Sure, Corvallis and Albany are known for their adorable alpacas, fertile farmland and world-class wineries. But the mid-Willamette Valley also boasts an enviable homegrown food and craft beverage scene that’s ripe for visiting.
From cider to mead, coffee liqueur to native gin, here are 9 spots to stop for a taste of beverage innovation in Corvallis and Albany:
1) Calapooia Brewing Co. in Albany is a local favorite, a spot to catch live music every Sunday and enjoy a pint of Paddle Me IPA with a hearty bowl of Chili Beer chili (made with their award-winning beer, generously flavored with fresh Anaheim, serrano and jalapeno peppers).
2) Caves Bier & Kitchen in downtown Corvallis is a cozy European-style beer tavern with a book of more than 130 bottles available. Grab a pint or bottle of your favorite Belgian import or a Black Butte XVIII bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout and a Painted Hills burger for happy hour bliss. Then come back for dinner or weekend brunch, and don’t forget to stop in downstairs at Caves’ sister restaurant, Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery.
3) Nectar Creek, founded by beekeeping brothers from Corvallis, is growing the popularity of their session mead (lower than 10 percent ABV), made from fermented raw honey sourced directly from sustainable beekeepers. The flavors reflect the seasons, with local ingredients like strawberries, wildflowers, ginger and hibiscus. To celebrate harvest time, try the Honeycone, made with whole-cone Cascade hops and raw honey.
4) Vivacity Fine Spirits in Corvallis produces handcrafted vodka, rum and two types of gin. It’s their Turkish coffee liqueur, however, that has us ready for storm-watching an hour away on the Coast in a cozy window seat. Made with locally roasted coffee, freshly ground with cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks, it’ll perk up your senses in no time.
5) Warm up to fall with a tasting at Spiritopia in Corvallis, which just released its sultry pomegranate liqueur, made from fresh juice and oak-aged apple brandy. Founder and “spirit chemist” Chris Beatty strives for the trinity of essence, spirit and sweetness in his creations, which include swoon-worthy ginger and apple liqueurs.
6) At 4 Spirits Distillery in Adair Village, visitors can taste from their rum, vodka, whiskey and bourbon collections. The bourbon, in particular, is smooth and bold, with notes of vanilla, caramel and spice. Owner Dawson Officer, a combat veteran whose four comrades were killed in Baghdad in 2004, dedicates at least 10 percent of his bourbon sales proceeds to veterans of foreign wars and their families.
7) 2 Towns Ciderhouse keeps it fresh and exciting for cider fans with their lineup of seasonals. Get a taste of fall with their Nice & Naughty Imperial Spiced Apple, chock full of whole cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Nosh on a cheese or hummus plate at their tap room and make an afternoon of it.
8) With its gorgeously styled labels, Mazama Brewing is perhaps best known for their Wizard Island Wit, an age-old beer style saved from near-extinction in the 1960s. With notes of coriander and orange peel spices, the bright malt is fantastic with an order of pommes frites.
9) Flat Tail Brewing is Beaver central for Oregon State fans, who like to sport their beer geekiness with feats of fermentation like their pucker-inducing Dry Hops and Lemon Verbena, which took bronze in the World Beer Cup this year. The burger-heavy pub menu comes complete with its own “Hangover Fix” section after a long weekend of tasting.