Traveling to another town is always interesting. The drive along the concrete or asphalt roads seems to create this hum like a chorus along interstates and highways. The occasional tree or livestock may serve as a welcome distraction but it's always the destination that is the focus. In the case of my recent trip, it was to the town where I spent most of my life growing up, Walla Walla.
Today if you speak to any member of the vintner appreciation society or wine drinker for short, they speak of its multitude of wineries, the acres of grapes, the fine dining, and of course the wine. For me I neither sought out the wine, nor do I relish in the progress that has taken over this once sleepy town of 40,000 plus. I know my reservations about the "improvement" is suffered by all those who desire nostalgia.
No, my trip is more to visit family and to visit the various taverns that I once warmed a seat in. For me this is not about the many tasting rooms or the finer dining, it was all about family and the occasional good beer. I appreciate the irony here, I am actually discussing finding a decent a beer in a town that is predominantly a wine town. But believe it or not, there are some places that serve a nice craft beer on draft or in bottles.
Take the Green Lantern (formerly registered Tavern), they have improved their tap selection and even went to the trouble of replacing the old draft lines, improving the overall quality of experience. Walking in however, I have to admit I was shocked by the changes that occurred to the once dive like charm. After a glass of Imperial Stout (from Full Sail Brewing) and a chicken sandwich glazed in teriyaki sauce (with pineapple garnish), we head out to visit family. Later on in the evening I decided to seek out a decent bar with a draft that I could appreciate.
Draft Beers Observed
- Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
- Full Sail India Pale Ale
- Full Sail Amber
- Full Sail Imperial Stout
- Ice Harbor Stout
- "Many others too many to list"
Marcus Whitman's "The Mark" lounge offered Stella Artois, Mac & Jack's Amber, and Guinness Stout, I didn't inquire on the bottle selection. Mind you this place at one time had a shocking Elysian Immortal India Pale Ale (probably a gift from Dave Buhler, co-owner of Elysian and a former student at Whitman College).
The next place was 26 Brix, a restaurant and lounge that once was once the spot of Dacres Saloon, a place today that some of the long in the teeth easily recall. The staff appeared both sociable with their customers as well as busy. That night if offered a Deschute's Mirror Pond and a Stella Artois. After getting a break down of the bottle selection, we took it upon ourselves to visit a spot that previously had Stone India Pale Ale, on draft.
Vintage Cellars, is located on 2nd Street in what was formerly, The Turf restaurant. A wine bar now by design, they featured Stone India Pale Ale, Alaskan Amber and another option that I don't recall (possibly Bud Light). To add to the intrigue, I found myself asking for the Mystique Belgian Ale and my wife had herself a bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Double Maibock. After about a couple of hours, we retired home. A good selection considering what I wasn't expecting from a wine bar.
So here is the thing, I know a few of your are asking me, why should you expect a wine bar or restaurant tailor specific to you? The answer is not that I expect it, I generally am surprised when someone makes an effort. If you walk into a wine bar you don't ask for a Budweiser, and you don't walk into a brewery and expect the same. So the next time you are in Walla Walla with a friend or loved one, be surprised that there are some establishments out there that make an effort to reward the non-wine drinker with a frosty cold one.