New Girl in Town #1 – Walla Walla for Beer Lovers
By Catie Joyce Bulay: If wine is not your thing, have no fear, the Walla Walla Valley has plenty to offer for the craft beer drinker. Perhaps more well-known for its wineries, Washington certainly holds its own in the world of microbrews, and Walla Walla is no exception. As newcomers to town, my husband and I are closer to beer connoisseurs than wine aficionados, so we had a lot of fun “researching” this article, and getting to know the friendly local pubs and breweries.
Burwood Brewing Company.
Burwood, with a few wineries, lives in its own little neighborhood on the outskirts of the Airport District, called the Incubators. We visited Burwood Brewing Company, with its beautiful backdrop of wheat fields and the Palouse Hills, one sunny Saturday afternoon.
I was expecting good beer, but I wasn’t expecting the good fun we had. The long family-style tables of the tap room invite a spontaneous game of Jenga or Connect Four, grabbed from the games table. The back doors open up to a patio with picnic tables and a relaxing view.
But back to the beer. It was really good. I did a taster flight with a selection of 6 of their brews and had a hard time picking a favorite. It was a tie between the Pale Ale and The Continental (a Vienna Pale Ale). Their IPA was a close second. My husband’s favorite was the Black Beer, which they dub the “adult chocolate milk of the beer world.” Can’t say no to that. And don’t forget to try their root beer. Made with all natural ingredients, including honey; it’s a real treat.
They don’t serve food, but food trucks are frequent visitors to the Incubators. Starting in April, the first Monday of every month is food truck night.
If you don’t make it out to their tasting room, you can still try Burwood brews on tap at 12 different restaurants around town.
At least one Burwood Brew is always on tap at Wingman Birdz+Brewz. The restaurant, located on the corner of East Main and Palouse, has a bright friendly feel. Since we live within walking distance of Wingman, the smell of their wings often draws us in, and we’ve already sampled many of their 20+ beers on tap. There’s always a great new craft beer in rotation on the happy hour menu, usually local to Washington or the Pacific Northwest. I recommend pairing the birds nest (loaded French fries) with the craft tap of the day.
Wingman Happy Hour is everyday from 3-6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m.-close on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s very kid-friendly, and prides itself on being a family restaurant.
Mill Creek Brew Pub and Restaurant
After Wingman, it’s easy to head across the street to Mill Creek Brew Pub. Mill Creek typically features four of its own brews, plus a few other craft taps. Their sampler flight is a rift off the nearby local state penitentiary: Walla Walla Wheat, Lazy Z Lager, Inmate IPA, and the Penitentiary Porter. I’m usually an IPA gal, but my favorite of the foursome was the lager. Hubby’s fav was the porter; no surprise there.
Mill Creek boasts the cheapest happy hour in town (4-5:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday.), with a couple of sliders and a beer for 5 bucks. They get extra points for their free popcorn and peanuts (yes, the kind with shells you throw on the floor). This locals pub also has a great outdoor patio with a fireplace.
Marcy’s Bar & Lounge
A few blocks down on Colville Street is Marcy’s. This unpretentious pub has a nice bar, plus my favorite –comfy couches and plump leather chairs to lounge in. And I can’t wait for warmer weather to sit outside by the water fountain. They have a decent but small selection of crafts on tap, and a nice happy hour everyday from 3-6 p.m.
Their burger and brew night on Thursdays can’t be beat! Best burger we’ve had in town so far.
Red Monkey Lounge
Walk over to the west end of downtown and you’ll hit Red Monkey Lounge, on West Alder. Another fun pub, it has 26 beers on tap, many local to the Northwest. The restaurant is spacious, yet cozy, with décor pleasing to both wine and beer lovers.
Red Monkey has a nice happy hour menu spread (3-7 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and all day Tuesday). Their regular menu sandwiches are quite good. I recommend the Caprese Panini or the pulled pork. And if trivia is your thing, Tuesday nights are always Trivia Night.
Across town in the other direction, and a little off the beaten tourist path is The Green Lantern on East Isaacs Avenue. Certainly more of a locals pub, one might even say dive bar, the Green has a surprisingly solid tap selection of 20+, including a Burwood pilsner. I was happily surprised to find Murphy’s Stout on tap as well (Guinness’s less loved, but no less deserving stepsister, with a creamier finish). They have a classic pub apps menu, including mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, and deep fried pickles, but it was their famous fish tacos I was after. I got a pair of taqueria corn shell tacos that did not disappoint. The fries are also an excellent choice. They have a large outdoor seating area, with green grass, picnic tables, and Adirondack chairs. Happy hour is 2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, with dollar off most drinks.
If you still haven’t had your fill, pick any restaurant in the Walla Walla Valley and chances are they will have at least a couple solid craft beers on the menu. And of course, if you’re visiting with a wine lover, all of the bars mentioned have great selections of local wines as well, and often some fun cocktails too. (Try Wingman’s Lavendula made with local lavender, just to name one).