On a corner lot in the sprawling suburbs of Vancouver, Washington stands the massive architectural structure of Belltower Brewhouse run by Wind River Brewing Company. The corner lot beckons with a terraced front yard of stone and flowers. A lower level patio is secluded from the surroundings by the building overhead and the manicured garden plants nearby. Wooden steps and smooth ramps with railings lead to the main building and the outdoor patio to the rear. The building's features are both vertical: large paned windows, two-story roof peaks and a dominating 50-foot wooden bell tower; and horizontal: small and large one and two-story room attached to a sprawling tan edifice with steep dark shingled roofs.
Inside, the ground floor rooms are covered with Paisley carpet and surrounded by light walls sporting black & white prints of seaport scenes. The bar offers no seating but instead hosts two brass tap towers with five custom-handled taps each. The bar back consists of rows of glassware and bottled spirits with a large bell tower painting as the centerpiece. Overhead, a light wood terrace supports hop bales and barley straw. The second floor hosts three pooltables along with a dozen tables and chairs in a lounge setting. There is reasonable visibility of the actual 7-barrel Specific Mechanical brewing equipment. Outdoors, the small patio features plastic tables and chairs with shade umbrellas. Above the three-foot tan wall a red frame holds another three feet of tinted glass. In the distance, a snow-capped Mt. Hood reflects brightly against the deep blue sky.
The Golden Ale appears a clear straw color where very light hops are matched to a similarly light body. The Marion Berry is a hazy pink with a "mixed fruit" aroma, light body, and a very light but tart raspberry flavor. The Hefeweizen is a dense gold with a clove aroma. The Pils is gold, with a perfumy aroma and a "chemical" profile that dominates any hops or malt present. The Doppelbock is a dark brown with a mellow sweet "dark" malty flavor where an almost cherry-like character leads into a very slight alcohol in the finish. The Gargoyle Lager, at 22 IBUs and 5.0% abv, has a coarse hoppy flavor that leads to a sweet maltiness. The Wind River ESB starts perfumy before the dry maltiness takes over. A 6-glass sampler tray is $5, 5 oz. sample $1, 10 oz. glass $3.25, pints $3.25, and pitchers $8.25. A variety of California and EU wines are on hand for about $5 to $6 a glass, with the "house" selection at $3.95. The Wind River Cellars Cider is also $3.95 a glass while the Lindeman's Frambroise Lambic is $5.75.
The solid food lineup looks substantial: Starters $5-$8, include Brewer's Cheese Fondue, Coconut Shrimp, Wings, Beef Teriyaki, Nachos, Chicken Bites, and Rings; Soup & Salad - $3-$8, feature Seafood Chowder, with Ceasar, Spinach , Asian Chicken, or Pasta salads; Burgers & Sandwiches - $7-$9, showcase Salmon or BBQ Chicken sandwiches along with Garden Burgers; Entrées run $12-$17, with Sirloin, Prime Ribs, Rib Eye, NY Steak, Filet, Pork Chops, and BBQ Ribs. Non-red meat includes Halibut & Chips, Clams, Chicken, and Pasta. The Spinach-stuffed Chicken looks enticing.
The great views combine with the light Jazz sounds to make for a comfortable place to eat or drink. An elevator makes navigating around the numerous steps easy for wheelchair users. Hours are 11 to 10 Monday through Thursday; 11 to 12 Friday and Saturday, and 12 to 10 Sunday. Check out the special "Date Night" packages. The beer flavors vary widely so there should be something on tap to quench the dry palates of all visitors.
|The place||Step right up||Under one roof|
|Slow sampling||First inspection||From these taps|
Photos by Tom Ciccateri
Belltower Brewhouse (Wind River Brewing)
707 SE 164th Ave.
Vancouver, WA 98684-9615
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - July 2000
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