By Sam Wheeler
For the Oregon Beer Growler
There is going to be something extra special about the Oregon State-Oregon football game this year … one of the home teams is going to walk away with a win, and hopefully you’ll have a belly full of delicious craft beer when it happens. That’s where we come in.
Lets face it folks, if it weren’t for the NCAA’s “no-tie” rule, this Civil War may well end up like the infamous 1983 Toilet Bowl, where the teams combined for 11 fumbles, five interceptions and four missed field goals, resulting in a 0-0 draw. It’s been a tough year of rooting for Beaver and Duck fans alike. Oregon, plagued by injuries for much of the season, and Oregon State, struggling to find its identity — and coach — while facing the toughest schedule in the Pac-12 North.
Here’s a guide to drinking good beer and watching the game in Corvallis for you beer-loving college football fans. And for those of you non-fans forced into watching the 121st edition of one of the oldest college football rivalries in the country, may this guide be your salvation.
1835 SE Third St.
Located in Southtown Corvallis, Beer:30 is a great place to watch any sporting event while enjoying one of the best craft beer selections around. The tap wall is immense and flows with beer from breweries from multiple regions. What makes this place even better? Burrito Heaven is a few doors down and its food is welcomed at Beer:30. The tasting room will sometimes have a short food menu that includes a delicious Crock-Pot concoction and regularly features specials on weekends. If you’re looking to take your brew to go, Beer:30’s PEGAS CrafTap C02 countertop pressure filler is, bar none, the best way to get a growler filled in town. Because seating is limited, it’s best to get here early. The place is popular and short on seating.
Beer:30 is a bit out of the way in relation to the rest of Corvallis’ watering holes, but it would make a good jumping off point and can be accessed via Corvallis Transit System’s Route 6.
Sky High Brewing and Pub
160 NW Jackson Ave.
While the popular rooftop bar is now closed for the season, Sky High is still a top choice for game-day viewing in Corvallis with its cozy bar and abundance of TVs. There is a robust menu with six different burgers, a nacho plate that boasts it is four stories and three-quarters of a pound of Pacific Northwest mussels. If there’s any Mighty Beavs Fresh Hop Pale left on tap in November, be sure to try a pint. Sky High will no doubt be packed for the Civil War, so get there early to score a seat.
100 SW Second St.
This stop is just a block away from Sky High and it’s been around for more than 40 years. One of the first things you’ll notice about Squirrels is the sheer amount, and quality, of regalia occupying the walls of the tried-and-true tavern. Squirrels will have at least a half-dozen quality beers on tap, but their TV coverage is limited. There are a few pool tables upstairs and a few semi-private cozy alcoves for small groups. You’ll find typical, but exquisitely prepared, bar food. Try the Squirrel Burger, which comes with a fried egg, or Regular Dog with sauerkraut. The Salmon and Sun Burgers (the latter is all veggie) are also top notch. Squirrels is cash-only, so come prepared.
Block 15 Brewing Co.
300 SW Jefferson Ave.
Block 15 is just a few blocks from Squirrels and another great place to watch a Beavers game. Exceptionally brewed beer and a unique pub-style menu makes Block 15 one of the most enjoyable dining experiences in Corvallis. Although TV coverage is limited, patrons who want to watch the game shouldn’t have trouble finding or requesting a seat with a good view. Don’t be surprised if there is a short wait to get in. The appetizers alone are worth the delay: Thai Shrimp Cakes, Spinach Artichoke Dip and Jalapeno Strips are highlights. As far as beer is concerned, everything Block 15 offers is well done, but you must try Sticky Hands. It’s famous.
Flat Tail Brewing
202 SW First St.
Also located in beautiful downtown Corvallis, this is another go-to for locals looking for quality beer and food. Flat Tail has plenty of seating, tons of TVs, lots of Oregon State memorabilia, and a great atmosphere. It’ll be packed for the game, but any seat is a good seat. There will be yelling, and depending on the score, it could be good-natured. Food-wise, the Fresh-Baked Pretzel Sticks with beer cheese are way too good, and the Tots get a unique base in the sweet potato. If you like variety in your menu, Flat Tail has that covered. The house-made Tamale, Jambalaya, Meatloaf and Loco Moco are all options in addition to traditional burgers and wings.
McMenamins always delivers a solid experience when it comes to atmosphere and unique-to-each-location brews. The Monroe site is a bit of a trek from other establishments on this list, but it’s also surrounded by bars popular among students. The McMenamins pub bordering downtown might offer the most relaxed atmosphere available to watch the game and it’s well within walking distance.
By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Thousands have embarked on a Cosmic journey with a McMenamins passport, which also includes rewards of merchandise, food, drink and fun experiences at all of the chain’s distinct Northwest locations. While some take years to earn their stamps, others raced through the challenge and are ready to complete it again. Either way, the idea has engaged customers in a unique fashion using a method that grew out of the DIY way patrons would use McMenamins brochures to check off locations they’ve visited.
“The idea was to get people to experience McMenamins,” said director of marketing Renee Rank Ignacio. “Along the way, an amazing community has grown out of it.”
There are now both official and unofficial pages on Facebook for the passport, which are the same size and color as the real deal. The number of stories of people forming friendships through the experience grows every year.
“I knew it was going to be a hit. I was surprised by the magnitude of people who embraced it,” said Ignacio.
Ignacio and designer Kevin Still spent years developing the passport. A primary concern was creating something that gave customers and staff the best experience possible. Additionally, the program needed to be manageable during crowded times.
“We had many different visions,” Ignacio said. An early prototype had a separate page for each stamp, which was too cumbersome. Finally, it started clicking. “The goal was to get people out to explore all our places and to enjoy the experience along the way,” said Ignacio. With that in mind, there are several experience pages with stamps for activities like attending a History Pub presentation or playing a round of golf.
The official passport launch date was Oct. 31, 2013 for employees and Nov. 5, 2013 for the public. “We want our employees to learn about all our locations. All our customers want to know about the history of our places and we want our employees to have that information,” said Ignacio.
The initial 10 customers and 10 employees to complete the passports received special prizes. Catherine Buck, who is now the Edgefield sales and events coordinator, was the first employee to finish. “It took some solid planning to make sure I could hit every McMenamins while it was open as fast as possible,” she said.
She started her adventure on a Friday when she got off work and planned to complete it that weekend. But a bad snowstorm on Mount Hood kept her from traveling to Bend. Instead, she headed south on I-5 to hit McMenamins locations in Salem, Corvallis, Eugene and Roseburg. The next Monday, she took I-84 to Highway 97 and made it to Bend’s Old St. Francis School.
“1,600 miles and four solid days later, I had every stamp but one,” she said. At that time, Bagdad Theater was closed for renovation until November. Determined to be the first in line when it opened, she decided to camp out Friday and Saturday before the official opening on Sunday. “I’m a very competitive person,” she said. The prize also proved to be a strong motivator: free admission to all concerts at the Crystal Ballroom and Lola’s Room for a year.
Scott Bassett, from Salem, was the first customer to finish and took his place in line at the Bagdad behind Buck. “It was cold and stormy on Hawthorne. I brought a heater and some propane and Catherine and her mom were kind enough to hold my place in line when I wasn’t there,” he said.
Bassett, a loyal McMenamins fan, learned about the passport and competition for first finishers four days after he retired from a career in state government. “I decided to go for it with encouragement from my wife,” Bassett said.
He headed out in his Prius for a quick tour of the Northwest. Bassett’s longest day started at the White Eagle at 6 a.m. He hit all the Washington locations, then headed to the coast by crossing the congested Lewis and Clark Bridge connecting Longview, Wash. to Highway 30 in Oregon. It was a race against the clock to get to the Pot Bunker Bar on the Gearhart property before driving to the Lighthouse Brewpub in Lincoln City and home to Salem 16 hours later. His prize was a $600 party at the Thompson Brewery & Public House that ended up doubling as a fundraiser for a nonprofit.
Bassett said, “I’ve traveled the kingdom four times and I’ve been lucky enough to go to four of the five Cosmic Tripster parties.”
Buck is thinking of completing another passport with her boyfriend. “But my plan for the next one is to do it slowly and enjoy the experience,” she said.
Since the passports were first “brewed” up, there have been five Cosmic Tripster parties. The first one was in the jail at Edgefield. “It’s the place where we store the artwork for our properties,” said Buck. “They cleaned it up, put the artwork out for display, and had tasting stations and food pairings in various parts of the building. There were about 500 of us at this event.”
The second was a pre-opening of the Anderson School in Bothell, Wash. With about 2,500 attendees. “It was an opportunity for our staff to practice and to get feedback and suggestions from a friendly crowd,” said Ignacio.
Impact on business has been tremendous, however, the program is costly as it includes giveaways. Since 2013, more than 5,000 people have become Cosmic Tripsters and Ignacio estimates about 80,000 passports have been sold.
“Because of its popularity, we’ve had to change our parameters,” she said. Originally she envisioned one party annually, but now plans them on an as-needed basis, trying to manage the attendance so people can still mingle. The limit for completed passports is two a year. And the passports are continually changing. If a new location opens, passport holders must get that stamp and “just-for-fun” stamps are always being added.
“We feel it’s a great value and connection to our customers that’s very special. We have three historians on staff. When we come into a place, we want to connect with the community,” said Ignacio. “And we want people to have fun. Those are the core values of Mike and Brian McMenamin.”
By Sam Wheeler
For Oregon Beer Growler
That Civil War atmosphere that engulfs Eugene in the odd years and Corvallis in the evens is hard to beat as a football fan. And beer fans who’ll be in Corvallis for this year’s 120th contest of the fifth-most played NCAA college football rivalry, you’re in luck. Corvallis boasts a healthy craft beer scene, and you’ll find good brew anywhere from the city’s outskirts to the heart of downtown.
The Beavers have lost the last eight Civil War meetings. Here is a guide to tailgating at Reser Stadium and where in Corvallis you can watch the battle, whether the Oregon Ducks make it nine in a row or the Oregon State Beavers win at home.
Tailgating Outside Reser
Check the forecast and come prepared to tailgate at Reser Stadium, where rain has been known to fall. If you’re looking to set up camp, parking passes for passenger cars, RVs and buses are available at osubeaver.com.
Rules for tailgating include: no kegs or bulk dispensing of alcohol without prior approval and registration with Oregon State University, barbecues are to be attended at all times and pick up your trash and ash.
If you find yourself in need of a cooler restock, there are a few options within walking distance (all hours are for Saturdays).
Western Market, 2875 SW Western Blvd., 541-752-3647, 10 a.m. to midnight
This is the closest option to Reser. It’s located across the parking lot behind the old grandstand on the southwest side of the stadium. You’ll find a modest craft beer and wine selection and typical mini-mart food.
Washington St. Liquor Store/Deb’s Mixers, 575 SW Washington Ave., 541-753-7998, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
While this is a few blocks from the eastern edge of campus, it offers spirits along with craft beer.
If you don’t have a parking space, there are other locations around the stadium to enjoy an Oregon beer.
Adjacent to the stadium, you’ll find the Merrit Truax Indoor Practice Facility, which opens free of admission to tailgaters three hours prior to kickoff. Food and beer are served inside.
Deschutes Brewery is featured at a beer garden at Hilton Garden Inn Corvallis, which is a three-minute walk from Reser. There is also a small beer garden with craft on tap in a courtyard between the CH2M Hill Alumni Center and LaSells Stewart Center just across the street from the stadium.
If you’re looking to avoid the stadium crowd and slip into a bar to watch the game, you'll find plenty of fine craft beer around town.
Sky High Brewing, 160 NW Jackson Ave., 541 207-3277, 11 a.m. to midnight
Heated rooftop seating makes Sky High stand out, but there is also a pleasant bar with TV screens so that you don’t miss any of the action on the field. The menu is a nod to traditional pub food, and the venue will no doubt be packed for 120th Civil War, so get there early if you’re looking for a seat.
Block 15 Brewing Co., 300 SW Jefferson Ave., 541-758-2077, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Great craft beer and a unique pub-style menu makes Block 15 one of the most enjoyable craft beer/food experiences in Corvallis. TV coverage is limited, so get there early if you want a good view.
Flat Tail Brewing, 202 SW First St., 541- 758-2229, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Plenty of seating, tons of TVs and lots of Oregon State memorabilia make Flat Tail a favorite for Beaver fans. The food is hearty and there’s a variety of beer styles to wash it down. It’s sure to be packed for the game, but any seat is a good seat.
McMenamins Corvallis Pub, 420 NW Third St., 541-758-6044, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
McMenamins on Monroe, 2001 NW Monroe Ave., 541-758-0080, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
McMenamins always delivers a solid experience, food and craft beer-wise. The Monroe location will have plenty of students inside, and the pub bordering downtown might offer the most relaxed atmosphere available to watch the game at a bar around town.
Squirrels Tavern, 100 SW Second St., 541-753-8057, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
It’s a local establishment that’s been around more than 40 years. You’ll find pool tables upstairs and head to the ATM before you visit because it’s cash only. Squirrels will have at least a half-dozen quality craft beers on tap, but the TV coverage is limited. If you want a seat with a good view, get there early. Typical bar food comes out of the kitchen, but for some reason it tastes better at Squirrels. Be sure to try the burgers.
Mazama Brewing Co., 33930 SE Eastgate Circle, 541-230-1810, noon to 9 p.m.
Located on the eastern outskirts of Corvallis, Mazama is an outstanding craft brewery that specializes in true-style Belgian and American beers, making the drive worth it. A simple pub menu includes fries, salads and sandwiches.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.