By Dan Haag
For the Oregon Beer Growler
If, as Ben Franklin is said to have opined, beer is indeed proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, then Astoria is well on its way to becoming a beer-lover’s paradise.
Case-in-point: Reach Break Brewing, the sixth brewery to set up shop in the North Oregon Coast town. Officially opened in February, Reach Break is rapidly proving one town can never have too much of a good thing.
Owned and operated by brothers and Coos Bay natives Josh and Jared Allison, Reach Break is a labor of love for a pair of avid homebrewers who made a leap of faith after circumstances gave them a nudge.
Josh Allison, with a background as a biologist, has been homebrewing “religiously” for over a decade. An injury made him look at new avenues and brewing professionally seemed a logical fit.
The term “Reach Break” is a reflection of his biology experience as it describes the exact location where two rivers or streams merge — a point where everything comes together.
Josh says it fit the brewery perfectly. “At Reach Break, we are bringing everything together in one location: hoppy, juicy IPAs, farmhouse-inspired saisons, big flavorful stouts and long-term sours,” he says.
Astoria is even located adjacent to a reach break, where the Youngs and Columbia Rivers merge.
Reach Break is also the confluence of the Allisons’ aspirations.
“Opening a brewery has always been a dream for my wife and I,” he says. “Me, because I absolutely love it. And she really wanted her kitchen, garage and shed back.”
Josh dove into learning about the business side of brewing, enrolling in the online Business of Craft Brewing program at Portland State University, which is geared toward people who brew at home and want to take things to the next level.
All the while, he was hoping to find a spot for a coastal brewery and spent time scouting out possible locations that would fit his needs, which included facilities for long-term barrel aging.
Jared, likewise a devoted homebrewer, honed his craft in Eugene with the “Brew of O” homebrew club, soon working his way into a job at Ninkasi Brewing and then several other commercial breweries.
“That really took his game to another level and he developed quite a resume,” Josh says.
The two connected while Josh was preparing to open Reach Break in Astoria and Jared was living in Tillamook. Jared came on board as an owner/operator.
The downtown Astoria location at 13th and Duane Streets originally housed the Lovell’s Used Car Center. The parking lot is where autos were showcased and the repairs took place inside where the brewery and taproom are now located. Later, the location played host to several other businesses, including a bicycle shop and various retail operations. Turning the building into a brewery was no small task.
“We had to do a lot of cleaning and work on the facility to get it ready for beer production,” Josh says.
That included the installation of a large walk-in cooler, running a glycol system for their tanks, upgrading the main water and natural gas lines, and general utility work, such as plumbing and electrical.
Now up and running, the cozy space features a taproom with a bar, couch and table seating. Reach Break has licensed the former parking lot for beer consumption outside when the weather improves this summer. Rather than having a commercial kitchen, Reach Break will rely on food trucks, which will be located just outside the taproom.
“We really wanted to focus on making the best beer possible and to allow somebody else to focus on making the best food possible,” Josh says.
Creating the best beer possible is already well underway. Several stouts were on tap during Stout Month in February, for example.
“We also are going to be producing a lot of hoppy, juicy, hazy IPAs. Jared has been developing some recipes for a while,” Josh says.
Those include Amoeba Session IPA and Evolution Of An IPA Part 1, both of which Josh says ran out much quicker than expected. As the name implies, The Evolution Series will be an ever-changing line of IPAs. “They will always have a similar genetic backbone, but we will tweak something every batch, like hops, malt, yeast, water,” explains Josh.
Mykiss and Citrus Mykiss, two saisons, have also been popular with customers and the brothers are looking forward to doing more variations.
“We also have mixed-culture beer fermenting and aging in oak barrels downstairs in our barrel cellar. We are opting for a longer-term fermentation process, so those beers should begin to make their debut in the future,” he says.
Reach Break has a 7-barrel system that came from Stout Tanks and Kettles in Portland. That includes an oversized mash tun and boil kettle, allowing the team to do some fun things with higher-gravity brews.
“All of our ‘clean beer’ — IPAs, stouts — that are fermented with domesticated brewer's yeast are kept upstairs in one of our four stainless fermenters,” Josh says. “Our mixed-culture beers that we ferment in oak are stored downstairs in our barrel cellar. We have a very unique facility that allows us the opportunity to do a lot of fun varieties that you wouldn't typically see in just one brewery.”
Reach Break is also planning to use unique ingredients that are sourced from smaller-scale farms. For example, Cradle to Grave Farms in South Dakota has been cultivating hops that Josh is eager to use.
“They are also experimenting and developing some new packaging processes and farming techniques that will directly translate to a better finished product. We are very excited to be working with them,” he says.
With the doors open, it’s time for Reach Break to dream big in the form of an expanded barrel program and fermentation capacity. However, perfecting their signature brews remains the No. 1 priority.
“We are blessed with a unique location where we are able to brew a lot of different styles of beer,” Josh says. “We always want to have a variety of styles and to make the best beer that we can possibly create. Ultimately, we will always focus on making great beer that we are proud to serve. That should be the primary goal of any brewery.”
Reach Break Brewing
1343 Duane St., Astoria
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Not a day has gone by in the last two years where somebody didn’t ask Jerome Grant about what was happening in the old restaurant perched above the water in Depoe Bay.
Construction doesn’t go unnoticed in this town of about 1,400 people, particularly not on a building that once housed the community’s beloved hangout. The Spouting Horn was shuttered in late 2014 after the owner decided to retire. But the nearly century-old building didn’t stay on the market for long. As soon as Grant saw the “For Sale” sign, he jumped at the opportunity. Not only would he end up restoring the historic property, he’s also injected the city with renewed enthusiasm by installing a brewery.
It’s no wonder, then, the questions kept coming.
“When they found out what we were doing with it, they were just thankful that we didn’t tear it down,” Grant said. “And then for the last year it’s been, ‘When is it going to open?’”
The answer to that came in early December when The Horn Public House & Brewery, its name a nod to the previous occupant, hosted locals for a few invitation-only soft openings. The general public debut followed later that week. And while the brewery hasn’t started production just yet — the auger is set to arrive this month and federal paperwork was pending as of press time — there’s much to admire in the revamped space.
When the project began, Grant actually wasn’t sure he was going to preserve the building, which has been everything from a sandwich shop in the 1920s to a Coast Guard barracks during World War II. Years of neglect, though, almost doomed the restoration.
“We just tried to make the decision of what we wanted to do: save the building or not,” Grant recounted. “After I put on the new roof, then we were committed to the project — started cleaning out everything. All hundreds-of-thousands-of-pounds of everything.”
And that “everything” included unsalvageable equipment, dusty furniture and even a bit of history. While pulling up the kitchen floor, Grant stumbled across a newspaper from the 1930s. That little piece from the past didn’t make it into the finished restaurant, but other more valuable items did. For instance, if you peek under the bar the redwood paneling should look familiar to anyone who patronized The Spouting Horn when it was open. The strips used to hang on the walls and were gathered on the beach by the family of owners — Grant figures it must’ve been in the 1960s — after they got word that a lumber barge overturned.
A mix of new and old shapes the interior: smooth planks that once lined the floor of a bowling alley now have a second life holding pints of beer on Grant’s tables and upstairs bar while the ground-level countertop, crafted especially for the pub, is a slab of Oregon bigleaf maple with grain mimicking tiger stripes. Every handpicked feature is a point of pride for Grant, who will lead you room to room in the sprawling 7,500-square-foot space with the zest of a new homeowner. And then there’s the view. On a busy summer day, it’ll be tough to come by a window seat overlooking “The World’s Smallest Harbor,” where seal heads bob up and down in the choppy waves, their slick bodies darting among charter boat traffic that passes under the neoclassical arch bridge.
The setting alone helps set The Horn apart from the scores of other breweries located across the state. But Grant said the ambition of his brewer will be another distinction. Chris Jennings, who also writes Oregon Beer Growler’s Homebrew Hints column, left his position as Alameda Brewing’s cellar master to take the new role late last year.
“And he’s really confident in his ability to brew a variety of beers,” Grant said, “and I’m going to give him free rein back there. When I said, ‘Oh, I’d like to just have four handles for our own beer out of the 12,’ he said, ‘Why not 10 or 11?’”
Grant’s response to that: “‘Oh, I like the way you think, Chris!’”
Jennings’ journey to head brewer is a story that’ll surely be the envy of every home cook out there, because that’s where he started and gained most of his experience.
“I don’t have any formal training,” he described. “Self-taught, as it were. I’ve probably read every brewing book that’s ever been printed.”
And he made time to apply that knowledge. In 2010 alone, for example, Jennings said he produced 700 gallons of beer, 10 gallons at a time as he helped run Brew Brothers, his family’s homebrewing supply shop in Hillsboro. They later opened Three Mugs Brewing Company in the same storefront, where Jennings began brewing commercial batches. He sold his portion of the business to his brother when Alameda brought him on. And while he was learning new things working for another brewery, he also lost the autonomy and creative freedom he was used to. Once The Horn’s equipment is finally all in place, which couldn’t happen a moment too soon for Jennings, he’s eager to develop his own recipes once again.
“I’m going to get back to the experimenting I liked to do when I was brewing at Three Mugs, because that’s all it has ever been for me is experimentation,” Jennings said.
He also feels vindicated, to a certain sense, by the promotion after experiencing some disdain for his lack of brewing credentials. Jennings didn’t just interview for the Depoe Bay job; he was put through a series of math and science questions selected by brewery consultant Marc Martin from the UC Davis brewing program — questions that Jennings would go on to easily answer and pass the test. That’s the side of brewing, he contends, almost anyone can learn in the classroom or the brewhouse. But the key to becoming a great brewer can’t be taught.
“Brewing is like cooking to me,” Jennings explained, “or like art of any kind. You either got it or you don’t. Sure, you can go to school for it, but if you don’t have it you’re going to be good at it to a point. And then you’re never going to get past that point because you don’t have the capability to move past that point in your head.”
Though confident in his capabilities, that doesn’t mean the new responsibility comes without pressure. When asked about one thought that’s been on his mind since being named head brewer, Jennings’ response was, “Don’t fuck up,” which he followed with a big laugh. To avoid doing just that, he’s been researching the town’s palate — asking locals what they like to drink and surveying which kegs tend to drain at area bars. To start, he expects a lineup of five stable styles and five taps where he’ll let his imagination shape the offerings. One unique idea he’s already considering is a gose with a salt content that mirrors the neighboring bay.
As residents await the first beers from Jennings’ Practical Fusion system, Grant and his wife and co-owner Clary are getting accustomed to operating a restaurant in its infancy. The pair have owned the venerable Gracie’s Sea Hag since 2006, but taking over a decades-old establishment isn’t quite as challenging as founding one.
“And we just kind of kept [the Sea Hag] going. It was flawless in turnover of ownership,” Clary Grant described. “But this is totally different, because it’s like…”
“This is ground up,” Jerome Grant added.
But if anyone in Depoe Bay is equipped for such a massive undertaking, it’s this couple. They actually met at the Sea Hag when she was a bartender and he was a customer in “love at first sight” who over tipped for two weeks in an attempt to get her attention. They furthered their stake in the community when Jerome Grant began to pursue roles in public office. Some races he won, some he lost. But his commitment to the well-being of Depoe Bay and the belief that a resolute voice can make a difference never wavered. Now with The Horn, the Grants have revived what urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg affectionately called “that place on the corner” or “the third place,” a public realm for civic engagement and casual socializing that exists between work and home.
“It’s like an anchor, a source of pride. It’s that especially for a small community that, you know, we do have some identity here with the commercial fishing, but that’s past,” Jerome Grant said. “I feel like they think Depoe Bay is actually going to produce something that people can take with them.”
Only time will tell, but this public servant may end up having a more profound impact on the community in his latest position as the local publican.
The Horn Public House and Brewery
[a] 110 Oregon Coast Highway, Depoe Bay
Yachats Brewing + Farmstore recently added to its 7-barrel brewhouse, including a six-head bottling line and wind machine that will power the glycol chiller. Pictured, left to right, assistant brewer Aaron Gillham, director of brewery operations Jenna Steward and head brewer Charlie Van Meter. Photo by Michael Kew
By Michael Kew
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Brewer on the roof: “I’m snowblind whenever I first walk up here.”
We squint in the glare. Sunday afternoon. Over there is the ocean. We’re at the beach, but we’re not.
In shades and a black hoodie, Charlie Van Meter sips fresh kolsch from a glass. From his downstairs brite-tank tap, of course.
“It’s nice being right on 101,” Jenna Steward, his wife and director of brewery operations, says. She’s on the kolsch, too. “Even if people don’t expect to stop in, they see our sign and decide to take a break and see what we’re about.”
Third story — technically the flat, white roof — of Yachats Brewing + Farmstore. This used to be a bank. Look 30 feet down: Highway 101 and the somnolence of Yachats, population 700. Look up: clear sky. Look west: blue Pacific forever. Look south: the Yachats River estuary, shadowed by Cape Perpetua — the fabled green fist of rock, knuckling the white waves.
“The dream,” Van Meter says, “is to put a third-story taproom right here so we can all have this epic view. Yachats is beautiful in the sun — and in the rain and wind. It’s great for storm watching, too. People will sit and watch the chaos around them.”
In 2015, Van Meter and Steward (both 28) relocated from Hood River at the wish of Yachatians Nathan and Cicely Bernard. Three years earlier, the Bernards flipped the old bank into a farmstore hub, selling local meat, produce, fermented food and all sorts of cool garden gear. The bright, helpful space was crafted with salvaged Oregon wood and wine barrel furniture. It became an intersection for this tranquil community.
“We’ve got a ‘coast time’ outlook on things,” Van Meter says, exhaling, admiring the view. “It’s Yachats Time, like ‘island time’ in the tropics. A nice, relaxed pace.”
Unfortunately, the Bernards are not here today. They’re likely eight miles upriver, tending to their sunny permaculture homestead. Here at the brewery, they’ve left the proverbial gate ajar for their young yeastmaster; Van Meter and Steward (with assistant brewer Aaron Gillham) are taking full advantage. New additions to their 7-barrel brewhouse include a six-head bottling line for 500 milliliter glass with “limited release sales, hopefully by Thanksgiving,” Steward says before pointing at a roof next door. “And over there is the proprietary wind machine that’s going to power our glycol chiller.”
Van Meter is an anomaly. Just a few years into his wort-wrangling, he stood onstage at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival, fist-bumping Charlie Papazian and sporting a shiny silver medal for a peach saison he helped brew at his (now) alma mater, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. That happened after he’d dovetailed jobs at Portland U-Brew and Uptown Market into his first pro-brewing gig at Sasquatch Brewery in Hillsdale. This was in 2012, the birth year of Yachats Farmstore. Logsdon’s Chuck Porter — colleague of Van Meter and an old friend of the Bernards — then cameoed to mash a few farmstore ales with Bernard’s 20-barrel pilot system.
But the system had to grow. Logsdon again pollinated the Yachats fold, this time via Van Meter/Steward.
They fit in.
“Yachats is an eclectic collection of people who very intentionally decide to live in this town,” Van Meter says. “It has a weird magnetism. People with all kinds of crazy skills and backgrounds end up here. I like to say Yachats is a collection of wizards.”
It’s getting hot here on the roof. More kolsch, anyone?
On draught downstairs in the bustling eatery/store/bar are 13 house beers. There are three kombuchas, seven guest beers, two meads, three ciders and two wines. There’s a saison with Szechuan peppercorns, a saison with plum and lavender, a saison with sage, a saison with lemongrass and rosebud….
“We like to keep it fresh, keep it new, keep it tasty,” Van Meter says. “Farmhouse ales are close to my heart — probably my ‘traditional’ beers. They capture my imagination in terms of the history of the style and the romanticism of oak and its charms and attention to the simple ingredients.”
“Simple grain bills and hop bills. A lot of the stuff I make is just a little bit of pilsner malt, a little bit of wheat, and combinations of yeast and adding fruit or spices to it. There is so much you can do with a small palette, like a painter’s palette. You can make a lot of things within the saison/farmhouse category with only a few ‘colors,’ if you will. It’s complex, yet it can be refreshing. There are lots of subtle flavors to come out of these combinations of yeast. Brewing is like being a yeast shepherd. You try to give it its ideal conditions and food and let it take care of itself. You’re just there to help it get into a package.”
I gape at the long wooden tap wall, a palette of choice in a place that is nothing but.
“This brewery is its own living thing,” Van Meter says. “We’re just letting it grow to what it wants to be.”
Yachats Brewing + Farmstore
348 Highway 101, Yachats
By Oregon Beer Growler Contributors
The summer of 2015 was a brutal one. There were 28 days where the city of Portland officially hit or exceeded the 90 degree mark. That’s nearly a month of sweating probably far more than you wanted to and cursing the fact that you still live in a place without air conditioning. It’s also 16 more days than we see on average. If we’re in for another scorching summer, and perhaps on our way to becoming the new Bakersfield, Calif. if that state’s drought continues to push north, at least we can celebrate our abundance of brewery patios with shade and quality beer. While we couldn’t include all of our favorites in this guide, here are some standouts from across the state during the past year:
825 N. Cook St., Portland, 503-265-8002, eclipticbrewing.com
Ecliptic’s patio has been evolving since it opened in 2013, but from the start the space offered a view of the West Hills — made spectacular as the sun sets —and I-405 as it spans the Willamette, adding a bit of schadenfreude spice to happy hour during rush hour. The umbrella-covered picnic tables provide refuge from the sun with foliage bordering two sides, breaking up the concrete parking lot and surrounding streets. Located in what is still a largely industrial area south of bustling Mississippi, the lack of nearby dining makes it feel like you’ve found an oasis as you sip beers named for the stars while gaining an astronomy lesson from the menu.
The kitchen is known to serve up some of the best brewpub food in town with a menu that rotates in accordance with the Old World calendar. For a price break, hit happy hour where popular items like Caesar salad, the classic burger and grilled salmon sandwich are a few bucks cheaper. However, don’t look past more unusual dishes like deviled eggs topped with boquerones or skip an indulgence like an ice cream float made with the Capella Porter. KRIS MCDOWELL
Fire on the Mountain
3443 NE 57th Ave., Portland, 503-894-8973, portlandwings.com
Fire on the Mountain is undoubtedly known more for its food — the wings in particular — than its beer. The restaurant had been making East Coast-inspired wings for six years when owners decided to get into the booming brewing business, adding a third family-friendly location that houses the brewery as well as pizza ovens that churn out a cross between New York-style and Neo-Neapolitan style pies.
During warm weather, the patio — which has a mix of standard four-person tables and larger picnic tables — is a hopping place to be. Sitting beneath the overhead covering can get a bit warm during the height of summer evenings but conversely, that same covering offers shelter from rain. An impressive mosaic outdoor fireplace brightens the decor and provides a coziness when the weather is cooler. All day on Mondays, beers are just $2.50. KRIS MCDOWELL
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
5115 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, 503-282-0622, laurelwoodbrewpub.com
Tucked out of sight, the patio atop Laurelwood Northeast (Did you even know there was an upstairs that includes an indoor “Brewers Den?”) feels like an oasis from the bustle on the main floor of the flagship location and traffic on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. While modest in size, they’ve made the most of the rooftop with bench seating — topped with flower boxes — around the perimeter that join with the two- and four-person tables. Raspberry vines and other foliage occupy another planter, helping to give the patio more of a backyard feel.
Nearly a dozen beers pour out of the taps along with a handful of guest ciders and the extensive menu offers plenty of options to accompany one’s drink of choice. Happy hour, with discounts on beer and food, gets even happier on Thursdays when they roll out Thirsty Thursdays. Each week the brewers select one keg of beer that goes for $2 a pint from 3 p.m. until the tap runs dry in the Brewers Den. Beers purchased in that area can be taken out to the patio. KRIS MCDOWELL
Montavilla Brew Works
7805 SE Stark St., Portland, 503-954-3440, montavillabrew.com
Occupying a corner on the west end of the business-filled portion of Southeast Stark Street in the Montavilla neighborhood, Montavilla Brew Works features a modest bar area that is open to the brewery itself with an adjacent patio that greatly increases the seating. It’s an adults-only place throughout (no minors, no furry friends) with a wide assortment of house beers. From the beginning, brewer/co-owner Michael Kora has put his brewing system through its paces to offer an impressive number of beers that range from summer patio staples like Stick and Frame Blonde Ale to heartier brews like Old Fellowship Barleywine. There are only minimal snacks onsite, but customers are welcome to bring in outside food like pizza from Flying Pie across the street.
The patio is fully enclosed, providing a buffer from the car and pedestrian traffic that is especially prevalent on warm, summer afternoons. Outfitted with umbrella-topped picnic tables, a cornhole game — an ideal one-handed activity to enjoy with a beer in the other — and the bar just steps away, it’s a setting that invites one to stay for a while and relax. KRIS MCDOWELL
Stickmen Brewing Company
40 N. State St., Lake Oswego, 503-4449, stickmenbeer.com
While Oswego Lake is largely inaccessible to the general public, particularly for recreational purposes, you can still drink and dine on the edge of the water and feel like you own a piece of it from the patio at Stickmen. The brewery, which opened in 2011, has a deck that extends over what’s officially called Lakewood Bay. You can spend hours entertaining yourself with nature — watching the blue sky turn purple and red at dusk or by tossing bits of French fry to giant bass and baby ducks. On a hot day, you can also sit back and watch stand-up paddle boarders find their balance or wealthy families taking a spin in their motorized vessels. If things really get crazy, the Lake Oswego boat cops will be on patrol. While the brewery no longer serves the skewers it once advertised in its name, the kitchen focuses on classic pub fare and thankfully F-Bomb IPA remains on tap. ANDI PREWITT
832 N. Beech St., Portland, 971-703-4516, stormbreakerbrewing.com
StormBreaker’s location on the corner of North Beech Street and Mississippi Avenue is surrounded by numerous bars, restaurants and retail shops that are frequently bustling with activity, making the patio a great place for taking it all in while enjoying the beers. Since the brewpub changed hands and names (formerly Amnesia Brewing) there have been numerous upgrades — to the interior, to the food and to the outside. What was once a utilitarian patio is now a space that has a permanent covering over a portion of the picnic tables — great whether one is trying to escape the sun or the rain — as well as a two fire pits with seating. If the fire pits are too crowded, there are also hanging heaters that provide year-round warmth when the patio is enclosed with detachable sides.
The beers can be enjoyed on their own or, for whiskey fans, StormBreaker provides eight shot pairings with half-pints. The food menu has a little something for everyone, including sharable plates for groups and selections for kids. KRIS MCDOWELL
Block 15 Brewery & Tap Room
3415 SW Deschutes St., Corvallis, 541-752-BEER, block15.com/brewery-tap-room#overview-2
A short eight-minute drive from its downtown location, Block 15’s Brewery & Tap Room offers more of a scenic setting, whether you’re seated inside or outside the building. The alluring view of Mary’s Peak — the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range — is just the beginning of the appeal of this place. When you first pull into the parking lot, the outdoor patio draws you in right away. It’s airy, reasonably shaded, and decorated with a colorful array of flowers. With a dozen or so beers on tap (including the highly sought-after Sticky Hands IPA and the seasonal Mango Song IPA) it’s hard to pick just one — so your best bet is to start off with a taster tray. Once you’ve ordered, (carefully) carry your tray of beers outside and park yourself at one of the brewery’s picnic tables that surround the new fire pit. Then sit back, relax and enjoy your variety of brews that are “brewed feet from your seat.” Too hot outside? Venture indoors and doodle your way to happiness on one of their chalkboard tables next to a window. You’ll still get to enjoy the beautiful views — but with air conditioning. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
140 NE Hill St., Albany, 541-928-1931, calapooiabrewing.com
This Albany brewery recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary and it’s easy to see how Calapooia has stayed successful for so long. Between the wide range of beers, daily food specials and live local music every week, there’s always something new to enjoy. On a nice day, go up to their bar and order a refreshing summertime sipper like their Raspberry Wheat or turn up the heat even more with their award-winning Chili Beer, which features Anaheim, Serrano and Jalapeno peppers. Then, take a step outside. The leafy green foliage you’ll encounter once you enter their sheltered outdoor “forest” provides a nice retreat to hide from reality for a little while. Here you’ll find kegs that have been converted into planters, picnic tables and even an old church pew, which gives the space a unique charm. There’s also a barrel with a tabletop that reads, “This table has had other lives,” and goes on to say it was part of “a successful batch or 10 of bourbon and beer making.” Proof that what’s old is new again!
If you happen to be at the brewery on the first or third Wednesday of the month, imbibe in some liquid courage and take part in one of the Open Mic Nights, whether you might be a musician, poet or comedian. If your talents lie elsewhere, at the very least be sure to raise a glass and cheer on the brave souls willing to approach the stage! ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
2065 Madrona Ave. SE, Salem, 503-584-1789, gilgameshbrewing.com
When you first approach the restaurant adjacent to this south Salem brewery, nicknamed “The Campus,” it’s hard to imagine it as a former office building for a grass seed warehouse. As you walk through the expansive (yet cozy) building, the beautiful woodwork and grand stone fireplace are a welcome introduction to the large back patio. You’ll discover there’s a fireplace out there, too — perfect for those cool summer nights. But the real star of the show is Pringle Creek, which runs alongside the patio. It’s a delightful complement to the light breeze that runs through the trees, providing a relaxing ambiance that can only be matched by the beer in your glass.
On the third Wednesday of each month, join former OBG cover girl Mikki Trowbridge for her ever-growing Yoga + Beer on Gilgamesh’s lush lawn next to the creek. After you detox, retox with a pint of the brewery’s DJ Jazzy Hef. The floral jasmine in the beer will take you one step further into becoming one with nature. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
Golden Valley Brewery & Restaurant
980 NE Fourth St., McMinnville, OR, 503472-2739, goldenvalleybrewery.com
McMinnville was a finalist in a Best Main Streets of America competition featuring more than 2,000 nominations. If you’ve ever strolled along Northeast Third and Fourth Streets, it’s no surprise that these stretches of pavement made for such a strong contender. Small, independent shops, restaurants and wine tasting rooms line the route. And, of course, no proverbial Main Street would be complete without a brewery. Well, Golden Valley stepped up to fill that void more than 20 years ago. It also happens to have one of the prettiest little patios in that area. The handful of tables are cocooned by vegetation — a wisteria tree does the bulk of the work by coiling up and over a planter in the middle of the space with a trellis that reaches toward the sky. The result is a ceiling of small leaves and branches with just enough natural skylights here and there for the sun to peek through. A fountain bubbles away in one corner above a carpet of small pink flowers and emerald ferns. It feels like you’ve stumbled into a hidden Main Street garden that only former mayors and head of the Chamber of Commerce get access to. ANDI PREWITT
Grain Station Brew Works
755 NE Alpine Ave., McMinnville, 503-687-2739, grainstation.com
If McMinnville’s quaint old town core is the city’s Main Street, then the Granary District might just have become the Entertainment Hub. The blocks of land haven’t shed their rural/industrial identity — large structures covered with corrugated galvanized steel dominate the area. Some are still stamped with the names of their former occupants (like the McDaniel Fertilizer Company), even though most have been transformed into winery tasting rooms and restaurants. At the heart of it all lies Grain Station, a rustic, brown barn with a sprawling patio that butts up against the parking lot. There’s a variety of seating — umbrella-topped picnic tables and plastic chairs pulled up to oversized wooden spools. But plenty of people are just fine with standing — it makes it easier to start dancing when moved by a band playing in the wood-roofed amphitheater. By next year, Grain Station will get a softer carpet of grass in its outdoor living room and even a cover. ANDI PREWITT
McMenamins Hotel Oregon
310 NE Evans St., McMinnville, 503-472-8427, mcmenamins.com/hoteloregon/location
You might not expect that a mere five stories up would feel like the top of the world. That’s how high McMenamins Hotel Oregon rises, and its Rooftop Bar offers surprisingly expansive views of Yamhill Valley’s wine country. Black, wrought-iron tables and chairs wrap around the building before spiraling higher, creating a layered view. Swaths of beige cloth are stretched across portions of the patio for shade, crisscrossing with string lights from the center building to exterior posts. Looking out at the city below you, the trees actually seem to outnumber the buildings and the Coast Range rises gently on the horizon. Because it’s McMenamins, you’re ordering Cajun tots. And while they still have it on tap, drink an Alienator IPA. The beer’s name is a nod to the city’s famous UFO sighting in 1950, the photos of which are said to be some of the most credible to date. ANDI PREWITT
Sky High Brewing & Pub
160 NW Jackson Ave., Corvallis, 541-207-3277, skyhighbrewing.com
It would be remiss to list off some of the best brewery patios in Oregon and not include Sky High Brewing. Nestled on top of the brewery’s renovated four-story building, this rooftop oasis offers some of the best views in Corvallis. While it may only be open seasonally (an often short window for Oregon’s rain-prone climate) and from 4 p.m. to closing time, it’s well worth the wait. At the top of the four-story renovated building, you can enjoy snacks, the brewery’s full tap lineup, and a full service bar. If you’ve had a couple pints and are feeling lively, there are several cornhole stations. Or, if you’re wanting to just take a load off and enjoy the sunset, there are plenty of tables shaded with big blue umbrellas for your ultimate comfort.
On a hot day, it’s nearly impossible to say no to something cold and refreshing. Luckily for you, the brewery offers Handys — which, despite what you may think, are drinks mixed with their Handlebeer wheat ale. You can choose from The Shandy (lemonade), The Randy (Reed’s ginger beer) or The Bandy (soda water — aka Banquet Beer). The Shandy is especially thirst-quenching on a summer day. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
Seaside Brewing Company
851 Broadway St., Seaside, 503-717-5451, seasidebrewery.com
The 102-year-old brick building that once held this coastal city’s drunkards and other lawbreakers, is one of the highlights of visiting Seaside Brewing. Since opening in 2012, the owners have slowly, but unrelentingly, worked on renovations while leaving the character of the rustic building intact. Take a seat at the bar and you can see metal rails still covering a small window that doubles as a liquor shelf. Taps sprout from the chipped brick wall of a cell, now holding kegs serving sentences of life with the likelihood of parole once they’re dry. But the exterior has gotten a makeover to match the coziness and hard-scrabble beach city charm that defines the inside. Deck seating now exists on two levels and the ground floor space is more prominently defined by the instillation of a canopy made with reclaimed wood that looks like it’s weathered many a storm near the sea. Strands of lights arc down from the trellis of beams, \creating a soft glow that’s matched by a brick-and-glass enclosed, gas-powered fire pit. From a picnic table seat, you can watch tourists make their way to the Promenade on a street choked with families struggling to control tandem bicycles or packed cars constantly slowed by the stream of pedestrians. On one of those rare summer days when Seaside breaks the 80 degree mark, the brewery kitchen’s chipotle fish tacos are a light dining option. Sweet mango salsa complements the lightly fried crunch of the fresh cod. A citrusy Lockup IPA won’t overwhelm the fish and its name is a reminder to appreciate the fact that you weren’t paying this jail a visit a century ago. ANDI PREWITT
Pelican Pub & Brewery
33180 Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City, 503-965-7007
Like many beach traditions — scouring the same tide pools for signs of life, spending too much money at your favorite outlet mall or returning to the candy shop for the saltwater taffy and caramel corn you think is best — sipping beers in front of Haystack Rock at Pelican is a ritual you’ll never grow tired of. As soon as you round the corner of Cape Kiwanda Drive in Pacific City, it’s inevitable that the wind-swept parking lot will be packed with family vans toting sand buckets and Subarus sporting surfboards on the roof. After a day in the water or running up and down the nearby giant sand dune, Pelican is right there to help you rest and refuel just as it has been for 20 years. If you can manage to wait for a table on the patch of concrete out back, watching the sun slowly descend into the shimmering Pacific is all the payoff you’ll need for your patience. Rich, hearty fare is the menu’s strength, including fish and chips breaded with Kiwanda Cream Ale and a sweet, tangy slaw that’s actually not just a plate filler; mac and cheese made with Tillamook smoked cheddar; and a bleu cheese burger featuring Doryman’s Ale pork belly confit. And if a seagull with good aim happens to poop on your shoulder while you’re on the patio (it occasionally happens), chalk it up to life on the coast and order an Umbrella IPA in the hope that it will provide a symbolic shield next time. ANDI PREWITT
THE GORGE/MOUNT HOOD
4945 Baseline Road, Parkdale, 541-352-5500, facebook.com/Solera-Brewery-155875804519628
While sitting on the back lawn of Solera, you might expect a gun-toting farmer to pop out of the trees at any moment to confront you about trespassing on his property if you hadn’t just bought a pint inside. The long, narrow patch of grass that belongs to the brewery is corralled by a rope fence that stretches toward acres of orchards. In the distance sits a dark red barn with a slightly sagging roof next to rust-colored equipment. Majestically jutting out into the sky is the North Face of Mount Hood — the best view you’ll get of the peak from any Oregon brewery. The picnic table seating is basic and unadorned, but you don’t need furniture upstaging scenery this grand. In the decades-old building that houses the 7-barrel brewery and bar, beer flows from a stained glass-style portrait of three grinning skulls. You’ll find ever-popular styles like IPA, but Solera specializes in saison/farmhouse ales. Order something you’ve never tried before the live music gets going, turning this little patch of rural Hood River County into a party that’s wilder than a square dance after a barn raising. ANDI PREWITT
Thunder Island Brewing Co.
515 SW Portage Road, Cascade Locks, 971-231-4599, thunderislandbrewing.com
This is about as close as you’ll get to the Columbia River, as it surges and churns through the Gorge, from the patio of Thunder Island Brewing. The business was named after the feature that engineers created by carving into the mainland in 1890, allowing for the construction of the Cascade Locks and canal. A skinny strip of jagged grey rock topped with grass and trees is the tip of Thunder Island that’s most visible from picnic tables lining a guard rail on the property. The owners seem to upgrade their outdoor playground nearly every year. The space that started with minimal seating now has bench-style wooden booths, a metal fire pit emblazoned with the brewery’s logo, blue-and-white umbrellas, string lights and a brand-new beer bar that will provide some line relief during busy summer weekends. The faster you can get back to your seat, the better because the setting never bores. Not only can you watch barges meander back and forth along the water, you might even spot the Sternwheeler docking next door. This is also the only brewery where you might run into a Pacific Crest Trail-through hiker since Cascade Locks is the sole city along the route in Oregon. Should you run into any shaggy, trail-dust coated people hauling small homes on their backs, buy them a pint of liquid relief. ANDI PREWITT
Elk Horn Brewery
686 E. Broadway St., Eugene, 541-505-8356, elkhornbrewery.com
The campus haven. With seating for 50 at a dozen black wrought-iron tables, the thing about Elk Horn’s patio is how quickly you forget that you are sitting at the corner of two busy streets and are a stone’s throw from the University of Oregon. Founded in 2014 by the folks behind Eugene’s popular Delacata food cart, Elk Horn seeks to bridge the gap between beer, cider and wine, while providing guests with Southern-inspired food made in a kitchen that doesn’t cut any corners. First, order some frickles (yes, fried pickles). Then, sip your pint of Ducks Blue Ribbon Kolsch, Redic Dry Cider, Velvet Antler Red Ale (or any of the 24 beers, ciders and sodas on tap — not to mention the extensive whiskey list). Start drooling thanks to a menu of shrimp and grits, catfish, and chicken and waffles. Before you order, though, cast your gaze to the blaze burning at the far end: the recently added wood-burning oven is cranking out “beerizzas,” or pizza made with a stout crust. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Falling Sky Pour House & Delicatessen
790 Blair Blvd., Eugene, 541-653-9167, fallingskybrewing.com
While Falling Sky’s Oak Alley brewpub has a nice outdoor area, the Pour House & Delicatessen offers a spacious covered patio with raised counter and table settings. In addition to local accolades, including “Best Bar Grub,” “Best Burger” and “Best Place to Drink in the Sun,” Falling Sky has made a mark with its ability to brew diverse beverages and present quality charcuterie, breads, pickles and more. The deli also takes the prize for having the most family-friendly patio. The covered, enclosed space forgoes a fire pit and instead has a sand pit, complete with a selection of toys. There’s no better brewery patio in Eugene for kids to play while moms and dads take a breather over a pint of Blue Balloon Belgian Pale Ale or Dual Hearted IPA. If you want a little privacy while outdoors, fear not. Off in one corner, sectioned off from the rest of the space, there’s a secret table with room for four. From latkes to beef-pastrami sliders or other pastramis made of duck, lamb and beef, be sure to arrive with an empty stomach, because you certainly won’t leave with one. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Hop Valley Tasting Room
990 W. First Ave., Eugene, 541-484-2337, hopvalleybrewing.com
On your way west down First Avenue, traveling away from iconic Skinner Butte, when you pass the homebrew shop, auto repair place and various industrial businesses, you might at first wonder how in the world there’s a brewery to be found in this area. But you are indeed in prime Eugene beer country, so just look for the giant hop cone. When Hop Valley named the brewery and designed a logo in honor of the Willamette Valley’s hop-growing history, the founders knew that hops must be central to everything they do. The first thing you’ll see as you approach the long, narrow patio lining the side of the building? Hop vines making their way up trellises. Be sure to pardon Hop Valley’s dust — already with seating for 175 (and room for 260 people total), Hop Valley is currently further expanding the patio. Dip inside and peek through the large windows that let you see the brewing side of things. Then relax in the soothing presence of the plants that bring such bitter joy to the 18 beers on tap, such as Citrus Mistress IPA, Double-D Blonde Ale or Light Me Up Lager. The tasting in tasting room isn’t just for the beer. Check out an Irish take on the steak nachos, a spicy smoked andouille sandwich or a Mediterranean panini for some satisfying outdoor summer eats. Coming in the evening? A large rectangular fire pit provides a prime warm-up spot. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
McMenamins North Bank
22 Club Road, Eugene, 541-343-5622, mcmenamins.com/NorthBank
When the folks at McMenamins opened their third Eugene location in 2000, they must have had summer on their minds. After all, where better to enjoy a pub burger and a pint of Summer Berry Stout (on nitro, no less), Copper Moon Summer Pale Ale or iconic Ruby, than on a patio next to the gently flowing Willamette River? Take in the sunset or watch the traffic roll over the nearby Ferry Street Bridge. And don’t feel guilty about noshing on the elk Bolognese, ale-battered fish and chips or pork shank osso buco. North Bank is not only riverside, it also borders part of Eugene’s vast network of bike paths, so order what you want and ride it off later. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Ninkasi Brewing Company
272 Van Buren St., Eugene, 541-344-2739, ninkasibrewing.com
Eugene’s largest brewery also has the largest beer patio, with room for up to around 300 beer fans. Located in the heart of the Whiteaker, Ninkasi’s tasting room is a walled garden of beery delights. A dozen tables are spaced throughout to give convenient seating, but it’s still easy to wander or hold up a patch of wall. Off near one corner, a large fire pit — filled with pale green, blue and pink rocks — gives you a chance to soak up some warmth when the sun finally fades on lingering summer evenings. In case of rain, a large canopy provides cover for part of the patio, or you can duck inside the tasting room. Hungry? Food carts can usually be found either in front of the brewery or just inside the patio, and it’s okay to bring in food from the outside. Once you arrive, first stop at the bar to order up your pint of Helles Belles Lager, Total Domination IPA, or Dawn of the Red India Red Ale. This summer provides another reason to raise a glass to a brewery named for the ancient Sumerian goddess: Ninkasi turns 10 this year. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Oakshire Brewing Public House
207 Madison St., Eugene, 541-654-5520, oakbrew.com
Oakshire is also celebrating its first decade this year, and their Whiteaker-area Public House has become an area favorite. The reason is apparent: when it comes to enjoying a fine craft beer on an Oregon summer evening, where better than a simple picnic table on a west-facing open patio? It’s a fine way to soak up every last ray of sunlight from the days that are, alas, already getting shorter. Take your pick of 14 picnic tables. The patio has no frills, but it’s good, simple outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying a bite from a food cart along with your pint of Watershed IPA, Sun Made Cucumber Berliner Weisse or Line Dry Rye IPA. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
495 NE Bellevue Drive, Bend, 541-639-4776, worthybrewing.com
Worthy Brewing built a massive, 26,000-square-foot brewery outside of the downtown core for a reason — the plots of land east of Pilot Butte were much larger than anything west of Highway 97. While a large portion of that land was allocated for beer production, the location was begging for a place for customers enjoy the westward view. Enter Worthy’s patio, one of the largest outdoor restaurant spaces in Bend. Worthy is one of the better places to start your night out, considering its distance from downtown and its famous wood-stone oven bedazzled in shimmering, colorful tiles. Build a drinking base with an Oregon-inspired duck and fig pizza or blackened steelhead tacos and pair those with Worthy’s award-winning Easy Day Kolsch or Farm Out Saison. If you’ve already gone through the brewery’s year-rounds, try an experimental-hop IPA or coconut lime gose from the Heart and Soul Series. A large expansion on the restaurant and patio is underway, which will provide more seating, an outdoor bar and an observatory. In the meantime, round up the kids and set them loose on Worthy’s lower lawn while you relax and watch the sun set over Pilot Butte. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
10 Barrel Brewing
1135 NW Galveston Ave., Bend, 541-678-5228, 10barrel.com
There are few places within city limits that capture the stereotypical Bend vibe as well 10 Barrel’s Pub. Located in the heart of the west side, the patio is often filled with a capacity crowd surrounding a raging fire pit or mobbing the outdoor bar. While the location draws people from all walks of life, the majority are young adults in some sort of outdoor gear as they just finished a bike ride, mountain hike or long river float. And it’s not just the ambiance that draws them in. Some of the city’s tastiest (and best-funded) brews come out of these taps, including the staples and R&D batches. For instance, the now-famous Joe IPA was a pub exclusive long before it was distributed in six-packs. Keep an eye out for anything from Tonya Cornett, 10 Barrel’s celebrated sour brewer. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Crux Fermentation Project
50 SW Division St., Bend, 541-385-3333, cruxfermentation.com
If you spend even a few of Bend’s 300 days of sunshine on Crux’s lawn, then you’re doing it right. The largest outdoor patio in town features lawn games, a large fire pit and some of the state’s best beers. While the restaurant’s menu is limited, there are two consistent food carts, including the cult-darling El Sancho Taco, that make hearty meals that can stand up to Crux’s barrel-aged beauties and heavy IPAs. The brewery is also loved by locals and tourist alike because of the “Sundowner” special. Thirty minutes before and after the sun sinks behind the Three Sisters, drinks are discounted. And you can’t beat the sky show. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Bend Brewing Company
1019 NW Brooks St., Bend, 541-383-1599, bendbrewingco.com
Bend Brewing has been making some of the city’s best beers for 21 years, although it’s been overshadowed by Deschutes’ largeness as well as the feisty up-and-comers. But locals have known about Bend Brewing for years. It’s where Tonya Cornett got her start before Ian Larkin seamlessly took over. Upscale pub fare and a wide array of beer styles await those who enter the unassuming house in the downtown area. The Elk Lake IPA is there for those who need a hop fix, but the seasonals should not be ignored. Look for the Black Diamond Dark Lager, which refreshes despite its rich complexity. And bring a pink-hued Ching Ching American Sour onto the back patio that overlooks the famous Mirror Pond. While Bend Brewing was a hidden gem for years, its growing fame can make it tough to find a seat on the weekend, so plan accordingly. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
GoodLife Brewing Company
70 SW Century Drive, Bend, 541-728-0749, goodlifebrewing.com
GoodLife Brewing Company is nearly synonymous with its flagship beer, Sweet As Pacific Ale. While it’s a popular brew to crush while floating on rivers and lakes across the state, you could argue that one of the best spots to consume it is on the lawn next to the brewery. That space is large enough for two bocce ball courts, two sets of cornhole boards, a fire pit, a food cart and plenty of tables — yet still has plenty of empty grass for people to lay down and soak up the sun with beer in hand. The spot is tucked away in the Century Center, so it can sometimes be easier to find a seat here than at other, more tourist-driven breweries. Besides Sweet As, GoodLife’s bread and butter is the consistency of delicious, hoppier brews like Descender IPA. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Sunriver Brewing Company
1005 NW Galveston Ave., Bend, 541-408-9377, sunriverbrewingcompany.com
When Sunriver Brewing announced it would be taking over the space that housed the Oblivion Brewing Company Pub on Northwest Galveston, many people shook their heads, citing immense competition on the west side of town. But with Sunriver’s solid menu and beers that are quickly racking up medals in national competitions, the move turned out to be a safe bet. The addition of the patio behind the pub has been a big draw, with several outdoor tables and a barn-like structure that will help provide shelter from the cold during winter months. The brewery makes beers that are great for all seasons. The award-winning Fuzztail Hefeweizen is refreshing and bright for summer days while Cocoa Cow Chocolate Milk Stout (when available) will be a warm, liquid dessert once the temperatures drop. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Wild Ride Brew
332 SW Fifth St., Redmond, 541-516-8544, wildridebrew.com
Redmond is Bend’s little brother that’s quickly growing up. With more affordable housing and plenty of space to grow, more people are moving to Redmond to save on rent even while working in Bend. Wild Ride arrived at the perfect time, then. A huge patio greets you as soon as you drive up along with a small food cart pod with three to five trucks. Most days, the brewery door is rolled up and you can spot Paul Bergeman running around inside creating flagships like Hopperhead IPA and Whoopty Whoop Wheat or crafting styles outside the norm such as a hibiscus golden ale or a peanut butter porter. Enjoy any of these options on the concrete patio filled with giant wooden spools that have been turned into tables or high-tops covered by wide, white umbrellas. In addition to hikers relaxing with dogs, post-trek, you may even spot a regular who likes to bring his giant lizard with him to the brewery. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Gold Beach was named for the bonanza of gold found at the mouth of the Rogue River in the 1800s.
But now there’s a different source of gold in town. Arch Rock Brewing Company’s multiple gold medals have put a new sparkle in this scenic Southern Oregon coastal village. Since it opened three years ago, Arch Rock’s Gold Beach Lager has won prestigious gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and at the North American Beer Awards, as well as gold for its State of Jefferson Porter, also at the NABA. Additionally, the brewery was featured in a Cosmopolitan magazine article titled “Best Places for a Quickie,” referring to drinks, not the other kind.
Owners of the brewery, Larry and Marjie Brennan, and their production team, Kristen and James Smith, have filled the Brennan’s former cabinet shop with three 30-barrel fermenters, a 30-barrel brite tank, and a 15-barrel brewhouse. Since the unexpected accolades two years ago, brewer Smith said production has skyrocketed.
“People started taking us seriously,” Smith said. “Medals sure help to get your name out. The brewery is self-distributed for the most part in Southern Oregon, but also at a few bars and bottle shops in Portland. For the Cosmo-style “Quickie” experience, visit the brewery a mile or so off Highway 101, at 28779 Hunter Creek Loop, Gold Beach. In a small alcove with a window to the brewery, visitors can taste what’s on tap. Growlers are also filled onsite.
For those who want to sip Arch Rock suds in the comfort of a country bar, Hunter Creek Bar & Grill next door carries Arch Rock’s lineup.
How did this wilderness shop become an award-winning brewery so quickly? Smith claims it is luck, but three-peats prove it is his talent.
Raised in a relatively liberal Utah Mormon family, James started homebrewing in 1999. He joined the ranks of Uinta Brewing’s crew and eventually began brewing for them. Everything changed in 2009, the year James met and fell in love with Kristen, a Grand Teton Brewing Company employee, at the Great American Beer Festival. He followed her to Idaho’s Grand Teton Brewing, taking a job as a cellarman there. Within a few years, they started scouting out a small-town brewery they could run together.
At the same time, Larry and Marjie Brennan were looking for a better use of their cabinet shop space and had settled on a brewery. Together, the two couples hit gold -- medals, that is — within a year of opening.
“We’re both used to remote areas,” said Smith. “We wanted to be in a small town. This is perfect for us.” Kristen was born and raised in Michigan.
Today, the two couples run the business with help from a delivery driver. In 2014, Arch Rock sold 845 barrels. Last year, capacity expanded to 1,800 barrels.
Visitors to the brewery are welcome 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, visit their web page, archrockbrewingcompany.com or call 541-247-0555.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.