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New brewery in Cascade Locks hopes to bank on bike tourism

Posted by on October 15th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Policymakers Ride - Gorge Edition-72

Thirsty riders head into Cascade Locks after a day
on Columbia River Highway State Trail.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s no amount of research about the huge economic benefits of bike tourism that can compare to seeing a bit of it happen before your eyes.

Years in the planning and opening Saturday, the new Thunder Island Brewing Company in Cascade Locks, Ore. (home of the spectacular Bonneville Dam and the Bridge of the Gods) is a Portland-grown project that’s setting out to serve tourists — especially those enjoying the newly reconnected Historic Columbia River Highway on their bikes.

“I think of the Gorge as a bicyclist heaven… We both want to support and promote as much cycle tourism as we can.”
— Dave Lipps, Thunder Island co-founder

“The opening of our brewery has everything to do with the new trails and also a trails study done by PSU students,” co-founder Dave Lipps wrote in an email to BikePortland last week. “Both Dan and I are huge cycling advocates and have lived car-free lifestyle in Portland for many years. We are hoping with the completion of the new trail cycle touring in the Gorge will boom.”

Lipps and co-founder Dan Hynes describe their company as “an adventure-based small batch brewery” with beers that are “inspired by a love of outdoor adventures, with a nod to local history and with a respect for all that the scenic Columbia River Gorge has to offer.”

Thunder Island also now happens to be the closest brewery to Multnomah Falls, the state’s No. 1 outdoor tourist attraction. The small operation is 44 miles east of Portland, right by the river’s edge and below the historic highway. Lipps noted that they “plan to have extensive, high-quality bike parking,” something he said he learned the importance of while leading bike tours in the Gorge himself.

This venture isn’t worth toasting just because it sounds like a perfect place to kick back after a long ride. It’s a great illustration of how bike tourism (and the thousands of businesses, small and large, that spring up to serve it) doesn’t just happen. It depends on lots of things happening all at once:

— quality destinations (thanks in part to decades of government protection, this stretch of the Gorge must be one of the most beautiful places on the planet)
— a substantial state investment (we’ve been covering the old highway’s $8.1 million renovation since 2007, and many have been at it for far longer)
— private entrepreneurs who understand the bike market (like Lipps and Hynes)

Policymakers Ride - Gorge Edition-71

The bike path leads directly into Cascade Locks.

If Lipps and Hynes’s hunch is right, they’ll be just the first of many new businesses created by this constellation of events.

Thunder Island is opening with a pale ale, a Scotch porter, an IPA, and a Kölsch on tap, with seasonal and specialty beers on the way. It opens this Saturday, Oct. 19, with a party from noon to 11pm featuring music, games, door prizes and craft beer. Pirates Fish and Chips of Hood River will be on site offering food for purchase. Minors aren’t allowed inside the tasting room, but a there’ll be family-friendly covered outdoor seating area.

Starting Sunday, October 20th, beer will be sold in the tasting room Thursday and Friday from 3 pm to 9 pm, Saturday from noon to 10 pm, and Sunday from noon to 8 pm.

“I think of the Gorge as a bicyclist heaven,” Lipps told BikePortland. “We have everything here: great views of the Columbia River and numerous waterfalls, beautiful camping sites, and bike friendly routes with easy climbs. We both want to support and promote as much cycle tourism as we can.”

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  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson October 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    can’t wait to check it out!

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  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson October 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    i hope they have indoor bike parking where you can sit close to your bike. I always prefer to do this when I’m riding a bike long distancing and have a lot of gear on it.

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  • Portland's One-Stop Electric Bike Shop
    Portland's One-Stop Electric Bike Shop October 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    David Lipps has spent years as an understudy brewmaster and framebuilder. Also was a tour guide for Pedal Bike Tours. Oh, and he is a UBI Certified Mechanic. I am salivating like a pavlovian dog in anticipation of sampling his craft!

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  • Slammy October 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    we need more info on how to bike out here with the new trail. all maps and websites seem to only provide partial information…

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    • gl. October 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

      and I hope those maps mention the unexpected, 2-story steep staircase to haul your bike down.

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      • PorterStout October 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        Fortunately, the downward direction is encountered on the way there, and not on the way back! Seriously, I think they need to put some clear pavement markings ahead of this (like, Stairs Ahead!!!), as it’s at the end of a downward slope where the unknowing might have built up a pretty good head of speed. Or maybe it was just me.

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        • gl. October 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm

          I agree! I did the same thing and came to a much more sudden stop than I would have liked. 🙂

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    • Dimitrios October 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      The maps on the state park website aren’t nearly as useful as the mapping websites. I just made this route for anyone interested. I think the newest segment is just the first 1.4 miles connecting the frontage road to the Moffett Creek Bridge. It’s not updated on the internet maps yet, but I’ve ridden it once and it runs parallel to I84 on the south side, completely separated.

      Clicking on the “Bike Paths” icon on the upper-right of the map display will show the HCRH trail in green.

      Anyone know what that green line is further south running parallel to the Columbia? Wouldn’t surprise me if it bicycles were banned there. That green line representing bike paths is misapplied in Forest Park in many spots.

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  • Suburban October 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Another bike friendly brewery pub that doesn’t make a lager?

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    • BURR October 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      kolsch is a lager

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      • Case October 15, 2013 at 5:57 pm

        Beer snob fail. Ha!

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      • Chris I October 16, 2013 at 10:07 am

        Kolsch is an ale! Common misconception. It is warm-fermented with ale yeast but then undergoes a lagering process.

        It’s a bit of an anomaly in the beer world, and the serving method in Koln is pretty unique, as well. They bring the beer to you in small glasses. When you are almost done, they will automatically refill it or bring you another. If you don’t want a refill, you place your coaster on top of the glass.

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    • Chris I October 16, 2013 at 10:08 am

      If you like lagers, you will probably like their Kolsch. Don’t hate on the yeast just because they like warmer temperatures. Ale yeasts can be used to produce light-bodied beers.

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  • Jeff S October 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I just noticed they were opening (looks to be a fantastic location) and hoped to ride out there from portland this weekend. But – and it’s a big but- there’s virtually no return options. There’s the Skamania transit bus you can catch over in Bonneville at 5:30pm or so (Friday only), but that’s pretty much it near as I can discover. It would be nice to figure out how to do this as a day trip, but for me it’d be a bit of a push, and definitely wouldn’t involve hanging out drinking beer.

    any ideas?

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    • Spencer October 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Out and back

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    • SilkySlim October 16, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Overnight stay in Hood River!

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      • Pete October 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

        Just watch out for the vertical grate(s) on Cascade Street ~7th. No, they’re not easy to replace, and yes, the Mayor knows about it and is working on it.

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  • Marshall Guthrie October 15, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Beer plus recumbent bikes. Yeah!

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    • BIKELEPTIC October 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Even better, it appears to be a hase pino. The best of both in one bike.

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  • Adam October 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Excited for this! Shame the opening doesn’t coincide better with the opening of the new bikepath – which will not open til the very last day of October, so I understand. But either way, I can’t wait to check it out. I think it will also be popular with hikers.

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    • Patrick October 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

      The construction closes down on the weekend–just bypass the barricades and go for it!

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  • Ted Buehler October 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Cool, good to see some local business pairing up with the opening of the multiuse path.

    Killer location — one of the few spots on the Oregon side you can be really on the river, and not next to the freeway.

    ODOT has done something right here, could have happened a long time ago, but its here today.

    ODOT could really use a re-reading of the 2003 Jennifer Dill classic:
    If You Build THem, Commuters Will Use Them”

    The 1% for bikes put in place in 1972 was good at the time, but ODOT should use this as an example that there is a greater need for bike facilities now than there was in 1972, and that ODOT itself is a huge barrier to enabling more bicycle transportation in the state. (Maybe a little off topic, but this project shows what latent demand there is for bicycling, and how the lack of ODOT facilities is stifling economic development).

    Ted Buehler

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  • Scott October 16, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Has there been a post about this great video of the new trail yet?

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  • Chris I October 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Is the new trail open?

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    • Reza October 21, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Not officially, they’re still working on the railings. We encountered yellow caution tape and “Road Closed” signs but didn’t have any problem going around them this weekend.

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  • Brian October 16, 2013 at 10:27 am

    This will be a great spot to hit after mountain biking (or short track racing) the nearby mountain bike trails being built by the Northwest Trail Alliance. Beer and mountain biking go hand in hand. Looking forward to checking it out after my next dirt trail ride!

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    • Pete October 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm
      • Dabby October 17, 2013 at 10:57 am

        I heard some people have been digging trails out there….
        Seriously though, lots of work going on at the Family Friendly EASYCLIMB trails.The day after the “Take A Kid MT Biking” extravaganza, The Andy’s and I laid out a set of 5 more back to back sweeper berms for your enjoyment.
        Work party soon to finish the new trail, which now will have a big section of back to back sweepers down a slight rise.
        If you ever wanted to watch a 4/5 year old shred a set of berms on a Skuut, over and over again, Cascade Locks is the place.

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  • Nick October 21, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Rode to the brewery from Portland’s SW hills this past Saturday. Perfect weather, amazing ride, the path is in excellent shape. Met Daniel, one of the brewers, who is super-friendly. Their Scotch Porter is delicious. We’ll be back.

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  • Rickonabike October 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Stephanie and I live in Beaverton, took lightrail to Gresham and rode the 36 miles to the locks. Didn’t see another cyclist there, just the two of us and as we had camping gear and front panniers, we were a bit of a buzz about the 100 or in attendance at the Grand Opening. The ride is very hilly with climbs of 4 miles at times–definitely not for beginners. This is the first time we’ve ridden that route and will definitely do it again, especially as there’s good camping a good craft brewery at the end. The IPA was out by the time we got there–6PM, but the Pale Ale is unfiltered so it’s very hoppy and has wonderful body. Great Boke Overnight round trip form PDX, but again, this ain’t for beginners unless you start really early and take a lot of breaks to keep from tiring out.

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