Brewing Up Unique Events
By Catie Joyce Bulay
The Northwest, known for great beer, is home to almost 700 breweries, many of which offer private event space. In addition to providing a relaxed atmosphere, breweries tell a unique story of place, not only through their ingredients, but often in the space itself. Here are several that offer everything from rich regional history to awe-inspiring views.
BOUNDARY BAY BREWERY & BISTRO, BELLINGHAM, WA
Located in downtown Bellingham across the street from the farmers market, Boundary Bay has offered classic Pacific Northwest cuisine paired with good beer on 14 taps since 1995. The 1922 building has a rich history of tenants, from an arcade and pinball machine producer to a meat packer.
The Mountain Room, named after the old tasting room in Seattle’s Rainier Brewery, infuses the space with brewing history. Owner Ed Benet had such fond memories of the tasting room, he purchased its original bar when Rainier closed and installed it in Boundary Bay’s event space. Brew tanks and a canning line add a chic industrial feel to the room that can host up to 50 people seated and 65 standing.
During warm months, large bay doors open up to a flowering garden, seating an additional 24 guests, or up to 100 standing. For an outdoor event their larger Beer Garden, maintained by a full-time gardener and designated as an official urban habitat, accommodates 150 guests and includes a tent-covered area.
THE OLD RAINIER BREWERY, SEATTLE, WA
This industrial brick building in Seattle’s trendy SoDo-Georgetown neighborhood, once housed Rainier Brewery and continues to preserve its legacy. The 1878 building, topped with the brewery’s signature “R” lit up in red and gold, is now a multi-use space that includes offices, art and music studios, a winery, and an elegant event center.
The Factory Luxe takes over what was once the brewery’s tasting room and brewpub, where locals enjoyed free beer from 1950 to the early 1990s. A mural depicting the history of beer adorns one wall, which can slide away to reveal a small stage equipped with a sound system and vintage theatre lighting. The 2,500-square-foot main room accommodates 100 seated and 200 standing, and it features hardwood floors and a 17-foot bar. The fireplace, original to the brewpub, provides a cozy centerpiece, and attendees can kick back during breaks in an adjacent swanky lounge area.
STEAMPLANT BREWING COMPANY, SPOKANE, WA
This old steam plant, which supplied heat to more than 300 buildings in downtown Spokane from 1916 to 1986, has been transformed into a multi-use space. When it opened in 1999, it garnered several awards for its historic preservation, which seamlessly incorporates the building’s old equipment into its décor. Stacks Restaurant and the Steam Plant Brewing Co. & Pub are nestled among the remaining catwalks, pipes and boilers, creating a truly unique way to experience part of the city’s history.
Last year, the restaurant and brewery underwent more renovations. It reopened early this year, keeping its funky industrial vibe, adding a polished rooftop event center and re-vamped menu. The new event space accommodates 144 seated and around 200 standing, blending both old elements of the plant, like exposed brick, with modern touches and textures, including a full bar. Guests can look up through the skylight to view the steam plant’s iconic smokestacks, and they can enjoy two patios in warm weather.
HOP VALLEY BREWING, EUGENE, OR
Located in Eugene, Oregon, where the hoppier the beer the better, Hop Valley uses only Willamette Valley-grown hops in its award-winning brews. Opened in neighboring Springfield in 2009, its current brewery operation is now located in Eugene’s funky Whiteaker Neighborhood, a short walk from Ninkasi and other breweries. The brewery honors the region’s farming past by using virtually every piece of wood from an old barn in its tap room and patio, and handcrafted furniture is made from repurposed fir and steel.
The brewery’s hops-themed Barrel Room is available for private events, accommodating 100 standing, 70 seated. You can sample their nine variations of the IPA among other classic English and German style brews and order from their full menu. Bay doors open to a rustic patio, also available to rent. Brewery tours can be added to an event for an extra touch.
DESCHUTES BREWERY & PUBLIC HOUSE, BEND, OR
Deschutes Brewery, named after the nearby wild and scenic Deschutes River, has been a longtime staple of Bend, Oregon, one of the state’s most visited outdoor recreation regions. A popular destination for locals and tourists alike, the pub’s casual atmosphere is perfect for a meeting or post-conference mixer.
Located on the second floor of the downtown pub, the Tap Room has that laid-back Bend vibe. The fun and eclectic space accommodates 30 to 100 and includes a bar where attendees can sample the brewery’s offerings from 15 taps, including varieties you won’t find in stores.
If you’re looking for more of a wow-factor, their brewing facility offers the third-floor Mountain Room, which provides stunning views of the Cascade Range from its bay windows and sprawling outdoor deck. The custom-built coppertop bar and stone- tiled walls add an elegant touch to the space, which accommodates 50 to 80 seated and 150 standing.
The menu at both locations is focused on local and handcrafted, with several items using spent grain from the brewing process. For a special treat, let them create a custom beer-paired dinner for your group.
MCMENAMINS CRYSTAL BALLROOM, PORTLAND, OR
In the heart of Beervana, the well-established McMenamins breweries are a Pacific Northwest staple. This one serves up its brews in the historic downtown building that has been a center for dancing since its tango beginnings. Surviving prohibition and an era of neglect, the space is now one of the region’s most popular music venues. When not playing host to sold-out performances, the luxurious 7,500-square foot ballroom is available for private events, accommodating up to 1,500 people. With its Italian blown-glass chandeliers, ornately carved walls and surrealist murals, this room is sure to impress any crowd.
Lola’s Room, named after Portland’s first police woman and staunch opponent of dancing, accommodates smaller gatherings (up to 200), with a similar whimsical feel. It is around the corner from the brewing room, whose large windows allow you to peek inside the process and admire the colorful brew kettles, depicting music icons and Lola herself, with a mosaic tiled tree as its centerpiece.
The same rainbow mosaic is carried downstairs onto Ringlers Pub’s show-stopping wooden bar. The space is not available for private events, but offers an ideal place to unwind post-conference, with pool and shuffleboard tables and arcades.
The adjacent Crystal Hotel makes overnight meetings a breeze. It offers 51 unique guestrooms, each inspired by a song or performance at the Crystal Ballroom. Zeus Café, two tucked-away bars and a spa provide enough entertainment that guests never have the need to leave the premises.
LONGDROP CIDER HOUSE, BOISE, ID
Although not a brewery, this new cidery share space with one, along with Idaho’s largest mobile kitchen. The fun and airy, sky-blue space adorned with painted puffy clouds, accommodates up to 50 people, and offers a flexible room set-up.
Their sweet and dry ciders are made from organic, mostly Idaho, apples, and include ingredients from local foragers. The Southbound Elderberry Cider is an excellent example of using local products to create a unique flavor profile. To pair with the cider, Smoke & Thyme’s 40-foot-long food truck offers gourmet sandwiches and small plates made fresh from local ingredients, and caters.
If cider isn’t your thing, White Dog Brewing Company and the wine and cocktail-focused Gas Lantern Drinking Company are located in the same building and also have meeting space available. This downtown multi-business venue has a dedicated parking lot and is across the street from four of Boise’s largest hotels.
FLATHEAD LAKE BREWING PUBHOUSE, BIGFORK, MT
This venue’s breathtaking views of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, are sure to inspire any meeting or event. The Pubhouse is a full-service restaurant and brewing facility. Their Imperial Room is available for
private events Labor Day through Memorial Day. It accommodates 24 seated and catered or 36 seated off the menu, and up to 50 standing. In addition to beers, they offer wines from around the country and beer cocktails.
Their beer names celebrate the abundant outdoor activities found in this region 45 minutes south of Glacier National Park. In addition to celebrating outdoor recreation, the Pubhouse is one of the most sustainable breweries around. The building, a remodeled bowling alley in the heart of downtown, is LEED certified, energy efficient and uses solar thermal power and an effluent water reuse system for heating and cooling.
LEWIS & CLARK BREWING, HELENA, MT
Honoring the pioneering spirit of these early explorers, Lewis & Clark Brewing Company is steeped in history. The building, which the 15-year-old brewery moved into in 2001, has been expanding since its first inception in 1885. It has been a smokehouse, an ice house and Montana Packing and Provisions. The paint-spackled back stairwells expose its last owner, Columbia Paint.
Their beers show off local ingredients, such as Montana malt and pumpkins roasted in-house by the owner’s wife. For their neighborhood IPA, the hops are grown onsite or sourced from nearby backyard gardens.
The Power Room, named after the stone building’s original owner and part of the old smokehouse, accommodates up to 88 people (60
to 80 seated). The space can be configured in a variety of ways and includes a 22-seat sidebar and PA system. They offer a limited catering menu and work with local caterers.
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
The Factory Lux
Steamplant Brewing Company
Hop Valley Brewing
Deschutes Brewery & Public House
McMenamins Crystal Ballroom
Longdrop Cider House
Flathead Lake Brewing Pubhouse
Lewis and Clark Brewing