Gorges Beer Is Holding Its First-Ever Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day

Participants, including the owners and head brewer, will parade in holiday attire from the Cascade Locks pub to the Columbia River before diving in.

Let’s face it. New Year’s Eve is for suckers.

Whether it’s the expense (every dinner, concert and hotel room costs at least twice the normal amount), the masses, or the drunks, you inevitably wake up with regret the next morning, hazy about the particulars and a little worse for the wear.

Instead of going big to bid good riddance to 2021 on Dec. 31, focus instead on welcoming 2022 with a new tradition on New Year’s Day. And Gorges Beer is rolling out an inaugural event just in time to help you kick off a fresh stretch of 365 days in the most invigorating way possible: a Polar Bear Plunge.

More than two dozen people have already committed to stripping down to their swim trunks at the Cascade Locks location and then scampering into the frigid Columbia River. They’ll be joined by Gorges’ owners and head brewer, who will all be rewarded with the pub’s first-ever brunch special and beer pairing once they’ve waddled out of the water.

If the thought of plunging into a bath that has a temperature hovering just over 40 degrees, during a weeklong cold snap has you feeling hypothermic already, you could come out for the sheer spectacle. Participants in holiday attire plan to parade from the brewery at 390 Wa Na Pa St. to the water’s edge before jumping in.

“We now have 25 people attending, and will be marching in festive costumes behind the Cascade Locks fire truck and the Gorges delivery fan,” Gorges co-founder Travis Preece tells WW. “There should be some ridiculous photos afterward.”

Since getting doused in shockingly cold water requires a bit of courage, the event actually starts at 10 am at Gorges with a fortifying round of hot toddies or whiskeys (there’s also coffee for anyone not ready to drink alcohol before noon). The parade commences at 10:45 am, followed by the plunge at 11 am.

The brunch menu, prepared by Gorges’ new chef Sara Woods, includes housemade cinnamon rolls, a smoked salmon omelet, croque madame, roast butternut squash winter hash, spiced Stout of the Gods doughnut holes and French toast drizzled in a rye whiskey caramel-apple sauce.

Gorges is also releasing five new beers during the meal: an experimental stout that was aged three months in whiskey barrels, a saison fermented on zinfandel grapes, a lager that rested for three months in cabernet sauvignon vessels, a porter and a Czech-style Pilsner.

Tickets are $50, and this being a Gorge brewery, 20% of the proceeds will go to the Trailkeepers of Oregon.

Related: Ranger-Guided First Day Hikes Will Return in 2022