O is for Oregon Breweries
O...there are a lot of things that I could write about that start with this letter, but I'm going to talk about:
I have to say that Oregon has some pretty dang good breweries. In fact, the state as a whole is ranked fourth in the nation as having the most breweries per capita with 105. Portland alone has 32, making it the number 1 city in the US per capita. That's a lot of beer floating around a state with a population of 3.8 million. Below are some of my favorite breweries.
#1: Calapooia Brewing
Located in downtown Albany, Oregon, the Calapooia Brewing Company has been around for almost twenty years. It's first on my list because of a few reasons. 1) It's local and never more than a ten minute drive away. 2) Live music and dart competitions are regular activities. 3) Their Chili Beer is out of this world. That's right people, Chili Beer. Brewed with Jalapenos, Serrano, and Anaheim chili peppers, it's a spicy amber beer that pairs perfectly with nachos or tacos. Two personal favorites of mine are the 'Pooya Porter, a mocha inspired brew, and the Devil's Hole Stout, with underlying flavors of licorice, chocolate, and coffee. The Calapooia Brewery has distributors at local restaurants around town, such as Cappies and Loafer's Station, and will soon be bottling their Chili Beer to sell in local supermarkets. Good stuff!
#2: Deschutes Brewery
Venture over the Cascade Mountain range on HWY 20 and you'll enter the city of Bend, Oregon, home of the Deschutes Brewery. This was probably the first brewery that I loved. My personal favorite brew of theirs is the Black Butte Porter. It's a dark, robust beer that has a slightly bitter beginning but finishes with a nice roasted chocolate coffee flavor. I couldn't recommend it more. However, if something a little more tame is more your liking, I would definitely suggest the Jubelale. Though it's only a seasonal ale, this one is a great choice. With flavors of fruit, chicory and spices, the Jubelale is very reminiscent of the holidays. Another that is offered year-round, and is considered "base camp" in the Deschutes line, is the Mirror Pond Ale. It's a very smooth, amber ale with a clean finish. Personally I don't like beer I can see through, but this one is tasty. Really you can't go wrong with a bottle or pint from Deschutes.
#3: McMenamins Brewery
I absolutely love this place. With multiple locations around the Northwest (Oregon and Washington), McMenamins Brewery is a local tradition. Each restaurant has its own unique flavor, from their menus to their decor, but one constant is the amazing beer selection. My personal favorite is a delicious mixture of their Terminator Stout and their Ruby Ale. When mixed, this combination makes a lovely raspberry chocolate beer that can't be beat. It's smooth as butter. Another great thing about a lot of their locations is the live music that comes along with it. At both the Crystal Ballroom and Edgefield locations you can find such events as Florence + the Machines, Gotye, Mest, Snow Patrol, and many more. Great stuff.
#4: Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery
This is another great restaurant and brewery with great beer choices. I am an avid fan of the Nebula Naked Oat Stout. It has a coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel smooth finish that pairs perfectly with nearly everything. Block 15 is located in downtown Corvallis, Oregon and is almost always busy due to the fact that it's in a college town. However, I would recommend stopping in to check it out. If beer isn't your drink of choice, their Long Island is pretty potent :)
#5: Oakshire Brewing
Oakshire Brewing is located in Eugene, Oregon, another college town, but what places this brewery on my list is the Overcast Espresso Stout. This beer is pure heaven. Incredibly robust with an amazing espresso finish. I could drink this beer for breakfast (but I won't). I don't venture down to their headquarters to get this beer though. Instead, I head down to two local bars in Corvallis: Downward Dog and Crowbar both carry this lovely, delicious beer. It also doesn't hurt that both of these locations have pretty good food at a decent price. One drawback...the overabundance of college students. I'd still brave those crowds for one of these delicious beers though :)