteed mushrooms to the Moroccan Garden with butternut squash, zucchini, pickled red onion, mushroom-black olive tapenade, chevre and house Moroccan seasoning.

North of Vancouver

Head a bit north of downtown Vancouver to Brothers Cascadia Brewing in Hazel Dell (9811 N.E. 15th Ave., 360-718-8927). Brothers has a serene outdoor space where you can sip cold beer like The People’s Pilsner or Staycation Citrus Lager or You Like ‘A Da Juice Hazy IPA. Here you’ll find some of the best food trucks in Vancouver including La Oie Cajun Cuisine, Bahn Mi Saigon, The Mighty Bowl and The Hungry Sasquatch. La Oie’s shrimp etouffee with a bit of heat or a fiery Octo Squatch pizza from Hungry Sasquatch with octopus, pesto, garlic and ghost peppers go well with a cool Helles Lager.

Keep heading north to Felida and you’ll find Mt. Tabor Brewing (3600 N.W. 119th St., 360-696-5521). Mt. Tabor is known for food-friendly beer and beer-friendly food. A nice crisp Lamp Port Lager, Helles in a Handbasket lager or Loro Blanco Mexican-style lager goes well with a wood-fired pizza like Mt. Tabor’s Social Distance pie with house made chorizo, garlic, jalapenos and jalapeno cream or a Pork Belly Bahn Mi with Sriracha aioli.

Keep going north to Ridgefield to 3 Peaks Public House and Taproom (24415 N.E. 10th Ave., Suite 9428; 360-887-3157) where there’s a variety of beer on tap including Ex Novo’s Aperture, a Hazy Pale Ale and taps of Vancouver brews from popular places like Brothers Cascadia and Loowit Brewing Company. Pacific Northwest Best Fish Co. next door will soon reopen with its stellar fish and chips.

In the meantime, Papa Joe’s BBQ truck is serving brisket, ribs, pulled pork to eat while sipping beer on 3 Peaks’ patio.

In Battle Ground, the gemütlichkeit still flows at Northwood Public House (1401 S.E. Rasmussen Blvd., 360-723-0937). Owner, Eric Starr, recently added a four table German style beer garden to the side of the building to augment their regular outdoor patio space. A trip to Germany isn’t happening this summer, but drinking a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen while dining on a big German-style pretzel or a pierogies in brown butter topped with caramelized onions and sour cream feels like a European vacation. For a local take on German beer, try Northwood Welcome Back Lager, a crisp helles lager, brewed while the public house was shut down.

East side

Driving east from downtown Vancouver, you’ll find local gem Fortside Brewing (2200 N.E. Andresen Road, 360-524-4692). The taps flow with such favorites as the Fortside Pilsner, Couve A’licious brown ale, and cult favorite Orange Whip hazy IPA. Fortside is also the landing spot for the Taco Spaceship food truck.

A bit south of Fortside is Ben’s Bottle Shop (8052 E. Mill Plain Blvd. Suite 2002, 360-314-6209). Ben’s was voted Washington’s Best Beer Bar by readers of for good reason. Ben’s is a beer lover’s dream with 24 rotating beer taps and 20 coolers filled with a rotating selection of beer, wine, mead, sake and cider. They also serve a full menu of nachos, wings, burgers and other bar favorites.

From Ben’s, head east on Mill Plain to Barlow’s Brewery (705 S.E. Park Crest Ave. Suite D430, 360-859-3795). Barlow’s has a small outdoor parking lot area filled with umbrella topped tables where you can sip great brews like the recently released American IPA, Soul Quench, with a crisp, grapefruit flavor from Strata hops. Barlow’s doesn’t currently have food, but there are rumors that a food truck is in the works.

East of Barlow’s is one of the larger outdoor spots, Hopworks Urban Brewery (17707 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., 360-828-5139). It has 20 taps of Hopworks beer and a full menu of appetizers, salads and bowls, burgers and sandwiches and pizza. Barlow’s Cactus Attactus Sour, a kettle sour with red prickly pears, goes well with a Rocket Man pizza with garlic oil, mozzarella, and ricotta topped with arugula and sprinkled with lemon vinaigrette and hazelnuts.

Keep going east to downtown Camas and you’ll find Grains of Wrath (230 N.E. Fifth Ave., 360-210-5717) with its sizable outdoor space, a long tap list including Papermaker Pale Ale and Pandemic IPA, and a full menu of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and fish-and-chips.

Head farther east to Washougal and you’ll find 54?40′ Brewing Co. (3801 S. Truman St., Suite 1, 360-844-5932 ), home of the ultimate summer beer, Kascadia Kolsch-style ale, and spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge. 54?40′ Brewing’s taproom may be the most gorgeous spot to sip a beer in the county.

Due to the pandemic, many of these places have shorter hours than in summers past. Most close around 9 or 10 p.m. It’s best to call and confirm hours before heading out.