Ice Harbor Brewing Company
206 North Benton Street
Visited on September 30, 2008
Ice Harbor Brewing Company was the third and final brewpub I had to visit in the Tri-cities area of southeastern Washington. After having a decent experience at Atomic Ales and a pretty disappointing trip to Kimo’s Sports and Brewing, it wouldn’t take much for Ice Harbor to gain the throne of the area’s best.
It barely succeeded.
By my recollection, it’s a solid establishment. The beer’s were fine, as was the food and atmosphere. I wouldn’t hate to have it in my neighborhood, but I wouldn’t drive from the next town over to visit, either. If memory serves, the cheesecake was rather dry, which made me dislike the place just that much more.
My final stop in the tri-cities area was thankfully the best. Ice Harbor (the original location, not the harbor location) is definitely off of the beaten path and not recognizable as a brewpub just driving by, which I did before locating it. It seems the restaurant and small store sprung up adjacent to the brewery, as they tend to do. Inside has a very “Cheers” atmosphere with sparse tables heavily populated with regulars, even on a Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing cheesy or fake about the place, just a solid, down-to-earth establishment. One note of interest is the “beer wheel” which is spun every time a train goes by. The price it lands on is the price for a pint for the next hour or so.
There’s nothing special about the pub grub served, which is what they specialize in. Onion rings were solid but nothing spectacular and the same could be said for the very simple, but tasty, French dip sandwich I ate. I recommend splitting some appetizers, since the pretzel, beer cheese, and beer mustard are all the best things on the menu. I tried the cheesecake as well, and it was dry and very disappointing.
But the beer is by far the best in the tri-cities. It blows away the competition. Every beer is extremely tasty and well-done. They are well-hopped and attack your taste buds in a great way. The lighter beers were definitely better, since the darker varieties were scarce. The Runaway Red and Harvest Pale were my favorites. And of the seasonal, a summer ale spiced with orange and coriander took the prize. There are few breweries I’ve been to serving more consistent beer than Ice Harbor.
Unfortunately the place was packed and one server was hustling to attend the entire bar and restaurant. She did well, but come on, give her some help.