The next leg of my beer vacation took me to the sleepy little town of Centralia, WA. What’s in Centralia you ask? McMenamins Olympic Club, that’s what! What is the Olympic Club? A gym? Ok, enough of the questions. The Olympic Club is a historic hotel located in old downtown Centralia. Built in 1908 and renovated in 1913, the Olympic Club has spent the last century reinventing its self and, as with most old hotels, has a colorful history. Spending most of its life as the Oxford Hotel, it was known as a gentlemen’s club, a pool hall and, of course, there are even tales of a brothel. Today it serves as a 27 room hotel with a full service restaurant, two bars, pool hall, and movie theater.
McMenamins Brewery bought the club in 1997 and lovingly restored it to the impressive retreat it is today. Now I could go on all day about McMenamins Brewery and their commitment to salvaging PNW history one building at a time but I will save that for a later article…back to The Olympic Club. Now if you have never been to a McMenamins establishment you are in for a treat. Except for the name change the Olympic Club has remained virtually unchanged over the last 100 years, right down to the Tiffany-style stained glass light fixtures and Belgian crystal to the ceramic tile floors and antique cash register. In fact, if you take a stroll through the building you will see many photos of The Olympic Club and the city of Centralia over the last century. The adjoining restaurant is kid friendly and more of the original establishment lurks in every corner. In the connecting pool hall you can choose your “stick” and play a few games on the original century old pool tables.
Down the hall you will find McMenamins movie theater. You can cuddle up on any of the love seats or choose a comfy chair and enjoy one of the latest releases. Food and drink are very welcome in the theater and they will even bring it to you when you order from the bar. Kid friendly matinees show during the day and the latest blockbusters begin showing in the early evening. Live bands also grace the theatre so check the club’s schedule for performances.
Up the creaky old stairs the hotel’s spirits greet guests in photo and art. McMenamins artists preserve the history of the club by whimsically illustrating stories on the walls. Each guest room is named for and tells a story of a different character in the clubs history. Guest room prices depend on bed preference: queen beds or bunk beds. Trust me… it’s great fun reliving childhood by sleeping in a bunk bed! One thing I must warn you about, if you are not a fan of European style restrooms (shared restrooms) then this hotel may not be for you. Only one of the guest rooms, the King Suite, has a private bathroom so you may want to check far in advance for availability. But in all honesty my husband and I have stayed at the Olympic club MANY times and have never had a problem with unavailability of the shared bathrooms.
Now you are probably thinking “Liz, this is all great, but where does the beer come in?” Glad you asked. McMenamins has been brewing beer since 1985 and is exclusive only to McMenamins pubs, hotels and restaurants. You can drink beer anywhere in Olympic Club including the hotel and theatre. What’s on tap? One of my favorites is also one of McMenamins most popular beers: Ruby. Not too sweet Ruby is brewed with 42lbs of Oregon grown raspberry puree. This Raspberry ale is crisp, light bodied, and fruity and a great beer for warmer weather but also enjoyable no matter what time of year you visit. Hammerhead is McMenamins top-selling beer and it’s not hard to see why. This lovely pale ale is brewed with Cascade hops and crystal malt creating an incredibly hoppy aroma and flavor but finishing very smooth. For those of you looking for something a bit darker I would recommend the Terminator Stout. The black beauty is full-bodied and toasty with flavors of coffee and dark chocolate. I enjoy this one on the Olympic Club back patio next to the fire pit. The Olympic Club has seasonal beers on tap so always ask the bartender what’s new. McMenamins also owns a winery and a distillery creating some pretty potent spirits.
Tickets to the movie theater and access to the pool tables are free to hotel guests. I love the Olympic Club. One could spend the day browsing through the nearby antique stores or playing pool in the pool hall. It’s a great way to spend an evening or even a long weekend.