CAMAS — Lori Reed, the owner of the Washougal-based graphic design firm Reed Creative, has been thinking a lot about the way McMenamins, the Pacific Northwest chain of pubs, restaurants, historic hotels and movie theaters, encourages customers to visit its more than 60 locations.
Reed said she believes McMenamins’ popular passport program, which allows customers to earn passport “stamps” at every McMenamins location they visit for a variety of prizes, has answered the question: “How can you make an experience a little bit more fun and make people want to get involved?”
Having had a McMenamins passport since 2011, Reed said the chain’s idea “just works.”
“It’s about the experience,” Reed said of the McMenamins passport program.
Now, Reed is launching a similar idea in Camas and Washougal. This passport, however, will be all about the local brews.
Beer drinkers will be able to pick up a free passport at any of the five breweries currently operating in east Clark County — 54-40 Brewing Company, Trap Door Brewing, Doomsday Brewing Company and Recluse Brew Works in Washougal as well as Grains of Wrath Brewing in Camas.
Participants can earn a stamp at each brewery by purchasing at least one beer. After they fill the Washougal Beer Passport, participants will receive a commemorative pint glass.
“I’m super excited about this,” Reed said. “I think it’s going to be great for Washougal. It’s going to really highlight our brewers. It’s something to get people to come to Washougal, and then once they’re in Washougal, stay a little bit longer. I just think it’s going to be a boon to Washougal. We’re putting Washougal beer on the map.”
The new passport, which launches this fall, has financial assistance from the city of Washougal’s tourism funds and Reed said all of the local brewery owners are on board with the program.
Reed received a grant from the city of Washougal’s lodging tax advisory committee to fund the design and printing of the passports, the videographer and the pint glasses.
“We get this grant for this first year, and hopefully (the passport) will be wildly successful and give us a kick-start to keep going for longer than a year,” Reed said.
To provide the effort with a digital presence, Reed contracted with Portland-based Blue Turtle Pro Media to create informational videos about all five breweries. The videos will be posted to visitwashougal.com.
“There’s not going to be an app or anything. This is a very simple program,” Reed said. “People can find out about it from multiple places, whether they are a patron of one of (breweries) already, have been watching Visit Washougal, or seeing social media posts. We’re just trying to meet people where they’re at.”
The number of breweries and brew pubs in Camas-Washougal has grown over the past few years. Trap Door Brewing opened a second location on Washougal’s Main Street in the summer of 2022 and Recluse Brew Works is set to open this fall at the Port of Camas-Washougal’s industrial park — the site of 54-40 Brewing Company and a Grains of Wrath production facility that has room to add a taproom or bar at some point in the future.
Reed said the idea behind the passport program is to show off the area’s burgeoning brewery scene.
“How can we encourage visitors and community members to experience the five breweries that we have?” Reed said, adding that she knows of similar programs that have had success in Vancouver and in the Columbia River Gorge.
“We’ve got it on the west and the east ends, so let’s have one here,” Reed said of the local brewery passport. “I love designing for food and beverage, because I love food and beverage, so I’ve always kept my ears open (and thinking), ‘What would be beneficial to Washougal that’s in that realm that we put our experience into?’”