Grubbin’ in the ‘Shoug: 54-40 Brewing Now Has Food

Beer and food. They need each other.

54-40 Brewing in Washougal, WA has brought together one of the finest pairings of talent and taste together. After a couple years of inviting food trucks to park just outside the door, Bolt & Amy Minister, owners of 54-40 Brewing have brought the kitchen in-house.

Meet Dalles Nelson. He may have a familiar face around Portland food. Dalles started out in Eugene, Oregon washing dishes at Steelhead Brewing when Jaimie Floyd, now the owner of Ninkasi, was brewing there. His culinary cloth is cut from experience in the kitchens of Podnah’s, La Taq and, recently, Wayfinder. In between his time in Eugene and his time in Portland, Dalles spent a few years in Austin, TX – a city that’s built it’s own foodie culture and beer scene in more recent years. Dalles says he draws from that southwestern influence and aims to mash it together with classic NW staples.

Dalles Nelson brings a flare for food from far reaches to 54-40 Brewing Company.

The project, from concept to opening, was about 3 months, but the decision to hand Dalles the “keys to the castle” was easy. “We told him to do what he wants to do,” shared Bolt in reference to the menu and kitchen operations. “He knows beer. He knows the culture and what the clientele wants.”

Dalles lowered the drawbridge to his castle and the menu is delightful! I asked for Dalles’ recommendation in what I should eat that day. He didn’t hesitate to offer up the burger. I was eye-balling the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, but I obliged to the chef’s choice. And I’m glad I did.

This burger (pictured throughout this article, but later devoured) was phenomenal. If you’ve read previous articles of mine where food is discussed, you may recall that I do not claim to be any sort of food critic. However, I know quality and craftsmanship when I see/eat it.

The burger was cooked to perfection. Juicy. Not charred. Arugula, tomato, shaved onion, cart pickles, poblano mayo on brioche bun and some of the thickest cut bacon I’ve ever known. But it was the cart pickles that blew me away! These pickles are house-made from squash and zucchini. It came with an extra few on the side and I destroyed them with the Garfunkel Fries tossed in parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in garlic butter. I also enjoyed the pretzel and dipped it repeatedly in the mustard made with 54-40 Brewing’s Zepplin Amber. If you’re not drooling on yourself right now, consult a physician.

“Beer should bring people together, and Dalles believes the same thing about food,” Bolt stated.

The opportunity to come together for food and beer doesn’t get much better than being at 54-40 this weekend! It’s the grand opening celebration of the kitchen and 2 beer releases on September 8th and 9th during SHOUGTOBERFEST. 54-40 Brewing will also be releasing their To Bavaria With Love Oktoberfest alongside Holy Hops, Batman! – A fresh hop IPA made with Centennial Hops from Goschie Farms in Silverton, Oregon.

As the top of the new menu reads, “Welcome! Now grub it up, yo!”

Michael Perozzo
Michael Perozzo

Michael Perozzo is a life-long resident of Southwest Washington and father of 4. At his day job, he leads a digital marketing and graphic design team supporting food/beverage clients at ZZEPPELIN. Michael helped start Brewcouver – the passport to Vancouver’s breweries – and co-founded NorthBank Beer Week. He also manages beer buying for the Vancouver Brewfests and helped create Brewing Bridges Collaboration Fest. Portland Trail Blazers fans may remember him as DarthBlazer circa 2008-2012.