Rail Side channels European style brews

New microbrewery is now open in Washougal

Washougal is now on the map for local microbreweries.

Mike Davis, of Vancouver, brought his roots and his passions together to create Rail Side Brewing, Ltd., located in Washougal.

On his menu are some good Southern fixin’s along with Polish standard delicacies. His beer, the only beverage available other than water, doesn’t mess around.

“I’m more traditional on how I make my recipes,” Davis explains. “Fads are always changing, and I experiment with them, but I try to stay with the traditional guidelines.”

Davis started Rail Side in 2009 with his wife Anka, whom he met in Poland, and two friends. The businesses doors, however, just opened in August.

“It was a long process, but it was worth it.”

The pub sits in an unassuming industrial building, but inside, patrons will be reminded of old-style European pubs. There are eight tables of various sizes with seats also available at the bar. A large fireplace covers one wall, and a window into the microbrewing room shows customers how their beer is made. Lights are dim, music is quiet and the wooden panels and stonework create a welcoming atmosphere. It is a place for friends and family to gather and be merry.

Davis designed the entire set up and built most of the structures and designs. He was given a large square room, and he created a home.

“The history of brewing beer has always been my favorite part,” Davis said. “You’re creating a place and a drink that people want to gather around.”

Davis started brewing beers when he was 19 years old.

“I started with one of those starter kits, you know, with the syrups,” he said, but then made a face. “That wasn’t real brewing, so after two batches, I tried my hand at all-grain brewing. They were awful. But I finally started to get serious. I read books and books, picking out what I like and what I disagreed with.”

Since Davis grew up in Florida and worked with the Peace Corps in Poland for a couple years, Washougal may seem like a random place to settle down. But Davis and Anka visited his brother in Vancouver and decided it was the place for them.

Davis works during the week as a mortgage broker in Vancouver. His heart lies, however, at Rail Side Brewing. He looks comfortable behind the bar, talking to customers and preparing good food and beer.

“There’s nothing like this out here,” he explains. “If people want to go out to the Gorge to hike or whatever, there’s only one brewery to go to, and while it’s a great place and I love it, it’s still way out there.”

Rail Side, a seven-barrel brewery, offers a variety of pizzas and four or five staple beers — Davis hasn’t decided yet. All other foods and drinks rotate whenever he feels like it, since he bakes, makes and brews it all on-site.

The beers follow the traditions of their ancestors. A wheat beer at Rail Side will not be like American wheats, which are normally more sweet; instead it is slightly more bitter and full bodied with a citrus tang.

A food staple at Rail Side is a Polish green cabbage salad. While that may not sound to everyone’s liking, it tastes creamy and fresh and goes with anything. Anka prepares it, but won’t let on what’s in it.

“She won’t even give me the recipe,” says Davis with a laugh.

Rail Side will play host to Oktoberfest Sept. 21 to 23.

For more information, visit the Rail Side Brewing, Ltd., Facebook page, or call Mike Davis at 907-8582.

Rail Side Brewing, Ltd., is located at 421 “C” St., Unit B, one block east of Starbucks. Hours of operation are Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 5 to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, from 3:30 to 10 p.m.