My wife and I took a road trip around Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to visit family and take our new puppy around to visit family. On the way, we visited three very local brewpubs. A brewpub tour is definitely in order.
I only had my iPhone with me at the time. Sorry for the picture quality.
I was tipped off to the existence of the Salmon River Brewpub in McCall, Idaho by my cousin, whose friends Matt and Ellen Gantz opened it less than a year ago.
McCall is not a large town. Nearly everything worth seeing is visible from the main drag of the city… except, apparently, for this Brewpub. Despite being in a hotel a mere half a block from this place, my wife and I had to look up the address on Google in order to find it. It’s just off the main drag (N 3rd St) on Colorado, has no advertising on the main road, and the sign is hard to see even while walking to it along Colorado.
When we finally found it on Colorado street, it was homey and inviting. The large A-frame building had indoor seating, a long bar, and opened to a deck and back yard used for live music (though there was none playing while we were there). We were cordially told that we were welcome to come eat with our puppy in the back of the building, at the hefty rustic picnic benches located there, which we were more than happy with. We sat down with menus and a smile.
The menu is two-sided, and the sides could hardly be more different. One side is all about barbeque cooked on their giant industrial grill: ribs, brats, and chicken wings. The other side, believe it or not, is sushi.
This isn’t just a seat-yourself joint, it’s also an order-yourself joint. You belly up to the bar and order what you want, and they bring it out to you. We kept it simple and skipped the sushi. I ordered a taster platter ($1 per taste), and the wife and I shared the two-brat plate with one of both kinds of brats on the menu (spicy Volcano and smoked bacon). The brats were pretty fantastic — probably the best such sausages I’ve ever had on a bun — and the onions came thick. The chips were a bit much (read: oily) in the summer sun at noon, but I’m sure in the evening they’d be a welcome side.
The beer was equally good for the most part. The Udaho Gold was probably meant to be a blonde or something around there. It was a great unfiltered ale with mellow hops, clean pale malts, and a fantastic body for the style. I would have easily drunk a pint of this beer. The PFD Pale was a lightly hopped pale ale, extremely well crafted and clean finishing. The body was a bit heavy for the style, but I like to err that way rather than the other. The hops were a great citrus and pine, probably Cascade. This was a drinkable pale with a great flavor.
The Sweep Boat Stout was the star of the show. Sweet and toasty with lightly roasted flavors, a drinkable mouthfeel, and a good hop background that left a clean, dry palette. Blind, I might have called this a porter, but it was excellent.
Both the IPA and Double IPA had issues. First, the IPA wasn’t all that hoppy, with flavors that were very similar to the Pale. Both IPAs suffered from a stale, muddled hop flavor that I didn’t notice in the Pale. This could have been the age of the beer, improper storage, old hops, overly carbonate water, or something else, but the hops in these brews didn’t pop in the way that I’ve come to expect from Northwest IPAs.
I didn’t have a chance (or the audio equipment) to get an interview with the owners. Maybe next time.
The whole place was wicked: Sushi bar at a brewpub has got to be nearly one-of-a-kind in the US, a giant BBQ in the back, live music, a backyard that probably hosts a wicked party, good food, and a few amazing beers means this is a place I have to recommend.