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What are some of the best breweries to visit near McMinnville?

Of course, you’ll be deep in Wine Country there, and I should encourage you to stop in at one of the bajillion wineries for a drop of pinot — it is definitely worth a stop. As for beer, a couple to put on your list are Golden Valley (McMinnville), one of Oregon’s older breweries and a good one. The long-time brewer there, Mark Vickery, went off and started Grain Station (McMinnville), which should probably be your first stop. Great story, great place — and great beer. Another brewery I love is Heater Allen (also McMinnville), but they focus on lagers so you’ll have to decide whether that fits the bill. (Lagers have finally started to get popular in Oregon, and this brewery is one of the big reasons why.)

A couple other places to note: You might consider driving to Salem to check out Santiam, which is an interesting brewery that does mainly cask ales. It’s unusual and you might find it interesting. There’s also a new brewery in Dundee called Deception. Breweries open so fast in Oregon that I’m falling behind. I still haven’t made it out there. Perhaps you can go and tell me what it’s like.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on January 17th, 2016 - Post Your Answer
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Where should two Texan beer connoisseurs visit during their Oregon honeymoon?

Congratulations on the wedding! The McMenamins pubs are definitely worth checking out — they have some of the most interesting properties in the region. (I have my favorites.) Beyond that, there are literally dozens of breweries in Oregon (six dozen, last I counted). Unless you’re planning for a very long honeymoon, you may not be able to see them all. Because we drink so much of our own beer, a lot of it never leaves Oregon, so most of our breweries are considered obscure to people even a state or two away. Here are my recommendations for the most interesting ones in Portland:

  • Breakside. Consistently one of the best, Breakside has a wide range of beers for all tastes and their Northeast Portland pub has great food. Another good brewery, Ex Novo, is just around the corner.
  • Deschutes. Downtown in the Pearl District, Deschutes is possibly the most accomplished brewery in Oregon, and they also have an extensive taplist of beers you won’t find outside that pub — plus great food. (Try the elk burger.) Not far from Deschutes is Pints, which has a German-trained brewer and does great German beer.
  • Cascade Barrel House and The Commons. These two breweries are about five blocks from each other. Cascade is famous for its barrel-aged sours, and even if you don’t like that type of beer, it’s worth having a sample or two. The Commons focuses on farmhouse beers and especially for the non-hopheads, do some of the best ales in town.
  • Culmination. This is a new brewery in the inner Southeast Portland that has exceptional beer — and I bet no one in Texas has ever heard of it.
  • Upright. Located in the Lloyd District, Upright has limited taproom hours, but does wonderful European styles and some barrel-aged specialties.
  • Gigantic is in an industrial part of town, but they make up for it with their amusing “Champagne Lounge,” where you can get a nice range of their beers.
  • Finally, for the ultimate Portland vibe, stop into the Lucky Lab for a pint (go to the Hawthorne location). It is about as Portlandia a place as you can find (and beloved by locals).

 

I think the ones I mentioned will give you a good sense of what Oregon and Portland have to offer, but they are certainly only the tip of the iceberg.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on October 16th, 2015 - Post Your Answer
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We want to tour craft breweries in Oregon; what cities should we visit?

Good news, there are at least six Oregon cities to visit with amazing beer — but that may count as bad news, too. Here they are, with my best-bets for breweries:

  • Portland. They don’t call it “Beervana” for nuthin. There are scores of breweries here, and it’s hard to go too far wrong. The inner Southeast has the richest vein of good breweries, and you can do a walking tour of several of them. Hair of the Dog is just across from downtown on the Morrison Bridge (good for big, barrel-aged beers). A bit further east is the Commons, which makes wonderful farmhouse ales. A bit further east is the Cascade Barrel House, which makes amazing sour ales. Other highly recommended breweries are Breakside, Upright, Gigantic, Deschutes, and Widmer. (There are even more, but this is a great start.)
  • Bend. For a small town, it really has a crazy amount of breweries. The original Deschutes is there, along with several other great choices: Boneyard, Crux, Worthy, and Bend Brewing.
  • Hood River. While Portland and Bend get most of the attention, I’d actually nominate Hood River has having the state’s best beer. It was where Full Sail got started, and brewers from that brewery have gone on to found some absolutely astonishing places, Double Mountain, pFriem, and Solera (actually a short drive away, in Parkdale). The founder of Wyeast yeast labs also founded a farmhouse brewery — in an actual farm just outside of Hood River — called Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. pFriem, Logsdon, and Solera have amazing views.
  • Astoria. The Northern Oregon Coast has some great beer, too. Fort George and Astoria Brewing (Wet Dog Cafe) have recently been joined by Buoy, which is a fabulous brewpub right on the bay.
  • Eugene. In the southern Willamette Valley, Eugene has a growing stable of great breweries: Ninkasi, Oakshire, Falling Sky, and Hop Valley. Just outside of town is Agrarian.
  • Corvallis. Not far from Eugene, Corvallis has also got two of Oregon’s best breweries in Block 15 and Flat Tail — both a short stroll from one another.

Even if you’re not in one of these cities, make sure you look around (the Oregon Brewers Guild has a good listing by region) because chances are there’s a good brewery nearby.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on July 22nd, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Which breweries should we visit in Bend?

Bend, Oregon–let’s see, I think if I recall correctly, they have a brewery there. Kidding. Bend has gone insane. There are currently have, depending on how you count, around 18 breweries in Central Oregon, and ten or so in Bend proper. The difficulty is not finding breweries, it’s choosing which ones to go to.

The first thing I’d recommend is getting the Bend Ale Trail app if you have a smart phone. It has listings of all the breweries and a map that helps you navigate around. Then you have the hard choices. Deschutes is definitely a must–it’s one of the best breweries in the US, and a bit of a pilgrimage to see the original downtown brewpub. If you want to stay downtown, Bend Brewing is another venerable favorite and just around the corner.

I’d recommend three other places. Definitely try Crux Fermentation Project, which just opened last year. It’s Larry Sidor’s new brewery–he was the master brewer at Deschutes for ten years prior to starting Crux. (Inversion, Green Lakes, the Abyss, Hop Henge, etc etc–all his.) It’s in a bit of a no-man’s land, but the pub is gorgeous and fun. Next, you might try to stop in at Boneyard, which is on the walkable outskirts of downtown. Boneyard is an IPA house, which I know is not your sweet spot. But it’s also the “it” brewery in Oregon right now–they have the most popular IPA from Bend to Portland, which is really saying something. A funky little place named after the brewer’s efforts to cobble together his brewery by picking the “bones” of other breweries. (They only have a tasting room with limited hours, so plan ahead.) Finally, Worthy Brewing is brand-new, and a place I haven’t yet visited. But it’s a big project helmed by Chad Kennedy, who was formerly the longtime brewer at Laurelwood in Portland. He’s a really fantastic brewer.

Those are my best bets, but Silver Moon and 10 Barrel are really good, too. Bend is a great town for beer, and you can’t go wrong–it’s easy as Sunday Morning. Best of luck, and cheers.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on July 3rd, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Heading from Canada to Crater Lake and Florence. Could you recommend bars in those areas with unique local beers? Many thanks from a thirsty wanderer!

In Florence, your best bets are the Beachcomber Pub (20 taps, with some nice southern Willamette Valley picks) or Wakonda Brewing Co.  I actually haven’t been to Wakonda yet, but the reviews are impressive.

Crater Lake isn’t ringed with pubs, so take some beer with you.  Oh, and if you’re taking OR 58 from Eugene down to Crater Lake, you must stop in Oakridge at the Brewers Union Local 180.  It’s a tiny brewpub run by one of the country’s leading advocates of cask ale.  Ask for him if you want to spend an hour in lovely conversation.  His name’s Ted and you can tell him I sent you.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on July 26th, 2012 - Post Your Answer

My friend and I are planning a motorcycle ride over to the Oregon Coast from Northern Idaho near the end of July. Any roads or towns you would recommend hitting? We would like to spend some time near the ocean and find some good local brews.

There’s a coveted motorcycle route through the Wallowas on the 39 road (Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway) from Joseph to Halfway—if you have the time. To get to the Wallowas from North Idaho, you’d come through Moscow and Lewiston over highway 82—another epic two-lane roadway—to Enterprise. That’s where you’ll find Terminal Gravity brewpub, one of the first small crafters in the state and home of a great IPA. (I am a huge fan of  their single hop variety double IPAs only available at the brewpub.) If you take the 39 road, you’ll end up on Highway 84 in Baker City, where you’ll find Barley Browns Brewpub. I also recommend a stop in Pendleton at Prodigal Son Brewery. From there you can continue on I-84 and swing through Hood River and the Double Mountain Brewery before high tailing it to the coast.

Answered by Lynne Curry on April 19th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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Can you offer a couple of Oregon IPA’s I must try? – Kevin J.

These kinds of questions are always rough to answer, but I’ll give it a shot. The trouble is, IPAs are so variable that opinions invariably vary. But you didn’t ask me to waffle, so here goes.

I personally have three favorites, for different reasons:

  • India Pelican Ale from Pelican. As an all-arounder, it’s hard to beat. Lots of sticky, resinous hopping, but it’s bright and not overly heavy. The hoppy aromas and flavors are intense but not overwhelming.
  • Double Mountain Vaporizer. A recent phenomenon in Oregon has been the “Summer IPA”–an all-pilsner malt, light-bodied IPA that has all kinds of zesty, refreshing hops. Vaporizer is single-hopped with US Challengers, and it is ideal on a hot day. (Draft only.)
  • Fort George Vortex. Sometimes you are looking to be overwhelmed, to have your eyelids pasted back in your skull as a green flame of hop intensity screams down your throat. Vortex is my go-to in those situations.
  • Ninkasi does two nice beers, as well. Total Domination is their lively regular IPA and Maiden the Shade is their summer IPA. Terminal Gravity’s venerable IPA is still amazing. And, if you’re looking to go imperial, I’d suggest Hopworks Ace of Spades or Hair of the Dog Blue Dot.

Sound good?
Jeff

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on March 12th, 2012 - Post Your Answer
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