Lewis County, Washington, is a rectangular-shaped, 2,436 square-mile parcel of land that is perhaps best described as “Volcano Alley.” It’s not a place where you would expect to find a burgeoning craft beer scene. Much of the county is remote and most visitors are exploring the riches of the backcountry between Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, or simply passing through where I-5 bisects the county’s western end.
On second thought, maybe it’s exactly where you’d expect to find good beer. But it isn’t Seattle or Portland. The breweries and taprooms in Lewis County stick to their rural roots — and thank the hops gods for that. There are no beer passports to stamp or ale trail apps to download. But you will find good people, good food and plenty of good beer to accompany both.
Appreciate farm life at Packwood Brewing Co.
The bucolic town of Packwood rests a handful of miles from Mt. Rainier National Park. It’s the kind of place folks might relish a cold beer and a bite after a long day of hiking or skiing. Recognizing the opportunity, the Packwood Brewing Co. purchased and lovingly renovated a structure built in 1933 to serve as the town general store. In late 2018 the brewery officially opened its doors, adding a small but well-executed food menu in 2019. Eight taps featuring a mix of flagship and seasonal brews along with live events and outdoor seating help round out the complete brewpub package.
Learn hop history at Flood Valley Craft Brewing Taproom.
Long before Yakima, Lewis County’s Boistfort Valley, west of Chehalis, was the hop capital of the United States; and in the early 1900s, John Garbe was the valley’s largest hops dealer. Today, the Flood Valley Craft Brewing Taproom occupies the same historic building in downtown Chehalis that housed Garbe’s offices; simultaneously honoring and keeping the tradition of Lewis County hops alive. The rustic taproom offers over 20 eclectic craft beer options and hosts an array of events from comedy nights to live music. Don’t sleep on the food menu, though. The Peanut-butter, Bacon and Serrano Burger is a handheld paradigm shifter.
Find beer for sausage at Dick’s Brewing Co.
Local legend Dick Young started it all in 1983. Actually, that’s when he opened NW Sausage & Deli. But the homebrewer made beer that was every bit as sought after as the jerky and sausage. So in 1994, Dick’s Brewing Co. was born to satiate the thirsty. Over time the operation grew and the brewery/tasting room relocated into a larger space, with the first Dick’s location transitioning into a retail outlet. The original recipe Dick Danger Pale Ale remains the brewery’s best-seller.
Grasp the definition of rural brewing at Jone’s Creek Brewing.
The mailing address might say Chehalis, but if you find yourself at Jones Creek Brewing, you’re in the Willapa Hills, about a mile outside of Pe Ell. And you’re more than likely on your way to or coming from the coast. Located on the family farm, it is the dictionary definition of a rural tasting room. The bare-bones operation has removed any and all pretentiousness from craft beer but left in the quality and creativity. For proof, try the Sage Advice — a white Saison with a light hint of sage and the bright nose of Abby ale yeast.
Taste the tropics at Tiki Tap House.
If a Tiki Bar with a proclivity for rotating taps and a neighborhood pizzeria had a baby, it would present in the form of Centralia’s Tiki Tap House. With 18 taps dedicated to local craft beer and a solid pizza-driven menu, it is the consummate family-friendly lunch or dinner destination for craft beer lovers. Pick a pint and pair it with the Kahuna Supreme and you can’t go wrong.