McMenamins, as those who frequent its 8 hotels and 17 breweries in Oregon know, is more than just a hotel and brewery outfit. It is an organization to which small towns like McMinnville, Troutdale, Hillsdale and Forest Grove owe a certain debt of gratitude. Historic buildings, too far gone to interest the get-rick-quick investors, have been lovingly resurrected by Portland’s Mike and Brian, creating uniquely attractive places to stay, eat, drink or play.
Today, with more than 65 properties – 24 of which include breweries – McMenamins has become one of the top 50 producing craft breweries in the U.S.
And despite its corporate size and craft standards, McMenamins doesn’t always get its due for adding a unique and experimental edge to Oregon’s craft brewing. Each brewery has a different brewer using different facilities. What you might drink in Hillsdale, the original McMenamin’s brewery in Portland, could be much different than the brews offered at the Thompson Brewery in Salem, for example. Brewers from far and wide come to McMenamin’s , creating a brand that is as varied and unique at the physical properties:. Indistinctly European, vaguely alien and other-worldly, but decidedly true to craft and history of place.
Why do I like to stay and play at McMenamins? Bargains. I love bargains. For as low as $30 a night, I can have a beer or two or three, listen to some great music (usually free) or catch a movie, and then fall in bed – all without driving! What’s not to like?
You can check out all of the McMenamins’ sites at www.mcmenamins.com. The hotels that also have breweries are as follows:
Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey, Troutdale – It’s all here, and it’s a national historic landmark to boot: golf, a brewery, a winery, a distillery, and an incredible soaking pool with a bar). There are 10 separate bars on this property’s 64 acres. A walking map is recommended after visiting the first two.
Grand Lodge, 3505 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove – Typical of all McMenamin historic buildings, the walls are covered with artwork that resurrects the people who once graced the halls. If that creeps you out, throw a few discs on the rolling front lawn’s disc golf course, or have a beer in Pat’s Corner, or outside on the veranda. I love the tiny private spaces both inside and outside. Historic places comfort me.
Old St. Francis School, 700 N.W. Bond Street, Bend – The brewery was once the lunchroom of the Catholic students who attended school here. Today, it puts out some of Oregon’s favorite holiday ales, not to mention brewer Curly White’s monthly firkin release. The property has four bars and restaurants, a movie theater, a soaking pool and several cottages. Because this is one of the more expensive McMenamin places to stay, I’ve never spent the night here, but I fully intend to save my pennies for a visit in the future.
Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave., Portland. With its tiny Concordia Brewery and its location in Portland is another McMenamins property I’ve failed to try due to the expense (or is it my tight-wadded-ness?). I add it here because I’m old enough to have contemporaries who went to school there, watch it close with sadness, and rejoiced when it reopened in 1997. The brewery since then has been a good neighbor, joining in Portland festivities to support local and global causes. Where once my buddies played dodge ball, today they drink beer and listen to great music.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.