On January 07, 2015 at 7:00 AM, updated January 07, 2015 at 7:06 AM
As of a Dec. 30 deadline, the Ratskeller Alpine Bar and Pizzeria at Government Camp had a 200-vote lead in an OregonLive.com poll for the best apres-ski bar in Oregon.
Someone out there must love both places. With more than 7,300 votes cast, each of the two leaders collected more than 3,400 votes. It’s difficult to recite more specific numbers because the poll lives on and so does the voting.
The online voting began last winter when the apres-ski project offered choices among 20 bars, all of them featured in the print edition of The Sunday Oregonian and on OregonLive.com.
For whatever reason, those two bars mobilized their supporters much more strongly than the others from Mount Hood, central Oregon and northeast Oregon. At the end of the project, those two were far and away the leaders and took turns surging past each other.
Until the bell rang.
Ratskeller had a couple of huge advantages, since it serves the big skier base of Mount Hood and is most definitely a mountain bar, where skiers can leave the slopes and be quaffing a cold one five minutes later.
Anthony Lakes Ski Area is owned by Baker County, while Barley Brown’s is a private brewing business and restaurant/bar in Baker City. The Ratskeller has the same ownership as Mt. Hood Skibowl, with both being under the H-Ski Corp. umbrella of companies.
Both bars and ski areas used Facebook and other social media to rally the vote.
Att Government Camp, the Ratskeller didn’t have much time to do anything except keep the taps flowing, once Mount Hood snow conditions improved around Christmas.
By the last Saturday of the school holiday, wave after wave of skiers coming off the slopes lined up at the Ratskeller’s three stations to place orders for drinks and food. And a lot of the drinks were non-alcoholic, because the Rat is family friendly during the early after ski hours.
Mount Hood ski bars have at least one more advantage than those is Baker City: leaving the mountain traffic.
A lot of skiers, including myself, find that after they spend 40 minutes crawling along U.S. 26 for the two miles from Snow Bunny, it’s wise to take the turn into Government Camp and find a warm spot to wait for the traffic to die out. And this particular Mount Hood crawl was on bare, wet pavement; snow on the road can easily double the drive time.
Skiers who aren’t in a hurry to get home find it much more festive to be sitting in a warm pub than facing another hour’s drive down the west side of Mount Hood, to where the highway opens up to four lanes at Rhododendron.
So take your after-skiing pleasure where you find it. It’s hard to get a bad beer in Oregon these days, unless you know it by name.
For Terry’s full story as it appeared in the Oregonian/Oregonlive.com click here