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 Sam Wheeler
For Oregon Beer Growler
Riding 1,000 miles in one day on a motorcycle is no easy feat.
It wasn’t supposed to be easy, said 29-year-old Dave Marliave, who rode that distance to raise $8,260 for the National Brain Tumor Society. The co-owner and brewmaster at Corvallis’ Flat Tail Brewing was inspired to push himself through the journey by a member of Oregon’s craft beer community. Angelo De Ieso, founder of the beer blog Brewpublic, was diagnosed with a rare and — for now — incurable brain tumor in 2013.
“It was a weird wakeup call for everybody because Angelo knows everybody, and everybody knows Angelo. It just hit so close to home,” said Marliave, who met De Ieso more than six years ago when Flat Tail was a young 7-barrel operation.
“He gave us some love on his blog and helped spread the word about us when we were just this tiny little brewery that no one had ever heard of. We just kind of kept in touch from that point on,” Marliave said. “Angelo is one of those guys that is just a staple in the [craft beer] community.”
And it’s not just De Ieso’s battle; Marliave has other friends who are living with brain tumors, and there are more than 688,000 throughout the U. S. who face the same challenges, according to the National Brain Tumor Society.
“It’s almost hard to find people who don’t know someone who has been affected by a malignant or benign brain tumor,” Marliave said. “It’s not only one of the fastest-growing types of cancer, but one of the least understood. No one knows what’s causing it. I think it’s really important that we figure it out.”
So on March 29, Marliave took off from Corvallis on his BMW R1200GS to ride as far as he could. With help from the National Brain Tumor Society’s Portland chapter, which created a “Highway to Health” webpage to accept donations, Marliave garnered flat-rate donations and pledges ranging from 10 cents to $1-per-mile for the ride.
Averaging about 56 miles per hour, 18 hours later, he was in San Diego.
“The outpouring of support was incredible, and it was almost all small Oregon breweries and related businesses,” he said. There is a list of donors, including the Flat Tail kitchen staff, which can be found at braintumorcommunity.org.
The trip went rather smoothly, said Marliave, who also received a $500 donation, a set of tires and free technical support from Hansen’s BMW Motorcycles of Medford.
“Doing a long endurance touring-style ride wasn’t new, but the 1,000 miles in a day I had only really done one other time,” Marliave said. “One of the biggest things about doing a ride like this is staying safe. And when you’re getting tired on that 15th, 16th hour — things can get really unsafe, really fast.”
It’s wasn’t until the day after the 1,000-mile ride, on a 500-mile route between San Diego and Petaluma, Calif., that Marliave’s bike started acting up. It was just a little brake noise — something that was determined to be a non-issue after he sent a few cell phone videos to Hansen’s BMW mechanics.
The fundraiser was an enormous success, Marliave said, and he continued to receive donations three-to-four weeks after concluding the ride, which helped Highway to Health surpass its goal of $5,000.
“Not only are we going to do it again, but next year we are setting the goal at $15,000 and hope to clear $20,000. This is definitely something we’re going to keep doing every year, and we’re going to stick with the NBTS,” which will continue to receive 100 percent of the donations.
Anyone who would like to be a part of next year’s fundraiser can contact Marliave at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This year, Flat Tail footed the bill for the entire ride, but Marliave said donations specified for ride expenses will also be accepted in the future.
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.
By Sam Wheeler
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Is there a better setting to drink Oregon craft beer than at a live college football game? There’s certainly an argument for it, and The Terrace at Reser Stadium in Corvallis is making a pretty good case.
Built as a part of an ongoing expansion and renovation of the Valley Football Center at Oregon State University, The Terrace offers fans a taste of Oregon’s vibrant craft beer, wine and culinary scenes.
The 13,000-square-foot space is about 50 feet behind and above the north end zone, making it the optimal location to watch OSU running back Ryan Nall ripping off a 54-yard touchdown against the Ducks at the end of November. Just don’t spill that $9 IPA.
“It’s authentic Oregon,” said Zack Lassiter, deputy athletic director for external operations at OSU. “We think it’s a fun way for people to experience Oregon State football. The vibe in the space is so different than anything you’ve ever seen before, but it’s such a huge part of who we are. People are really, really digging it.”
While you can buy membership and single-game VIP tickets for The Terrace, of which there are 600 available, about 1,000 Orange Passes are handed out — for free — to each game. An Orange Pass along with a game ticket allows patrons access to The Terrace. In addition to distributing the Passes at games, they’re going to be given away in the summer leading up to the season through social media channels and at the Corvallis Farmers’ Market.
“A lot of times in sports stadiums it’s all about maximizing revenue and other pieces, but we never really try to create an experience that’s unique to our community,” Lassiter said. “We’ve really wrapped ourselves around this whole authentic Oregon story, and the craft beer scene is a huge part of that. It’s one of those things that makes this state so cool.”
Nineteen breweries and 13 vintners are registered vendors at The Terrace, Lassiter said, and the list is growing.
“You need to be based in Oregon, you need to have ties to Oregon State, and then you also have to be good, because you can’t sacrifice quality of product,” Lassiter rattled off as guidelines for interested vendors.
A few of the businesses you’ll find on tap at The Terrace include: 10 Barrel Brewing Co., BridgePort Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewing, Hop Valley Brewing Co., Rogue Ales, Widmer Brothers Brewing and Worthy Brewing Co. There are several Corvallis staples in the lineup as well: 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Block 15 Brewing Co., Flat Tail Brewing and Sky High Brewing.
“We really allow each vendor to showcase what’s great for them,” Lassiter said. “A lot of them (vendors) went to school at Oregon State, or grew up going to games, and now they’ve graduated, went on to create their own business. Now they’re getting a chance to not only enjoy an Oregon State football game, but they’re able to showcase their business.”
Tickets in the VIP section of the The Terrace include in-seat food and merchandise service and complimentary tastings during the game.
The September grand opening of The Terrace coincided with the Beavers drubbing Idaho State 37-7, and I foresee a lot of happy Beav fans dancing above the north end zone come Nov. 26. It’d be the first Civil War win for the orange men since a double-overtime 38-31 victory in 2007 at Autzen Stadium.
How sweet that sounds.
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
“I’m just trying to keep the past alive as best I can,” Dave Wills said while hovering over a blender inside his brewery.
That was one of the more monumental tasks on his list in what shaped up to be a busy day. While tending to business at Oregon Trail in downtown Corvallis one Saturday afternoon, Wills also had a scheduled tour leading the Oregon Brew Crew through the uniquely configured three-story facility. Like an enthusiastic professor, he peppered his lecture with vivid anecdotes and quizzed the listeners on the style of each beer they were served from his taps. When the lesson ended, there were only momentary lulls in activity as friends and neighbors popped in through the always-open back door. Wills had a greeting for everyone, pausing while answering interview questions to make a little time for each individual. But there was still salsa to be made. Rising above the hum of the blender stuffed with tomato, diced jalapeno and bunches of cilantro was his laughter sparked by decades-old memories. It was then it became evident that every day Wills is at Oregon Trail, he’s fulfilling his stated goal — keeping the past alive.
Wills never set out to be leading a brewery, but to those who know him it’s no surprise he’s ended up in that role. They describe him as someone who can motivate others and his energy level is like a brew kettle boiling over. It may seem a bit incongruous that the man who’s served as mentor to many now-established brewers once tossed a batch of homebrew for fear of something akin to food poisoning if he actually drank his own concoction. But Wills’ start in making beer came at a time when President Jimmy Carter had just legalized the activity and ingredients were often of questionable quality.
Wills’ first exposure to good beer actually all began with a woman. When he was 20 years old, his girlfriend surprised him by announcing she was going to London. That motivated Wills to go, too, a couple of months later. It was the late 1970s, so the variety of any beer that might have been considered craft was limited to Anchor and Henry Weinhard's. So seven weeks abroad and a Eurail pass provided Wills with a much-needed crash course in the world of beer. Following the whirlwind trip, Wills transferred to Oregon State University for the agriculture program. He’d already done two years of study in the field at a junior college in his home state of California. The move north exposed him not only to his first live hop plant, it’s also where he stumbled across a sign outside of a natural food store reading “Homebrewing Class.” Wills said to himself, ‘Now I think I’m gonna take that,’ and he did. Two women ran the instructional session, which was unique for the era. It was held in one of their homes and that’s where Wills realized how good a do-it-yourself brew could taste.
Around the same time, Wills took his own field trip to a nearby U.S. Department of Agriculture hop research farm because he wanted to grow his own. The difference between what was coming from the dirt and what was offered by many supply shops was striking. “And they broke out these beautiful green hops that were just — beautiful! Bright green,” Wills described. “And the hops I was buying from the grocery store, which just had the hops on the — you know, hops should really be kept refrigerated or frozen to keep ‘em nice. But what was being huckstered off on the homebrewer back then was just these old, stale hops.”
Experience with hops the color and consistency of yellowing, aged newspaper led to a business idea. As a recent graduate of OSU at this point, Wills began thinking about homebrewers across the country, most of whom were not living in hop-growing states like Oregon. He figured there must be an opportunity to sell fresher cones to these markets. A local hop breeder suggested that Wills get things started by talking to the Colemans, a hop farm family that still operates out of the Woodburn area. They put Wills to work on the property during harvest season. “And after that month, I drove off with my little Datsun pickup full of hops and put a little $14 classified ad in the Zymurgy magazine,” Wills said.
With one little ad, the orders started pouring in. Wills had himself a business. To keep the hops chilled, he bought a mini walk-in cooler for the basement of his rental home. Fulfilling customer requests simply meant packing the hops in plastic, resealable bags and then mailing them off. That was in 1982. And Freshops is still going strong with Wills at the helm.
Some of Wills’ product was sold in the Old World Deli, which in addition to soups, salads and sandwiches, was one of a few outlets that provided the town with homebrew ingredients. It also served as the site that brought together Wills; Ted Cox, owner of the deli; and Jerry Shadomy, who founded Oregon Trail in a corner of the building. All three were members of the Heart of the Valley Homebrewers club. The first meeting took place at Cox’s house before they put an ad in the paper advertising the next event at the deli. Shadomy, who had been winning a lot of awards for his homebrew, ended up gathering enough people who wanted to invest in a local brewery and started Oregon Trail after acquiring a 7-barrel system from Hart Brewing (later known as Pyramid). Wills describes himself as a hired hand back then who helped scrap parts together since there were no major equipment manufacturers, particularly for a smaller-scale brewery at that time. He characterized Shadomy as extraordinarily intelligent and somewhat eccentric person. But brewing the same beer over and over became dull to someone who needed new stimuli. Ultimately, Shadomy wasn’t able to maintain the business. That’s when Wills stepped in.
“I just kept it alive because I wasn’t going to just let this place go to auction after all of that love and sweat and everything that went into it,” he explained. “The space is awesome. It’s very well engineered and designed — and gravity flow — and it’s just a cool thing.”
His bookkeeper Rita Whitted added, “Dave is the reason it’s still here and not a past-tense thing.”
The space is certainly something special. Not all of it is pretty. The brewery is cramped. Three stories means lugging bags of grain up a lot of steep stairs. Some of the walls are just suggestions — beams with wiring that lays bare instead of normally being covered by Sheetrock. But after more than a century of wear and tear on the building, these signs of aging are like a historical record — proof that hard work was done here and people found purpose in this structure. In fact, that section of real estate has now been home to three breweries, according to deli owner Cox. He spoke breathlessly and passionately about the history, as if he couldn’t get the words out fast enough. The two earlier brewhouses operated in the 1870s and 1880s. One went out of business during a rough economic patch and the other burned down, as described by Cox. Oregon Trail, then, continues a legacy, a tradition, in downtown Corvallis.
Oregon Trail’s influence also extends to breweries across the state. Because of its proximity to OSU, plenty of fermentation science students have practiced making beer in that location. That application and Wills’ guidance have proved invaluable for many who’ve either opened their own breweries or gotten jobs at larger operations. John Marliave, co-owner of Corvallis’ Flat Tail Brewing, was one of those who benefitted from the hands-on involvement at Oregon Trail. “Yeah, I owe Dave a lot of where I am today because that experience isn’t something you get,” he noted.
Wills, whose father was a teacher, said he has some of that same urge to guide others in his genes. Bookkeeper Whitted agreed. “And the best teacher. Not the easiest teacher.” Wills was mentoring long before Oregon Trail, according to Mary Shannon O’Boyle, a former president of Heart of the Valley Homebrewers. She recounted that after meeting him in the 1980s, shortly after he helped start the club, he was very encouraging. “He convinced me to do my first beer and it was a pale ale. And we entered it in the county fair, the first county fair that allowed beer to be entered — 1984. And he helped me with it and it won a blue ribbon!”
Additionally, Wills recalled that he wished he’d gotten more time in the field while he was in college and that inspired him to take on students at the brewery. “We hardly went outside, so I wanted to see OSU fermentation science kids get the opportunity to do this. And I was hoping maybe one of them would stick around,” Wills said. “But that hasn’t happened yet.”
And that’s where the reward of teaching conflicts with the realities of running a business. Wills guesses he’s had 20 or so brewers come and go. “So having them turnover like that, that has made it impossible for us to grow,” he said. “You can’t have a new brewer every 12 to 18 months.” Wills continues to search for somebody who wants to help be an owner and invest in the brewery. Ultimately, he doesn’t want to sell it. In the meantime, he’s got a new brewer who has been on board since March. Whitted praised his beer making and attention to detail.
When asked why he sticks with the brewery despite the ups and downs, Wills’ friends are quick to answer: He doesn’t give up. He’s hardworking. He’s determined. He always looks for the next challenge. The liveliness in Wills’ eyes reveals another reason: he is a man who is constantly in motion and thoroughly enjoys connecting with others through his work. “He knows what he’s doing and he established a group of people throughout the entire region,” O’Boyle said, “and I know that sounds like I’m a fan. But as a friend, I’ve watched him bail people out who’ve needed help and also be respected for the fact that he knows what he’s doing.”
Beyond stabilizing the brewery, Wills wants to intensify his commitment to sustainability. He currently sells beer out of the adorably shaped party pig dispensers because they’re reusable and fit within the brewery’s footprint better than a bottling line. Of course, growlers are also welcome. Wills would like to see an overall consumption shift — less focus on obtaining beer bottles from across the country or world and more commitment to drinking local beer much in the way we would source milk from area farms. And in staying with the spirit of the brewery’s name, he has another wish: “I hope I see our beer getting delivered by covered wagon in my lifetime in the local community.”
In 2043, the original Oregon Trail will mark its 200th anniversary. Wills says he’ll be here. “Not sure what I’ll be doing. I’ll be drinking beer, I think, I hope, if my liver will make it that far,” he laughs. “I’d love to be there for the 200th anniversary and seeing this whole Oregon Trail thing will be an awesome visit to the past. I think it’d be awesome to see that kind of history all tied in. A lot’s going to change in the next 28 years.”
But rest assured, he’ll continue to keep the past alive — and kicking.
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