My final stop on this gorge-ous vacation was at one of the earliest craft breweries to start in the PNW: Full Sail Brewing. Founded in 1987, Full Sail has grown into the second largest brewery in Oregon and the ninth largest craft brewery in the US. With a full sized brew-pub, tons of beer options, and a great location I was eager to visit a brewery I have had many beers from at home. So, grab a beer, sit back, and relax as I sail through my review of this Oregon staple.
- Beer – Full Sail has a large and varied tap list, running the gamut from your basic ales to some creative barrel aged and session beers. Not only do they have the variety and creativity, but the quality is there all across the board. I have consistently ranked their beers high on Untappd, with several offerings at 4 out of 5 or better. To fully experience their craftings, you will need to go to the pub as many of the limited release ones are only available on draft. Regardless of what you choose, you will not be disappointed by what is on tap. Score: 4/5
- Brewery – For a brewery so large, I was surprised at the more intimate nature of the pub. The indoor seating is comprised of around two dozen table scattered around the room with a large bar dominating one brick-accented wall. With an entire side devoted to large windows overlooking the gorge, lots of natural lighting and great views are a given. The best part of the taproom in my opinion is the outdoor seating, a secluded section just outside the bar with spectacular views out towards the river. The food menu consists of pub fare with a flair and each dish is listed with a suggested beer pairing. The portions are hearty, and the food is delicious, so I strongly recommend you go with an appetite to match your thirst. The food prices are reasonable and consistent with the PNW, while a flight of beer will run you $15 for six pours of your choice, and they are open every day from lunch until 9 pm, giving you ample opportunity to stop in. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – A few televisions can be found at the bar if you want to watch any sort of sporting event while enjoying a beer (or three). They offer highly rated tours of the brewery every Saturday for those that want to see the inner workings of their brewing magic. Occasional live events can be seen dotting their schedule, with a recurring monthly brew master dinner, involving a guest chef preparing meals to pair with their beer, as the centerpiece. I do not see things like live music or trivia nights, nor any games to be played at your table. I hop they consider it in the future as I think the outdoor area is a great spot for live music on a summer afternoon. Score: 3/5
- Location – Located right at the edge of downtown, Full Sail offers access to dozens of restaurants, bars, and even a few other breweries within walking distance (some of it may be uphill). Easy to find with tons of on-site and street parking, plus being easily accessible on foot or bicycle, score highly for location. Add being in the gorge, the proximity to the river, and at the base of Mt. Hood and all the outdoor adventures that brings, and you can see why it is hard to beat this spot. Score: 4.5/5
- Customer Service – More restaurant than true tap room, they offer table service for everyone not at the bar. I was seated fast, order taken swiftly with some excellent recommendations, and was checked on frequently throughout the evening. What’s more, the staff all seemed so cheerful and upbeat and it made the experience that much more enjoyable. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 19/25
Favorite Beer: Blood Orange Wheat Ale – 5.2% Fruit Ale
Final Thoughts: Despite being one of the oldest breweries in the state, Full Sail has continued to innovate and grow, providing excellent quality beers in a hard to beat setting in the face of stiff local competition. Well worth a visit if you are anywhere close by, and if not, you can likely find their beers in the store near you.