|Terrific, unassuming location|
Another example of the progress that's being made in Clark County is Mill City Brew Werks in Camas. Located in the charming and historic downtown area (only blocks from the paper mill), Mill City features an extensive line of great beers and a food menu packed with tasty items prepared on site. There is nothing fake or shoddy here. Quality is king.
|At the bar|
There are reasons for these things. When Mark and his wife were in the early stages of planning the business, they did guerrilla marketing out of their residential garage. They offered food and beer in exchange for honest input on what was good and what wasn't. That input was used to develop the beer and food lists. Smart move.
|The boss checks the boil|
The brewpub approach that kick-started the craft beer revolution in Portland and around the country is on display here. Mark believes good food attracts customers who might not come in strictly for beer. People who do come in for beer will stay longer and drink more beer because they offer food. There's more overhead in food, but it's worth the additional cost, he says. It's a proven concept.
I tasted virtually everything on their beer list, as well as a couple that are simmering in the basement and not on the beer menu. Aside from a Scottish Ale that is cloudier than it should be (the yeast refuses to drop out of solution, Mark said), it's a stellar list. Even the Scottish Ale is pretty good if you drink it with your eyes closed.
Alpha IPA (7.1% ABV, 88 IBU) is their flagship beer and one of the beers they were serving at last week's Celebration of Beer at Skamania Lodge. For good reason. This is a nicely balanced IPA that's dry-hopped with Simcoe. The hops are immediately evident in the nose and flavor. Alpha IPA compares well with some of the area's best IPAs and will likely be the basis of further expansion...which I'll get to
Zech's Bavarian Hefeweizen (5.5%.ABV, 11 IBU) is a traditional Hefeweizen with strong clove and banana aromas and flavors. This beer competes with Alpha IPA for their top selling brew, Mark said. I get it. This was the first keg to blow at Skamania and I heard several people raving about it.
Log Splitter Imperial IPA (9.5% ABV, 90 IBU) leans on eight types of hops added at different times. The beer is deep copper in color and packs a wallop. They serve Log Splitter in an 8 oz snifter for good reason. It isn't dry-hopped, so it lacks the aroma of the standard IPA..but it's a fairly complex beer.
|On-site bakery in motion|
Pst Pale Ale (5.2% ABV, 26 IBU) is a sessionable beer that works well. This one leans on Citra for dry-hopping and the aroma is unmistakable. This is a great choice if you like the smell of Citra and plan to have a few beers.
Some of the other beers included Hop This Fresh Hop IPA (no green moldy character here), Dragonfly Black Rye IPA (great if you're a fan of rye beer), Genesis Cream Porter (full-bodied), Milk Stout (smooth as silk on nitro) and Nelson Sauvin IPA (made exclusively with New Zealand hops).
|Fermenters and brite tanks|
It's interesting. Mill City has no plans to enter the Portland market. Mark says they will focus on Clark County for now. If things go as he expects, long-term plans include a brewpub in downtown Vancouver, a production brewery outside the city and entry into the Seattle market. He intends to begin building the Mill City brand in Seattle in the near future so he'll have a customer base once the production facility comes online.
Mill City is certainly a worthy addition to the local beer scene. The fact that it's located in an underserved area in a charming spot makes it just that much more appealing. Check it out if you have a chance. Mill City is located at 339 NE Cedar in Camas. They have a Facebook page, but no website.
|Historic downtown Camas|