From a brewing standpoint, Corvallis has been dealt quite a hand of cards. The jewel of Benton County resides at the core of the mid-Willamette Valley, known far and wide for its agricultural abundance, which, of course, includes hops. It is the home of Oregon State University, where aspiring students continue to fine-tune the trade via the school’s Fermentation Science program, complete with a pilot plant brewhouse, malthouse, sensory science lab and more.
Corvallis is equally coveted for its outdoors potential, ranging from nearby Marys Peak — the highest spot in the entire Oregon Coast range — to the old-growth mammoths of McDonald Forest. (Find Mid-Willamette Valley hiking maps at TheRightTrail.org.) Day treks in the woods merge into late-afternoon tasting trays at local breweries so seamlessly that it’s practically second nature. For the intrepid craft beer imbiber who prefers quality to crowds and an open trail around every wooded corner, Corvallis may just be your new Bavaria, Pilsen or Flanders.
Among the more established of the town’s half-dozen breweries, Block 15 made its craft beer case by perfecting Sticky Hands, a lively, aromatic IPA prone to occasional variations like the refreshing Tropical Slam version and the citrusy Marmalade take. An extensive wild and sour program hints at a love for European style while a focus on organic and regional ingredients is very much Oregonian. A commitment to freshness spells frequent tap changes to just-made batches.
Sky High’s rooftop garden atop a four-story complex downtown offers sweeping views of the Valley. The brewery has paid special heed to grub since it opened in 2012, turning out pizzas made from local farmers market findings, set to a solid beer program from its 10-barrel system with food-friendly options like the June Bug Wheat and a tangy Berliner-Weisse.
There’s a discernible Belgian streak to Mazama’s lineup in the form of saisons, tripels, quads and collaborations with Old World outfits such as De Plukker. Yet, the best work coming out of the family-owned taproom and brewery in east Corvallis may be its in-fashion experimental IPAs, which are fruit-forward and refreshing.
(Photo by Amanda Loman)
As one of the first craft operations in town, Oregon Trail is part of Corvallis’s old brewing guard — turning out beer here since 1987. Set in the Old World Deli in downtown Corvallis, Dave Willis and Jerry Bockmore draw from an expansive malt cast to create memorable draft beers like the Smoke Signal and the German-style rauchbier.
(Photo by Amanda Loman)
Half the fun of Siuslaw is getting there, a bucolic farmhouse located in Alsea on the way out to the Coast from Corvallis. Try a seasonal raspberry wheat or jump straight to dessert with their outstanding vanilla bean oatmeal stout. Patronize the nearby Pie Shack if you’re looking to keep the post-tasting sweet tooth alive and well.
When Flat Tail opened in 2010, brewer Dave Marliave, then 23, was one of the youngest in the business. A Valley operation through-and-through, his label focuses on the many berry patches and orchards dotting the landscape, creating balanced, often fruit-infused ales perfect for spring and summer. Check out the Dam Wild series, showcasing raspberries, peaches and Oregon State’s own blackberry hybrid — the marionberry — grown by local farmers.