A Brisk Bar Tour of Wenatchee, Washington
I am going to be honest: Do not expect to go to Wenatchee and have an earth shattering tour through beer. It will not happen. In most instances, you probably won’t even be happy. But, I want to make sure that I stress that before diving into this article. You should have zero expectations for Wenatchee – zero. If you start with that point of view, this article will be a bit uplifting.
Wenatchee, WA is a town of roughly 28,000 people situated on the absolutely beautiful confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers. In fact, Wenatchee is actually situated on the west bank of the Columbia River with several nice park access points in the city.
Wenatchee is the apple capitol of earth. Seriously. Every single place you look – apples. Apple farm, apple stand, apple cider mill, apple candy store, apple toppings for everything on the menu. You cannot avoid the apple influence on Wenatchee.
Wenatchee is absolutely and undoubtedly gorgeous. One of the most shockingly diverse topographies that I have ever witnessed. The landscape at times looks Amazonian; rolling hills covered in green and shaded by low-flying clouds of moisture. We were most amazed by the contrast of snow-capped mountains with lush jungle-like hills in the foreground. Very amazing.
But the beer – its about the beer on this site. Well if you go to Ratebeer and Beer Advocate you will not find much. Luckily, one chap put up an interesting link to a place called McGlinn’s Public House on Ratebeer. After a brief background check on the place, we noticed an impressive food menu and chatter that they have several house beers. We put them on the list.
Other than that – we just went. We had no other places on the docket. Recent economic woes led to the closing of the only brewery in the vicinity – Cashmere Brewing. Another, Leavenworth Beers, was purchased by Fish Brewing many years ago. Though a new brewery is in the cards for Leavenworth – currently nothing is in the area.
So, we headed to Wenatchee. Weaving along curvy road, through heavily wooded areas and still snowy mountaintops, we found our way to the town in about 3 hours from downtown Seattle.
We first sought out a place to eat lunch. We had to go to the Wenatchee Conference Center for an event later that afternoon, so we had parked the car in the lot and noticed that a wondrous woody scent filled the air. We gazed about the area and located the source: Applewood Grill.
The Applewood Grill kind of looks like your run of the mill family friendly establishment in any small town. Except the fact that an intoxicating aroma emanates from within large stone walls that lay some 100 meters from the banks of the Columbia River. We had to go.
Upon entering we found that the decor was inviting and that they had a sizable bar. Behind that bar lay the glory – roughly 20 taps of micro-brewed ales. Much to our surprise, the bar had an impressive collection of Deschutes Ales, including roughly all year-round releases, plus premium drafts Jubel 2010 and Hop Henge Imperial IPA. Also on the tap were Kona FireRock Pale Ale, Leavenworth Dunkelweiss, Big Al Pale, Big Al Amber and several other enticing beers.
We strolled outside to the patio as the sun was blazing at a scorching 75 degrees. After ordering some Hop Henge we settled on their fish taco and chipotle grilled chicken panini. No lies – really good food. To our surprise, the “fish taco” was actually just one taco. But, the tortilla was massive and it was stuffed with about 1/3 lb of well seasoned fish. The chicken panini was incredible. The applewood grilled chicken was moist, seasoned and delicious.
We returned to the Applewood Grill later that night after finding little else to do. During our return trip, we found that the staff at the place was great. We enjoyed some more Hop Henge, some Jubel 2010 and some of Leavenworth’s delicious dunkelweiss. The owner explained to us that their taps were so heavily saturated with Deschutes beer due to an affiliation with Columbia Distributing. Nice work.
We stayed after the place closed down and enjoyed another round with the bar staff. We really enjoyed this place a lot.
The only other place we visited was McGlinn’s Public House. McGlinn’s had been cited on several reviews as having a bevy of microbrews on tap at all times. Additionally, they boast wood fired over perfect fro crafting amazing pizza.
We headed to McGlinn‘s for dinner at around 6 PM. The place was packed. Luckily, the people waiting all wanted to sit at a table. Ha! who sits at a table when the bar seats right in front of the taps are open!? We nestled up to the bar and took a gander at the list. Its pretty good, offering three house selections brewed by Washington breweries.
The house beers are impressive. First, was a pale ale created by Boundary Bay Brewing – I ordered this one. The other two are a Lager created by lager pros Roslyn Brewing and an amber ale made by Pyramid Brewing.
The rest of the list (which is seen in an image to the right) included three beers from Elysian Brewing, Bear Republic’s Racer 5, and Boundary Bay’s IPA, along with another 10 or so.
The menu is comprised of several wood fired items. Its extremely difficult to choose where to begin. For the first 20 minutes, I was convinced I was getting the ribs, then I wanted the whole chicken, then I wanted the pizza. We settled on the right thing to do – pizza.
But, first we started out with an order of their famous beer bread. Wow. They use a hefeweizen to make the dough and add just a bit of additional sugar to make this the best bread and butter I have ever had. Do not miss out on this item – its like $1.
Next, we grabbed some wood fired nachos! Smothered in lots of great greenery, these nachos were also the best I had had in a long time. Usually we steer clear of nachos – not this time. We weren’t disappointed.
Our pizza was magical. The pepperoni is essentially a fatty smoked canadian bacon. It was absolutely mouth-watering. The crust is wheat, which I typically do not enjoy. Fortunately, the wood fired over seemed to maximize its taste and it served the pizza right.
We ended up remaining here for about 3 hours. The staff, food, beer and atmosphere make this an absolute must if you are in Wenatchee. Today they rolled out a new beer menu too! The new menu features beers from Twisp, WA brewer Methow Brewing. This brewer has always alluded us, but we hear that their beer is quite tasty. Stop in and give it a try.
All in all, we successfully made a beer drinkers trip out of Wenatchee. I hope you will try as well. If you get out there and discover any hidden gems – give us a shout and post a comment!