I have a confession -- I’ve never been on an island before. Unless you count strolling down Manhattan’s busy streets or binge watching all six seasons of Lost on the island that is my full-sized bed, I’ve been on mainland USA 24/7 since the doctor slapped my newborn keister.
That is until...right about now. My wife got us a sweet deal on a lodge stay on Orcas Island, Washington to get away from city life for a spell -- and get away we did. Orcas Island feels a million miles away from any creature comforts. Not one Taco Bell in sight.
Thankfully, within this used-hanky-shaped island there rests a single craft beer mecca in the island’s largest community of Eastsound: Island Hoppin’ Brewery. Blink and you miss it -- it’s in the recess of a hill across from a residential area. But you don’t wanna miss it. Inside this 30-person capacity taproom (30 in a sardine tin sort of way), some mighty tasty Washington brews grace your tongue.
For starters, I tried their Sunrise Amber and the Missus tried the Golden Raspberry Wheat. The Amber was too good for words -- smooth caramel notes with hints of toast in the finish, calling to mind Altbiers in its easy-drinking complexity. The Wheat shocked me. I loath fruit Wheat beers as they tend to overwhelm the base with too much sugar, fruit, or both. Not this time! The golden raspberries provide a subtle kick mid sip, but the finish is the cracker dry rusticness I crave.
Had to have a second round, am I right? I tried their Yardarm Oatmeal Stout on nitro. Oh man, such creamy chocolate notes it was like binging on a smoother version of Kahlua fudge. Think Fremont’s Dark Star but far silkier. The nitro made it dangerously easy to drink, so much so I’d love to try a regular version for more roast character.
The vibe wasn’t like that of your typical city taproom. It felt more like a neighborhood bar, where everyone was a local -- or if they weren’t, the ease of camaraderie and flowing conversations made it seem like they’ve been there their whole lives. I’m certainly a city boy who needs his Taco Bell and other creature comforts at times, but Island Hoppin’ makes getting away from it all just a tad more delicious.
Written by Ed Moore
Featured image from Island Hoppin' Brewery Facebook Page