The Olympic Wilderness and San Juan Islands cruise on Un-Cruise Adventure’s Wilderness Adventurer sometimes has themed sailings. Sometimes the theme is beer. On a beer-themed cruise, each day brings about a new adventure in a new place just like a regular sailing, often with options for things like kayaking or hiking. In addition this cruise also brought a new beer themed activity every day. The welcome aboard cocktail this cruise was a St. Germain shandy made with Fremont Interurban IPA.
Our sailing started with an impromptu tour of Stoup Brewery in Seattle, near Fishermen’s Terminal where Un-Cruise home ports. This unplanned tour came about due to a short delay in our departure. We all got to see the beer-making equipment and those who wished sampled the beer. The host of all things beer on our sailing, Kendall Jones of Washington Beer Blog and his wife Kim showed they could entertain on the fly as well as their planned daily events. They also hand-picked the beer served on board throughout the cruise with beer on tap from Airways Brewing, Bale Breaker Brewing, Fremont Brewing, No-Li Brewhouse, Silver City Brewing, and Schooner Exact Brewing and a selection of other Washington beers in bottles and cans served throughout the cruise.
Our first full day brought us to Hoodsport on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. After a rainy hike in the rainforest (it’s a rain forest, what do you expect?) we had a visit to the ship from the locals at Hama Hama Oysters who showed everyone how to shuck an oyster and let people try their hand at it before sampling them in a beer and oyster pairing with beers from American Brewing Company in Edmonds and Seattle’s Elysian Brewery when they were still independent. Certain beers were chosen to pair with specific oysters so each could bring out the flavor of the other.
Next day the ship moved north and into a dryer area at Port Townsend. Western Washington has a number of micro-climates where areas less then 100 miles apart differ dramatically in annual rainfall. For example on the Olympic Peninsula Forks in the rainforest near the coast averages nearly 120 inches of rain each year while Sequim just 70 miles away on the other side of the Olympic Mountains has less than 16. Hoodsport gets over 100 and Port Townsend about 19. The San Juan Islands vary in the 20-something inches range. Most islands have a wet and dry side. San Juan Island for instance averages 20 inches of rainfall annually at American Camp and 29 at British Camp. Seattle with all its reputation for rain receives around 36 inches, and Mount Olympus in the Olympic Mountains gets 220, making even Forks look dry in comparison.
In Port Townsend passengers had the option of touring Port Townsend Brewing Company before exploring the town, or just going straight into their explorations. The brewery tour included a guided and narrated walk through the brewing facilities and a visit to the tasting room. Those who wanted to sample more beer took a walk to a taproom called the Pourhouse. That evening brought a tasting of Washington beers on the top deck while watching a beautiful sunset.
On day 4 the ship anchored up near Deception Pass State Park and brought people ashore for hikes in the woods. Dinner that night included beer pairings for each course with free samples of the selected beers for anyone who wanted them. Each course had a different local craft beer paired with each menu selection. Dinner selections included a lovely green salad with breaded goat cheese and candied sunflower seeds, paired with Pike Brewing’s Saison Houblon; Scallops seared in a white wine butter sauce, paired with Bellevue Brewing’s 425 Pale Ale; grain mustard glazed pork paired with Pike Post Alley Porter; and a chocolate decadence cake with raspberry ice cream paired with Iron Horse’s Irish Death. After dinner brought more beer tastings out on the top deck with entertainment provided by jets at a nearby naval base practicing touch and go landings.
The next day the ship docked in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. People explored the town on their own and returned to the ship for Happy Hour, with hors devours and a sampling of several beers from Silver City Brewing of Bremerton and Silverdale on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. While San Juan Island is probably most famous for the Pig War in the mid 1800’s when ownership of the San Juan Islands was in dispute between the USA and England, Pig War Beer is made in Oregon and didn’t qualify as a local beer.
A visit to Orcas Island started with explorations of Moran State Park and a visit to the top of Mount Constitution. Stormy seas changed the afternoon’s brewery tour to a visit to the ship from people at Orcas Island’s Island Hoppin Brewery – who brought plenty of their beer to share.
The last full day of the cruise brought us to uninhabited Sucia Island, a marine state park. After passengers finished hiking around on the island the crew served up some fantastic hors devours accompanied by a beach bonfire. Kendal presented premium beers in cans – perfect for hiking. One was called Trailhead Beer – brewed specifically for easy portability traveling or in backpacks. Of course anyone who wanted could try the beers.
Most of the beer info in this blog is from our beer expert Kendal’s post on Washington Beer blog.