Craft Beer Tour 2018: Western Oregon

These photos were taken on the western side of Oregon on Monday through Friday, October 1 through 5, days 15 through 19 of my Craft Beer Tour 2018. I guess if I want to be specific, this part of my journey took me from Vancouver, Washington to Grants Pass, Oregon, all of it on the western side of the state.

When I left Bend I headed to Oregon City to visit my longtime friends, Matt and Dom. As someone that believes that anyone who says they don’t like beer just hasn’t tried the right beer yet, I had attempted, several years ago to find a beer or style that Matt would like. I was unsuccessful; however, Matt continued his quest and discovered that he did enjoy ciders. The point being, that while Matt and Dom did take me around Oregon, we spent a lot of time at brewpubs because of the ciders that are usually found; oh, and they both enjoy new culinary delights. Luckily, Matt and Dom are self-employed and insisted they needed some time off; I visited places I never would have considered as a result.

Monday afternoon I entered Oregon City and as I crossed the Willamette River and drove along Washington Street, I could not help but notice Oregon City Brewing Company. Matt and I returned there an hour later to try their brews.

Oregon City Brewing will turn four at the end of November. They have a very spacious dog friendly patio as well as their tasting room. On the day of my visit they had more than 30 of their beers available on tap, as well as a few bottles and several guest taps of ciders and in-house made sodas. I had a flight consisting of Crimea River of Whiskey Baltic Porter, Pioneer Pale Ale, Fresh Hop Elevator IPA, and B’Limey, a kettle sour. Crimea River was outstanding as was the Fresh Hop Elevator. Since there was dinner waiting at home I picked up a crowler of their Penthouse Double IPA which was delicious.

Oregon City Brewing Company is located at 1401 Washington Street in Oregon City as is open seven days a week. They do not serve food, but there is an Olympia Provisions there that shares the patio space with Oregon City Brewing; they are separate entities. Oregon City Brewing sells growlers, crowlers, and some bottles to go. I have to add, this place just had a cool vibe. Oregon City is very serene, and Oregon City Brewing reflects it well.

On Tuesday my friends had some business to take care of in Vancouver, Washington, which is just across the Columbia River from Portland. As my friends try to avoid Portland like I try to avoid downtown Los Angeles, I looked for a brewpub that was close to where we were going and found Heathen Brewing Feral Public House.

Heathen Brewing Feral Public House is the brew pub for Heather Brewing. The production brewery is only open for limited hours on Thursday through Sunday and, as one might suspect, does not sell food. As it was lunchtime, the Feral Public House was the logical choice.

On the day of our visit they had about 56 taps open which included their beers (and root beer), several guest taps of beers, cider and mead, as well as a few taps from their winery, Heathen Estate. While Matt and Dom went for the in-house brewed root beer, I went for something a little stronger and set up a flight consisting of Heathen’s Old Timber Nut Brown, Oktoberfest Marzen, Stygian Sour Stout, Transgression IPA, Easy Money Session IPA, and Fresh Hop of Couve-air NEIPA. All six were solid, with the IPAs reminding me that I had picked the perfect time of year to be visiting the Pacific Northwest.

We all ordered food, and I chose the fish tacos. The fish was great, but I will never understand why anyone would use a flour tortilla for a taco.

Heathen Brewing Feral Public House is located at 1109 Washington Street in Vancouver, Washington. They are open seven days a week and offer growlers, bottles, and kegs to go.

After enjoying lunch we headed back across the Columbia River to Oregon City where we stopped at Coin Toss Brewing; where I learned that my facts were off a little when it came to how Portland got its name.

Did you know that the city of Portland could have been named Boston? As the story goes, two pioneers, Asa Lovejoy from Boston Massachusetts and Francis Pettygrove of Portland, Maine, settled the area and both wanted to name it after their hometown. A best two out of three coin toss was done to determine the name; as you can tell, Pettygrove won. While I knew the story, I always thought it was Lewis and Clark that had the coin toss; I knew I should have Googled that a long time ago. Anyway, that is how Coin Toss Brewing got their name, too.

Coin Toss Brewing is a microbrewery that has been open a little over two years. On the date of our visit they had 11 beers on tap as well as a cider or two. I ordered a flight made up of their Half Penny Lager, Wheat Penny Ale, Nine Eyes IPA, Coasters IPA, Fresh Hop Settler’s Red, and Dr. John’s Old Ale (guest tap from Trusty Brewing). As usual, the IPAs were my hands down favorites.

Coin Toss Brewing is located at 14214 Fir Street in Oregon City. They are open Tuesday through Sunday and offer growlers and crowlers to go.

My buddy Matt has been a professional photographer for decades, and he has recently started photographing with his drone. It was decided on Wednesday that we would head to the coast to seek beer and cool places to photograph. We started off at Golden Valley Brewery in McMinnville.

Golden Valley Brewery is a brewpub that has two locations, the one in McMinnville and another in Beaverton. The McMinnville location is the original location and opened in 1993. They have a 15-bbl brew house, which offered about 16 different brews when we were there.

Our friendly server (sorry, her name escapes me) set up a quick tour of the production facilities, then started bringing out tasters; if it was not for my Instagram page, I would not have been able to keep up with what I had, and they had quite a variety.

My “flight” consisted of their Beaverton Blonde, Carlton Kolsch, Red Thistle ESB, Bald Peak IPA, Muddy Valley Oatmeal Stout, Alphaville IIPA, Chehalem Mountain IPA, Nugget Fresh Hop IPA, and their Oktoberfest. While the Muddy Valley Oatmeal Stout was delicious, Bald Peak IPA was my favorite.

Golden Valley Brewery, McMinnville Pub and Brewery, is located at 980 East 4th Street in McMinnville, and is open seven days a week. They have an extensive food menu and a dog friendly patio. Golden Valley offers bottles and growlers to go.

We continued west towards the coastline and McMenamins Lighthouse Brewpub in Lincoln City. Apparently, McMenamins is a family-owned chain of brewpubs, breweries, and other assorted venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. My friends were quite surprised that I had never heard of them; I guess they are kind of a big deal up there. Personally, the attraction to me was that it was the “Lighthouse Brewpub” and being so close to the Oregon coastline there had to be a lighthouse I could photograph while there. I was denied; I don’t really know how they chose the name but it wasn’t because of a neighboring lighthouse that I could see.

As the day was getting on, and we had not even seen the Pacific Ocean yet, I limited my visit to photos because I had called earlier and said I was coming. It was pretty cool.

They were the first brewpub in Oregon, opening in 1986, and they continue to use their 6-bbl system which is probably the most colorful brewhouse I have seen to date. They offered close to 20 beers and ciders on tap.

McMenamins Lighthouse Brewpub is located at 4157 NE Hwy 101 in Lincoln City and is open seven days a week. They offer growlers to go.

We headed south on Hwy 101 and finally found the second part of our quest, Siletz Bay and Depoe Bay; two very cool places to photograph.

Siletz Bay was pretty and the marine layer made for some fun photos, but a few miles south at Depoe Bay was one of the coolest places I have been in a long time. If you look closely at the photos you will see lots of whale fins and water spouts all in the same frame. There were so many whales it was tough to keep up. Apparently there is a pod of grey whales that make Depoe Bay their home from March through December; I have never seen so many in one spot.

After photographing and watching the whales feed and frolic for an hour, we headed south to Rogue Ales’ Rogue Brewer’s on the Bay in Newport.

I am not really sure what to say about Rogue Ales other than it is a brewpub and has been around since 1989. They have locations all over Oregon, they brew great beer and their Brewer’s on the Bay facility is big, beautiful, and very photogenic; in fact, the entire area is photogenic. If you are following along with the photos, the last photo from Rogue Ales was taken from Matt’s drone.

Matt and Dom had never been in a production brewery before; they have only seen them through the glass in a tasting room. When you walk in the door of Brewer’s on the Bay you come upon their canning line before being surrounded by a forest of fermenters.

They had about 40 taps flowing, so creating a flight was a bit of a task, but I was up to the challenge. My flight consisted of their StrataCoaster Pale, Straight Outta Newport…Oregon IIPA, Outta Line IPA, and Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout. Straight Outta Newport and Rolling Thunder were two of the best beers I had in the entire state.

Rogue Brewer’s on the Bay is located at 2320 OSU Drive in Newport and is open seven days a week. They have a nice food menu (the curds were pretty good), and they offer cans, bottles, crowlers, and growlers available to go.

As it was starting to get late, we decided to head north about an hour on Hwy 101 to Pelican Brewing Company.

Pelican Brewing Company is a brewpub and has been around since 1996. They have a 15-bbl brewhouse that provided about 10 taps that particular evening. To be honest, I do not recall, but judging by my photos, the flight was preset, with one added. It consisted of their Kiwanda Cream Ale, Sea N’ Red Ale, Five Fin Pilsner, Tsunami Stout, Umbrella IPA, Beak Bender IPA, Beak Breaker IIPA, Bad Santa Black IPA, and Mosaic IPA. Judging by my Untappd account, I was very impressed with just about everything they had.

Pelican Brewing Company is located at 33180 Cape Kiwanda Drive in Pacific City; they are open seven days a week and offer bottles, cans, crowlers, and growlers to go.

Thursday I decided that it would be silly of me to be so close to Portland and not visit any Portland breweries, so I picked out a few breweries and found their location on a map; Matt pointed out which parts of Portland he would visit and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company was our first pick.

Hair of the Dog is a brewpub that has been open since 1993. They are probably best known for their high ABV, bottle conditioned beers as well as their barrel aging program since they were one of the first. As I was not prepared to open a bottle of something, I settled for a flight consisting of their Lila Maibock, Blue Dot IIPA, Green Dot TIPA, and Adam Adambier. They were all okay, with Adam probably being my favorite.

Hair of the Dog Brewing Company is located at 61 SE Yamhill Street in Portland. They are open Tuesday through Sunday and offer growlers and bottles to go.

Our next stop was a few miles south along the Willamette River to Gigantic Brewing Company.

Gigantic Brewing is a microbrewery that has been open since 2012. They are known primarily for their IPAs, but they also have a nice selection of seasonal beers, most of which will be brewed only once. One the day of our visit they had about 13 of their beers available on tap, as well as a couple guest taps.

I set up a flight made up of their Kolschtastic Kolsch, Sassy Pony Pale Ale, Pipewrench (gin barrel aged IPA), Ginormous IIPA, and Kiss the Goat Doppelbock. All I can say is these guys make some good beer.

Gigantic Brewing Company is located at 5224 SE 26th Avenue in Portland. They are open seven days a week and have a dog friendly patio. Gigantic Brewing does not offer food, but outside food is welcome; growlers and bottles are available to go.

The last stop of the day was Hopworks Urban Brewery, which was just a mile away.

Hopworks is a brewpub that is 10 years old with a 20-bbl brewhouse that provides brews for their two brewpubs and distribution throughout the Pacific Northwest. When I was there they had about 15 beers and a couple ciders available. Taking advantage of having a designated driver, I created a flight made up of their Hub Pilsner, Ace of Spades IIPA, Ferocious Citrus IPA, Organic Hopworks IPA, Survival Stout, Abominable Winter Ale, Long Root Pale Ale, Completely Excellent NE IPA, Organic Wave Train Lager, and Gear Up IPA. There were some great beers there, but Gear Up was my favorite of the day.

Hopworks Urban Brewery is located at 2944 SE Powell Boulevard in Portland. They are open seven days a week and offer growlers, crowlers, and cans to go.

Friday morning I bid farewell to Matt and Dom and headed south towards Eugene to visit another old friend that I would be meeting at Ninkasi Brewing.

Ninkasi Brewing Company is a production brewery with a tasting room that opened in 2006. They are the third largest brewery in Oregon, and as far as I know, is the only brewery with a space program, the Ninkasi Space Program. In 2014 Ninkasi launched some yeast into space via the Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) to see if they could brew with it. It took two attempts, but they were successful and their Ground Control Imperial Stout was the result.

I sat down for a non-space flight made up of their Yours Truly Easy-Drinking Ale, Oktoberfest, Pacific Rain Pale Ale, Fresh Hopped Strata Pale Ale, and Vanilla Oatis. While all were solid, Strata reminded me that I was going to miss all the fresh hopped beers I had enjoyed this past couple of weeks.

Ninkasi Brewing Company is located at 272 Van Buren Street in Eugene. They are open seven days a week and have a dog friendly patio. They do not offer food, but outside food is welcome. Ninkasi offers growlers, cans, and bottles to go.

It was a rainy day, and I had people to visit the next day in Eureka, so I headed south on I-5, bypassing what I am sure was a ton of breweries; after a couple hours I needed a break and a beer so I pulled over in Grants Pass, where I discovered Climate City Brewing.

To be honest, I did not realize it was called Climate City until I checked in on Untappd; Google and the big sign outside made me think I was at Grants Pass Brewing; I had not paid attention to the smaller sign on the outside of the building. Apparently Climate City Brewing opened in 2015; I could not find much about Grants Pass Brewing.

Climate City Brewing is a brewpub that had about 15 beers available when I was there. Maybe it was me, but they didn’t seem to enthusiastic about having me there, so I just sat in the corner and took advantage of their happy hour special with some fish tacos and their Raptor Creek Fresh Hop IPA. It was a good pairing.

Climate City Brewing Company is located at 509 SW G Street in Grants Pass. They are open seven days a week and offer growlers and crowlers to go.

And with that, I was done with Oregon; at least for now. I shall return. Cheers!

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