What if you & 3 of your friends got together one night to drink beer & started discussing the idea of making beer & opening a brewery? What if the next morning, after you've sobered up, you were the only one still excited about the idea?
What would you do?
Larry Pratt plowed forward and Salmon Creek Brewery is the result. Still full of enthusiasm for his product & his beer life after 13 years, Larry & wife Anna sparkle when they speak, he about beer, she about Larry.
"Larry loves three things in life," she said. "Making beer, drinking beer & talking about beer."
That's evident. His Irish Red, ESB, Scottish Ale (Anna's favorite..."take that away and I'd be very upset!"), Thunderbolt Porter & Sweet Stout are all excellent with multi-leveled flavors but for me there were two stand-outs: the IPA @ 4.7% ABV, a gold clean, crisp beer with perfectly balanced hops that do not over-power with just the right amount of bitterness. Others should take lessons on how to brew a "NW style" beer. Larry "doesn't like hoppy beers" so there are no real puckerers at Salmon Creek. ("But drink enough and you'll be very hoppy," she adds.) And second, Brother Larry's Belgian Ale! Words literally can't describe the Disneyland of tastes in this WONderful burgundy-colored brew! A Gold Medalist served in a brandy glass, the varied fruits & alcohol fills your mouth and never lets go until the finish leaving you wanting, panting for more. I found myself hungry for this beer as I drove home to Seattle!
Downtown Vancouver is home to Salmon Creek and not well-known but has grown every year from a small warehouse to this beautifully appointed pub with its copper bar and delightful beer garden separating them from By The Bottle, a beer / wine store. Good thing too because each year Larry & Anna host a Halloween party, Oktoberfest, Belgian Ale tasting after Thanksgiving and many others. Be careful what you order though. "You're in my place, you drink my beer" says Anna and she backs up her warning with the Bud bat.
The food is excellent - the atmosphere relaxed - Larry & Anna made wife Persimmon & I feel like long-lost friends. Salmon Creek could well be the very model of a modern major brewpub.
I must go now...it's a three hour drive & Tuesday is brewing day.
They're expecting me!
What a treat! Myself and a party of four decided to make a day (actually it turned into three!) touring some brewpubs in the Portland/Vancouver area. We happened onto Salmon Creek because of the great reviews found here, and we were not disappointed. Well, there was the disappointment that came from getting there slightly after 1:00pm, because despite the website's claim of a noon opening, they don't open until 3pm on weekdays. At any rate we were met at the locked door by co-owner Anika, and she said if we could just wait until 2:30 she'd open for us. So we spent some time next door at "By the Bottle", found some great beers, and then meandered down to Woody's Tacos for what can be argued as some of the best fish tacos we've had.
But I digress.
2:30 sharp we were staring in the pub windows and were graciously seated and entertained by Anika as we were then barraged with a wonderful presentation of the beers on tap, all with a somewhat Belgian twist. I was so impressed with the amazing fruitiness and distinctive Belgian maltiness of "Brother Larry's" that I walked back into the brewery to give my kudos....where Larry was kegging a "mistake". He called it the King Salmon IPA, and he was gracious enough to pour me a sample and.... WOW! Now I am an IPA fiend, admittedly, and was very pleased with the hoppiness and balance of the "mistake" he had created. Perhaps the additional hoppiness (seemed to be a late kettle addition) was his "mistake". He palyed around with the gravity till he hit his numbers, and then stopped. So.... he only produced 4 barrels instead of his usual seven.
I am amazed at the contribution that the Belgian malts had added to this beer. Unfortunately it wasn't to be put on until the next day so I had to savor the sample I had been treated to. However, Larry shared the recipe with me, so I will definitely be brewing a Belgian IPA along these same lines as soon as I can!
I had to let Larry get back to work, so back to my party and some great food. Anika (aka Annie) warned me that if I went back there I would be held hostage for hours. Right she was, but that's a kidnapping I'll take anytime.
So I settled back into my chair and enjoyed three glasses of some great beer. The Scottish Ale was wonderful. I sensed a real pride in Anika's face serving it as she told us that it is her favorite.
Anika entertained us with her humorous antidotes, and kept us all in stitches. She became to all of us there .... new family. We got some great pictures of her in her garden with the girls, and a few of us in the brewhouse, hugged and said our goodbyes .... and we still, a week later, talk of how endearing they are. The goodbyes will be soon replaced by hellos very soon...I am sure!
I had the privilege of stopping for beer and dinner at the Salmon Creek Brew Pub in Vancouver, WA recently with a group of six. We were seated outside in a nice little courtyard. We just happen to sit next to Larry and his drinking buddy Dave. Actually we took their large table and they were given a small, good for holding their beers, table. Larry is the owner/brewer. His wife Ana was there and took good care of us throughout dinner. I spent the evening ignoring the people I was with in favor of talking with Larry and Dave, except when Ana interrupted to talk about Larry! At one point Dave sent me next door to check out his place, By the Bottle, http://bottledbrews.com/. Arlene was there and she gave me a tour of the shop while we talked about all their beers. What a great place! Make sure to stop by there when you visit the brew pub. Finally, I had to drag myself back to dinner at the Brew Pub. Dinner was wonderful, fresh seafood. Everyone enjoyed their dinner. I had a beer sampler which I think consisted of the Scottish Ale, Irish Red, Oktoberfest, Golden Ale, IPA, and the ESB and the Belgian, if I remember everything correctly. I was too busy talking to take notes. At both the Salmon Creek Brew Pub and By the Bottle I was made to feel like family. We parked on the street half a block away. It was after hours so the meters didn’t cost anything. When I return to Portland I will definitely put these places on my list to visit again.