It always amazes me when I meet people who live around Seattle but have never ventured out to enjoy some of the natural wonders that make life in this area so special. How many people do I know who have lived here for years but have never visited Mount Rainier National Park or the San Juan Islands? It astounds me. Snoqualmie Falls is much the same, only closer. It is a short drive from the city, it is really quite breathtaking (in case you’ve forgotten), and makes for a lovely afternoon getaway pretty much any time of year. Now you have a beer-inspired reason to visit the falls.
Perched above the cascading torrents of Snoqualmie Falls, The Salish Lodge and Spa has been one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier luxury destinations since it opened in 1988. About a mile upstream, Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company started producing great beers in 1997. Today the two businesses are collaborating to produce something that is inescapably tied their shared surroundings: Salish Honey Ale.
In the summer of 2011, The Salish Lodge and Spa installed an apiary that is now home to hundreds of thousands of honeybees. Feeding on the local flora, the apiary’s happy residents produce over 2,000 pounds of fresh, delicious, organic honey each year. The Salish Lodge sells the honey in the gift shop and even offers its guests honey-based spa treatments. Chefs use the honey for menu items in the Dining Room and bartenders use it to create cocktails in the lounge. Now, you can drink it in a beer—Salish Honey Ale, brewed by Snoqualmie Falls Brewing. The beer represents a partnership between two local businesses and innumerable honeybees.
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Last night I attended an event at The Attic, the newly remodeled lounge and eatery at The Salish Lodge and Spa, where I sampled the new Salish Honey Ale.
About the Beer
The beer poured deep golden yellow, with a hazy glow when held to the light. Lifting the glass to my nose, I noticed a slightly sweet, earthy fragrance. The essence is floral yet unfamiliar to a beer drinker who typically recognizes hop-driven floral notes on the nose. On the palate, it is reminiscent of a medium-bodied Pale Ale, but with a twist of something not immediately definable. In fact, you probably would not guess that this is a honey beer. In a blind tasting, you might mistake it for a Pale Ale brewed with a new, wacky variety of hops. It is not as sweet as you might expect. Instead, it tastes as if the honey were stripped away leaving behind only the reminiscence of the wildflowers upon which the bees fed. For this beer aficionado, I found Salish Honey Ale to be very interesting and entertaining, in an approachable and wildly quaffable way.
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Salish Honey Ale is currently available on tap at the lodge. Rod Lapasin, General Manager at The Salish Lodge and Spa, told me that eventually he hopes to see the beer packaged in 22-ounce bottles. Exact plans for distribution (if any) are still being worked out. For now, you will need to take a trip to the falls and enjoy the amazing view along with your beer.
About The Attic
The Salish Lodge and Spa just finished a complete remodel of The Attic. Compared to The Dining Room, the lodge’s award-winning restaurant, The Attic offers a casual dining and drinking option. It also offers an amazing view of the falls from the window tables. The space is warm and inviting, cozy and comfortable. I would describe the vibe as being northwest casual, meaning clean jeans and a t-shirt would not make you feel out-of-place, but stinky post-backpacking attire might raise some eyebrows. It is not a tavern, but it is not a stuffy, frou-frou joint either.
Four-top tables intermingle with couches, easy chairs and barstools. You will find the bar on one end of the room, featuring a thoughtful selection of draft beers and a beautifully lit backbar. On the other side of the room, you will find an open kitchen complete with a brand new applewood-fired pizza oven and counter seating. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the seats near a window overlooking the falls.
The Attic’s new menu consists of flatbreads, wood-fired pizza and sandwiches crafted with cheeses from a local producer. We started out the evening with the Dungeness Crab and White Cheddar Dip ($16), which was decadent, rich and savory. It paired very nicely with the Salish Honey Ale. The beer seemed to help bring out the sweetness of the crab.
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We then move on to the Fennel-Cured Sausage and Parmigiano-Reggiano Pizza ($18), which did not disappoint. Along with a generous amount of sausage, this pie also features roasted garlic, charred tomato chutney, and kalamata olives. The ingredients speak for themselves, sitting atop a crust that offered everything you expect from a wood-fired pizza. It was crisp, chewy, smoky and delicious.
Save a few bucks by checking out happy hour at The Attic – Monday thru Thursday 3:00 to 6:00, Sunday 7:00 to close. The happy hour menu features a selection of $7 flatbreads, a $10 pizza, and other munchies.
When the river is high, as it is right now, Snoqualmie Falls rumbles beneath your feet. Feel its power resonating in your chest as you sip your beer. Very cool.