Many Washington beer lovers have enjoyed the fine German-style lagers produced by Bart Traubek’s Alpine Brewing Company, but few of us have actually visited the brewery in Oroville. Well, it just so happens that we were passing through Oroville recently and stopped in for a visit. Okay, we admit it, there are other ways to get from point A to point B, but the GPS in the Washington Beer Cruiser automatically programs our routes that way. A normal navigation device would tell you that there are three or four faster ways to get from Whistler, BC to Coulee City, WA; however, the GPS in the Beer Cruiser seems to have a mind of its own.
Oroville is a beautiful little town, but it’s not exactly located at the center of the Universe. It’s nearly three hours north of Wenatchee. It’s two hours northeast of Winthrop. That having been said, a significant part of your visit to Alpine Brewing is the gettin’ there. We approached Oroville from the northwest. After spending the night in British Columbia’s remote and beautiful Similkameen Valley, we repatriated ourselves at an adorable little boarder crossing near Nighthawk, WA. About 30 minutes later, we arrived at the brewery in Oroville.
Bart, who is the brewmaster and owner of Alpine, splits his time between King and Okanogan counties. We’d made contact with him but were not able to meet him at the brewery. He was on his way, but we had a schedule to keep and unfortunately we missed each other by about an hour. Luckily, Jerry was there. While Bart might be the brewmaster, Jerry will tell you, laughingly, “I’m the one who does all the work.”
Jerry was cleaning kegs and getting ready to fill them. He showed us around the brewery and obviously has a lot of pride in what he does. He referred to the beer as “his” marzen. That’s the kind of attitude you want hear!
When we visited, it was about 11:30 in the morning. The pub was empty. We can only imagine what it must be like when crowded with thirsty regulars, stopping in for a bit of relief from the hot Okanogan sun. The brewery and pub is much larger than you’re imagining. In Seattle, this location would be worth millions of dollars.
Jerry was preparing to transfer the marzen from the conditioning tank to kegs and offered us a sample of some extremely fresh beer. Usually we don’t drink before noon. Usually we aren’t in Oroville getting beer straight off of the conditioning tank either, we reasoned.
Not surprisingly, the beer was magnificent. Alpine’s beer is always excellent but is not always easy to find around the Seattle area. We sure do enjoy it whenever the opportunity arises. Of course, it could not taste any better than it did that morning.
Alpine Brewing claims to have Washington’s only copper brew kettles. As far as we know, that is true. Jerry said, “If I’d known we were going to be taking pictures I would have polished them up. These babies really shine when I get them all polished up.” With or without the spit-n-polish treatment, the copper kettles are quite beautiful. You know, if you’re in to that kind of thing. We are.
Oroville is way out there, but you really should make the trip. It is an amazingly beautiful part of the world and Oroville has not yet been “Walmarted.” The locals still buy their baked goods at Linda’s Bakery and their produce at Don’s Fruit Stand. You can get a latte, but not from Starbucks or Tully’s. It is an inviting and charming small town with a great brewery to call its own.
Just up the road in Penticton, BC, they have an annual beer festival — the Okanogan Fest-of-Ale. In 2010, the festival is schedule for April 9th and 10th. What a great reason to make the trek to the lovely shores of Osoyoos Lake and visit our friends in Oroville.
Here’s the 4-1-1
Alpine Brewing Company
PO Box 2320
821 14th Ave
Oroville WA 98844-2320
Phone: 509-476 9662
E-mail: [email protected]