As an lifelong Oregonian, there’s nothing better than spending easy-going summer days in the Columbia River Gorge. A charming area ripe with great restaurants, top notch hikes and epic views of Mt. Hood. But a trip to this gem wouldn’t be complete without stopping by some of the best breweries in Hood River.
My friends and I recently took a weekend trip to the gorge to finally rank our favorite breweries once and for all. None of us are professional beer connoisseurs by any stretch of the imagination, but we sure to love good IPAs, lagers and ciders.
So without further ado, let’s do a quick roundup of the best breweries in the Columbia River Gorge.
Best Breweries in the Columbia River Gorge
If you’re new to Oregon (welcome!), it will be helpful to know that the Columbia River Gorge consists of a handful of charming towns. The most populous is Hood River (it’s stunning), followed by White Salmon on the Washington side.
To make this post as comprehensive and helpful as possible, I’ll break up the sections like this: best breweries in Hood River, best breweries on the Washington side (Carson and White Salmon) and the best breweries in the Columbia Gorge overall (including small Oregon breweries worth the drive).
Best Breweries Hood River, Oregon
#5. Working Hands Fermentation
Working Hands Fermentation is the new kids on the block. Opening in 2020, this Hood River brewery was started by a handful of friends eager to share their passion of perfectly fermented brews.
Co-owned by Kasey McCullough, the head brewer from Ferment Brewing Company (I’ll cover this epic Hood River brewery shortly), Working Hands Fermentation specializes in lagers. It’s obvious that McCullough’s passion for lagers shines through, but it’s the Big Egos IPA I can’t stop thinking about.
Located a few minutes from the popular downtown core, this brewery is known to attract a laid-back local crowd.
The current lineup is minimal as this is the newest brewery in Hood River, but the selection is exciting non the less. I’ve excited to see what the next year brings for these create guys.
#4. Full Sail Brewing Company
Sitting pretty on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, there’s no denying that Full Sail is the most popular craft brewery in Hood River. The outdoor patio is filled to the brim during summer months so snatching a table requires nothing short of a miracle.
But the effort is worthwhile, because the views aren’t even the best thing about this great Hood River brewery. Best known for strong IPAs, smooth ales and refreshing hard Kombucha, this is a spot you won’t want to miss while exploring the best breweries in the Columbia River Gorge.
Serving Oregonians since 1987, the sustainable practices and top-notch brews have garnered numerous national (and international) attention and have resulted in awards that span the gamut. From hoppy IPAs to creative bourbon barrel-aged beers and mind-boggling smooth ales, the awards are too long to list (hell, they’ve won more than 200 gold medals alone).
Regardless, the accolades point a truth that can’t be easily dismissed: Full Sail is easily one of the best breweries in Hood River and the wild success is well earned.
#3. Double Mountain Brewery & Cidery
Located across the street from Full Sail Brewing, Double Mountain Brewery is known for two things — great beer (duh) and top-notch brick oven pizza. Seriously, we never pass up an opportunity to order a pie from here (we’re partial to the mushroom pie).
Established in 2007, Double Mountain Brewery was founded by two co-workers from Full Sail Brewing. This beloved Columbia Gorge brewery has yet to waver from their crystal clear focus: make beer for beer lovers, dubbing themselves a “Brewer’s Brewery.”
The beers are long-aged and unfiltered, resulting in complex yet balanced brews. If you’re not into beer (this is a judgement-free zone), try the refreshing ciders. Made with local apples and pears, they’re perfectly balanced without being overly sweet.
Regardless of your preference, the kind and knowledgeable staff are sure to point you in the right direction. What’s more, you don’t even need to drive far for these great Hood River beers — you can find them in Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood!
Finally, Double Mountain’s unwavering commitment to the environment deserves a shout-out. Pioneering refillable bottled and housing 25,000 square feet of solar panels, this Hood River brewery keeps its vision on a sustainable future and you can’t help but love them for it.
#2. pFriem Family Brewers
pFriem Brewery in Hood River needs no introduction, this establishment is a household name, albeit a tough one to pronounce correctly (“freem”). Opened in 2012, pFriem has amassed an impressive array of prestigious beer awards (including being named Brewery of the Year by Beer Connoisseur for three years).
The artisanal beers are inspired by European influences while staying true to Northwest roots. The end product is a beautiful thing: complex, smooth and satisfying, these are some of the best beers in the Columbia River Gorge.
Equally as impressive as the beers (considered among the best beers in Hood River), is the creative food menu. Featuring delectable seafood fare alongside seasonal delights featuring locally sourced ingredients, the menu exceeds the reputation of traditional pub fare.
All told, pFriem is a great Hood River brewery to catch up with friends post-hike. The outdoor patio is very cozy, but if you sit inside you’ll be privy to watching the action happen (the barrels are housed in the restaurant). Regardless, this small detail doesn’t matter because you’re bound to have a great time.
#1. Ferment Brewing Company
In terms of the most beautiful breweries in Hood River, Ferment can’t be beat. And I’m not the only one that thinks so. We spent a weekend exploring all the breweries in Hood River with a group of friends, and the decision was unanimous. We all considered Ferment to be the best of the best.
Fighting words, I know. But someone has to tell you the truth.
First, the brewery is downright beautiful. Planked by natural wood, the massive floor to ceiling windows expose breathtaking views of the Gorge. Everything feels very new and well designed, it’s a space you enjoy being in for the simplicity of design alone.
If you’re in the mood for small talk, strike up a conversation with locals about the best outdoor patios at the breweries in Hood River and Ferment is guaranteed to pop up. We visited during winter, so we sat indoors, but I’m itching to get back in the summer months for the patio alone.
The pooch friendly patio makes this one of the best pet-friendly breweries in Hood River. But note: Ferment’s tasting room in Hood River doesn’t take reservations, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Aside from the great venue, the beers are exciting, delicious and memorable. Fremont bills itself as a modern brewery perfecting traditional farmhouse brewing techniques with the aid of science. The proof is in the proverbial pudding — these are some of the best beer in Hood River.
We opted for a flight (it was our first time to the brewery) and found ourselves enjoying every pour. The seasonal strawberry sour so impressed the group that we all got an 8-ounce pour after the flight.
Also worth mention: Ferment Brewing gets bonus points for the great merch. They had the best merchandise of all the breweries in Hood River, so if you’re looking for souvenirs I suggest holding out for this one.
Best Breweries White Salmon & Carson, Washington
#1. Everybody’s Brewing
The lovely locals in White Salmon need not cross the bridge into Hood River when thirsty for great beer. Everybody’s Brewing is one of the best breweries in the Columbia Gorge and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that disagrees.
The brews at this White Salmon brewery steal the show (as they should) and ordering the apricot sour ale is non-negotiable. But the thing that impressed me most was the food menu (those nachos!). We also ordered a seasonal salad with Brussels sprouts and pomegranate and I promise you – it was one of the best salads I’ve ever had.
The laid-back atmosphere makes it easy to enjoy far too many brews, and you should do just that. The impressive range on offer is guaranteed to satisfy anyone, regardless of the beer of choice.
All this to say, if you’re looking for the best beer in the Columbia River Gorge, make a beeline to Everybody’s Brewing, even if just to pick up a 6-pack to go.
#2. Backwoods Brewing
Backwoods Brewing first came on my radar when they opened a brewery in Portland. Intrigued, I popped in for a pint and found myself pleasantly impressed (the IPA really hit the spot). When planning out the itinerary for our grand Columbia Gorge brewery crawl, I knew we’d be popping in for a proper visit.
Located in Carson, Washington (25-minute drive from White Salmon & 30-minutes from Hood River), this gem is a local hot spot. They opened in 2012 by two brothers and expanded to Portland in 2018. The growth has been staggering!
Graduating from a single-barrel brewpub to a humming 20-barrel system, it seems like folks can’t get enough of this liquid gold. It’s not hard to see why, sourcing local hops, yeast and grain, the focus is on highlighting the Pacific Northwest’s bounty.
Great beer, good pub fare and awesome staff, what more could you possibly ask for?
Columbia Gorge Best Breweries
#1. Thunder Island Brewing Co. (Cascade Locks, OR)
Our favorite brewery in the Columbia River Gorge was Thunder Island (followed by Ferment in Hood River). Between the memorable and creative brews, the super cool staff and the beautiful brewery, we were smitten.
This Cascade Locks brewery was founded in 2013 and offered a modest setup in a small space until finally branching out into a spacious space in 2020. The taproom is really cool, with fermentation tanks on full display as soon as you walk in.
The massive floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with light, but make your way upstairs to the cozy seating area and bar. If it’s cold and rainy, snatch a table by a window. If it’s summer, head outside.
The large patio is beautiful and offers great views of the surrounding mountains and the Bridge of the Gods. You’re guaranteed to find dogs sitting alongside happy hikers and friends because this is one of the best dog friendly breweries in the Columbia River Gorge.
They have a fun little program where visitors can purchase beers for PCT hikers that make a pit-stop at this Columbia Gorge brewery. It’s a popular spot for PCT hikers, made clear by the backpacks hanging on the wall.
#2. Walking Man Brewing (Stevenson, WA)
Sometimes you just need a laid-back old school alehouse with great beer and good pub fare. Walking Man Brewing is that very place.
Within seconds of our first sips, we knew we found a gem and this rose on our list of the best breweries in the Columbia Gorge. But when the food hit the table, we knew this gem was punching above its weight and would be hard to beat.
The star of the show was the cherry stout, followed by the Walking Man IPA. We got a flight of six beers and enjoyed every single pour. The food also hit the spot. We got clam chowder and wings (is there anything better than wings at a bar?). Both were perfectly satisfying.
We’re return to walking Man Brewing in a heartbeat and recommend this local gem to all our friends.
#3. Gorges Beer Co. (Cascade Locks, OR)
We popped into Gorges Beer Co. after noticing them while crossing the street from Thunder Island Brewing. We were on a mission to find the best breweries in the Columbia River Gorge, and we were going to be thorough.
The interior of the building is beautiful! Massive windows, modern furniture and really kind staff. The setting was great. We opted for a tasting flight (we’ve never heard of Gorges and wanted to try a variety of beers).
The tasting flight hit the spot! All four pours were smooth and satisfying, I especially liked the IPA. I’d return in a heartbeat!
#4. Freebridge Brewing (The Dalles, Oregon)
Founded by a husband and wife duo, Freebridge Brewing specializes in Northwest Ales and German lagers brewed in The Dalles. It’s the city’s first brewery since the repeal of Prohibition, but that’s not where the history stops.
The founder’s great-grandmother came to Oregon by way of the Oregon Trail. This 5-generation Oregonian family is rooted in tradition, so beer was a natural segway. They typically offer 10 taps of craft beer, but the seasonal pours have my heart.
If you’re visiting this Columbia Gorge brewery in late April, don’t miss the seasonal cherry Berliner Weisse (made using 50 pounds of cherry puree). It’s a drink you won’t easily forget.
In addition to serving some of the best beer in the Columbia Gorge, you’ll also find house-brewed kombucha and filling meat-forward dishes.
#5. Solera Brewery (Parkdale, OR)
The mission at Solera is simple: create a true pub experience for locals and visitors alike. Orders are taken at the bar (wiggle your way past locals) and if you see an open table, consider it yours.
Traditional pub fare is on offer, which pairs perfectly with cold IPAs and ales. The burrito seems to be the star of the show, we saw it gracing every table.
The pub is charming and the views of Mt. Hood are exceptional, but the brews left something to be desired. Would I consider this one of the best breweries in the Columbia Gorge? Not really, but I have a feeling locals would disagree (the place was packed during our visit).
How many breweries does Hood River have?
There are 5 breweries in Hood River, Oregon. Many of these have established themselves as household names and no epic tour of the best breweries in Oregon is complete without popping into Hood River.
How many breweries are there in the Columbia River Gorge?
All told, there are 14 breweries in the Columbia River Gorge. Of those, 7 are found in Oregon and 4 are located in Washington. The most popular breweries in the Columbia River Gorge are pFriem Family Brewers, Double Mountain and Full Sail.
Best Breweries in Hood River + Columbia River Gorge (Post Overview)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the best Columbia River Gorge breweries.
Best breweries Hood River
- Double Mountain
- Full Sail
- Working Hands Fermentation
White Salmon, Washington breweries
- Everybody’s Brewing
- Backwoods Brewing
Other Columbia Gorge breweries
- Thunder Island
- Walking Man Brewing
- Gorges Brewing
- Solera Brewing
Good to know: Learn about Breweries in the Gorge (BIG)
Breweries In The Gorge (B.I.G) is comprised of 11 local breweries and 200 fun-loving, dedicated professionals who are inspired by nature and fueled by a collective passion for creating quality, craft brews. Through our mutual respect for one another, BIG was established to promote the region’s award-winning beer and encourage beer-lovers like you to experience it in the place where it was born–the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.
More information can be found here: Breweries in the Gorge. You can also grab a beer passport from participating Columbia Gorge breweries before embarking on your crawl.